The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) – Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

Lots and Lots Of Recipe Testing To Come Up With This Copycat Lemon Loaf

This recipe is beyond a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to make this loaf on and off for years.

I can’t even tell you how much I have obsessed, tried, trialed, and failed at it. Until now.

If you’ve ever had Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf, you know how good it is. Full of lemon flavor, moist, dense, and rich.

Anything that good I shouldn’t want to learn how to make at home, but I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

I’ve tried countless internet recipes for lemon poundcake and some were ‘fine’ but not quite perfect while others were total fails. And I definitely didn’t want to go the cake mix route.

What I Tried

I’ve tried using butter creamed with sugar versus oil whisked with sugar.

I’ve tried various combinations of whole eggs and yolks, cake flour and all-purpose flour, and endless variations of lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.

I even sent one almost-a-possibility-but-not-quite to my mom to have her trial it.

Something as ‘simple’ as a poundcake eluded me for ages until I rediscovered and slightly adapted my own 2012 recipe for Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

How To Make The Best Lemon Loaf (Starbucks Copycat)

It’s an easy, no-mixer, one-bowl, whisk-together batter.

From my existing recipe, I added an extra egg, omitted the blueberries and incorporated lemon zest and lemon extract into the batter, and baked it in a loaf pan rather than a cake pan.

Love it when the answer to my poundcake prayers was right under my nose.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

How Does The Best Lemon Loaf Taste

It’s soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, problems which often plague poundcake.

Nor is it oily which sometimes happens with the Starbucks’ version.

Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand to make it and you can pronounce every ingredient used.

The cake itself is perfectly lemony, and the lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor even more. Lemon lovers will be in their glory.

And just think of all that money you’ll save by making it at home. That’s almost dangerous.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

Here’s a video demonstrating how I make the lemon loaf.

Favorite Lemon Recipes:

  • Lemon Lemonies – Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!
  • The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best lemon bars I’ve ever had!
  • Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies – Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They’re soft, chewy and not at all cakey!
  • Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Glaze – They taste like the Starbucks lemon loaf, but in donut (or mini muffin) form!! Easy, no mixer recipe with a tart-yet-sweet lemon glaze that’s PERFECT! Lemon lovers will adore them!!
  • Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies – Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

This is an easy, no-mixer, one-bowl, whisk-together batter. The loaf is soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, nor is it oily. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand to make it and you can pronounce every ingredient used. The cake itself is perfectly lemony, and the lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor. I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons of lemon extract necessary for full-bodied lemon flavor, but add to taste. Don’t use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably.

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Ingredients:

Loaf
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt (lite okay)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon extract, to taste (not teaspoons; and not lemon oil and not lemon juice – see step 4 in directions)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Lemon Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. Loaf – To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
  3. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
  4. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and whisk to combine. Note – I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons lemon extract necessary for full-bodied lemon flavor, but add to taste. Don’t use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they’re not; oil is much more potent and intense. Don’t use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it’s not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until just combined, don’t overmix. Some lumps will be present and that’s okay, don’t try to stir them smooth.
  6. Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for about 50 to 52 minutes, or until top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. In the last 10 minutes of baking, tent pan with foil (loosely drape a sheet of foil over pan) to prevent excessive browning on the top and sides of bread before center cooks through.
  7. Allow loaf to cool in pan on top of a wire rack for at least 30 minutes (I cooled 4 hours) before turning out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.
  8. Lemon Glaze – To a small bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while whisking until smooth and combined. You may need to play with the sugar and lemon juice amounts a bit as necessary for desired consistency and flavor.
  9. Evenly drizzle glaze over bread before slicing and serving. Extra glaze can be spread on the cut surface of the bread like you’d spread butter on toast and it soaks right in making the bread even moister and more lemony. Or you can halve the glaze recipe if you’re not a glaze person. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months; I don’t recommend storing it in the fridge because it’ll dry out.

Adapted from Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

Only Eats

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Lemon Lemonies – Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

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Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies – Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!

Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies - Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!

Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Glaze – They taste like the Starbucks lemon loaf, but in donut (or mini muffin) form!! Easy, no mixer recipe with a tart-yet-sweet lemon glaze that’s PERFECT! Lemon lovers will adore them!!

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733 comments on “The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)”

  1. Most wonderful moist, lemony goodness. My hubby loves the Lemon Poppyseed Loaf from Starbuck’s, so I used your recipe and added 2 Tbsp Poppyseeds. Turned out perfect!

    Rating: 5
  2. Really enjoyed this recipe. It was my first time making lemon loaf and my son adores the Starbucks version. I feel next time I’d adjust slightly and use 2 eggs instead of 3 (seemed too eggy and dense for me) reduce lemon extract to 1 T. (I used 1.5 T.) and use slightly less zest. Overall a great cake – very zingy lemon flavour!

    Rating: 4
    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad you liked it overall! As always with baking, adjust to what you think is best for your tastes. Hope the changes give you exactly what you’re looking for.

  3. This recipe looks AMAZING! I have not tried it yet but most definitely want to. Although I need to know, is there an adaptation to make these as Muffins? I figure the batter/recipe would be the same, just different baking instructions/baking time and/or different temperature? I would love to make these for a school function and individually wrap them as Muffins. Please let me know if you can…I will be so excited to try it!!!

  4. Hi Averie! I just found your recipe recently and made it for my husband, who just LOVES lemon loaf. He said your recipe is the best he’s had! Thank you so much for sharing. I have a question though. While he loves the loaf, I was not sure I had done it right. It was more bread-like than I thought it should be. I was looking more for a fine lose crumb like a cupcake, but my loaf had more of a stiffer texture. Do you know if maybe I messed up? or perhaps do you think I can substitute the AP flour with cake flour to get a more cake like texture? Sorry for the long-windedness. and thank you for reading!!ALice

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad this was the best lemon loaf your husband has ever had!

      This does not have a ‘light’ texture per se, it’s more on the dense side for me, but it shouldn’t be overly dry or stiff. I would say, don’t overmix the batter once you add the flour. Don’t overbake it either. And you could experiment with cake flour for a silkier texture but it’s not always a 1:1 substitution with cake flour to AP flour.

      I had soooo many fails with this loaf, like probably at least 10+ before I got it just right so I personally don’t mess with the recipe and just make it as is. Good luck. Keep me posted what you try.

      • Thank you so much for the reply! I will let you know if I end up playing around with the recipe. I should also mention that my husband all but forbade me from messing with this perfect lemon loaf!

      • My advice generally is to leave well enough alone if you someone says ‘it’s the best I’ve ever had’ . :)

  5. I’ve made this recipe many times since I first found it and I love it. I always add frozen organic blueberries and it turns out perfect every time. I’d like to try it in a bundt cake pan and add an orange cranberry relish that I have leftover from another recipe. Any advice on how to do that or if it’s possible to bake in a bundt pan?

  6. Hi
    This recipe looks like somehing I’ve been looking all over the internet for. My sister law makes a lovely lemon loaf butt she hasn’t had the time to give me the recipe….maybe she doesn’t want to share it with me :(
    Can you help me with the gram measurements please? We don’t use cups in the UK. Is all purpose flour plain flour?

    • I think so regarding the flour but you can of course google and research it to make sure. There are online calculators to help you with the measurement conversion because I don’t use grams.

  7. This recipe is spot on! Much better than Starbucks! My new go to lemon loaf recipe. THANK YOU for being so kind and generous with this valuable asset to us bakers in dire need of a lemon loaf fix that’s homemade.

    Rating: 5
  8. Just made this still hot but smells fabulous!!!! I just added raspberries!!!!! I hope it taste as wonderful as it smells!!!!! Thank you
    Had 1 question I could zest 2 lemons but did not get much zest????? What can I do next time if I don’t have lemons?????? Or much zest????😢

    • I would say just buy an extra lemon or so to make sure you get enough. Or possibly your zesting tool isn’t too sharp and you may want to look into that too. Raspberries sound wonderful in this!

  9. Thank you! I followed the directions exactly and it’s perfect. My girls love it. You’re awesome!

    Rating: 5
  10. I just baked the lemon cake and it looks perfect thank you for sharing

    Rating: 5
  11. Can you freeze this?

  12. My husband and I are both Starbucks Lemon Loaf addicts. I’ve tried many copycat recipes over the years. Most are tasty but none have been “it.” This recipe is truly IT. For the few who mentioned texture, if you’ve had Starbucks you know it is a very dense, moist texture. That’s how it is supposed to be. If you’re looking for lighter, more cake-like, the Starbucks recipe is not it. This is a fabulous recipe that I am looking forward to sharing for years to come. Thank you.

    Rating: 5
  13. First of all let me state that I am not a baker. That being said, this seems like an easy recipe, I followed it to the letter. Not very lemony – what did I do wrong?

    Rating: 4
  14. WOW! This is so good! I had a craving for baked lemon goods and I came across this recipe! I didn’t have everything on hand. I used 1c of mayo since I had no sour cream or yogurt. Used a loose, unpacked cup of dark brown sugar because I’m super low on granulated sugar. Lastly, I only had a little less than 1T of lemon zest. Everything else was followed per the recipe. I have a gas oven and this baked at exactly 52 minutes (loosely covered during last 10 mins of baking). I used the entire 2T of lemon extract and I’m glad I did. This is delightful with tea! The glaze is so good. Thanks for sharing! When I make this again, I hope to have the exact ingredients on hand because I know it will be even better. Side note: Surprisingly, the mayo worked (reg, full fat mayo). I think the sour cream will make it slightly crumblier and drier (which is fine & desired). It’s still perfectly moist and flavorful with the substitutions I had to make though. Yuuummm.

    Rating: 5
  15. This recipe is spot on! It’s perfectly sweet, moist, and lemony. This recipe is slightly more dense than the Starbucks lemon loaf. I’ve made it twice now and the only alteration I made was whipping the egg whites and folding them in to the matter after incorporating the flour in order to aerate the batter it worked perfectly and my loaf was more light and delicate.

    Rating: 5
  16. I LOVE lemon loaf and this is the only recipe I use now. It is perfect every time and each time I serve it to others they ask for the recipe. Moist but not too moist and lovely lemony taste. I use the 2 tbs of lemon extract and follow all your instructions to the letter, just can’t see the point of messing with a good thing. I cannot vouch for how well leftovers store because I never have any.

    Rating: 5
  17. this was my first lemon loaf and it was perfect. only thing changed was adding zest to the glaze ( I had too much) and poking holes in the warm cake to glaze. I wanted a crusty top so poured half after 5 minutes of being out of the oven to seep into the holes and then again after 25. It was delicious and stick to your fork kind of moist.

    Rating: 5
  18. Hi there
    I’m a little sceptical about making this as it has veg oil in and I always use butter. Have you tried it with butter. I’ve made so so many of these and not quite found the one, usually my cakes are too light so don’t hold their shape when sliced. I’ve made a lemon pound loaf cake today. It looks great and holds its shape but I feel the texture is not tight

    • Make this as written – read all the great reviews and read my post about HOW HARD I worked to get this just right. It’s perfect as written IMO and in the opinions of hundreds of others.

  19. This stuff is delicious! I substituted the lemon zest for 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice and it turned out fine. This is definitely my new favorite recipe!

    Rating: 4
  20. Okay, I have to giggle, but bear with me a moment.This very well could be the best lemon loaf, but I wouldn’t know (!). I didn’t get any!I made this (as written, no deviations) and took it to a meeting this morning. After setting it up in the kitchen, and from the very first slice taken, I heard “Oh, my God”s. When I took a break after a half hour to grab a slice for myself, I was S.O.L. IT WAS ALL GONE. It had been inhaled! As I was leaving, a member told me that she and an older gentleman agreed it’s the best cake they’ve ever had. I did manage to finger-wipe some crumbs, and it is, indeed, moist and delicious. And it smelled heavenly while it was baking. So I guess I’ll just have to make another one, huh.Thanks for an excellent recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and I’m sorry that you didn’t get any but after a half hour if it was all gone, that’s a great sign! And that’s nice to hear that an older couple said it was the best cake they’ve had!

  21. Yep…. you nailed it!!

    Rating: 5
  22. This loaf is fantastic. I make it all the time and everyone raves over it. I will sometimes make it as raspberry lemon loaf by cooking down frozen raspberries with granulated sugar. I then remove off some batter to mix with the berries and spoon it into the loaf at two separate layers with regular batter in between. It tastes fantastic and adds a nice ribbon of raspberry through the loaf. Thanks again!

    Rating: 5
  23. Mine turned out to be too dense. Why? I followed the instructions precisely

  24. I just bought a slice of lemon loaf from my local bread shop and it was meh. So I’m kinda itching to bake it myself. Looking on the internet and found your recipe. I don’t have lemon extract on hand, so I use 1/3 cup of lemon juice and I rub all the zest with sugar before putting in the mixture. Turn out GREAT and smell so lemony! Thanks for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  25. I would love to try this recipe but wonder if I can substitute vegetable oil for sunflower oil? I’ve never tried Starbucks lemon loaf but make lemon drizzle cake a lot as it’s my little grandson’s favourite. Is this cake similar?

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