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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Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze – Soft, easy, moist blueberry cake with a touch of lemon flavor!

Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

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

 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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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!

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

  1. I absolutely love this recipe but didn’t know if I could make it in a bundt pan.

  2. Do you know what changes I should make for high elevations? I’m at 5200 feet and it makes a difference. Thanks.

  3. Can v use Nestle cream or any other option

    Rating: 5
  4. What lactose free substitute could I use? We don’t have lactose free sour cream or Greek yogurt. This looks so good !

    • We use Fairlife lactose free while milk, a tablespoon of chobani plain yogurt and a can of condensed milk(optional) in the instant pot, whisk them together and press the yogurt button. 8 hours later you have yogurt. My lactose intolerant toddler eats it with no problem.

  5. Yummy!

    Rating: 5
  6. Sounds great! Question: I don’t like baking with veg oilcan i use melted butter instead?

    • Read how much trouble I had perfecting this recipe. Then you will have the answer to that question – stick to the recipe is what I recommend.

      Plus butter makes things much drier than oil in terms of quickbreads.

    • You can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. I usually use half oil half applesauce depending on the recipe. A little healtier kick to boot.

      Rating: 5
  7. Can I use lemon juice instead of lemon extract in the lemon loaf?

    • Read how much trouble I had perfecting this recipe. Then you will have the answer to that question – stick to the recipe is what I recommend.

    • I made this today. I used 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 white whole wheat. I also didn’t make the glaze only because I wasn’t sure how sweet the cake might be. I followed the rest of the recipe as written. I used lemon extract (which was harder to find in the grocery stores than I thought it would be) as directed. It’s delicious and would be good with the glaze but it’s great without. My whole family said “yum!”. Thanks for the recipe.

      Rating: 5
  8. In the video it looks like you’re using dried lemon zest… if so how much fresh lemon zest is recommended?

  9. I followed the recipe using 0% Greek yogurt and the full 2 tbsp. of lemon extract because why make lemon loaf that doesn’t taste like lemons? It turned out exactly as stated and has now become my go-to for lemon poundcake. So happy Avery persevered to perfect it!

    Rating: 5
  10. The lemon loaf is excellent and is always the first item to disappear at our breakfast meetings. I have found that it freezes well and have made it up to two weeks before serving it

    I use a different recipe for the icing which uses lemon extract, milk and powdered sugar and tends to be thicker than the drizzle. It’s all a matter of preference as the lemon loaf is usually gone before I can get a piece.

  11. I’ m waiting for the loaf to cool. I don’t have a good loaf pan, & was worried about using a Pyrex one. It looks great & smells delish!! The foil tent is a must as I didn’t tent my mini loaf & it was dark along the edges. Can’t wait to taste!!

  12. Delicious!

    Rating: 5
  13. I would like to make this for Passover
    could I use almond flour?
    Thank You

  14. This is a great recipe. I have made it twice and it’s turned out perfectly each time. Very easy too. Delicious!

    Rating: 5
  15. This is the BEST. Followed recipe exactly. Hooked on this as my go to recipe.

    Rating: 5
  16. Amazing recipe! Do you know if I can use it to bake a round cake for layering? Thanks a lot! ;)

  17. I followed this recipe exactly. I’ve already hit 56 minutes and it’s still raw batter. I’ve set for another 4 minutes. ????

    • I would check your oven calibration and temperature since that doesn’t sound right. And/or did you measure all the ingredients correctly, including the flour as well as the wet ingredients?

  18. I have lemon oil, how much would you recommend to use instead of extract?

  19. Averie – seems this Winter I’ve discovered how much I enjoy baking again. I just made your Lemon Loaf (Better than Starbucks) this past weekend. Girl oh Girl was it a hit. My sister is already asking for the recipe and she hasn’t even tried it yet. We’re going to video chat and make it together. I’ll be sending her the recipe in a few minutes so that she can gather the ingredients up. I followed your recipe exactly and live at 5280 elevation – DENVER!!!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad you rediscovered baking and that this lemon loaf is a hit!

      Also great to hear that at elevation, without any changes, the recipe works perfectly. Thanks for the info!

  20. Can I make cupcakes with this recipe? Thanks!

  21. I was hoping to do these in small mini-loaves and freeze them with the glaze on for an upcoming bake sale. Do you feel this would work? It looks delicious! Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

  22. Never comment on recipes but I’ve used this one so many times, so good!!!!

    Rating: 5
  23. Is it possible to use gluten-free flour ?

  24. Hey This recipe looks amazing, I was just wondering though, could I use buttermilk instead of the sour cream/ yogurt?

    • I have tried so many ways to make this recipe before I had success if you read what I wrote in the blog post, so I am hesitant to suggest anything that deviates from the recipe as written here.

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