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!!

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

  1. Do you think in the filling, I could use lemon curd instead of the lemon extract?

  2. The first time I made this it was perfect. The second time i made it it rose really high and over the edge of the pan. I think I added too much baking powder. The third time I made it I reduced the baking powder but it still overflowed the pan. I haven’t tasted the second and third one yet.

  3. Further to my comment on the baking powder. Shall I reduce to just one teaspoon?

    Rating: 5
  4. This truly is the best lemon loaf I’ve ever had! My husband said it’s awesome too.

    Rating: 5
  5. Averie can this Lemon Loaf be frozen? I would like to make a few loaves ahead of time for a party.

  6. Bless your heart for working so hard on this! (The Lemon Loaf) It’s delish. So many of your recipes I’m going to try, now that I’m retired!! YAY!!

    Rating: 5
  7. Made this twice, reliable delicious recipe for a lemony moist loaf! Actually second time I forgot the oil completely and it’s still fabulous, will be making it this was for a low fat alternative from now on :)

  8. Thanks for sharing this recipe, my first lemon loaf was a great success. Now I don’t need to get it from Starbucks. Your version is wayyyy better. Again, thank you.

    Rating: 5
  9. The BEST and easy, easy to make. Lemon extract difficult to find around me though. I’ve made more than ten of them!

    Rating: 5
  10. Could I substitute zest for lemon juice?

  11. I have to apologize for a poor rating. My lemon extract is expired and that’s where my failure happened.

    • Yes if you used an expired product all bets are off.

      All extracts do vary in their potency. I have tried using less and for me, it’s not lemony enough but you could experiment and use less and see how it goes. I had to remake this loaf dozens of times before I got it right, for us.

  12. I only had coconut oil in my house so I risked it and used coconut oil. While it turned out soft and moist, it came out very oily and the color is just off – not bright and clean. I know it must have been the coconut oil. Can you help explain why coconut oil made it turn out that way? It’s probably edible, but it looks sickly and oily. My fault. Thank you!

    • Coconut oil is not quite the same as other oils when baking and sometimes it makes things exceedingly oily and just doesn’t deliver the results than a canola, vegetable, etc. oil will. I am sure there is a very detailed scientific explanation you can Google for the science behind it. All I can say is that from personal experience, it cannot be subbed 1:1 for other oils in baking across the board.

  13. i love the way you explain why you use what you use, e. g., don’t sub lemon oil for extract, and why not to use fresh lemon juice instead of extract – thank you, very helpful! making it in the morning for sunday coffee..i’ll let you know how it turns out and will rate it then!

  14. excellent in every way: simplicity, presentation (beautiful, wish i had taken a pic! !) , and most important of all – taste! i’m thinking about adding coconut next time (my husband says “don’t mess with the Volkswagen beetle!”) – but like a combo of flavors sometimes…. not a fan of blueberries (to add), never much flavor… thanks for the recipe and your information on why you use what you do… not subbing one ingredient for another when the swap seems comparable…

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad they were perfect!

      Glad you appreciate my tidbits of info about why/why not to swap ingredients.

      And I think addition coconut sounds great! I bet you could use coconut oil and some coconut extract to get some coconut flavor but not overpower it or change the texture by adding actual shredded coconut.

  15. My grandmother, who was a baker (professional, known for wedding cakes), immediately wraps her banana nut bread tightly in foil immediately coming out of the oven. She lets it cool completely in the foil. She said this helps to keep the bread moist. My question, can this same step be done with this bread or do you recommend against? I know ingredients set up differently and I don’t want to ruin my lemon loaf.

  16. VERY good loaf. I made it exactly per instructions. Perfect texture. I adjusted the icing a bit to make it more to my liking (a bit of butter, zest and salt) Overall a big success and exactly what I was looking for!

    Rating: 5
  17. Is it possible to use a healthier oil, like olive oil? I made the lemon loaf and it is delicious but the vegetable oil content is a bit high.

  18. Do you think i could follow the recipe but add frozen/fresh blueberries to it?

  19. If I made this in a 9×9 square metal pan how long should I bake it for?

  20. I absolutely loved how simple this was to make, and the texture and moisture was perfect, I doubled the recipe and made it in my stand mixer, I also added blueberries. I just wish it was a bit sweeter? Has anyone added extra sugar?

    • Glad you loved it and made a double recipe in your stand mixer.

      I would say rather than doing a lemon glaze that’s quite as tart, I would just do a powdered sugar/milk glaze.

      Or you could cut back on the zest and/or extract in the cake. You will lose lemon flavor but it will be sweeter. I’d omit the zest for starters, or halve it, and see how that goes.

  21. My co-workers loved this lemon loaf!. Easy to make and the amount of lemon extract was perfect! I used 2 tablespoon of real lemon extract.

    Rating: 5
  22. I followed the recipe exactly using 2 tablespoons lemon extract as recommended for big lemon flavor. The whole cake turned out really well! It was soooo easy to make and it really did taste like Starbucks. Certainly close enough to satisfy a craving without heading over there. Thanks for allowing me to benefit from your hard work!

    Rating: 5
  23. Excellent recipe. Very easy. Having my first slice this morning with coffee. I am a stickler when it comes to breads, pastries, pies and cakes and this Starbucks-style glazed, lemon pound cake is spot on. I intend to make many more in the future. Thank you for sharing!My only change was that instead of a “drizzle”, I applied a thicker, consistent coating of glaze (icing) over the top just like Starbucks does. Perfect!

    Rating: 5
  24. This recipe is absolutely incredible and keeps so well on the counter in an air tight container – it was at its best on day 2 and 3. I doubled the recipe and baked in 2 9X3 loaf pans. Had to increase the baking time to about 63 mins. I didn’t have any lemon zest so just used the recommended 2Tbs of lemon extract (per loaf). Amazing! Moist (but not oily), flavourful, light!

    Rating: 5
  25. I have cake flour. Can I use that instead of all purpose??

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