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

  1. I can’t wait to make this! Just have one question, does it have to be canola oil? Could I use sunflower oil instead??

  2. This recipe has become my go-to for kids’ breakfasts. They were eating those awful Entemann’s mini muffins, and I let them because they were easy. But then I decided that it was time to eat homemade muffins/bakery items. The lemon loaf is a huge hit. I’ve also done this as an orange loaf (which I like better), and a chocolate chip loaf, subbing in vanilla extract in place of the lemon extract. This recipe makes the perfect texture and taste!

    Rating: 5
  3. Asking if the lemon juice in the glaze can be substituted?

  4. Thank you for all the work you did to perfect this recipe. You helped me win first place in our local Fall Fair plus my lemon loaf was considered the best loaf of all the different loaves submitted! Thanks again.

    Rating: 5
  5. Would lemon curd work in place of the lemon extract? Thanks!

  6. My family gobbled it up! Now Im trying to make a dairy-free version with coconut creme and one Tbsp of lemon to imitate the sour cream.: my daughter-in-law is lactose intolerant. Wish me luck!

    Rating: 5
  7. I did this on Sunday, following your instructions to a T! It was… oh-la-la! I had bought the lemon loaf from Starbucks twice and it was so good I wanted to “copycat” it. I found your recipe and it’s a keeper.You’re right about the 2 TBSP lemon extract.One quick question: would adding baking soda make it a tad taller?Thank you for sharing this. Now my aunt in California is asking for it.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it turned out great!

      Yes baking soda will add some lift to the height of the bread but it will also change the texture and if you read the blog post about all I went through to get this recipe perfected, I personally do not recommend tinkering around with things. Since it turned out so well for you, I would just leave things alone :)

  8. Love this recipe! I grab a slice every morning on my way to work, and I’ve been remaking this every time it runs out. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

    Rating: 5
  9. I will never buy Lemon Cake at Starbucks again. This cake is so easy and delicious. Thank you

    Rating: 5
  10. I have made this recipe as is for a while now and it always gets rave reviews! I was wondering if it could be made in a Bundt pan?

    Rating: 5
  11. I wish i had a picture! I made this for MIL’s bday. Since Birthday warrants for cake, I set this in a 9 inch cake pan and pulled it out 10 mins earlier. I also ran out of white sugar so i had to substitute with more than half of brown sugar. Once cool i halved it from the centre (took the top off) and added the glaze as well as on the top. To please my 5 yr old, i also added sprinkles and VOILA…. This cake turned out to be DIVINE. Thank you for sharing this recipe, its quick, delicious and I will make this over again.Wonder if you have a simple orange cake recipe too?Starbucks — thanks to Averie, I will not seek you out again!

    Rating: 5
  12. The lemon extract is 83% alcohol. I used four T for a double batch. The finished product had a slight alcohol aftertaste so next time I will pour the extract into a small bowl several hours prior to adding to the recipe to see if the evaporation of the alcohol in the extract will reduce the harsh alcohol aftertaste.
    I also used a hand mixer on low speed for the entire recipe. Both loaves came out great.

    • Good thought process…I wonder if too you could gently heat the alcohol, not to the point of letting it boil, but that just the heat could denature some of the alcohol and/or soften the flavor.

      And/or you could pour the whole 2 oz bottle into a kettle and actually let it come to a boil for a minute or so, and then from that use your 3-4 tbsp in the bread.

      Various experiments could be done! I already experimented enough though with this recipe :)

      Glad to hear both loaves came out great!

  13. This smells so good, just came out of the oven and looks delicious can’t wait to try it . Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.

    Rating: 5
  14. Exquisite! Made it for my young adult group at church and they adored it. So lemony and moist~

    Rating: 5
  15. I have made your lemon bread 5 times since discovering your recipe and someone always asks for the recipe. (In fact just took it to a gathering just yesterday, and there was not one piece left! ) I follow your ingredients exactly and used 2 tablespoons of pure lemon extract! I agree…It is so ‘lemony’ and delicious.

    Rating: 5
  16. Just made a double batch. The store was out of lemon extract so used orange extract instead and was amazing. Super moist and very tasty for breakfast the next morning! Second loaf goes home with me for my kids…I’m thinking orange loaf and cream cheese sandwiches one day next week for them. I know you’re not a fan of tinkering, but my orange extract was a mix of rapeseed oil and orange oil. Given that, do you think a few drops of lemon essential oil instead of extract would work, especially since there’s oil in the cake already?

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and glad that you doubled the recipe to send one home with your kids!

      Given that, do you think a few drops of lemon essential oil instead of extract would work, especially since there’s oil in the cake already? = Would probably be fine but I cannot say for absolute sure.

  17. I love this loaf! It was so delicious. Served it up to a friend who just absolutely loves anything lemon. She said it was better than hers. I actually did not have enough canola oil and I ended up using 1/4 cup of olive oil to make up the difference. Could not tell. I am directing many friends to this site.

    Rating: 5
  18. Anyone….Do you have any adjustments for high altitude over 5,000 ft? Thank you?

    • I personally can’t suggest much since I don’t have expertise baking at altitude but there is so much on Google about what to add, do differently, etc.

    • I do! Decrease your sugar to 3/4 cup, Increase your flour by 2 Tablespoons and decrease your baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoons.

      • DLK… thank you for your response for high altitude…are these changes for the posted recipe for two loaves? If so, 2 cups sugar to 3/4 cup? I get the added flour, but 2T for two loaves or 4 T for two loaves? Also, two loaves only calls for 1 t baking powder? Thank you for your quick response!

      • The adjustments are for the recipe posted. Not a double batch. The recipe only calls for 1 cup of sugar so you decrease that to 3/4 cup. The flour is increased 2 Tablespoons for each cup of flour in the recipe.

  19. Thank you for the time and patience it took to come the outstanding results. I was a non-baker until I found this recipe in 4/2019. Now I can turn this cake out in no time at all. I’ve never had a problem. I even altered it using vanilla or almond extract and no lemon rind for a friend who doesn’t like lemon, still great results. Baking one as I type. Thanks Averie for my new undertaking.

    Rating: 5
  20. I’ve made this cake twice now and both times it was amazing. A very moist cake and very easy to make. It was a big hit with everyone who tried it 😊

    Rating: 5
  21. The texture of the bread was great, moist and dense. The lemon flavor of the actual loaf was on the milder side, following the 2 tablespoon lemon extract on the recipe. To get a more potent lemon taste, will proabably add an additional tablespoon next time. I added half teaspoon of lemon extract for the glaze as well, which helped boost the flavor.

    • Glad you enjoyed the bread and all extracts do vary in their potency. Some people would find 3 tbsp way too strong but it sounds like with the kind you’re using and the flavor profile you’re looking for, that you could go for it next time.

  22. When life gives you lemons, make this amazing lemon loaf!I wanted to make something for my young daughter who was not feeling well – WOW this hit the spot.We loved it so much I made it again two days later.Great recipe and so easy, even a Dad like me can make it.I even doubled down on the lemon extract in the batter and juice in the icing.Thanks for sharing Averie!

    Rating: 5
  23. Just made this loaf while substituting with Lime instead of lemon. I also chose to put them in mini loaf pans which takes 10 min less time to cook. They turned out beautifully! The texture is silky and the flavor is perfect! I did microwave my pure lime extract to remove some of the alcohol and I cannot taste any weird aftertaste. The only thing I noticed is that this is a lighter loaf than a true pound cake and to be fair I have never had a Starbucks pound cake so I have no comparison except my lemon pound cake that has a pound of butter in it.

    Rating: 5
  24. After tasting this at SB’s, I became obsessed with finding a recipe. Yours was the first one I came across. No need to look any further. I followed the recipe precisely, though I used only 1 tbs. extract, rather than two.. and admittedly added more glaze than your recipe required…. don’t judge, please. In any case, it was absolutely fabulous and honestly just a little bit better than the SB version. In the SB version, I tasted something that was just a tiny bit off-putting, probably preservatives, and your recipe was free of that taste. It is a winner at my house – I’m sharing it today with coworkers. I expect i”ll be making it many, many times in the future. I’d love to leave you a pic of my results, but I don’t think that’s an option here.Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  25. Thank you!! I’ve been craving lemon everything and this cake hit the spot! It’s so deliciously moist and lemony! I brought some to work and everyone is amazed!!

    Rating: 5

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