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

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You’re going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

This lemon loaf cake recipe has been beyond a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to make this copycat Starbucks lemon 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.

I’ve tried countless internet recipes for lemon pound cake 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.

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.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

Something as ‘simple’ as a lemon pound cake eluded me for ages until I rediscovered and slightly adapted my own 2012 recipe for Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze. 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 lemon pound cake prayers was right under my nose! 

This lemon sour cream pound cake is 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 lemon loaf 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) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

What’s in Lemon Pound Cake? 

To make this copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe, you’ll need:

  • Eggs
  • Granulated sugar
  • Sour cream
  • Canola oil
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt

And to make the lemon bread glaze, you’ll need:

  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Lemon juice

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

How to Make Lemon Pound Cake

This lemon loaf cake couldn’t be easier to make! First, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and sour cream before drizzling in the oil. Stir in the lemon zest and extract, followed by the dry ingredients.

Turn the lemon loaf batter into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake until the top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter.

The copycat Starbucks lemon loaf needs to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with the glaze! 

Can I Make This Lemon Loaf Gluten-Free? 

I’ve had quite a few readers ask about using gluten-free flour in this lemon pound cake recipe. I’ve only made the recipe as written, but readers have reported success using either Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour. I can’t say for sure if using a gluten-free flour will work, but this is what readers have recommended! 

Can I Freeze This Lemon Loaf Cake? 

Yes, this lemon sour cream pound cake freezes incredibly well. It can be frozen up to 6 months. 

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

Tips for Making Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

A few key things to note about the lemon extract in the cake batter:

  • 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 you can add it to taste.
  • Do NOT use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they’re not — oil is much more potent and intense.
  • Also, do NOT use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it’s not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to make lemon pound cake:

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

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

It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You're going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

Yield: 10
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Lemon 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)*
  • 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

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.

    Make the Loaf:

    1. To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
    2. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
    6. 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.

    Make the Lemon Glaze:

    1. 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.
    2. Evenly drizzle glaze over bread before slicing and serving.
    3. 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.

Notes

  • *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.
  • 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.
  • Recipe adapted from my Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 329Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 233mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 6g

More Lemon Recipes:

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!

Lightened Up Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake — No BUTTER in this healthier cake with big juicy blueberries and refreshing lemon! It’s a keeper!

Lightened Up Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake - No BUTTER in this healthier cake with big juicy blueberries and refreshing lemon!! It's a keeper!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting - Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they're from a bakery!

The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best lemon bars I’ve ever had!

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy cake! 

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze - Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy cake! The lemon glaze is plate-licking delish!!

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! 

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!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

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!!

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!!

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

  1. Really love this recipe. Made it for the 1st time yesterday.Easy recipe.Turned out perfect, I added a little yellow food coloring, to give it that lemon color. Will make this cake for many years to come.Thank you for sharing Averie.

    Rating: 5
  2. Love!!! The family devoured the Lemon Loaf within a 24 hour time span. It came out light, fluffy and lemony. Used only 3/4 cup sugar and half the glaze and it was still sweet enough for my teenagers. Thank you for a wonderful and easy recipe.

    Rating: 5
  3. WOW!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe, Averie. It is truly awesome. Licking our lips over here.

    Rating: 5
  4. I just made this today and it tastes good but texture is more on the rubbery side- maybe it’s because I only had fat free Greek yogurt? Not sure. Everything I make of yours is usually amazing!! If I shouldn’t have done that, I would definitely try it again!

    • That definitely could have caused the difference since there is no fat and whatever they put in yogurt to make it taste good but still be fat free, that chemical probably caused an odd texture in the final result.

  5. I made this Lemon Loaf today and it is divine! I discovered your website while searching for chicken fried rice (the best) and have been a fan ever since. Now, when I’m searching online for a recipe, I go to your site first! Thank you for the amazing recipes! BTW, your photographs are beautiful!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you found my website when you were searching for chicken fried rice and now it’s the first site you go to! That is a wonderful thing for me to hear and I appreciate it very much!! :)

      And thanks for the comments on my photography! Always a work in progress so thank you!

  6. This sounds dangerously awesome!

    I haven’t made it (yet), my question is about the oil. We don’t use Canola. Has anyone substituted olive or avocado oil for the recipe?

  7. I made this loaf this week. It turned out great. Mine did however not have that bright lemony colour. I used very old lemon extract. It had flavour. Has new extract have more colour?
    Thanks
    Heinz

  8. Yummy! This looks so easy and delicious! I was hoping to make it in my 12 cup bunt pan, are there any modifications I should make?
    Thank you

  9. Oh MY!!! Delicious AND easy!! I had a lemon cake recipe that used yellow cake mix and lemon jello that I used for YEARS….no more, this one is amazing! Who doesn’t LOVE the Starbucks Lemon Cake??

    Rating: 5
  10. Can I make this without lemon zest?

  11. THE LEMON CAKE LOOKS DELICIOUS .I WILL TRY IT AND WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT.
    THANKS FOR SHARING .

  12. Hi! Can i have the measurements in metrics please? TIA!

  13. Have you tried to separate the eggs and whip the whites, folding them in a t the end? I love my lemon bread, but it’s always dense. I want it to be light and airy. I will try your recipe and separate the eggs.

  14. It’s the best!

    Rating: 5
  15. This recipe really is better for than Starbuck’s! I’ve made 5 loaves for Christmas presents and gave a fresh lemon and some confectioners sugar so the recipient can make extra icing, which really adds to the deliciousness. Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous recipe!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that you think it really IS better than Starbucks! Obviously so if you’ve made 5 loaves for Xmas presents, how nice of you! Along with a fresh lemon and confectioners sugar! Wow…I wish I had people like you giving me gifts!

  16. I would love to make these as cupcakes! How long and what temperature do you think I should bake them for if I go that route? Thanks!!

  17. When do I make the glaze to put on the loaf

    Rating: 5
  18. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve made this loaf. It is an absolute winner! Everyone I’ve ever made it for loves it. It’s so so easy as well and very forgiving. I have a question. Can this recipe be doubled or tripled?

    Rating: 5
  19. Have some vegans in my family so made this cake exactly as is, except instead of the 3 eggs ,I used 3/4 cup applesauce. Bake time was a few mins longer but it was AMAZING!!! Thans for the yummy recipe!

    Rating: 5
  20. I’m not much of a baker, and I don’t think I’ve ever commented on a recipe.. but WOW! This recipe is AMAZING! It’s easy, which might be the best part, but my partner ADORES it. He gets lemon loafs all over when we are out to eat, but he always prefers this one! About to make it again for his birthday, so of course I’m here to get the recipe! Thank you averiecooks!

    Rating: 5
  21. Very good I will make it again with a little less lemon extract for flavor preference but the texture, sweetness, and moisture is perfect for me! I even used Splenda for my diabetic family they loved it.

    Rating: 5
  22. Honestly just a fantastic recipe. Best lemon loaf I’ve ever made. The only changes I made were adding a quarter cup less sugar and adding lemon zest to the top of the loaf after glazing. I entered this in a baking contest at a Fair and won 2nd place. There were over 18 other entries. I’d say that is proof that this recipe is oneof the best. I suggest baking in a glass loaf pan so the loaf doesn’t get too brown. I also use butter to grease the pan and lined the bottomand sides with parchment paper (almost like you would do to a cheesecake). Thanks for the great recipe! Me and my family love it and make it all the time!

    Rating: 5
  23. I made this and it’s every bit delicious as you said. Loved it enough to write out the recipe for my recipe box!!

    Rating: 5
  24. I decided to make this recipe gluten-free and it was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!!! I used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour and added 1/2 t. xantham gum. It was so light and spongy! You might consider doing a note on your recipe that it can be made gluten-free. Cooking time may need to be adjusted, though.

    Rating: 5
  25. I tried this recipe last night and it was a hit! Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes with us.

    Rating: 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.