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. Can I add raspberries to this to make a lemon raspberry loaf? What do you suggest?

    • Yes that sounds delish! I would go with 1/2 to 3/4 cup to start with, see how that looks, and add more depending on taste prefs and how it looks (skimpy or sufficient). LMK how it goes!

  2. I am obsessed with Starbucks Lemon Loaf so I decided to try and make it at home to save some money, I looked up recipes and came across yours! I made it today and I am so impressed at how amazing this is and how easy it was to make! Thank you for finding a way to copy it! I am now going to use your other recipes for how good everything looks!

    Rating: 5
  3. Hello, I want to try this recipe but due to my dietary restrictions I cant use lemon extract. Is there a non-alcoholic substitute I can use instead?

  4. Love lemon, I used lemon flavored Greek yogurt and my cake/loaf was GREAT. Thank you so much for this recipe. It’s a keeper.

    Rating: 5
  5. Averie, can I use Splenda instead of sugar?

  6. Came out great. I think you can use half the recipe for the glaze. Way too much for this cake. Also, I used the same recipe and just substituted vanilla for the lemon and used 3 tablespoons. Came out great. Nice vanilla pound cake for people that don’t like lemon.

    Rating: 4
  7. Could I make this in a bunt pan?

  8. Just realized i don’t have a loaf pan =( can i use anything else?

  9. Mine came out a little dry. Any suggestions? I live at a high altitude if that helps.

    • Cut back the flour by 2 tbsp or so, bake for slightly less time, add an extra 2 tbsp sour cream/Greek yogurt, make sure you’re using full-fat products.

      Any combination of those should help with the moistness level.

  10. I’m definitely trying this.

    Apparently it’s so good, someone else might have copied it: https://recipesofholly.com/lemon-cake-recipe/

  11. Do you need to use lemon zest? That looks difficult to do.

  12. I cannot find lemon extract. What can I use instead please?

  13. Hi
    Thanks so much for all your effort with this as I love Starbucks lemon pound cake! I made it last night and whilst it tastes delicious (lemon flavour is spot on) the texture of my cake wasn’t quite the same…..more air holes and not as moist…..I’m not the best baker in the world, did I over stir it maybe? I’ll definitely try it again but any tips would be great! Thanks again

  14. Ah ah ah. Such a great recipe (Quebecer here). My wife and my co workers loved it. I was already a fan of your healthy blueberries muffins. It’s amazing that almost 2 days later it was as moist as day one… I couldnt test its longetivity more because it was so good we ate it fast 😍

    Rating: 5
  15. If using the Greek yogurt, do you recommend vanilla or plain flavor?

  16. Has anyone made this with poppy seeds? Would a couple of spoons of poppy seeds throw off the balance of the cake?
    Thanks

    • I haven’t personally but it’s on my to-bake list. And no, it wouldn’t throw anything off. LMK if you try it and how it goes!

      • Made the Lemon Cake with poppy seeds and it turned out great! Added 2 TB of poppy seeds (might be too much for some) and it added a nice crunch. Thanks for the recipe!

      • Glad this turned out great with poppy seeds! I have been meaning to do this myself and am going to this spring! :) Thanks for the motivation!

    • Tried with 2 tablespoon of poppy seed. Doesnt change taste but i didnt liked the crunch thing. Tried also with only one tablespoon of lemon extract (watkins one) and it wasnt enough lemony. Will stick to original recipe. That said my next experiment will be to use muffins mold 😁 I have also tried with 1 tbs of butterum extract and 2 tbs of lemon extract and it had a great success.

  17. Hi Averie, What is your loaf pan size? And how many loaves does the recipe make?Thanks.

    Rating: 5
  18. Averie, I made this today and it turned out great. I’ve always loved the Starbucks lemon loaf. Thanks for all your work in putting this together.- John

    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.