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

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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 bread 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 Recipe

This iced 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 bread 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 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 loaf 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.

This lemon loaf cake is soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, problems which often plague pound cake. 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!

Ingredients in Lemon Loaf

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

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

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 Loaf

This Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf couldn’t be easier to make! Here’s a look at how this recipe comes together:

  1. First, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and sour cream before drizzling in the oil.
  2. Stir in the lemon zest and extract, followed by the dry ingredients.
  3. 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.
  4. The copycat Starbucks lemon loaf needs to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with the glaze! 
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!

Lemon Loaf FAQs

Can I Freeze Lemon Bread? 

Yes, this lemon bread freezes incredibly well. It can be frozen up to 6 months.

Just be sure to glaze the bread AFTER it’s been frozen and thawed (the glaze can be frozen, but the texture changes slightly). 

Can I Make This Recipe in Mini Loaf Pans? 

Of course, just note that your bake time will vary depending on the size of your pans.

One reader reported success making seven mini loaves and baking them at 350ºF for about 35 minutes, if that helps. However, I can’t speak from personal experience. 

Can I Double This Recipe? 

Most likely, yes. You’d need to bake two 9×5-inch loaves.

A few readers have also asked if they can double the recipe and bake the batter in a 9×13-inch pan or a metal bundt pan. Both options would likely work, although I can’t say for sure. 

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Canola? 

I don’t recommend doing so, as that would change the taste of the lemon bread too much. If you want a lemon olive oil dessert, make my Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe instead. 

Can I Make This Lemon Loaf Gluten-Free? 

I’ve had quite a few readers ask about using gluten-free flour in this copycat Starbucks 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 Use Lemon Oil Instead of Lemon Extract?

No! Do NOT use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they’re not — oil is much more potent and intense.

Can I Use Lemon Juice Instead of Lemon Extract?

No, do NOT use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it’s not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.

How Much Lemon Extract Is Best in Lemon Loaf?

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.

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 bread recipe!

What Readers Are Saying

As you can see on the recipe card, this copycat Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf has over 1,500 reviews on it. And if you scroll to the very bottom of this post, you’ll see the 1,000+ comments that readers have left.

To say that this lemon bread recipe has been tried and tested — and loved! — is an understatement!

Here are just a few 5-star reviews that have been left on this lemon loaf cake recipe:

Delightful! This loaf did not last long in my household – lemony and delicious and a recipe I always come back to.” — Stephanie

I have been making this recipe for a few years! Always gets the best reviews! I poke holes in it so when I add the glaze it goes into the loaf! This is my go to recipe when I am asked to bring a dessert!” — Joan Kasaris

Simple, yet delicious! Baked mine for 40 minutes. It’s a dense, flavourful cake and will be my go-to lemon loaf recipe from now on since I have too been looking for the perfect lemon loaf for a long time. Thanks for finding it for me!!!” — Vivi

Hard to believe a recipe so quick and easy tastes so good. Passed some out to friends and they were amazed at texture and flavor. I followed the reciperight to the end.” — Roger Drenga

This recipe is incredibly delicious, and this was also my very first time baking a lemon loaf. I’m so happy how it turned out, and everyone in our house loved it. Thank you!” — Danielle

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 bread recipe!

Recipe Video

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4.50 from 2694 votes

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

By Averie Sunshine
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!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 10
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Ingredients  

Lemon Loaf

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon extract, to taste (not teaspoons)*
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency

Instructions 

  • 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:

  • To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
  • Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Video

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

Serving: 1, Calories: 329kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 233mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 32g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Easy Lemon Desserts:

ALL OF MY 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!

The Best Lemon Bars 

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!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

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!!
4.50 from 2694 votes (2,275 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Rebeca, and I am glad it was delish and everyone loved it!

  1. You allowed to much advertising at this page. It’s almost impossible to read it at phone screen. I couldn’t even scroll down to list of ingredients. It took few attempts. Please fix it. I’m sure that your recipes are good, but I have no wish to come back to your page because of huge amount of advertising. There literally no place to scroll with a finger, just endless banners. Very sad.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Helene, and I’m glad to hear it’s always a hit and that you believe it lives up to the title!

  2. 5 stars
    RUN to the kitchen to make this recipe this is by far the BEST lemon bread recipe ever. I’ve made this numerous times and it’s the BEST. (Sometimes only using half icing recipe) but 10 stars👍 thank you for this great recipe

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Harriet, and I am thrilled this is the best lemon bread recipe you’ve ever tried! I love hearing praise like this as it sounds like you’ve tried many others.

  3. I printed off this recipe about 2 years ago & only made it recently. I followed the recipe exactly as it was printed & put in the 2 tablespoons lemon extract (which was the entire container except for a half teaspoon). It made the batter very bitter & it was not edible. In checking other lemon loaf recipes, none of them call for that much lemon extract. I will not be using this recipe again.

    1. I am sorry you didn’t have good luck with the recipe. Every now and then I do hear this comment about the batter being bitter, which entirely comes down to the brand of extract you are using. Unfortunately if you don’t use this much (in my dozens of experiments), it does not taste sufficiently lemony enough.

      The other issue that could have potentially happened is that you zested your lemon down to the white (pith) which is very bitter. Only use the top, outermost layer in case you didn’t know that, in order to prevent bitterness.

      Thank you for trying the recipe.

  4. 4 stars
    The flavors were good, but I’m confused by the sour cream measurement. You have 1 cup 8 ounces written, but one cup is 8 ounces. Is it meant to be two cups or is this a typo and you meant to put either cup or 8 ounces?

    I ended up doing two cups and the texture is almost like a firm custard.

    1. It is supposed to be 1 cup, which is 8 ounces.

      Something reset recently with a parentheses not being included and I sincerely apologize! I reformatted the recipe just now to read: 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt

      I apologize for any confusion and I am glad it turned out fine, although custard-like. If you can used 1 cup it would be much firmer, I am so sorry about this error but it is fixed now.

      1. Thanks for fixing! I’ll definitely be giving it another go cause the flavors were great 👍

  5. 5 stars
    I made this gluten and dairy free. I used vanilla goat yoghurt instead of sour cream and doubled the recipe. I baked for 55 minutes. It’s uhhhmazing. Wow.

    1. I am glad to hear you were able to make it GF/DF and double it, too! Glad it’s ahhhmazing for you!

  6. 5 stars
    The best lemon loaf. The only recipe I’ll make now. I have substituted almond extract to make almond loaf. a little almond extract and milk for the glaze. delicious!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Cathy, and I am glad this is the only lemon loaf recipe you make now Cathy!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Kim, and I am so glad it came out great!

      I haven’t tested it with cake flour (which has less gluten, therefore less structure, therefore the rise may not be as good) so you’d have to test it out. It may work, you may need to use a bit more, not sure. I worked super hard to perfect this recipe if you read my trials and tribulations in the post so personally, I don’t tinker with this one anymore!

  7. 4 stars
    Lovely lemon loaf, mind did crack fairly substantially on the top but I expect that’s from over mixing as I added poppy seeds so I had to mix a bit because of that. I don’t fault the recipe for that though. I probably should have added them earlier. I doubled the recipe and made two loaves. Both needed to bake substantially longer than 50-52 mins. One came out around 62 mins and the other around 70 mins. So be prepared to bake longer. Lovely flavour though and the cracks won’t show since I will be topping with a lemon buttercream rather than a glaze.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the recipe!

      If you double a recipe and are baking twice as much in your oven, it’s normal to need to bake things a bit longer overall, to compensate for the additional food in the oven.

    1. Yes that should be fine. Of course, keep an eye on it in the oven depending on the pan size for exactly how long it should bake, but overall you should be fine.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Averie…I am so delighted that I found this recipe. I made it into 3 min loaf pans. I baked the mini loafs 28 minutes & put the tented foil on top of the loaves & baked an additional 10 minutes, Perfect! For the glaze I used only 2 TBSPS of lemon juice & I used a pastry brush to slather the glaze on them. I still had more than enough glaze. We ate one loaf & I’m going to freeze the other 2. I like to share the loaves too. Next time I will double the recipe. I always buy a bag of lemons to zest & juice & freeze in ice cube trays so I always have fresh zest & juice on hand. Thanks again for this recipe. Have a good day!