Filed Under: Dessert | Spring

Lemon Pound Cake Loaf

By Tessa Arias
  |  
March 10th, 2021
4.89 from 287 votes
4.89 from 287 votes

Ultra buttery and bursting with fresh lemon flavor, this Lemon Loaf Pound Cake is a spring favorite! The batter takes just minutes to make and will win the heart of any Starbucks lover!

Yield: 1 9x5-inch loaf

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Tons of bright fresh lemon flavor! The perfect balance of sweet and tangy.
Texture: Unapologetically buttery and moist with a thick, luscious glaze on top.
Ease: The batter comes together in minutes.
Pros: The most perfect spring treat.
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Absolutely. Any lemon lovers will go crazy for this recipe.

Dare I say it: this Iced Lemon Pound Cake Loaf tastes even BETTER than the Starbucks Lemon Loaf recipe.

(And it’s certainly much cheaper!)

homemade lemon pound cake with a glaze on top

Right behind chocolate, lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Both in sweet or savory dishes!

Now that spring is upon us I was craving something bright and sweet but still rich and satisfying.

I knew I wanted to tackle perfecting the lemon loaf. I envisioned something ultra moist and buttery and bursting with lemon flavor.

Many lemon recipes seem to lose the intensity of lemon flavor after baking, so I had to find a way to pack a strong lemon punch without using difficult to source ingredients!

The resulting recipe just below was heavily inspired by both Baked and Cooks Illustrated recipes. I tested batch after batch, tweaking and experimenting until I was obsessed with the final result!

slices of homemade moist lemon loaf on a wooden board

How to Make Lemon Pound Cake Loaf

What is pound cake?

Pound cake is traditionally made with a pound of each of the four main ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. Despite the fact that this makes a traditional pound cake recipe easy to remember, it doesn’t always produce the best results. You’ll see my recipe below still uses a lot of butter and sugar but the ratios vary slightly.

Ingredients you’ll need for moist lemon pound cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemons – TONS of zest and juice for maximum flavor
  • Eggs
  • Butter – the butter is melted instead of creamed!
  • Sour Cream (or full fat plain unsweetened yogurt)

Do I have to use cake flour?

This recipe uses half all-purpose flour and half cake flour for the best of both worlds. When using only all-purpose flour the loaf has more of a muffin texture. When using only cake flour the loaf is too delicate and crumbly.

While you can use only all-purpose flour, I’d highly recommend using real cake flour for the best results. Learn more about the science of cake flour (and why I don’t use DIY substitutes) here.

Why does this recipe require a blender or food processor?

Like all pound cakes, this is a high ratio cake. Meaning there’s as much or more sugar as there is flour. This provides a beautifully moist tight crumbed texture without needing to cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer.

Instead, a blender or food processor not only assists in making quick and easy work of making this batter, but it also helps emulsify all the rich ingredients together into a smooth batter.

The last ingredient is the melted butter, which must be drizzled in a steady stream as the blender or food processor goes to perfectly emulsify.

sugar in a processor for homemade lemon pound cake loaf

Can I use a different sized pan?

This recipe uses a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan for best results.

To cook in a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan:

Add about 5 minutes to the baking time. This is the pan I use for smaller loaves. Loaves baked in this slightly smaller pan will rise higher and look taller, more like what you’d see in a bakery case.

If you use an even smaller pan, you may run the risk of the loaf collapsing slightly in the center. Especially if you live at higher altitudes.

To cook in a bundt cake pan:

Double all ingredients and bake in a well greased 10 to 12 cup bundt pan and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. OR, use my Lemon Bundt Cake recipe which is more light and cakey than this pound cake recipe.

To cook in glass or ceramic pan:

I tested this recipe in a metal pan because it conducts heat quickly and efficiently. Glass and ceramic are slower conductors of heat, so if you use this style pan you’ll need to decrease your baking temperature to 325°F and increase your baking time by about 10 minutes.

The trick to bright lemon flavor in pound cake (even after baking):

Lemon flavor can dull during the baking process. That’s why this recipe calls for two whole tablespoons (not teaspoons!) of both lemon zest and juice. Then there’s a tablespoon of fresh juice in the glaze which helps give a fresh punch of lemon flavor. You’ll need about 3 lemons total!

How to make lemon glaze for pound cake:

You’ll just need 3 ingredients for the lemon glaze: powdered sugar, a lemon, and milk or cream. Whisk together the glaze ingredients until thick but pourable. The consistency of your glaze will depend entirely on the brand of powdered sugar you’re using and how humid it is in your kitchen.

To make the lemon glaze thinner: add more lemon juice or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.

To make the lemon glaze thicker: add more powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time.

How to store lemon pound cake loaf:

The glazed loaf can be covered in foil or plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Can I freeze lemon pound cake loaf?

Yes! Wrap unglazed loaf tightly in plastic wrap and store for 1 month. Your loaf will likely develop a moist or tacky surface on top but the glaze should disguise it nicely.

close up of copycat starbucks lemon loaf with icing dripping
slice of buttery and moist iced lemon pound cake loaf

More Scrumptious Lemon Desserts to Try:

4.89 from 287 votes

How to make
Lemon Loaf Pound Cake

Yield: 1 9×5-inch loaf
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Ultra buttery and bursting with fresh lemon flavor, this Lemon Loaf Pound Cake is a spring favorite! The batter takes just minutes to make and will win the heart of any Starbucks lover!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (85 grams) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream

Directions

Make the loaf:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.

  3. In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Pulse a few times to evenly distribute the zest. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and sour cream and pulse until combined. On low speed, gradually drizzle in the melted butter in a slow steady stream until well combined.

  4. Make a well in the dry ingredient mixture. Pour in the wet ingredients. Mix gently with a rubber spatula until just combined. Batter will be slightly thin.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes if using a metal pan, or once an internal temperature of 200-205°F is reached.

    If using a glass or ceramic pan, decrease your baking temperature to 325°F and increase your baking time by about 10 minutes.

  6. Cool in pan for 15 to 20 minutes then run a thin flexible knife around the edges before inverting onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients until thick but pourable. Add more juice or milk to thin out or more sugar to thicken until your desired consistency. Spoon over the loaf, letting it drip down the sides if desired. Let set for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  2. The glazed loaf can be covered in foil or plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Recipe Video

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon loaf, lemon pound cake

June 2021 Baking Challenge

This recipe was the June 2021 pick for our monthly baking challenge! Every month you can join the challenge by baking the recipe and snapping a photo for a chance to win prizes! Click here for full challenge details. Check out everyone’s loaves:

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Callie — August 26, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Hi! Do you have any tips for using a stand mixer for this recipe? I don’t have a food processor but I need this loaf cake in my life!!

    • #
      Emily — August 26, 2021 at 9:09 am

      Hi Callie 🙂 You’re welcome to use a mixer but just know the results won’t be exactly the same since a mixer doesn’t blend the ingredients together the same way. Please let us know what you think!

  2. #
    Sue Darwell — August 22, 2021 at 1:44 am

    Delicious and so easy. I just need help with the loaves sticking in the tin! I made mini loaves with this recipe but they stuck fast in the tins

    • #
      Emily — August 23, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Hi Sue! So happy you enjoyed this recipe! You definitely want to grease your pans well. For next time, you could try greasing your pans, adding a layer of parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment paper. That way you’ll have something to grab onto when pulling the loaves out. Hope that helps!

  3. #
    Karla Camilo — July 6, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    Hello!! How many people could eat from this loaf

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Typically a 9×5 loaf pan has 12 servings, but it all depends on how thin your slices are. Keep in mind people will be wanting seconds too 🙂

  4. #
    Melissa — July 3, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Hi, one more question – above you link the USA loaf pan but the linked one is 8.5×4.5 and you mention it needs to be 9×5 so I wanted to see if that specific 8.5×4.5 can be used?

    • #
      Melissa — July 3, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      It doesn’t look like my other question posted so I’m kids asking again – I’d like to make this the day before because I need to travel with it the next day, if I refrigerate it and keep it in a cooler bag for the drive can it stay fresh longer than the 2 days room temperature that you’ve mentioned?

      • #
        Tessa — July 5, 2021 at 10:13 am

        Keeping it in a cooler should help! Be sure to keep your loaf covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. I didn’t realize you were attempting to travel with this loaf when I responded to your other question, but you could still freeze this loaf after making, and then let it thaw in the cooler bag during the drive. Just glaze when you get to your destination! Hope that helps 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — July 5, 2021 at 10:05 am

      Yup, tried and tested 🙂 Enjoy your lemon loaf!

  5. #
    Melissa — July 3, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Hi, will it last a little longer than two days if it’s refrigerated once it cools down? I want to make it a day before it would be tried so I’m hoping it can stay fresh a little longer than the 2 days room temperature (even though all comments show it’s eaten within that time frame lol)

    • #
      Tessa — July 5, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Mine hasn’t lasted longer than that either, so I can’t say for sure haha! I know reviewers have frozen this loaf in the past, then thawed in the fridge and glazed at that point if that helps!

  6. #
    Andrew Hernandez — June 30, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    This isn’t a 5 star recipe at all. IT’S A DAMN 10 STAR RECIPE

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Woohoo!! I’m thrilled you loved it!

  7. #
    Erica Holm — June 30, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    I am not really a fan of the Starbucks Lemon loaf even though I love lemon. That being said, this recipe is incredible! So fresh and lemony! I’ll definitely make this again!

  8. #
    Andrew Hernandez — June 30, 2021 at 9:48 pm

    Only way to describe this. F*CKING DELICIOUS

  9. #
    Andrew Hernandez — June 30, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    I’m not normally a fan of lemon pound cakes, or anything baked that has lemon, but I actually liked this recipe, my brother and mom loved it, my brother also said it has the perfect texture to be made into cake pops, which probably could’ve been a good idea.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 10:04 am

      I’m definitely intrigued on the cake pops! Or, loaf pops? haha! Let me know how that experiment goes if you ever try it out!

  10. #
    Renisha — June 30, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    This cake was super moist and had the right amount of lemony flavor!

  11. #
    Amy — June 30, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    This was really simple to make, and it was extremely moist. Definitely not a dry bread at all! I did have to bake mine for extra time, but using an instant read thermometer made it easy to know when to take it out.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 9:49 am

      Perfect! I’m glad you went with the internal temp for a great outcome 🙂

  12. #
    Cynthia Jarvis — June 30, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Taste is fabulous! Just the right amount of lemon. Had a hard time finding the correct size pan. I had one a little too small and after visiting 9 stores purchased one a little too big. So that was a challenge. Loaf was a little flat as a result, but still a good bake.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this! For future reference, I normally include a link in the pink tip box above each recipe to my favorite pan/tools 🙂

  13. #
    Madeline Rauch — June 30, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    This recipe is everything you could want in a lemon pound cake. It’s wonderfully lemony and has that perfect, moist pound cake crumb. Plus, it’s surprisingly easy to make! This has become a new favorite in my house.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 9:37 am

      Ecstatic to hear that!

  14. #
    Lindsay Sudut — June 30, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Very nice! Second time I’ve made this recipe and it’s easy to put together, with ingredients I had on hand!

  15. #
    Ginger — June 30, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Love love lemon! So was a great challenge month 🙂

  16. #
    Nicole — June 30, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    This pound cake is delicious and the recipe is so easy to follow!! Highly recommend!

  17. #
    Lesa Cooper — June 30, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    This is my family’s favorite new recipe! We also use oranges instead of lemons sometimes and turns out great! Have made it at least 6 times in the last few months!!! 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 9:52 am

      oh my gosh haha! I’m absolutely thrilled this recipe is such a hit!! Love the citrus substitution choice, yum!

  18. #
    Rita Zelig — June 30, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Everyone loves this Lemon Loaf Pound Cake! They must watch sugars, so I make a thinner glazing…but otherwise I don’t change a thing! It’s gone 30 seconds after I serve it! Easiest & most delicious recipe out there! Makes great hostess gift too!❤️☕️☺️

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 10:08 am

      This would be a perfect hostess gift, great idea, Rita! I’m so happy this loaf is such a hit every time you make it 🙂

  19. #
    Nancy Burch — June 30, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Lemon loaf pound cake. This turned out to be a lemony moist cake with a touch of glaze.

  20. #
    Taryn — June 30, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    Yummy! I ran into a few hiccups along the way (totally user error, lol) but it still turned out delicious! I’ll definitely be making this again so I can correct the hiccups.

    In case you’re wondering about the hiccups, my loaf pans are dark so it overbaked. (Always trust your nose. It will tell you when your baked goods are done cooking.) And my food processor doesn’t have a low setting. Just on, and “on” is high speed! Next time, I’ll be using my Vitamix so I can control the speed. 🙂

  21. #
    Amy Rowson — June 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Great tasting! Just had issues getting it out of the pan and the center needed more cooking time while the rest was done. I will try again tomorrow but will line the pan with parchment paper and poke an upside down flower nail into the paper spraying all well. The nail should help the cake bake more evenly.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2021 at 10:02 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed this, Amy! If you plan to use parchment, I’d recommend still spraying the pan, then adding the parchment, and then spraying the top of the parchment to ensure ease of removing the loaf. I haven’t had any issues with this loaf baking up properly, how did yours turn out?

  22. #
    Cherish — June 30, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    This lemon pound cake is not so easy to make! It is extremely moist and refreshing! And, I truly believe that it becomes even more moist and refreshing with age! Deliciously yummy!!!

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