This delicious lemon loaf is the perfect way to brighten up a day! With its light and airy texture, it's a treat that you won't be able to resist! Plus, it's super easy to make. Follow our recipe and have yourself a slice of this zesty dessert in no time!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
What is lemon loaf?
Lemon loaf is a perfectly moist lemon cake that tastes like a cross between pound cake and citrusy lemonade, having a mix of sweetness and zing while bursting with fresh lemony flavor. Sweet and tart lemon flavors together make up its flavor profile. It is a quick bread made with lemon juice and lemon zest and its light and refreshing nature makes it flexible, good for breakfast, brunch or dessert.
Lemon loaf tends to be moist and dense and is often flavored with a white lemon glaze (a combination of icing sugar lemon juice). The loaf is a pale yellow color with bright translucent white frosting. It can be considered a lemon pound cake, but it is not quite the same.
Whether you're looking for an easy cake recipe to make for breakfast or brunch, or something special to serve at a party or potluck, lemon loaf is always a hit!
Did Starbucks discontinue lemon loaf?
Starbucks lemon loaf was for a time discontinued, but it was brought back in 2014 following much grumbling and outrage from all of us who love lemon desserts.
Happily, the lemon bread remains on the menu. The recipe was somewhat tweaked when it was brought back and now Starbucks calls it “Iced Lemon Loaf Cake,” a reference to the icing that tops the cake.
The Starbucks version inspires the recipe in this post, but also from memories of my grandmother's lemon cake, I enjoyed so much as a kid.
What Ingredients are used to make Lemon Loaf?
This amazing lemon loaf recipe is made with simple ingredients such as all purpose flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, a little salt, some sour cream, vegetable oil or canola oil, lemon juice, lemon extract and lemon zest.
The glaze on top is made from a combination of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Lemon zest is sprinkled over top of the freshly glazed lemon loaf for flavor and good looks!
How to make Lemon Loaf – Overview
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make the best lemon loaf from scratch!
Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F and by greasing a 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. You can line the pan with parchment paper if you like, but I don’t find it absolutely necessary.
In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine eggs, granulated sugar, and sour cream until smooth. You can use an electric mixer for this, but I find it’s easy enough to mix by hand with a spoon. Next, add the lemon zest and the lemon extract, and combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, using a whisk, combine the flour, baking powder (not baking soda!), and salt. To the wet ingredients, add the flour mixture and combine until the dry ingredients just start to dissolve into the wet – do not overmix! If you see any lumps in the batter, don’t worry! That’s ok and actually preferable, as it means you haven’t overworked your batter.
Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely (while still in the pan) on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes or until room temperature.
Serve the cooled lemon load sliced with lemon icing or glaze over top. You may also want to make extra glaze to serve on the side to drizzle more over the top if desired.
For more lemon flavor, add lemon zest to your glaze if you like! I like to sprinkle curls of lemon zest over top of the loaf just after pouring over the glaze.
Lemon Loaf – Recipe Variations
Whether you're looking for a traditional lemon loaf recipe or something more unique, there are many ways to make this light and fluffy treat.
- Before serving, sprinkle a few curls of lemon peel on top
- Instead of using lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest, you could try using other citrus fruit such as lime, orange, etc. Try using lime juice and lime zest to make it into a lime cake.
- Similarly, instead of using lemon juice and lemon zest, use orange juice and orange zest. This would make a yummy orange cake/loaf!
- Fold in fresh berries or chocolate chips for some delicious extras.
- Add rosemary or thyme to the batter for a savory version. Lemon and rosemary go really well together!
- Add a streusel topping for extra crunch.
- Instead of sour cream, you can try using Greek yogurt.
Can I substitute bottled lemon juice for fresh lemon juice?
Yes, you can substitute bottled lemon juice for freshly squeezed lemon juice in this recipe. However, I would not recommend it. For the best taste and to achieve that bright lemon flavor, there is no comparison to freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Does lemon loaf cake need to be refrigerated?
No. Once you've baked your lemon loaf, it will last up to four days, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Because of the citrus flavor, many think lemon loaf should be stored in the refrigerator. However, this is not strictly necessary and can dry out the bread if not packaged correctly.
How long does a lemon loaf last?
How do you keep lemon loaf fresh?
When stored in an airtight container, lemon loaf lasts up to four days at room temperature. If you want to keep the lemon loaf fresh for longer, it is fine to store it in the fridge for up to a week. Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap (cling film) or aluminum foil before putting it in the fridge.
When it comes to freezing lemon loaf, you can either freeze the whole loaf or slice it first and then freeze the slices. If freezing the entire loaf, be sure to wrap it tightly in cling film or aluminum foil before putting it in the freezer. It will keep for up to three months stored this way.
If you're freezing slices of the lemon loaf, you can simply pop each slice into a freezer bag, and they'll be good for up to 3 months.
To thaw frozen lemon loaf, just leave it out on the counter at room temperature for a few hours or overnight. If you're in a hurry, you can defrost it in the microwave on the defrost setting.
What to Serve with Lemon Loaf
While lemon loaf alone is incredibly delicious, there are plenty of scrumptious ways to take it to the next level! Here are some ideas:
- Spread some raspberry jam over your slice of lemon loaf since raspberries go really well with lemons.
- Spread some strawberry cream cheese over your lemon loaf for a nice complimenting flavor. Plain cream cheese would work as well, but there's something super special about the mix of strawberry with fresh lemon flavor too.
- Pumpkin Spice Latte makes for a perfect companion.
- Lemon goes well with many kinds of berries, so a plate of raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries also makes for a nice healthy side to your lemon loaf.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsps baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 2–3 tbsps lemon extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup + 3 tbsps confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar)
- juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. You can line the pan with parchment paper if you like, but I don't find it absolutely necessary.
- In a mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine eggs, sugar, canola oil, and sour cream until smooth. You can use an electric mixer for this, but I find it's easy enough to mix by hand with a spoon.
- Add the lemon zest and the lemon extract, combine.
- In a separate mixing bowl, using a whisk, combine the all purpose flour with baking powder and salt.
- To the wet ingredients, add the flour mixture and combine with a wooden spoon. Combine until the dry ingredients just start to dissolve into the wet – do not overmix! If you see any lumps in the batter, don't worry! That's ok and actually preferable as it means you haven't over worked your batter.
- Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool (while still in the pan) on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes or until room temperature.
- Glaze the lemon loaf once it has cooled completely, then serve sliced. You may also want to make extra glaze to serve on the side to drizzle more over the top if desired.
To make the Glaze:
- Combine confectioners sugar with lemon juice. Smash any lumps using the back of your spoon. Pour glaze over the top of your lemon loaf once it has cooled completely.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Baked Goods/Desserts
- Method: Oven