Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

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If you love lemon desserts – then you need to try this Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf! It’s buttery, moist, bursting with lemon flavor, and topped with sweet lemon glaze!

Slices of Starbucks copycat lemon loaf on a plate.

This lemon loaf tops the list of favorite lemon desserts, along with Lemon Pound Cake and Lemon Blueberry Muffins.

Starbucks Famous Lemon Loaf

Have you ever tried the lemon loaf from Starbucks? As much as I love homemade treats, I can’t turn down a slice of their lemon pound cake. It’s so tender and packed so much lemon flavor in every single bite.

When I was a student, I’d go to Starbucks on a Sunday to do homework. And without a doubt – I’d always order a slice of their lemon loaf. It has the perfect balance of delicious butteriness without being greasy, and the lemon flavor packs a punch without being sour whatsoever.

So I wanted to find the perfect Starbucks copycat lemon loaf recipe so that I could make a delicious lemon loaf at home and eat 3 slices without the embarrassment of ordering all 3 from the Barista.

Starbucks copycat lemon loaf with sweet lemon glaze.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf Recipe

To develop the perfect lemon loaf from scratch – I had to do some sleuthing. I first looked at the Starbucks website to see the ingredient list for their lemon loaf. While there’s a ton of ingredients I didn’t understand that are obviously only used in commercial kitchens, I did learn a lot about the ingredients they use.

  1. They use butter instead of oil for the fat.
  2. They’re using lemon juice, lemon peel and lemon oil for the lemon flavor.
  3. Both baking powder & baking soda to help it rise beautifully.
  4. There’s sour cream to keep it moist.

So in order to get a recipe that’s close as possible to the original – I wanted to make sure I had those ingredients in my recipe too. Obviously, they don’t show the exact proportions on their website, so from there it was time to start experimenting in the kitchen.

A freshly cut Starbucks lemon loaf with sweet lemon icing.

Developing the Perfect Lemon Loaf Recipe

The first lemon loaf recipe I tried was too dry – so I knew I needed a little more sour cream and an extra egg to keep it tender and moist. Then the next one wasn’t quite lemony enough. Finally, number 3 was just right. Tender, moist, and bursting with fresh sunshine lemon flavor.

To get a lemon flavor that was the most similar to the Starbucks version, I used lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. I found that the lemon extract made the flavor the most similar to the Starbucks version. However – I know it’s a little harder to come by. So feel free to leave the lemon extract out. Your lemon loaf will still be delicious.

Whether you’ve tried the lemon loaf from Starbucks or not – you definitely need to try Starbucks copycat lemon loaf recipe. It’s perfect for breakfast, a midmorning snack, or even dessert. And the bright lemon flavor makes it taste like sunshine in delicious pound cake form.

Top Tips

  • We have received a lot of comments in regards to the icing. The proportions in the recipe include a note to add more powdered sugar as needed until you have a nice thick consistency. This can vary from kitchen to kitchen depending on personal preference, and what type of milk you use. I’ve updated the recipe with less liquid to start for the icing, but keep in mind that you may have to play around with it to get a flavor and texture that you love.
  • Check for browning as it bakes. If the top is getting too brown, cover with foil.
  • If you want more lemon flavor in the bread and the icing, use lemon extract along with the lemon juice. The flavor will be more intense. It can however have a “fake” taste so be cautious using too much.

Store and Freezing

Your Lemon Loaf will remain fresh for up to 5-6 days when properly stored, or up to 6 months in the freezer.

  • Store leftover Lemon Loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days. Do not refrigerate as this can dry out the cake.
  • For long term storage, you can freeze the Lemon Loaf and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Place frosted lemon loaf (whole or slices) on a sheet pan and pop it into the freezer for 2-3 hours. Once it’s frozen, wrap it up in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, then into an airtight freezer container. Unfrosted lemon loaf you can just wrap and freeze.

A slice of moist Starbucks lemon loaf on a plate.

More Lemon Desserts!

For more lemon desserts, make sure to try these other favorites!

And if it’s savory lemon recipes you’re after, these take the cake!

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Sweet lemon bread, sliced, with lemon glaze.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

4.60 from 215 votes
If you love the lemon desserts - then you need to try this Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf! It's buttery, moist, bursting with lemon flavor, and topped with sweet lemon glaze.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 slices
Calories 398kcal

Ingredients
  

Lemon Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract* or add additional ½ tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk

Lemon Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar add more until desired consistency is reached
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream or milk adjust as needed for consistency

Instructions
 

Lemon Loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour an 9x5-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Set aside. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, with a electric mixer on medium speed, mix the granulated sugar and the eggs for 2 minutes. The extra time helps to incorporate air into the batter which makes the bread more fluffy.
  • Add the melted butter and the oil. Mix to incorporate.
  • Add the vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are combined.
  • Add in the sour cream and mix well. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, approximately ⅓ of the mixture. Mix until almost incorporated and add more. Continue until all the flour is incorporated in the wet mixture. Don’t over mix. Sometimes I will use my hand mixture but finish with a spatula when I only have a little bit of dry flour left.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top feels firm to the touch. If after about 30-40 minutes the top is browning too much, tent a piece of aluminum foil over top and continue baking.
  • Cool completely. Once the loaf is cool, prepare your glaze by mixing all ingredients together

Lemon Icing

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and cream/milk until smooth. Add in more powdered sugar or cream as needed for desired consistency.
  • Remove the cooled loaf from the pan and drizzle or pour over top. 

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. 
  • Melt butter in the microwave then let it cool for a few minutes before adding to the batter. 
  • The original recipe used buttermilk, but I adjusted and now use sour cream instead. It provides more moisture, preventing the bread from turning out dry. 
  • This recipe uses a 9x5-inch loaf pan. The size is important! You can use an 8x4-inch pan, but will need to adjust the time and temperature. It would also result in a thicker loaf and you risk losing moisture.
  • This recipe was updated in May 2022 when we adjusted a few ingredients and swapped out buttermilk for sour cream, reduced the butter and added oil. This adds more moisture to the bread.
  • If you preferred the old recipe - use ½ cup buttermilk instead of sour cream, omit the oil and add an additional ¼ cup of melted butter, and reduce the amount of baking powder and vanilla to ½ teaspoon each. Bake in an 8.5x4.5 loaf pan. 

Nutrition

Calories: 398kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 5gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 139mgPotassium: 131mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 537IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 1mg

Fiona

Fiona blogs over at Just So Tasty where she shares easy, classic recipes for desserts & sweet treats. A peanut butter lover, chocolate connoisseur, and sprinkle addict - she hopes to make your life sweeter, one cookie at a time. She also teaches yoga, because life is all about balance.

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Comments

  1. I was craving this so bad but not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee , I’d rather make everything at home!! Everything was great, I just over backed it thinking that it was still raw bec of how moist it was. I made royal lemon icing which is thicker than the glaze to make it close to the loaf from Star B as close as possible. Lemon royal icing is a game changer.

  2. I live in Colorado at a higher altitude.
    I backed off on the baking powder by 1/4 of a teaspoon.
    I also used plain yogurt instead of sour cream or buttermilk.
    I could have baked it for a few minutes less.
    It was amazing! I love the Starbucks lemon loaf and your recipe gave me so much more satisfaction making it myself and even sharing a few slices with friends.
    Thank you!

  3. I’m planning on making this recipe tonight although I want to use mini loaf pans. Any suggestions please??!!!??? Time sensitive, replies from anyone would be helpful!!!

    1. Hi Wanda, You can certainly use mini loaf pans, but would need to watch the time. I’d suggest 30 minutes and then check every 5-10 minutes.

  4. So much fabulousness!! Modified recipe to make GF by subbing in GF all purpose flour. It came out perfect. It’s been so long since I’ve had lemon loaf … what an amazing treat!!

  5. do you think you could just post the original recipe? i’ve been using this recipe for over a year and was sad when I came here to see something so different :/

    1. Hi Vanessa,

      Unfortunately a lot of people were having trouble with the original recipe so I made a few changes and updated it. The recipe hasn’t changed to much, and the main differences are swapping the buttermilk for sour cream and adding oil. I also recommend a larger pan and as such have slightly increased the amount of baking powder and vanilla to account for the larger volume. There is a not at the bottom telling you the exact changes so you can make the old recipe if you prefer.

  6. Hi: I love this lemon loaf recipe and it was my go to for special occasions. I recently made one for a family occasion the end of April to rave reviews. I tried the updated recipe but preferred the old one. Can you confirm the differences as I would like to make it according to the original recipe. I know the new recipe added oil and swapped sour cream for buttermilk….were there any other changes? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m think I’m going to add the original recipe in the notes. I’m considering going back to the old. Seems to be 50/50 on preference. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. The list of ingredients calls for softened butter. But in the directions it says to add melted butter.
    Which one is it?

    1. It’s melted. We recently updated the recipe and appear to have missed that change in the instructions.

  8. Hey, I’ve done this recepcional a lot and it work for me great. Could you send me the original version?

    1. Hi Gaby, you can read the adjustments we made in the notes section and made the changes back to the original recipe.

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