Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

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!

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 buttermilk 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 milk 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

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 375kcal

Ingredients
  

Lemon Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract*
  • zest of 1 large lemon or use 1 and ½ lemons if you don't have lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk sour cream works too

Lemon Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar add more until desired consistency is reached
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cream or milk

Instructions
 

Lemon Loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
  • In a separate bowl beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy - this will take at least 3 minutes.
  • Mix in the eggs 1 at a time. Then mix in the vanilla extract, optional lemon extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  • With the mixer on low speed, mix in about ½ of the flour mixture followed by about ½ of the buttermilk. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the flour mixture and buttermilk.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. It will be done when 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 the loaf fully before icing (otherwise, the icing will melt through the cake and run off the sides). 

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

*Optional. The lemon extract will make the flavor more similar to the Starbucks version. 

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 5gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 144mgPotassium: 87mgFiber: 1gSugar: 40gVitamin A: 460IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
Keyword lemon loaf

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. My son wants this for his birthday cake, two tiers and decorated with fondant. Have you ever made it like this? Does it taste good with fondant?

    1. I’m personally not a fan of fondant, so I couldn’t tell you how that would work. I’m also not sure how this would work as a two tiered cake because it’s actually a quick bread. Your best option would be to search google for a great lemon cake recipe.

  2. This is my go to recipe now! Every time I have people over or go to a party, everyone loves the lemon loaf . I make them in to cupcakes as well. So delicious!

    Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe !

    Xox rosa

  3. Has anyone else had trouble printing this recipe, I click print but it just opens up the same window over and over again

  4. Ordering 3 slices of Starbuck’s Lemon Ice from the Barista made me smile. When my youngest daughter was a teen, we would always order 3 slices, spitting the 3rd. But there would always be an argument over who got the biggest slice or the most icing. Thanks for making me remember.

    I have not tried your recipe yet but I have tried to replicate before and I can tell by your ingredients that yours will be much better.

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