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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

Lovely Lemon Recipes

Recipe
Sweet lemon bread, sliced, with lemon glaze.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

4.73 from 398 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 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 slices

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 9×5-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 9×5-inch loaf pan. The size is important! You can use an 8×4-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 8.5×4.5 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
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. I also made it yesterday was thought it lacked lemon flavor even after I added more than called for in the recipe. It was a bit dry.

  2. I made this yesterday. I was a bit skeptical from the picture on the site because there are so many air pockets in the cake which means it could be a bit dry. I did taste the batter before baking and decided to add more lemon extract, and even with the added extract and zest it lacked lemon flavor. other than that I measured everything according to the recipe. The cake baked up nice, however, the taste is nothing like the Starbucks lemon loaf and the texture was spongy. Not even close. The icing doesn’t taste anything like Starbucks icing either, but it’s tasty and tart. Starbucks lemon loaf is more of a pound cake and this recipe is more like a regular lemon cake that’s baked in a loaf pan. Not bad, but I wouldn’t call it a copycat of the lemon loaf. I am a professional baker and this one didn’t work for me.

  3. Hi Kristin!
    I was wondering wether or not one can make this recipe without a mixer?
    Looks great either way!
    Thanks
    Maya

  4. The best cake ever!! Easy recipe to follow & the batter is so good! I made my glaze a bit heavier but it was a perfect compliment to the lemon flavor of the cake! Great recipe?

  5. I’ve got it in the oven right now, and the house smells amazing! The raw batter tasted delicious so I can’t wait to taste the final product! If I wanted to make it in a bundt pan, would you double or triple the recipe?

    1. Make the batter as it – it may be slightly shorter, but doubling the recipe would be too much batter.

  6. I would add a 1/4 cup more sugar.
    It is still very good.
    If I could post a photo you could see how great it turned out.

  7. this recipe seems easy…… I haven’t started yet but your recipe looks very promising… ill try it and let you know about how it went.

  8. I made this using Bob’s Old Mill Gluten Free flour. Be careful to measure exactly it your loaf will be dry. I also made my own buttermilk by adding lemon to whole milk but was not satisfied with the taste or texture. So I added more lemon to the milk and let it sit. I ended up with thick and tasty buttermilk. Definitely use lemon zest. My kids asked for a little less sweetness and a little more lemony. But the pate was clean immediately.

  9. I love to bake and decided to try this as I really enjoy Starbucks baked goods too! I used both Vanilla and Lemon extract, fresh lemon juice and zest. After reading the reviews, I made sure that my baking soda and baking powder were very fresh. I baked it for a full hour and tented it at 45 minutes so it wasn’t too brown. Very happy with the results!

    1. Yes, the notes seems to have disappeared – sorry for that. You can use lemon extract in place of the vanilla.

  10. A great recipe! I made it twice and both times it turned out great. I find the quantity to be too much for the pan, but don’t want to tamper with the quantities and ratios, so I just make a few cupcakes with the left over batter 🙂 Everyone loves this lemon loaf and it keeps well for a few days.

  11. Disappointing. My cake sunk in middle as well. Taste did not burst of lemon flavor. I even used extra lemon zest per recipe. Iced cake after letting it cool for over 3 hours. Icing was thin, transparent…did not look like photo online.

  12. My bread caved in the middle, please don’t put recipes out if they don’t work or give better directions. Possibly a different oven temp could help.

    1. Hi Jane,

      I’m really sorry that this recipe didn’t turn out for you. I always test and retest recipes to ensure that I’m as confident as possible of the results. However, unfortunately, there are sometimes things that can differ from kitchen to kitchen or baker to baker. Often if a loaf sinks in the middle it can be from a few things – either not being baked for long enough, baking powder or baking soda that’s expired, or the wrong size of loaf pan (this recipe is made with a 8×4 inch pan as opposed to a 9×5 inch pan). Thank you for leaving your feedback

  13. I tried this recipe and found the loaf itself did not have the same lemon tartness as Starbucks. The icing was delicious but didn’t find the cake part comparable to Starbucks but it was good.

  14. Bread was so good! Except mine caved in the middle. How to fix this? Also, what did you do to make sure the glaze didn’t absorb into the bread like a poke cake?

    1. The sunken middle tends to happen if the cake was overmixed, so I’d recommend proceeding with caution if you try this recipe again (and I hope you do!). The bread should be completely cooled when you pour the glaze on.

      1. Mine sank in the middle, too. And I was curious to not overmix since I read the comments before starting. At what stage specifically should you be careful to not over mix? I even turned off the mixer at the end of the flour stage and hand mixed the last bit in. Thanks!

        1. Hi Shelby & Megan,

          If your loaf sank in the middle – it can also be due to it not being baked for long enough. If it’s not baked for long enough the middle can still be a little gooey and therefore not support the top (and therefore causing it to sink). As well, using a different sized loaf pan or expired baking powder or baking soda could also be the case. Thanks for leaving your feedback and reporting back!

  15. This one took a little bit of time to make, but it was really worth it in the end! Thx for making me want to get out of bed and eat some of this heaven.