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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

4.74 from 467 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
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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. 
Keyword lemon loaf

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

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

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. Roberta Watson says:

    I made the cake and the center of my loaf sunk then there was a hole and I realized the center wasn’t cooked. Any tips?

  2. WH says:

    I just put this in the oven. I am so excited to try it. I just know by how fluffy the batter was, it’s going to be amazing. I have tried a few copy cat recipes for this and was disappointed. I think you nailed it on this one. I appreciate that you kept tweaking it til you were satisfied. I too used all lemon instead of extract. I’m sure the sour cream will put this over the top. I’m so tired of paying $4.95 for one slice of this at Starbucks but it’s too good to give up. Thank you for this!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Wonderful! Please let us know how it turned out!

  3. JKr says:

    Made exactly as described with the lemon zest added instead of lemon extract and loved it. It was a huge hit at a family gathering. I will save this recipe to use again!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thats’s awesome JKr! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Kathy says:

    Very good

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Kathy!

  5. Lynn says:

    I have tried this recipe very successfully following the directions, almost exactly as is, I did add some lemon pudding to the mix and only baked it for 40 minutes, It was WONDERFUL, my friends really enjoyed it. My question is could I add lemon curd to the mix and what would I leave out if I did use this?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Lemon curd would be sweet so maybe cut the sugar. But it would definitely be a different recipe so I can’t confirm how it would turn out.

  6. Melissa says:

    I wanted to like this bread, especially considering all of the high reviews, but I just really do not. The texture is very “eggy” compared to other recipes I’ve made. And the lemon flavor isn’t strong enough for me.

  7. Anna says:

    Decent flavor, but so dry! Looked at other lemon loaf recipes after making this and I think it needs more butter. Didn’t have the texture of the Starbucks OG at all.

  8. Bekitchened says:

    So I tried this recipe a couple of times and I replaced the egg with thick curd or even with thick buttermilk since many people here prefer eggless cakes. I also added 2 tbsp butter extra as it gives the same texture. Gentle mixing is a key in this cake.
    Overall, I enjoy making it. Making one today as well and casting tasty spells

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Bekitchened! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  9. Brenda says:

    hi I would love to make the lemon cake but need the measurements in Metric

  10. Carol Chervin says:

    I’ve made this lemon cake and it’s delicious! Can you add blueberries and where would you do that?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      You could fold in some blueberries very gently just before pouring into the pan. But be careful, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sink a little.

  11. Gail says:

    Do not cook this for 50 minutes. I cooked it for 45 and it was too done. Too stiff. I should have checked it at 30 minutes. Maybe next time it will be better. Thanks.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Every oven is different. My oven runs hot so I usually have to pull things a little early. Maybe yours does too.

    2. Aaron says:

      It did say to check between 30-40 minutes in to make sure the top isn’t too brown. Everyone’s oven is different. Mine wasn’t done at 50 minutes and had to cook another 5 minutes.

  12. TERESA C MANUEL says:

    Best lemon pound cake recipe, better than Ina Garten’s. I did make some modifications: good EVOO for the veg oil, yogurt for the sour cream, more lemon juice (I had a ton of organic Meyer lemons from someone’s backyard), more lemon zest. I think it’s even better than Starbucks’.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Teresa, Awesome feedback.

  13. Jaime P says:

    Question. In the recipe for the icing topping, it says milk or cream. Are you referencing heavy cream? Please explain the cream comment. I only have 1% milk . So if heavy cream makes the icing less watery, that would be great!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes, it is referring to heavy cream. You could use either in the icing. The cream would likely make the icing thicker.

  14. Amber says:

    Excellent! I’m trying to go gluten free this month, so I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour. It came out amazing! I wouldn’t have ever guessed it was GF. Also I made it dairy free by subbing vegan yogurt for the sour cream and using vegan butter. Even altering these ingredients didn’t mess it up; it was so delicious.

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Amber! Fantastic feedback, Thanks for stopping by.