This moist Lemon Cake Recipe is fluffy, tangy and so easy to make from scratch! Every bite of this supremely moist pound cake is bursting with fresh lemon flavor and the easy lemon glaze on top will have you hooked after just one bite.
This homemade lemon pound cake tastes even better than the Starbucks Lemon Loaf!
If you like the Starbucks Lemon Loaf then you’ll love this delicious, moist lemon cake recipe that’s made completely from scratch in less than 10 minutes. It’s one of my favorite afternoon or breakfast treats and it always gets rave reviews, everyone loves it! It’s gone in minutes whenever I make it.
This batter is made with freshly grated lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. When it the cake comes out of the oven it is infused with a homemade lemon syrup to give it an extra lemon kick, and then after cooling down the pound cake is topped with the most delicious lemon glaze.
This easy lemon cake is not dry and not fudgy, it’s perfectly moist while still being fluffy and it keeps fresh for a few days! A perfect cake for every occasion. If you like lemon desserts, you have got to give this cake a try!
Tips and Tricks for Making This Easy Lemon Cake Recipe
- You can also make this recipe in a bundt pan. It looks prettier than in a loaf pan but make sure to grease your bundt pan generously so that your cake will come out of the pan.
- Don’t leave out the lemon zest, that is what gives it the wonderful lemony flavor! I always use organic lemons and my favorite grater that I’ll like below.
- For the best flavor use freshly squeezed lemon juice! Don’t use the bottled stuff, trust me fresh lemon juice tastes so much better.
- When you make the lemon glaze for this pound cake don’t add too much liquid. You want the glaze to be nice and thick not runny. Start with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp milk and add the remaining 1/2 tbsp as needed.
This cake keeps well covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Looking for more Lemon Dessert Recipes?
- Easy Lemon Cream Pie Recipe
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
- Easy Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Easy Lemon Curd Mousse
You might have realized by now that I love lemon desserts. My husband even complained that all I do is make lemon desserts … until he tried today’s recipe and demanded more. Bahaha! If you love everything lemon like me check out my whole collection of recipes with lemon there is even a delicious lemon risotto.
Tools used for making this Recipe:
Loaf Pan: I can recommend all the baking pans from this brand! They’re super easy to clean and cakes bake evenly.
Citrus Zester: This one easily zests the rind without the pith, I really love this tool. It’s perfect for zesting citrus fruits, grating hard cheeses, and ginger.
Lemon Squeezer: This tool makes it super easy to juice lemons AND limes. It is a 2-in-1 tool that is super sturdy and easy to use. You’ll be amazed at how much juice you’ll get out of a lemon.
Want to try this Lemon Loaf Recipe?
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Moist Lemon Cake Recipe
For the lemon pound cake:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, see below for substitution
For the lemon syrup:
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, about 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
For the lemon icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9x5-inch (or 8x4-inch) loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer), cream the butter and sugar together at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer running on low-speed, add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high speed until combined.
- With the mixer on low, add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix until almost combined, then add half the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of flour mixture and then the last half of the buttermilk, ending with the last third of the flour. Beat until just incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly clean with only a couple moist crumbs. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours.
- Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. Stir together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar for the lemon syrup. Carefully invert the loaf pan, and transfer the cake to a cooling rack, then brush the syrup on the cake while it’s still warm. Allow cake to cool completely.
- When the cake is cooled, combine all the icing ingredients, start with 1 tbsp lemon juice and milk and add the remaining lemon juice as needed. The icing should be thick and not runny. Pour icing over cake and let dry before serving.
- If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by combining 1/2 cup of milk with 1.5 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until it starts to curdle
- The longer you beat the sugar and butter, the better the result will be because this process incorporated air into the batter and make the cake fluffy and tender
- I recommend using fresh lemon juice but you can also bottled lemon juice
- This cake would also taste great with lime juice or orange juice
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Since I have to watch my sugar intake, may sugar substitute be used like Stevia or Truvia?
I made 2 of these loaves.. one for Mother’s Day brunch and 1 for my husband to take on a guy’s work weekend. Both groups raved about them!!
Definitely use fresh lemons..they are the best!
Question…. can I use this recipe to make blueberry lemon loaf?
Also, what does the buttermilk do as oppose to reg milk? I’ve seen blueberry lemon Cake that uses reg milk.
Cake vs loaf?
How early can this be baked? I have an event 3 days away, can I bake it today?
Outstanding. This is a recipe to keep and to be used for any function.
I plucked lemons from the tree outside and used them in this recipe. They are absolutely delicious and easy to make. I bake a lot, especially, during Christmas and birthdays. I know the difference between good and over the top.
This cake is over the top! Thank you for sharing.
I am baking the cake again doubling the recipe and using store-bought lemons since I am back on the east coast of the U.S. The cake was consumed so quickly when I first baked it using lemons from the trees outside when I was in California.
An outstanding recipe to be used again and again. Thank you for sharing.
Hippie Lady says
Can it be doubled?
Julia Foerster says
Yes, you can double the recipe.
Cheyenne Stewart says
I tried to make this but in mini loaf pans and they came out way over done. I baked at 350 for 27 minutes. What would you recommend for small loaves?
it could of been your oven vs the cooks oven that posted the recipe. Some ovens run hotter than others. Some (majority) of ovens are NOT calibrated to the exact temperature that is needed. The only way to be assured, have your oven recalibrated. On anything you bake, be sure you keep an eye on it and remove the oven the moment it appears to be done. I personally can tell by the look of it when to pull it out however, when I was a kid, I was taught to use the toothpick method of checking the baked item. In addition, while keeping it in the baking pan, it will continue to bake a bit longer in case its under baked. As for the time, take into consideration the size of the pan vs the time and then equally change the baking time to the new size pan your using.
I lowered the temperature and baked at 330 for 40mins and it was fine.
I’ve learned my oven over the years and I’m comfortable baking at that temperature for a few minutes more to get the results I want. So maybe you can try it again. This is my second time baking this lemon loaf and it did not fail. It’s amazing.
Carey Rosvall says
That lemon cake is absolutely delicious 😋, plus it was quick and easy to make and all the family were impressed. Its so moist and flavoursome, I will definitely be making that again, thank you 🙏
How would you make these as cupcakes? Has anyone tried? :) My boy’s birthday is coming up and he loves lemon cake – wanted to make him cupcakes too, for a party! Thanks!
The same as you would if it was a cake, just less time.
This cake is a simple treasure and was eaten without delay. I bake every week and this is a repeat performance cake that is a family favorite. I made it in a Bundt pan and it needs to be doubled but I didn’t and it was still GREAT. I increased the lemon a bit and was not disappointed. As with any cake or icing, you have to look at the batter and judge the thickness, or thinness. Slow down and look! This is no fault of the recipe but the flour. This cake is easy but flour has changed, so look at your batter and use good judgement. Confection sugars are also different. I use my eyes when judging the liquid required and put it in the fridge a few minutes before spreading on the cake. I’m making it again a this morning at 5 a.m. because my husband and granddaughter voted it #1, tied with my triple chocolate cake. This receipt is spot on lemon-licious.
Can I use sour cream instead of buttermilk?
I wanted a lemon cake that had elderflower, too, but I was struggling to find one. This recipe looked very good, so I thought I would modify it. So anywhere there was lemon juice, I cut it in half and put in the elderflower cordial.
I think I needed to do a different ratio – couldn’t really get the elderflower.
BUT the cake was so good I didn’t care.
I made 1.5 times the recipe and made 6 “mini” bundt cakes – they are actually pretty big – and four cupcakes with the leftover. I did everything else the same (though I had leftover lemon syrup that I used to make the icing). After I added the icing, I filled the centers of the bundt cakes with lemon curd and decorated with a few blueberries each and a viola on top.
These cakes were absolutely delicious. Thanks!
PDX Mama says
This is my go to recipe for a lemon pound cake. I love how fresh the cake is while being moist and dense. Definitely take the time to get fresh lemons for the lemon juice. It makes a difference.
Thank you for posting your lovely recipe.
I have just made it for a friend, so not sure how it tastes. The batter tasted fabulous though 😁. I ummed and ahed about using self-raising flour instead of all-purpose (plain flour in UK) with raising agent. I thought it wouldn’t rise much. It didn’t. It’s also, quite heavy and dense. Which I thought would be the case. Next time I’m going to use a good cake, self-raising flour.
Similarly, I looked at cooking time and temp and thought it looked too hot and too long, gonna burn. Took it out at 35 mins. Any longer and it would be burned. So definitely, set a timer for 35 mins and check it.
Icing is easy to make and tastes good. I liked the glaze as well. Easier than cooking a syrup which I find can go too hard on cooling. I did prick the cake deeply all over with a cocktail stick before pouring the glaze over it. So it seeped into the cake.
Will make it again if itsenjoyed. I’m sure it will be! 😁
Tonja G. says
This recipe is delicious. Followed it exactly and it came out beautifully. Only lesson learned for me…. I should have kept the lemon juice for the icing reduced to 1 tbsp as she suggested to start with. I love the lemon flavor and added just a little more which made it too runny. Still beautiful and delicious. Next one will be picture perfect. I’m excited for the family to taste it. Thank you Julia!!!!
I would love to try this in a bundt pan. Obviously a bundt pan is bigger than a loaf pan, so will I have to double the recipe? And will that change the time and temp that I bake it at?
Delicious recipe! My icing came out runny and does not look as white/thick as in the photo. How do you thicken the icing?
Julia Foerster says
You can try adding more powdered sugar.
I had to add a lot more powdered sugar.
Sophie G says
I followed the recipe and baked it 350 for 45 minutes and it came out burnt
Julia Foerster says
This sounds like a problem with your oven or using the wrong baking pan. It’s always best to check on the cake while it is baking.
Is it supposed to become dense after keeping it overnight in the refrigerator?
Julia Foerster says
Yes, it will get dense if stored in the fridge. That’s why I recommend storing it at room temperature.
I want to make this lemon cake for a birthday. I was asked to use cream cheese frosting but then couldn’t store leftovers at room temp for more than a couple hours. It will be for only six people. I’m afraid of it becoming dense in the fridge. Do you think storing any leftover in an airtight container would help?
Julia Foerster says
Yes, an airtight container will work. It’s mainly the cold temperature in the fridge that will make the cake seem denser because the butter solidifies. I recommend taking it out of the fridge about 1/2 hour before serving so it can come back to room temperature.
I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I thought this was just okay.
How many servings is the nutritional information based on?
Julia Foerster says
You can find the number of servings in the recipe card below the image. Nutritional info is for one serving.
First time baker says
Such a great recipe and easy too! Mine came out pretty flat though. Think I used the wrong pan or it might be the stove(old and have issues). Not sure if it’s supposed to rise in the oven but mine clearly didn’t lol. But the flavor was soo good! My boyfriend is obsessed. Can’t wait ti make it again
Could your baking powder have been too old?
I’m still in the making I hope this message will find you in time !
I usually use confectionner sugar for the icing – the very white light and airy sugar (I’m in France) and I’m not sure if this is what you mean by powder sugar and if I should be using that for the icing!?
Julia Foerster says
Confectioners’ and powdered sugar are the same thing!