The Best Lemon Loaf Cake

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The most amazing lemon loaf cake you’ll ever taste: tender, moist, and easy to make with a bright, strong lemon flavor!

After many trials, I’m excited to share the Best Lemon Loaf Cake recipe you’ll ever try! I know there are lots of recipes out there, many claiming to be Starbucks copycats, but I highly recommend giving this one a go. This Lemon Loaf Cake has a perfectly balanced flavor, a super soft and moist texture that gets even better over time, and a beautiful golden crust.

My friends agree—this cake is even better than Starbucks, and the recipe is so simple.


Here’s why this recipe stands out:

  • Strong but balanced lemon flavor: This cake screams lemon but isn’t overpowering. The tanginess and freshness of lemon perfectly balance the sweetness.
  • Soft and moist texture: This cake is incredibly tender and moist, and it stays that way. By days two and three, it feels even more moist, unlike many cakes that dry out.
  • Beautiful presentation: This loaf cake has the perfect height, a lovely dome with a crack down the middle, and a gorgeous light golden crust—all before you even add the lemon icing!
  • Simple, fuss-free recipe: This recipe is easy to follow, and most ingredients are probably already in your pantry.

The Best Lemon Loaf Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 10


**Loaf Cake:**

  • 1 cup sugar 220g
  • Zest of 3 large lemons or 4-5 small ones
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp lemon extract use 2 tsp for a stronger lemon flavor
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter 70g
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil 55g
  • ¼ cup whole milk 60g
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour 215g
  • ¼ cup cornstarch 40g
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sour cream 120g – check out my homemade sour cream recipe
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 60g
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp butter to pipe down the middle of the loaf

**Lemon Icing:**

  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cream


  • Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare an 8.5×4″ loaf pan with butter and parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, mix the sugar and lemon zest, rubbing them together for 1-2 minutes until the mixture looks fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract. Whisk using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is very light in color and thick.
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and milk on medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture starts to simmer.
  • Slowly pour the hot butter mixture into the egg and sugar mixture while continuing to whisk.
  • Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the batter. Gently fold with a whisk or rubber spatula until combined.
  • Add the sour cream and lemon juice, gently folding until combined. Avoid overmixing.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Optional: Add softened butter to a piping bag or Ziploc bag, snip a small hole, and pipe a thin line down the middle of the loaf. This helps control the crack as the cake rises.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes, checking at the 45-minute mark with a toothpick. It should come out with moist crumbs attached, not wet batter. Baking time may vary based on your oven and pan.
  • Let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the icing by mixing the ingredients together.
  • Once the cake has cooled, carefully remove it from the pan. Spread on the lemon icing and garnish with more lemon zest.
  • Slice and enjoy!


  • Using room temperature eggs gives the best results.
  • Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are not stale or expired.

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