Lemon Loaf is ultra plush, moist, and bursting with fresh lemon flavor! The batter comes together quickly, in one bowl. Top the baked loaf with a zingy lemon glaze – it adds the perfect hit of sweetness and crunch to each tender slice!
Spring is coming, and if you live in the Midwest like I do, you’re desperately in need some Vitamin C! This lemon loaf is like a delicious dose of sunshine for your soul – let’s make it!
Why you’ll love this Lemon Loaf recipe:
- Plush Crumb – This Lemon Loaf has an ultra plush, tender texture, and is super moist!
- Packed with Lemon Flavor – This lemon cake is packed with lemon flavor from real lemon juice and lemon zest. It’s like the popular Starbucks’ lemon loaf cake, but this lemon loaf cake has a better taste that comes from fresh lemon juice and zest!
- Easy to Make – This recipe comes together in no time, with just one mixing bowl and a glass measuring cup.
- All-purpose flour – Spoon & level your flour for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly in will lead to too much flour.
- Sugar – Sugar adds more than just sweetness – it helps keep things moist and provides structure.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Milk – I used 2% milk. This should be at room temperature.
- Eggs – Use large eggs, at room temperature.
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream at room temperature.
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract for best results.
- Gluten-free – I haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this recipe, but let me know if you try it! I’d recommend starting with a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite dairy-free milk, butter, and sour cream to make this recipe dairy-free. If you have a trusted egg substitute, use that to make this a vegan lemon loaf cake.
- Sour Cream – Full fat greek yogurt works in place of the sour cream in a pinch.
- Flavor Variations – See notes at the bottom of this post about other flavor options.
How to Make this Lemon Loaf Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Batter. We’re using the reverse creaming method for this lemon loaf recipe (more on this in the FAQs below) which is a fancy term, but just means that we’re creaming the butter into the dry ingredients, rather than the other way around. So, whisk together your dry ingredients & sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed softened butter & mix on high speed until completely combined. It will look like sandy crumbs (below right). This will take a few minutes.
Step 2: Add the Wet Ingredients. Whisk up the wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup, then slowly pour them into the dry ingredients while your mixer runs on low speed. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl to get everything mixed in.
Step 3: Bake the Loaf. Pour the lemon batter into a lined loaf pan and Bake as directed in the recipe card below.
Step 4: Make the Glaze. Whisk up powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon zest for the quick glaze. Pour this over the loaf once it’s had 20-30 minutes to cool, or let it cool completely – up to you. Then, dig in!
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Enjoy this bread while it’s still a bit warm from the oven, or let it cool first. Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Move any remaining leftovers to the fridge at this point to extend the bread’s life for 1-2 more days.
Expert Success Tips:
- Don’t Over Mix – Mix the wet ingredients in just until they disappear into the batter. Over mixing can lead to a dense loaf cake.
- Don’t Over Bake – Follow the baking cues given in the recipe card below for best results.
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- What is Reverse Creaming? Reverse creaming is a process in which dry ingredients and sugar are whisked together first, and the softened butter is then creamed into this dry mixture. This coats the flour in fat, which helps inhibit gluten development, ensuring a plush and tender cake.
- Can I double this recipe? Yes! Divide the batter into two loaf pans and bake side by side.
- Can I halve this recipe? I think you could halve it and bake it in a 6-inch round cake pan. Start with 16-20 minutes for your bake time and add time from there until done.
- Can I make this with orange or lime? Yes! See the recipe variations directly below.
- What is the texture of this cake like? It’s similar to a pound cake, but lighter, fluffier, and moist – never dry.
- Can I freeze this cake? Yes, this freezes beautifully. Bake and cool the loaf, and don’t glaze it. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil. I also like to stick it in a ziploc bag as added insurance from absorbing any smells/flavors from other foods in the freezer. Freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then let come to room temperature when ready to glaze & serve it.
Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe Variations:
- Other Citrus Fruits – You can make this loaf cake as a lime cake or an orange cake if you swap the lemon juice and zest for orange or lime juice and zest.
- Berry Lemon Loaf – Gently fold 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries to the batter. If using frozen, do not thaw them.
- Loaf Pan – Use a metal loaf pan for this recipe, as it conducts heat better than glass.
More Lemon Recipes to Love:
- Lemon Blueberry Cookies
- Raspberry Lemon Crumb Cake
- One Bowl Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
- Overnight Lemon Raspberry Sweet Rolls
- Lemon Basil Cookies
- One Bowl Raspberry Lemon Bread
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Ultra Plush Lemon Loaf Cake
For the Lemon Loaf
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 195 grams
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 3 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of lemon zest
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and spray, catching any exposed parts of the inside of the pan, with nonstick spray.
- Make the Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugars. Cut the softened butter into tablespoon-size cubes, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer on high speed until the butter disappears into the dry ingredients. It'll look like fine, sandy crumbs. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, starting with the milk (you can measure it this way!). Slowly pour this mixture into the dry ingredients with your mixer running on low. Mix just until things are combined, scraping the bowl with a spatula at the end to make sure everything gets incorporated.
- Bake: Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 48 to 56 minutes. The loaf will not be deeply browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30-60 minutes before glazing.
- Make the Glaze: Whisk together glaze ingredients, adding more powdered sugar to thicken, or more lemon juice (or water) to thin it to desired consistency. Pour over the still warm or cooled loaf. Slice and enjoy immediately!
- Serve & Store: Store the cooled lemon loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.