Lemon Loaf – Super Moist & Drizzled with Glaze

5 from 3 votes

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This lemon loaf is moist and tender with beautiful golden edges and the most delicious lemon flavor. Topped with lemon glaze for an easy lemon loaf cake that’s so much better than Starbucks. It’s delicious with your morning coffee or as simple, no stress dessert. Lemon loaf with lemon glaze, on a cooling rack with slices cut**This recipe was updated February 26, 2024 with new photos and a slightly updated recipe for a more moist & tender lemon loaf**

This lemon loaf is sunshine and happiness in buttery, delicious, baked-good form. Now, I’ve tested my fair share of lemon loaves – and I’m 100% positive this one is softer, more moist and more delicious than any lemon bread recipe you’ve tried. The lemon flavor is bright and citrus-y without tasting sour and the loaf is extremely moist and tender. 

I wouldn’t consider this a copycat recipe of the famous Starbucks lemon loaf, because I find the Starbucks version can sometimes be a bit greasy and the lemon flavor can taste artificial. Instead, I’d call this an upgrade of the Starbucks lemon loaf.Lemon loaf with lemon glaze on a cooling rack

Key Ingredients You’ll Need

For this recipe – we’re bringing out the big guns for deliciousness. Here’s the rundown of the key ingredients:

  • Butter and oil. The butter adds so much flavor, whereas the oil keeps the bread tender and moist for longer.
  • 2 eggs for tenderness. They should be at room temperature before getting started.
  • Sour cream for a super delicious, moist texture. You could substitute sour cream for plain Greek yogurt. I love using sour cream in loaves and muffins because it makes them extremely moist.
  • Lemon zest, lemon juice and a little lemon extract for the delicious, natural lemon flavor. It’s imperative NOT to use lemon juice from the bottle because the flavor is too acidic & tart. Instead, zest & squeeze the juice from fresh lemons. The lemon extract is optional, but will help pack a punch. You’ll probably need 2-3 lemons total for the loaf and the glaze. Make sure to zest the lemons first before squeezing the juice out.

Making The Glazed Lemon Loaf

Below, I’m going to take you through each step to show you exactly what your batter will look like.

  1. Start by preheating the oven and preparing your pan. Whenever making loaves, I highly recommend lining the pan with parchment because it makes the loaf so much easier to lift out after it’s baked and cooled. You can either line the entire pan with one large piece of baking paper, line just the bottom and grease the sides, or line with one sheet the also covers the horizontal sides then grease the vertical sides of the pan.
    1. Note that this recipe requires a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan . There is too much batter for an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. If you use a 9 x 5 inch pan, the bake time will be slightly less and the loaf won’t be as tall.
  2. Then in a medium-sized bowl whisk together the wet ingredients and sugar: melted butter, oil, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, vanilla extract and sour cream. I like to whisk the sugar in with the wet ingredients because it helps the sugar dissolve.
  3. Then in a separate large bowl you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Then make a well in the middle of the bowl. Bowl of wet ingredients whisked together and bowl of dry ingredients, made into a well shape.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the middle of the well that you made in the dry ingredients. Gently fold the ingredients together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. You want to keep folding until you no longer see streaks or large lumps of flour. You can do a few whisks with a wire whisk to help remove any large lumps. Do not overmix here – otherwise the loaf will become tough and dry. Note that the batter will be thick. As you can see in my photo below, my loaf batter does have some lumps. Bowl of dry ingredients in a well shape with wet ingredients poured into it, and bowl of lemon loaf batter.
  5. Then pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  6. The lemon loaf will bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the top looks set and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan – the bake time may be over an hour depending on your oven.
    1. I always check my loaf around 40 minutes to see how its doing. If the top is already golden brown, then carefully tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top to prevent over browning.

After the loaf has fully cooled, it’s time for the lemon glaze. It’s important that the loaf is 100% cooled, otherwise the glaze will melt and soak into the loaf. Still delicious, but not what I was after. You’ll simply whisk together freshly squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar. The glaze should be white in color and thick, but still thin enough to drizzle.

Sliced lemon loaf on a wire cooling rack

Make Ahead & Freezing Tips

Fresh is best when it comes to bake goods. However, because this lemon loaf is incredibly moist and uses some oil – it will stay moist and tender for about 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge. It also freezes beautifully.

To freeze lemon loaf:

  1. Ensure the loaf is fully cooled. Do not add the glaze before freezing. While it will still freeze, I find the glaze can get a bit messy when the loaf thaws.
  2. Remove the loaf from the pan and wrap tightly in plastic. Wrap it at least twice so that all the sides are covered and all the seems are covered.
  3. Place the wrapped loaf in a freezer bag, freezer container or wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Thaw overnight in fridge. Do not thaw on the counter or in the microwave. Thawing the loaf from frozen on the counter will cause the loaf to become gummy in texture. Once the loaf has thawed in the fridge, sit on the counter to come to room temperature.

After the loaf has thawed, you can add the glaze.

Small plate with slices of lemon loaf cake

Whether you make it for breakfast, coffee break or dessert, this lemon loaf needs to be in your baking repertoire. Bright, happy sunshine in baked good form.

For more lemon desserts and treats, be sure to try:

Sliced lemon loaf on a wire cooling rack
5 from 3 votes

Lemon Loaf

This lemon loaf is moist and tender with beautiful golden edges and the most delicious lemon flavor. It's an easy lemon bread recipe that's so much better than Starbucks. 
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 10 Slices
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Equipment

  • 9x5 inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan

Ingredients 

For the Loaf

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (56 grams) , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (80 ml) , or canola
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (250 grams) , use 1 cup (200 grams) for a less sweet loaf
  • 2 large eggs , room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (45 ml) , freshly squeezed
  • 1 cup sour cream (240 ml) , room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze

  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (30-45 ml)
  • 1 - 2 cups powdered sugar (110-220 grams) , AKA icing sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees. Line a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 13 cm) or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch (21.6 x 11.4) loaf pan with parchment paper, or line the bottom and grease any exposed sides.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the melted butter, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon zest, lemon juice and sour cream. Whisk together until you no longer see pieces of egg or lumps of sour cream.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well shape in the bowl.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the well created in the dry ingredients. Then mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Do a few whisks with a wire hand whisk to remove any large lumps. When finished, you should no longer see streaks of flour.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes if using an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan or about 45-55 minutes if using a 9 x 5 inch pan. Check the loaf around 40 minutes, if the top is already golden, tent a piece of aluminum foil overtop. When the loaf is done baking an inserted toothpick should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. If you are unsure, bake for a few extra minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and cool the loaf in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.

Lemon Glaze

  • Once cooled, whisk together the 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 cup powdered sugar. Whisk in a little extra powdered sugar or lemon juice as needed. The glaze should be thick and white in color, but still thin enough to drizzle.
  • Pour the glaze over the loaf, letting it drizzle over the sides.

Notes

  1. Lemons: You will need about 3 medium lemons to have enough lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for the loaf and glaze. Do not use lemon juice from a bottle.
  2. Lemon Extract: Lemon extract can be found in the baking aisle near the vanilla extract. While it is optional, it will definitely improve the lemon flavor. If you don't have lemon extract, then I recommend adding 1 extra tablespoon of lemon zest. 
  3. Room Temperature Ingredients: The eggs and sour cream should be at room temperature before getting started. Take them out of the fridge, measure out the sour cream and let them sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before getting started. The eggs can be warmed up more quickly by placing them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes.
  4. Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for 3-4 days. 
  5. Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice, assuming the loaf is sliced into 10 uniform slices and all the glaze is used.  

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 83mg, Potassium: 274mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 45g, Vitamin A: 344IU, Vitamin C: 31mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 2mg
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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hello, I have been baking for over 50 years and tried many lemon loaf recipes. I made yours today and it is the best, an excellent recipe, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much trying the recipe, and leaving such a kind review. I’m so glad you loved the lemon loaf!

  2. 5 stars
    Not sure why I have never made a lemon loaf before but your recipes are just so so delish! I made the lemon bunt cake again for my good friends birthday (lemon is her favorite) & of course had a sweet craving NOW so while everything was out and lemons to spare …Thank you so much!!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m so glad I happened on your site from pinterest.
    Your recipes look out of this world, thanks for all the effort and sharing it w/ us.