Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Need a new summertime dessert recipe? This iced lemon pound cake is the perfect balance of tangy lemon flavor and sugary sweetness. With a moist and fluffy texture, every bite is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

A slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

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Iced Lemon Pound Cake recipe

If you’re a fan of Starbucks lemon loaf, then you’re going to love this delicious lemon pound cake recipe. It’s the most wonderfully moist lemon cake topped with a tangy and sweet lemon glaze — so tasty!

The best part is that you can make this recipe in a loaf pan instead of a bundt pan. A lot of people don’t typically have a bundt pan on hand, so make a lemon loaf cake tends to be a lot easier.

This amazing copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe is perfect to pair with your morning coffee or eat as a simple and sweet dessert. It’s great for brunches and parties too and is a great delicate dessert to pair with elegant cocktails like a limoncello spritz and lemon champagne punch.

I love making copycat recipes for my favorite foods, and this has turned out to be the best lemon loaf. I think it’s actually even better than what I can buy at the coffee shop! I had the same thought when I created the best copycat blueberry muffins too.

You’re gonna love this amazing iced lemon pound cake recipe!

More wonderful lemon recipes: Lemon Drop MartiniLemon BarsLemon Drop Cookies with Vodka Glaze

A slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

Why you’ll love this recipe

What’s not to love about a sweet and tangy dessert like this? I have countless reasons why this is one of my favorite sweet treats:

  • This is a fabulous make-ahead recipe! In fact, you need to make it ahead of time so that it can sit and soak up all of the yummy lemon syrup. So if you need a way to plan ahead for desserts and save on your prep time later, this recipe fits the bill!
  • Lemon pound cake is great for parties, potlucks, teas, and so much more. Make it for any occasions because there’s never a bad reason to have a tasty lemon dessert.
  • Make this treat as a nice housewarming or hostess gift. It takes a lot of love to make, and it would mean a lot to friends and family if they received a sweet treat that you baked!
A loaf of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

Tools & equipment

To make this recipe, you’ll need quite a few kitchen tools. Make sure that you have a lemon zester and a juicer to make fresh lemon juice and zest. You’ll also need measuring cups and spoons to measure all of the ingredients accurately.

To mix the cake batter, you’ll need a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, as well as multiple mixing bowls. The cake should cool on a wire rack and then be wrapped in plastic wrap for 24 hours.

Make sure you have a saucepan and spoon to make the lemon simple syrup, and you’ll need a whisk to make the glaze.

Last, but not least, you need a loaf pan and parchment paper to bake the most perfect loaf!

A bowl of ingredients for a cake.

Ingredients

Before your next run to the grocery store, check over this list so that you can make sure you have everything you need:

Lemon loaf ingredients

Here’s what you will need for the loaf itself:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • vanilla extract
  • sifted cake flour
  • granulated white sugar
  • lemon zest
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • unsalted butter

Lemon syrup ingredients

We’ll make a lemon simple syrup to brush the cake with. This will keep it nice and moist.

  • granulated white sugar
  • fresh lemon juice

Lemon glaze ingredients

The lemon icing that goes on top is easy to make too. You’ll need:

  • sifted powdered sugar
  • fresh lemon juice
  • milk
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Substitutions & variations

To make this cake without gluten, use a gluten-free cake flour. It is very important to use cake flour though, not all purpose flour. They are very different!

I have not tried to make this recipe without dairy, but I would assume you could use a dairy free milk if needed. However, I do not recommend substituting the butter as the flavor and texture could change.

To make an extra bold lemon flavor in the cake, add a small splash of lemon extract.

You can use salted butter instead of unsalted if that is all that you have on hand. However, you will need to reduce or omit the salt that the recipe calls for.

A hand holding a slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

How to make Iced Lemon Pound Cake

There are quite a few steps to making this yummy pound cake, but don’t let that deter you! It may be a long recipe, but it’s actually pretty simple. So, just follow these instructions and you’ll have the best cake in no time:

Make the cake batter

To make the lemon pound cake batter and get it in the oven, follow these instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C) and line an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

Two eggs in a glass bowl on a marble table.
An electric mixer is being used to mix ingredients in a bowl.

Add the eggs, milk and vanilla to a large bowl and whisk together until combined. In a another large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt.

White flour in a glass measuring bowl.
A glass bowl filled with a mixture of flour and lemon juice.

Then add the butter and half of the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients.

A bowl of batter with a mixer in it.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the flour mixture on low speed until incorporated. Increase to high speed and beat for one minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients get mixed in.

Add the remaining egg mixture in two parts. Beat well for 20 seconds and then scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.

A white cake in a baking pan.

Pour batter into the previously prepared loaf pan and spread it out evenly. Then bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick can be inserted into the center of the loaf and come out clean.

Brush the cake with lemon simple syrup

My secret to getting this iced lemon pound cake to have an extra moist crumb is making a lemon syrup that it can soak up. Here’s how to do it:

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Warm the sugar and lemon juice on the stovetop in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove it from the heat and set it to the side.

A loaf of bread sitting on a cooling rack.

Remove the loaf pan from the oven and place it not a wire rack to cool. While still in the pan, brush the top of the cake with half of the syrup and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

A blue brush on a cake.
A blue spatula is being used to stir a pot of liquid.

Run a butter knife around the edges of the loaf pan to loosen it. Then use the parchment paper to lift the loaf out of the pan. Peel off the paper and discard it.

Poke the side and bottom of the loaf with a skewer or toothpick and then brush the rest of the simple syrup onto the bottom and sides.

Place the loaf back onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely to room temperature. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and store for 24 hours.

Glaze the cake

Once the cake has soaked up the syrup, it’s ready to be glazed! Follow these instructions for the best results:

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, milk, butter vanilla and salt in a small bowl and whisk or beat together until smooth. If needed, add more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time if the icing needs to be thicker.

A bowl of food with butter and flour.
A mixer in a bowl of white liquid.

Drizzle the glaze over the top of the lemon pound cake and allow it to harden for 1-2 hours.

A cake on a cooling rack with icing being poured onto it.

Then slice and serve!

A slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

Tips & tricks

With these few basic tips and tricks, you can have the best iced lemon pound cake every single time:

  • For the best flavor, use fresh lemon juice. You can use bottled, but the flavor tends to be a bit different than fresh. You need lemon zest anyway, so just juice the lemons that you use for the zest!
  • Make sure that you only get the yellow part of the lemon peel when you zest the lemon. The white part, or pith, is very bitter and can effect the flavor of your cake.
  • If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to make the cake. Make sure that you are scraping the bowl frequently to ensure everything gets incorporated into the cake.
  • Don’t rush the process! This cake takes time to make and it is important that you plan ahead so that it will be done by the time you plan to serve it.

What to serve with Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Tasty lemon cocktails like homemade limoncello and vodka lemonade would be delicious bright pairings with this yummy pound cake. But of course this is wonderful with coffee beverages like an iced caramel macchiato and an iced brown sugar oat milk shaken espresso.

It would be SO tasty with an iced honey lavender latte too. Or just kick back and relax on a summer day with a slice of this cake and an ice-cold Arnold Palmer or homemade lemonade.

A slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

FAQ

How long does an iced lemon loaf last?

Wrap the lemon loaf tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. For best results, place the wrapped loaf in an airtight container. You can also place a wrapped oaf into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, freeze a loaf without the glaze.

Why is my lemon cake not lemony?

It is really important to use plenty of lemon zest and, on occasion, lemon extract to make your cake full of lemon flavor. Make sure that you are using the exact measurements called for in the recipe so that the flavor is perfect!

More dessert recipes

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A slice of lemon cake on a wooden cutting board.

Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 20 minutes
Make iced lemon pound cake for all of your spring and summer gatherings. It's the best sweet treat with a slight lemon tang. So refreshing and fun!
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

For the Lemon loaf

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons

For the lemon syrup

  • cup sugar
  • cup lemon juice

For the icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the butter and half of the egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
  • Beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the remaining egg mixture in two parts. Beat well for 20 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it evenly to fill the corners. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in a loaf pan, until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the lemon simple syrup. Warm the sugar and lemon juice on the stove on low, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Brush the top with half of the syrup. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edges of the loaf to loosen it from the pan. Use the parchment paper to remove the loaf from the loaf pan. Peel off the parchment.
  • Poke the sides and bottom of the loaf with a skewer or toothpick. Brush the rest of the syrup on the bottom and all four sides.
  • Place right-side-up on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Wrap with plastic wrap and store for 24 hours.
  • Make the icing. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, milk, butter, vanilla and salt in a bowl and whisk or beat together until smooth and somewhat thick. Add more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time if you desire a thicker icing.
  • Drizzle the icing over top of the cake. Allow to harden, approximately 1-2 hours. Slice and serve.

notes

  • Make the syrup while the cake bakes to save some time.
  • Don’t skip the syrup — it keeps the cake moist while it rests overnight.
  • You need to plan ahead — make this 1 day ahead of when you want to serve it.

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nutrition information

Yield: 12 servings

amount per serving:

Calories: 249kcal Carbohydrates: 29g Protein: 2g Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 9g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 77mg Sodium: 102mg Potassium: 38mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 28g Vitamin A: 477IU Vitamin C: 4mg Calcium: 33mg Iron: 0.3mg
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