This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

If you love lemon desserts – then you need to try this Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf! It’s buttery, moist, bursting with lemon flavor, and topped with sweet lemon glaze!

Slices of Starbucks copycat lemon loaf on a plate.

This lemon loaf tops the list of favorite lemon desserts, along with Lemon Pound Cake and Lemon Blueberry Muffins.

Starbucks Famous Lemon Loaf

Have you ever tried the lemon loaf from Starbucks? As much as I love homemade treats, I can’t turn down a slice of their lemon pound cake. It’s so tender and packed so much lemon flavor in every single bite.

When I was a student, I’d go to Starbucks on a Sunday to do homework. And without a doubt – I’d always order a slice of their lemon loaf. It has the perfect balance of delicious butteriness without being greasy, and the lemon flavor packs a punch without being sour whatsoever.

So I wanted to find the perfect Starbucks copycat lemon loaf recipe so that I could make a delicious lemon loaf at home and eat 3 slices without the embarrassment of ordering all 3 from the Barista.

Starbucks copycat lemon loaf with sweet lemon glaze.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf Recipe

To develop the perfect lemon loaf from scratch – I had to do some sleuthing. I first looked at the Starbucks website to see the ingredient list for their lemon loaf. While there’s a ton of ingredients I didn’t understand that are obviously only used in commercial kitchens, I did learn a lot about the ingredients they use.

  1. They use butter instead of oil for the fat.
  2. They’re using lemon juice, lemon peel and lemon oil for the lemon flavor.
  3. Both baking powder & baking soda to help it rise beautifully.
  4. There’s sour cream to keep it moist.

So in order to get a recipe that’s close as possible to the original – I wanted to make sure I had those ingredients in my recipe too. Obviously, they don’t show the exact proportions on their website, so from there it was time to start experimenting in the kitchen.

A freshly cut Starbucks lemon loaf with sweet lemon icing.

Developing the Perfect Lemon Loaf Recipe

The first lemon loaf recipe I tried was too dry – so I knew I needed a little more sour cream and an extra egg to keep it tender and moist. Then the next one wasn’t quite lemony enough. Finally, number 3 was just right. Tender, moist, and bursting with fresh sunshine lemon flavor.

To get a lemon flavor that was the most similar to the Starbucks version, I used lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. I found that the lemon extract made the flavor the most similar to the Starbucks version. However – I know it’s a little harder to come by. So feel free to leave the lemon extract out. Your lemon loaf will still be delicious.

Whether you’ve tried the lemon loaf from Starbucks or not – you definitely need to try Starbucks copycat lemon loaf recipe. It’s perfect for breakfast, a midmorning snack, or even dessert. And the bright lemon flavor makes it taste like sunshine in delicious pound cake form.

Top Tips

  • We have received a lot of comments in regards to the icing. The proportions in the recipe include a note to add more powdered sugar as needed until you have a nice thick consistency. This can vary from kitchen to kitchen depending on personal preference, and what type of milk you use. I’ve updated the recipe with less liquid to start for the icing, but keep in mind that you may have to play around with it to get a flavor and texture that you love.
  • Check for browning as it bakes. If the top is getting too brown, cover with foil.
  • If you want more lemon flavor in the bread and the icing, use lemon extract along with the lemon juice. The flavor will be more intense. It can however have a “fake” taste so be cautious using too much.

Store and Freezing

Your Lemon Loaf will remain fresh for up to 5-6 days when properly stored, or up to 6 months in the freezer.

  • Store leftover Lemon Loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days. Do not refrigerate as this can dry out the cake.
  • For long term storage, you can freeze the Lemon Loaf and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Place frosted lemon loaf (whole or slices) on a sheet pan and pop it into the freezer for 2-3 hours. Once it’s frozen, wrap it up in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, then into an airtight freezer container. Unfrosted lemon loaf you can just wrap and freeze.
A slice of moist Starbucks lemon loaf on a plate.

More Lemon Desserts

Lovely Lemon Recipes

Sweet lemon bread, sliced, with lemon glaze.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

4.74 from 430 votes
If you love the lemon desserts – then you need to try this Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf! It’s buttery, moist, bursting with lemon flavor, and topped with sweet lemon glaze.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 slices


Lemon Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract* or add additional ½ tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk

Lemon Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar add more until desired consistency is reached
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream or milk adjust as needed for consistency


Lemon Loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour an 9×5-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Set aside. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, with a electric mixer on medium speed, mix the granulated sugar and the eggs for 2 minutes. The extra time helps to incorporate air into the batter which makes the bread more fluffy.
  • Add the melted butter and the oil. Mix to incorporate.
  • Add the vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are combined.
  • Add in the sour cream and mix well. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, approximately ⅓ of the mixture. Mix until almost incorporated and add more. Continue until all the flour is incorporated in the wet mixture. Don’t over mix. Sometimes I will use my hand mixture but finish with a spatula when I only have a little bit of dry flour left.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top feels firm to the touch. If after about 30-40 minutes the top is browning too much, tent a piece of aluminum foil over top and continue baking.
  • Cool completely. Once the loaf is cool, prepare your glaze by mixing all ingredients together

Lemon Icing

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and cream/milk until smooth. Add in more powdered sugar or cream as needed for desired consistency.
  • Remove the cooled loaf from the pan and drizzle or pour over top. 


  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. 
  • Melt butter in the microwave then let it cool for a few minutes before adding to the batter. 
  • The original recipe used buttermilk, but I adjusted and now use sour cream instead. It provides more moisture, preventing the bread from turning out dry. 
  • This recipe uses a 9×5-inch loaf pan. The size is important! You can use an 8×4-inch pan, but will need to adjust the time and temperature. It would also result in a thicker loaf and you risk losing moisture.
  • This recipe was updated in May 2022 when we adjusted a few ingredients and swapped out buttermilk for sour cream, reduced the butter and added oil. This adds more moisture to the bread.
  • If you preferred the old recipe – use ½ cup buttermilk instead of sour cream, omit the oil and add an additional ¼ cup of melted butter, and reduce the amount of baking powder and vanilla to ½ teaspoon each. Bake in an 8.5×4.5 loaf pan. 


Calories: 398kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 5gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 139mgPotassium: 131mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 537IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 1mg
Keyword lemon loaf


Fiona blogs over at Just So Tasty where she shares easy, classic recipes for desserts & sweet treats. A peanut butter lover, chocolate connoisseur, and sprinkle addict - she hopes to make your life sweeter, one cookie at a time. She also teaches yoga, because life is all about balance.

Free Email Series
5 Secrets to Dinnertime Sanity
Free email series with tested, tasted & terrific dinner recipes!

You Might Also Like

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I’m looking to make these as coworker gifts. Your notes say “You can use an 8×4-inch pan, but will need to adjust the time and temperature.” I’m trying to make 7 of these in 8×4 pans, how would you adjust the time and temp? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tested with this size, which is why I recommend it. You may need to cook the bread for longer. Test with a toothpick after the time listed on the recipe, then add in 5-10 minute increments until fully cooked (toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

  2. I make this every year, @ Christmas time, & give it for gifts. My niece told me they like this bread better than Starbucks, & that’s quite a compliment! It turns out perfect every time, & I too, like using the sour cream in it.

  3. It’s so good!!!! And not hard to do. My son wanted a lemon loaf from Starbucks I said I could make one!!! Without knowing if I really could..:) but with your recipe I NAILED IT!!! Thank you very much

  4. This came out dense and dry. The flavor was OK but I felt like it could have been more lemony, rich and buttery. I guess I’d recommend more lemon zest and sour cream or oil in the batter?

  5. I love, love, love the Copycat Starbucks Lemon loaf! It is delicious. My only comment is – how do they get the icing to form a thick white frosting on top and, even though I added extra powdered sugar to thicken it, the frosting still ran off. I even poured it over the cooled loaf in the pan! Definitely making this again – a lot!!

    1. To get the icing really thick, you could try adding it in stages/layers. Pour some icing on the cooled loaf, let it set for an hour, then another layer, and so on. This has worked for some people if the icing is too thin.

  6. Delightful! I made this into cupcakes, added 1/4 cup plain yogurt, and baked for 25 minutes. Sometimes I’ll add 1.5 tablespoons of poppyseeds as well. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I have now made this lemon loaf five times and have to say it’s better than the Starbucks. Everyone loves it and raves about it also so easy to make. Will keep making it thanks for receipe!!!

  8. Oh wow! I love, love, love Starbucks Lemon Loaf so I was excited to try this recipe. I followed it to the letter and I’m thrilled to say it was perfect! There isn’t one thing I would change! Thanks so much, this has now become my go to for every occasion.

  9. My household is dairy free. Can you substitute regular sour cream for a plant based sour cream. As well substitute milk for coconut milk. Love to try this recipe.

    1. That’s a personal preference and since I don’t cook dairy free, I haven’t tried a dairy free sour cream or coconut milk so I’m not sure how the substitutions would work.

  10. I have made this lemon loaf twice now and both times came out perfect. The taste is amazing and not difficult to make at all. A huge success and will continue to make it. I love it.

  11. This recipe does produce a nice lemony loaf but, it’s not quite as dense as Starbucks; however, it’s still a keeper. I did follow the recipe exactly using the sour cream. I had a 8.5 X 4.5 loaf pan, so I made a cupcake to sample because the loaf is intended for brunch. The cupcake was delicious and had a nice crispy top.

    1. I have not made this loaf yet and I’ve also never had Starbucks’s lemon loaf, but if what you’re saying is true about the density, you could try using bread flour instead of AP flour!

  12. Great recipe. Just wanted to ask when you say melted butter do you mean actually melted into a liquid/oil form or melted like soft to the touch? Thanks

    1. Melted to a liquid form. Soft to the touch would typically be labeled “softened” or “room temperature.”

  13. I was disappointed with this recipe. I didn’t think it tasted like the Starbucks lemon loaf pound cake at all and it was also extremely dry. I followed the recipe exactly and used the same ingredients, yet it was so dry that I didn’t even want to eat it.

  14. I’m sure this is a wonderful recipe, but there’s so many pop-up ads I get too frustrated to read your instructions. So I’ll move on. If more people would do g this, perhaps the ads will not be so obnoxious.

  15. Hi..what would the baking time be for the 8×4 size loaf pan? I’m excited to make this!

See More Comments