Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe

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Bring the bakery to you with this easy Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe. Tender and buttery with a burst of lemony flavor, it’s the perfect cross between a quick bread and a fluffy cake. Dust with powdered sugar or top with a homemade citrus glaze for the perfect sweet treat!

Titled Image: Starbucks Lemon Loaf


Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe

Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors for desserts… besides chocolate, of course! It’s light and refreshing with just enough tartness to keep it from being too sweet.

Whether it’s as simple as a dump cake, or something a bit more sophisticated — say, a lemon cream cake just like Olive Garden’s — there’s no shortage of recipes to let that citrus flavor shine.

Despite my own very excellent (if I do say so) pound cake loaf, readers have been begging for a copycat Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf… and it’s finally here! 

What sets it apart is a sweet, buttery glaze that crusts beautifully over the top, providing an extra burst of flavor in every bite. Yum!

ingredients for starbucks lemon loaf

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • All-purpose Flour – Keep it simple for a dense yet tender crumb.
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder – You’ll need both to get enough lift!

    The baking powder works with the lemon juice for the initial rise, then the baking powder keeps it fluffy while it bakes.
  • Fresh Lemons – Use both the juice and the zest in this Starbucks lemon loaf recipe.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted sticks on hand, omit the salt in both the cake and the glaze.
  • Vanilla Extract – Adds a touch of warmth and sweetness to the loaf and the glaze. Replace half of this in the cake with almond extract if you’d like!
  • Sour Cream – It may sound strange, but sour cream is the secret weapon for adding tons of moisture to this Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf.

    Plus, it keeps the crumb extra tender. 

Feel free to substitute with plain Greek yogurt instead.

lemon loaf batter in glass mixing bowl

Tips for Making Perfect Starbucks Lemon Loaf at Home

  • Fully cream the butter and sugar together.

This takes longer than you might think! It’s not enough for the butter and sugar to be combined — you need to whip some air into the mixture for a fluffy cake texture.

Watch for the butter to lighten in color to a very pale yellow. The texture will be a bit fluffy too. Only then should you start adding the eggs!

  • Use lemon extract to boost the flavor.

You have a few options here: Replace half of the vanilla extract with lemon, or add up to 1 teaspoon of lemon extract in addition to the vanilla. 

Or, simply increase the amount of juice and zest. Just know that the extra acidity might affect the texture of the cake.

Keep in mind that the glaze adds more lemony goodness, so you may want to try the Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf as written.

If it’s not enough, you can make adjustments for the next one!

  • Cover with foil if it browns too quickly.

If the top is looking dark but the center is still raw, loosely cover the pan with foil so it doesn’t burn.

Baking on the center rack will help prevent this, or move it down one if the heat comes from the top of your oven.

  • Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.

This helps it firm up slightly so you can transfer it to the wire rack without it falling apart.

Don’t let it sit in the pan for too long, though — it will continue baking and end up dry. It should finish cooling on the wire rack where cooler air can circulate around the entire loaf.

lemon loaf batter in baking pan

Prep Ahead

  • Bring butter and eggs to room temp
  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Juice and zest lemons

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • 9×5-inch Loaf PanKeep in mind that glass and dark metal bread pans bake hotter. So, you may want to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees if using one of these.
  • Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with Hand Mixer. You can’t properly cream the butter and sugar without one!
  • Citrus Juicer and Zester for maximum lemon flavor.
  • Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Wire Rack – Great for cooling all kinds of baked goods. I like to add a Small Baking Sheet or a piece of Parchment Paper underneath to catch any drips from the glaze!
baked lemon loaf on cooling rack

Serving Suggestions

No Starbucks lemon loaf would be complete without that sweet glaze topping!

Powdered sugar and milk form the base, while melted butter helps it crust over on top instead of soaking right into the surface.

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and vanilla extract to flavor the mixture, plus a pinch of salt to balance the sweetness.

Then, spoon the glaze over the loaf while it’s still slightly warm.

Once your copycat Starbucks lemon loaf is completely cool, it’s ready for slicing! Don’t be tempted to slice any sooner or it will crumble apart.

The glaze should also be completely dry so it doesn’t ooze everywhere.

Enjoy a slice or two with tea or coffee — maybe even an iced coffee with sweet cream cold foam in the summer.

It also makes a refreshing snack or light dessert, much like my blueberry lemon cake!

glaze for starbucks lemon loaf

Storing and Freezing Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

Keep Starbucks lemon loaf at room temperature for 4 to 5 days — an airtight container will help keep it moist.

Avoid storing it in the refrigerator as the cold air will dry out the cake faster.

For longer storage, you can also freeze the whole loaf or individual slices for a quick snack! It will keep for up to 6 months, whether frosted or plain.

  • With Glaze: Place whole loaf or slices on a baking sheet and freeze for 2-3 hours.

    Then, wrap in plastic wrap and foil before storing in a freezer-safe bag or container.
  • Without Glaze: No need to flash freeze first! Just wrap in layers once cooled, then label and store.
adding icing to starbucks lemon loaf

Starbucks Recipe for Lemon Loaf FAQ

How thick should the glaze be?

Once mixed, the lemon glaze should have a smooth, pourable consistency that doesn’t run right off the spoon. It helps to let the melted butter cool a bit before mixing it with the other ingredients.

If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Too thick means you need more liquid, preferably more milk.

Can I use lemon cake mix instead?

While I certainly love boxed mix shortcuts, I don’t recommend it for this Starbucks lemon loaf recipe. The texture is closer to a pound cake, so you need that extra butter for the base of the batter.

How do I prevent copycat Starbucks lemon loaf from becoming too dry?

Avoid overmixing the batter and don’t overbake the cake either. Insert a toothpick into the center to test for doneness — it should come out with a few moist crumbs. If it’s dry, your Starbucks lemon loaf is overdone.

Keep any leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container. Exposure to air will dry it out faster, as will storing it in the refrigerator.

2 slices of starbucks lemon loaf

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closeup of starbucks lemon loaf with dripping glaze

slice of starbucks lemon loaf on a plate

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe

Donna Elick
This Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe will solve all of your cravings — and you can enjoy as many slices as you want at a fraction of the price!
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 8 -10


For the lemon loaf:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (162°C) and prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder – in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and granulated white sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating between the dry ingredients and sour cream. Begin and end with the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth it out evenly.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Once the loaf is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
  • While the loaf is cooling, prepare the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, whole milk, melted butter, salt and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Transfer the loaf to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet or parchment paper.
  • Spoon the glazer over the slightly warm loaf, allowing it to cover the loaf.
  • Let the loaf cool completely and the glaze dry before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Donna’s Notes

Make sure the unsalted butter and eggs are at room temperature for easier mixing and better texture.
Don’t overmix the batter once the dry ingredients are added. Mix until just combined to avoid a dense loaf.
Adjust the lemon zest and juice to your preference for a stronger or milder lemon flavor.
The sour cream adds moisture to the loaf, giving it a tender crumb. If you don’t have sour cream, you can substitute with Greek yogurt.
Be careful not to overbake the loaf to prevent it from drying out. The toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Letting the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes helps it firm up slightly before transferring it to the wire rack.
The glaze adds an extra burst of lemony sweetness to the loaf. Feel free to adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or liquid as needed.
Allow the glaze to dry completely before slicing the loaf to ensure it sets properly


Serving: 1 | Calories: 433cal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 234mg | Sugar: 48g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Starbucks Lemon Loaf - PIN

Originally published March 2024

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  1. 5 stars
    this lemon loaf is absolutely divine! so easy to make and it turned out perfectly moist and flavorful. thanks, Donna and Chad, for another fantastic recipe from The Slow Roasted Italian!

  2. 5 stars
    i followed Donna’s recipe exactly and it turned out amazing! so moist and lemony. i did add a little extra lemon zest for an extra punch of flavor. will definitely make again!

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