Iced Lemon Loaf

Iced Lemon Loaf is an irresistibly sweet and tangy quick bread that is always the star of the show! Lemon lovers will drool over this perfectly moist cake with just the right amount of lemon.

Lemon loaf with icing sprinkled with lemon zest and topped with two twisted lemon slices accented with glass milk bottles with white and yellow straws.
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Lemon Loaf Recipe

If you're like me, there is something about warm baked goods with a delicious fresh lemon flavor. It's comforting and cozy, yet so refreshing at the same time!

This easy lemon bread recipe is one of my favorite lemony creations yet. It reminds me of the world-famous Starbucks lemon loaf, which we all know is drool-worthy. Really, it's almost like a copycat Starbucks recipe!

And just like that fancy coffee shop, I love to have a slice of moist lemon cake with my morning cup of coffee. Oh, and it's delicious with a cup of afternoon tea as well!

Apple zucchini bread and this lemon bread recipe are two of the quick-bread recipes that I make. But this recipe and my lemon bars are dueling for first place when it comes to lemon desserts!

The iced lemon loaf is a great summer treat but a perfect anytime sweet, too. I love to make a loaf for friends, and it's a great meal train dessert. Since it's really easy to serve in individual slices, a tasty loaf of lemon bread is an excellent dessert for family gatherings, too.

Lemon loaf with icing sprinkled with lemon zest and topped with lemon slices.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

With simple ingredients and a great recipe, this lemon loaf cake will turn out moist and delicious every time. So grab your mixer and happy baking!

  • The ingredients for this lemon bread recipe are pantry and refrigerator staples that you may already have on hand. Wouldn't it be great to make a fresh loaf of lemon bread at the drop of a hat?!
  • You can prep this recipe in just five minutes. Then pop it in a preheated oven and let the incredible smell of baking lemon loaf fill your kitchen!
  • Moist lemon cake is a great make-ahead baked good since it stores well. Pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it taste like it just came right out of the oven.

Lemon loaf is just a tad lighter in crumb than something like Brown Sugar Pound Cake.

Overhead photos of two slices of lemon loaf on small, white plates.

Ingredients

Here's everything you need to make this go-to lemon loaf recipe:

  • butter
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • sour cream
  • lemon extract
  • all purpose flour
  • baking powder 
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • lemon zest

Icing

  • powdered sugar
  • milk
  • fresh lemon juice

Substitutions and Variations

You can use a gluten-free flour substitute, such as King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour, to make this iced lemon loaf without gluten.

While a simple lemon glaze is the typical topping for lemon loaf, you could also top it with vanilla buttercream frosting or a light and fluffy whipped cream frosting.

Don't have lemon extract in your spice cabinet? Not to worry! Just add a bit more lemon zest and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Some vanilla extract would go great as well.

You can add fresh fruit to this loaf if you would like, but I recommend reaching for my lemon blueberry bread instead.

Lemon loaf ingredients in individual bowls and measuring spoons.

How to Make Lemon Loaf

Here's how to make this easy lemon loaf recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C), and the grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper and set it aside.

Butter and sugar beaten together in a glass mixing bowl.
Eggs, sour cream, lemon extract added to sugar and butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl with and electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Then add the eggs, sour cream and lemon extract and mix until incorporated.

Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest added to batter mixture.
Lemon loaf batter in a glass mixing bowl.

Slowly mix in the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest until just combined.

Lemon loaf batter in a bread pan.

Pour half of the batter into the previously prepared loaf pan and bake for an hour until a toothpick or knife can be inserted in the center and come out clean.

One thing you need to know: This recipe makes two loaves. You can store the other half of the batter in the fridge for 24 hours, or just bake them both at the same time!

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a bit. Then place the easy lemon loaf cake onto a cooling rack.

While the lemon loaf cools, you can make the sweet lemon glaze. This may just be my most favorite part of lemon loaf!

Add powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice to a small bowl and mix until smooth. Then once the loaf has completely cooled, drizzle the lemon icing over the top of the loaf and allow it to set.

Slice and serve while slightly warm!

Lemon loaf with slices on a parchment paper lined cooling rack arranged in front of two glass bottles filled with milk.

How to Store Leftover Lemon Loaf

Quick bread stores quite a lot like muffins do. I have a whole post about how to store and freeze muffins, but here are a few of the highlights to help you successfully store your leftover lemon loaf:

Place individual slices in an airtight container, lined with paper towels to help collect condensation from residual heat. If you need to layer the slices, place sheets of parchment paper in between the layers. For best results, make sure the loaf is completely cooled.

The best way to store this sweet bread depends on how soon you want to eat it: 

  • Within 3 days of baking: Store lemon loaf on the countertop at room temperature. 
  • In the next few days: Store in the fridge, but keep in mind the texture may change...especially with lemon desserts. Alternatively, store what you’ll eat in the next few days using the countertop method, then freeze the rest. 
  • Within the next 3 months: An unglazed loaf, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, stores best in the freezer. You can also freeze separate slices! When you're ready to eat lemon loaf, just thaw and reheat. Don't forget to glaze the loaf if you left it un-glazed.
Lemon loaf with icing sprinkled with lemon zest and topped with lemon slices accented with glass milk bottles with white and yellow straws.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • If you use your stand mixer, I recommend using the paddle attachment. As you mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, be sure you scrape the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Don't over-mix your batter or you may end up with a chewy loaf. Once ingredients are just incorporated, it is ready to go.
  • When zesting a lemon, make sure you only get the fleshy yellow part of the skin. The white rind can be quite bitter and that flavor will come through in your loaf. Use large lemons for the zest so you have plenty of fresh surface area to cover.
Lemon loaf with slices on a parchment paper lined cooling rack arranged in front of two glass bottles filled with milk.

FAQ

What pairs well with lemon loaf?

While you do not have to eat anything with a slice of fresh lemon loaf, you can certainly upgrade your experience with some tasty additions! A creamy cup of coffee is my favorite pairing. But you can also serve it with a scoop of ice cream, or maybe even a simple fruit salad. If you're having a slice for breakfast, maybe serve it alongside some warm and cheesy egg bites.

How do I keep lemon loaf from sticking to the pan?

Grease your pan well, or this moist loaf will absolutely stick. You can use parchment paper too! If you know you loaf pans are notorious for stuck on food, I recommend going the parchment paper route instead. I have an entire blog post with tips and tricks on how to grease a muffin pan. It will also be beneficial in greasing a loaf pan, so check it out if you need some more help!

More Lemon Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Slices of lemon loaf stacked on top of each other in front of the rest of the loaf.

Lemon Loaf Recipe

Sticky sweet and slightly tart, this recipe for lemon loaf is just too dang good! You'll love this easy recipe.
4.99 from 50 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 2 loaves
Author: Madison Wetherill

Ingredients

Lemon Loaf

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Lemon Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C), and then grease a loaf pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper and set aside. 
  • Beat butter and sugar together with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs then sour cream and lemon extract and mix thoroughly. 
  • Slowly mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest until just incorporated. 
  • Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for 60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 
  • Mix together the powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice until smooth.
  • When the lemon loaf cake has cooled, drizzle over top and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 201mg | Sugar: 27g

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