Food & Nutrition

How to Make a Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake

Lemon Pound Cake LoavesTaste of Home

When I was in college and about to spend hours in the library studying for a final or writing a paper, I would almost always make a pit stop at Starbucks. I’d usually order the largest dark brew I could, along with a slice of their glorious glazed lemon cake.

Sweet, moist, and bursting with bright lemon, this lemon cake was the perfect motivation to get my work done. Finish a paragraph, take a bite. Memorize an equation, take another bite.

Since graduating, my love for this cake hasn’t diminished. So you can imagine how excited I was when I came across Lola Baxter’s almost perfect copycat Starbucks lemon loaf cake recipe at Taste of Home. Made with only a few simple ingredients and ready in less than an hour, I was finally able to recreate my favorite Starbucks treat right at home. Throw in some spot-on Starbucks beverage copycats, and my kitchen practically transformed into a Starbucks that morning. Psst: This is why Starbucks’ sizes aren’t small, medium, and large.

How to make Starbucks’ lemon loaf cake recipe


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 2  5.75x3x2-inch loaf pans
  • Wire cooling racks

Yield: 2 mini loaves (6 slices each)

Step 1: Prep the pans

Drop a dollop of softened butter or shortening into your pans and, using your hand or a pastry brush (like this one from OXO), smear it along the bottom and sides of the pans. Then, sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour in each pan and tap it around until the whole pan is covered, tossing any flour that doesn’t stick.

Test Kitchen tip: If you’re short on time (or just want to keep your hands clean!), you can always use a cooking spray that contains flour, like Pam Baking or Baker’s Joy. They’ll keep your loaves from sticking to the pan just as well.

Step 2: Mix the batter

First, preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or whisk until they’re fluffy and light yellow. Next, add in the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well in between each addition. Then, beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together. This will aerate the dry ingredients and prevent clumping. Once the dry ingredients are ready, alternate beating them and the sour cream into the wet ingredients until all the ingredients are well combined.

Step 3: Bake the loaves

Once the batter is done, split it between the two greased loaf pans. Pop them into the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

When the loaves are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about ten minutes. After that, remove the loaves from the pans and let them cool completely on wire racks.

Test Kitchen tip: Prefer making one loaf? No problem! Grease an 8×4-in. loaf pan and add the batter to it. Bake in a 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Here are the best loaf pans for every baker.

Step 4: Ice the loaves

While the loaves are cooling, mix the confectioner’s sugar, grated lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spoon the icing over the loaves, allowing some of it to run down the sides.

Test Kitchen tip: If you’d like to save one or both of the loaves for a later date, skip icing them. Wrap the cooled loaves in plastic wrap and foil. Store the loaves in your freezer until you’d like to use them. To use, thaw the loaves at room temperature. Prepare the icing as normal and spoon over loaves.

Step 5: Slice

Slice each loaf into six pieces and enjoy! Pour yourself a cup of joe and sink your teeth into this sweet and citrusy loaf.

This copycat is also a great option to serve at a brunch or high tea (because you don’t need to be a kid to throw an awesome tea party). Any way you slice it, these lemon cake loaves are the best way to start the day—as long as you don’t make any of these baking mistakes when you’re making it!

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