Better Than Starbucks Lemon Loaf

If you like Starbucks Lemon Loaf, then you’ll love this moist, delicious Lemon cake! This easy to make recipe is loaded with delicious lemon flavor, and topped with an amazing lemon frosting. It’s even BETTER than Starbucks!

This delicious loaf of heaven is the perfect cross between a quick bread and a cake! It’s similar to both our white chocolate lemon bread, and our lemon bundt cake—moist, delicious, and perfectly lemon-y!

Lemon loaf on a cutting board with lemons

Even better than starbucks!

Raise your hand if you love Starbucks Lemon Loaf! Yes, I see you raising your hand – I’m right there with you! There is something about that delicious, moist cake that keeps us all coming back for more.

It’s rich, moist, perfectly flavored lemon cake topped with the perfect layer of lemon frosting, well…there is no way I’m sharing a slice. I’ve come to tell you that you can make this delicious Lemon Loaf right at home, and it will taste EVEN BETTER than Starbucks!

iced lemon pound cake cut into slices

Why it’s better

A couple things – I tested a few recipes I found on line. What I found were recipes that ended up either too dry, or had an odd balance of tart lemon flavor. None really had the same moistness and perfectly balanced lemon flavor as the Starbucks cake.

Another thing was getting a frosting that had the same consistency as the Starbucks cake. The one I have here, hits the spot perfectly!

While baking, I kept it in the oven a little longer than some of the other recipes I tried. It needed a little longer to ensure that it wouldn’t sink in the middle.

Unlike other recipes I tried, I added Greek yogurt to this cake recipe, and a little more oil. With these additions, this recipe is spot-on! The ultimate moist, delicious lemon cake!

one slice of lemon loaf cake

Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting

Can’t find lemon pudding mix? I can usually find lemon pudding mix at any of my local grocery stores. However, I know many people have had trouble locating this specific pudding.

If you have the time, you can order lemon pudding online from Amazon, OR you can use a vanilla pudding mix that is more readily available. If you choose to use vanilla pudding, just add a little extra lemon extract.

Double check that you bought the INSTANT pudding, NOT the cook n serve kind.

Using different sized pans: Since every oven seems to cook a little differently, use the following information as a guide. Keep a close eye on the cake toward the end of the bake time and adjust as needed. You’ll know your cake is done when an inserted toothpick/skewer comes out clean. 

  • Bundt pan: Preheat oven to 325° F. Be sure to grease and flour the pan generously. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
  • Mini loaves: Preheat oven to 350° F and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Muffins: Preheat oven to 350° F for 20-25 minutes.

Icing came out grainy? Here are a few common reasons it could happen:

  • Poor sugar quality: Use “pure sugar cane” powdered sugar and sift the sugar.
  • Not enough fat (in this case the butter).
  • Not using room temperature butter.
  • Be sure to add the powdered sugar slowly beating well between each addition.

What do I do if the outside is browning, but the inside isn’t done yet?

  • Loosely place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the cake as it finishes baking.
  • Reduce the oven temperature by 25°.
  • Be sure the pan isn’t too close the the heating element. It should be positioned in the center of the oven.
  • Use a rose nail to help spread the heat to the center of the cake for a more even bake. Also known as a flower nail or cake nail

slices of starbucks lemon pound cake on yellow plates

Keep your loaf fresh

This delicious lemon loaf can be stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days. We do not recommend keeping it in the refrigerator as it will dry the cake out faster!

For long term storage, go ahead and keep it in the freezer. To freeze it without the frosting, allow the cake to completely cool wrap the loaf with plastic wrap then again with aluminum foil.

If it has frosting, flash freeze first by placing the cake (whole or sliced) on a baking sheet. Freeze for 2-3 hours, then wrap.  Once wrapped, label and freeze for up to 6 months. 

I hope you enjoy this Lemon Loaf as much as my family and I have. I think you’ll discover this recipe is definitely better than Starbucks, and maybe even save you a trip to the coffee shop in the future!

For more yummy quick bread loaves, check out:

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Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe

4.81 from 130 votes
If you like Starbucks Lemon Loaf, then you'll love this moist, delicious Lemon cake! This easy to make recipe is loaded with delicious lemon flavor, and topped with an amazing lemon frosting.
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10
Calories 432 kcal
Author Lil' Luna


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3.4 oz instant lemon pudding mix
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • zest of 1 lemon


  • 3 tbsp butter soft but not melted
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 5 x 9" loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. (With a pencil, trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out with scissors.) Spray the pan, and parchment paper with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a stand or hand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon juice, oil and yogurt. Mix until evenly combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon zest, and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until center is fully set, and a toothpick inserted comes out crumb free.
  • After baking, let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan, invert and remove from the pan, removing the parchment paper from the bottom. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • For the frosting: Combine the butter, lemon juice and lemon extract with hand or stand mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy. Evenly spread the frosting over the top of the loaf. Refrigerate to let frosting set completely before slicing. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.


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Oh my! This Lemon Loaf look AMAZING!!! And no yeast is involved, which is good for me since I still don’t feel like I’ve mastered using it. 😉

Thanks, Erin! For more great recipes from her, be sure to go to Delightful E Made.

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Lil’ Luna is the place to find all things creative. From recipes to home decor to gift ideas and crafts, you can find unique, simple and fun ideas for your home, kitchen and for any occasion.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This cake is spectacular!!!! 5 star all the way! Truly tastes just like Starbucks. I did mine in a loaf pan and had to cook it about 15 minutes longer than the time listed. The icing is just amazing. I made this for my 8 yo birthday, Starbucks lemon cake is his favorite, and he was licking his plate!! LOL. Thank you so much, I will be making this a lot in the future!!!!!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious! I didn’t change anything, doubled the recipe, and my only issue was it overflowed from both loaf pans. Prep and bake time were both longer than stated in the original recipe, but I didn’t have any of the prep done beforehand (lemons). Definitely will make again!

    1. Google suggests many reasons a cake can sink in the middle..the oven door was opened, too much leavening agent, the oven temp could have been off. It’s hard to know. I’m sorry that happened!

    2. 5 stars
      i tried all the recipes this was amazing,my husband said that in 11 tears of our marriage, this is the best cake,he ever eat..thank you,everybody loved it

  3. 5 stars
    I looooove this recipe..BUT when I bake it, the bottoms get super dark.
    So I tried today to bake it at 325 but then the middle sunk in.
    How do I remedy this?

  4. 5 stars
    This lemon loaf cake is so moist & delicious. I used three little loaf pans. Next time I will double recipe & make six to make my time worth it since they were gone so fast. Thanks

  5. 5 stars
    I love baking for my family. I’ve baked a banana bread and pumpkin bread before, but never a lemon loaf. My family loves the starbucks lemon loaf so I decided to finally bake it . it turned out AMAZING. THEY LOVE IT. so moist and fresh!! i didn’t try it but i know that it was amazing.

  6. 5 stars
    This was amazing! I really do think it’s better than Starbucks. I did have to bake mine 15 minutes longer than the time stated, but that also made the edges a little crispy on the outside while still being moist and delicious on the inside. Will definitely be making this again, thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It’s the only lemon bread that really has a strong lemon flavor.

    I’d love to make a pistachio version of this by using pistachio pudding mix. Could I omit the lemon juice completely, or do I need to replace it with something else?

    1. It might be worth a try to keep the lemon juice in the recipe and you could create a Pistachio Lemon Loaf. I have never tried it but I have heard that pistachio and lemon make a great flavorful combo. Let me know how it goes!

    1. I’m so happy you liked it! Putting glaze on the sides sounds heavenly! Sometimes I have to keep myself from just eating the glaze by itself after I make it. 😉

  8. Hi
    l tried your icing and it curdled . i don’t know what happened. it tastes ok I put it on the loaf . l usually make the icing with powdered sugar and milk or lemon juice.

    1. I’m sorry that the icing gave you troubles. Not sure what would have caused the curdling. Maybe the cake was still a bit too warm before frosting? I have never had it curdle before, but I’m glad to hear the flavor was still good!

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe has become such a favorite that my daughter asked for it for her birthday! It is in the oven as we speak!! Thanks for such a great recipe!!!

    1. Oh that is so wonderful! Happy birthday to your daughter! I’m glad to hear she enjoys the lemon loaf so much.

  10. 4 stars
    I just made and followed the recipe to the “T”. The cake is just delicious 😋! Now about the frosting, it was running and was not as creamy as depicted. Otherwise, it was good!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. If the frosting is runny for you, you can always try to add a little more powdered sugar about a teaspoon at a time until it gets a bit thicker. You can also let it set in the fridge for a bit to firm a little and then spread.

  11. Why is the frosting in all over the cake instead of it running to the sides of the loaf pan? What can i do to prevent this?

    1. Hi Esther! I’m not sure I fully understand what is happening to your loaf? The frosting is running down the sides of the loaf pan? If that is the case, the frosting may need to be thickened a bit more so it isn’t quite as runny. You can thicken the frosting by making sure the butter isn’t melted, just slightly soft. You can also add more powdered sugar about 1 Tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

  12. Can you tell me what “1 lemon zest” means in the cake recipe? Does it mean the zest from 1 whole lemon or is it 1 tsp. or T of lemon zest. I read all the comments and didn’t find anyone asking what this means. Thanks.

    1. “1 lemon zest” means the zest of one lemon. I’m sorry that was not clear in the ingredient list. I will change the wording on that to make it more clear. Thanks so much for letting me know!

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