This Lemon Bread recipe really packs a punch! Lemony to the max! The loaf is moist with a tender crumb, and bursting with lemon flavor from the juice and zest. The glaze on top will make you pucker up. It’s quick and easy to make! Ditch the Starbucks loaf and make this instead! Originally published February 7, 2020.

a loaf of glazed lemon quick bread that has been sliced.
Table of Contents
  1. You will love this Lemon Loaf Recipe
  2. Lemon Loaf ingredients
  3. How to Make Lemon Bread
  4. How to store Lemon Bread with glaze
  5. Glazed Lemon Bread FAQs
  6. Iced Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe

You will love this Lemon Loaf Recipe

Happy February! February in California means driving around the neighborhood to see citrus trees all over the place, weighed down to the ground with lemons and oranges and limes and grapefruit. You walk in to church to see citrus piled high on the entry table, picked and ready to take home. Friends mass text, “anyone want lemons?? We’re drowning over here!” and I always answer, YES give me all the lemons!

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a loaf of sliced lemon bread with glaze.

I’m not one of those good people of the world* who sees a ton of lemons in the fridge and thinks “oh awesome, now I can squeeze lemon into my ice water” or “ooh, got some lemons, gonna make myself some Lemon Glazed Carrots or maybe some Lemon Pasta!

lemon quick bread with glaze.

I mean. Maybe I’ll get there eventually, after several days of lemon surplus…But my first instinct is ALWAYS dessert. Lemon bars, lemon curd, lemon cookies, oh my! Bring on the sugar.

lemon quick bread in slices with glaze.

(*Every time I hear the phrase “good people of the world” I think of that song, “And the good people of the world are washing their cars on their lunch breaks, hosing and scrubbing as best they can in skirts and suits.” Who can name that song?? It’s a 90’s classic!)

sliced lemon loaf with glaze and fresh lemon slices.

So anyway, thank you to all the lemon trees in my neighborhood (and awesome neighbors!) for bringing us this lemon bread today. Maybe I’ll come up with something healthy to do with the surplus next February.

Because let’s be real, this “lemon bread” business is just a front. This is basically a lemon cake. I mean, just look at it. It even has frosting on top. And if you’re like me, you double the frosting and eat every piece of your “lemon bread” with a hefty dose of frosting spread all across the top.

a slice of lemon loaf with glaze and a bite taken out of it.

I made this on a whim one day with my lemons, and shared a photo on Instagram stories. I got so many people asking for the recipe that I decided to make it again and take photos for the blog. Thanks for the inspiration, Instagram! Getting back into sharing recipes has come slower than I would like after the baby! (Who is 6 weeks old now and starting to hold his head up more and more lately! He’s so cute. Follow along on Instagram if you would like more baby updates.)

Lemon Loaf ingredients

Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!

  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Melted butter
  • Oil
  • Eggs
  • Sour cream
  • Lemon juice

How to Make Lemon Bread

They don’t call it quick bread for nothing! All you need for this recipe are a couple bowls and a spatula. You can use a mixer if you want, but an old fashioned whisk will do ya just fine.

dry ingredients for lemon loaf in a mixing bowl with a whisk.

First put together the dry ingredients:

  • flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • sugar
  • lemon zest

I know, technically lemon zest isn’t a dry ingredient, but I like to stir it in so that it gets coated with flour. It distributes in the bread more evenly that way, instead of getting all clumpy.

pouring lemon loaf batter into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

Then add your wet ingredients:

  • melted butter
  • oil
  • eggs
  • sour cream
  • lemon juice

I tested this recipe using lemon extract. I know there are some recipes out there that swear by it, and you will definitely find it in that classic Starbucks Iced Lemon Loaf Cake. But it’s just not my favorite flavor. It tastes more chemically than lemony to me. I prefer to just use a LOT of fresh lemon juice and a LOT of lemon zest. Lemons have tons of flavor, let’s let them do the talking! (If you want to try it with the extract, replace one tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 tablespoon extract.)

Then you literally just stir together the wet and dry ingredients, and voila, batter done. Bake it up and you’re almost done.

pouring glaze onto a loaf of lemon quick bread.

The last step is the glaze. It’s TART and that’s not an apology. It really takes this bread from “Yum” to “WOW yum!” And I have a trick to make sure your glaze is extra thick: add one layer of glaze and let it set. Then add another layer. Then another layer! This is the best way to get that really thick white glaze on top and still get the pretty drips down the side.

lemon loaf with glaze and fresh lemon slices.

This lemon bread is really pretty for serving at baby showers or any type of potluck. It’s also great to make on a random Wednesday afternoon! Makes a tasty breakfast the next morning. Happy citrus season ya’ll!

How to store Lemon Bread with glaze

Lemon bread can be kept on the counter for 3-5 days, covered. If you want to save it for much later, you can freeze an entire loaf or individual slices as you prefer and defrost them on the counter at room temperature when you’re ready. 

Does lemon bread need to be refrigerated?

No, you don’t need to refrigerate lemon bread. The glaze doesn’t contain any dairy and the bread is fully cooked, so it’s safe to store covered on the counter. 

Glazed Lemon Bread FAQs

Where did lemon loaf originate?

“Lemon bread” or “lemon loaf” is really a type of cake, don’t let the bread shape fool you! Its origins are impossible to determine. It’s a type of pound cake, which dates back to England in the 1700s, but when someone first added lemons and a sweet, tart glaze is unknown.
In Britain, it’s called lemon drizzle cake and served with afternoon tea. In Germany, it’s called Saint Barbara’s cake and is made around December 4 (on the feast of St. Barbara). Whatever you call it, it’s the perfect breakfast treat or indulgent snack and I am all about it. 

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of squeezed?

Bottled lemon juice works fine when you’re just adding a little to a recipe in which it’s not the predominant flavor. IF, however, you are making this LEMON bread, you need lemons. Not only will the juice be far more flavorful, but you need them for their zest, which adds even more flavor. I’m not saying it’s impossible to make the bread with bottled lemon juice, but I absolutely do not recommend it. Wait for a day when you’ve got the real thing!

More lemon recipes you are going to love!

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Iced Lemon Loaf Cake

4.72 from 38 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10
This Lemon Bread recipe really packs a punch! Lemony to the max! The loaf is moist with a tender crumb, and bursting with lemon flavor from the juice and zest. The glaze on top will make you pucker up. It's quick and easy to make! Ditch the Starbucks loaf and make this instead!

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

  • 1 & 3/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, from about 2 lemons

Wet ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil, I like light flavored olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, you will need at least 2 large lemons

For the glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice, you will need at least 1 large lemon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Line a 9×5 in loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal. Or you could spray the pan with nonstick spray. (Or line with foil; be sure to grease.)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: 1 and 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • Use a microplane grater to zest 2 large lemons into the dry ingredients. You want at least 2 tablespoons. Whisk it all together and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, microwave 1/4 cup butter until melted. Set aside to cool a bit.
  • In another large bowl* or stand mixer, add the wet ingredients: beat 2 large eggs until combined and smooth. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup sour cream, and 1/3 cup lemon juice.
  • Add in the melted butter. Stir it all together.
  • Add the dry ingredients (and then wipe out the dry bowl and put it back in your cupboard.) Stir until combined. Make sure that everything is incorporated, but do not over beat. A few lumps are ok. See photos above to see the batter. 
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
  • Bake at 350 for about 45-52 minutes. Every oven is different, so start checking early. The bread is done when there are brown spots on top and a toothpick, when inserted in the center, comes out with no wet batter on it. 
  • Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before lifting the bread from the pan. Let the bread continue cooling on the wire rack while you make the glaze.
  • To make the glaze, add 2 cups of powdered sugar to a medium bowl. If it looks rather clumpy, sift it through a strainer so that you don’t have lumps in your glaze. 
  • Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice to the bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add more lemon juice if necessary to get a glaze consistency that easily drips off of a spoon. 
  • Glaze the bread in increments. Add about 1/3 of the glaze to the cooled bread and spread to the edges, letting it drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set for 10-20 minutes until it has formed a crust. (Stick it in the fridge or freezer to speed this up.) 
  • Add another 1/3 of the glaze and let set as before. 
  • Add the rest of the glaze and let set completely. You don’t have to add the glaze in stages like this, but it’s the best way to get a really thick glaze on top of the bread. 
  • Slice the bread and serve!
  • Store the bread covered on the counter for 2-3 days. After that, store in the fridge.
  • This bread can be frozen and served later! Let thaw on the counter in the container that you froze it in (sealed). 

Notes

*This recipe is really easy to mix by hand, there is no need for a mixer unless you want to use one. 
Want to make mini loaves? This recipe makes three mini loaves. You can bake them at the same temperature, but they’ll be done after 30 minutes or so.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 340IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Calories: 403
Keyword: bread, glazed, lemon, loaf
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. Made this cake tonight, such an easy recipe and so moist and lemony. Will be my go to lemon loaf recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m so happy to hear it will be your go-to Maria! That’s so great. Thank you so much for taking the time to review!

  2. Amazing how someone can screw up a recipe even with step by step instructions. 
    Recipe is well done & turned out great!

  3. I made this Lemon Bread for breakfast and it was sooo good! Soft, moist, and full of lemon flavor – I 2x the recipe and both loaves are already gone! 😆

    1. That is awesome Lexi!! So glad it was a hit! Once people know this lemon bread is around, it goes quick! Thank you so much for commenting :)

    2. I’m going to try the lemon bread.  My husband loves lemon pound cake,  he has to love lemon bread.   

  4. Miss Karen. Guuuurrrllll, this Lemon Loaf Cake is the bomb dot com!!! I got impatient letting the glaze sit in 3 stages since I really wanted a piece. My house smelled amazing, and I can really taste the lemon throughout the cake and the glaze. This cake beats Starbuck’s any day, and now that I know how to make it, I have the recipe. I plan on making this very delicious cake again soon. Thank you so much for sharing 😉

    1. Yassss I’m so glad you liked it Shawnae! I feel like bomb dot com is the perfect description ;) So glad you have a recipe to beat Starbucks now! Thanks for reveiwing!!

  5. This recipe didn’t work for me. There is always the possibilty that I’ve done something wrong, but my feeling was that the measurements are off.
    From my experience, it is always better giving measurements in grams (or any other weight unit), than cups, sticks etc, when it comes to baking…
    If you plan to bake this, my recommendation is to cross-reference with other recipes.

    1. Hi Ofer! I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you! I promise if you cross reference this with other lemon bread recipes you will find very similar ingredients and measurements. I tested this recipe 3 times, so I’m confident that the recipe works when the instructions are followed exactly.

      1. Hi Karen! I did notice while making this recipe that the sugar is missing from step 3 where you whisk together the dry ingredients. If someone was going off the written instructions instead of looking back at the ingredient list, it could explain why the recipe might not work for them. Maybe this is what happened with Ofer…? Recipe was delicious, by the way! :)

        1. I followed the steps and also noticed the sugar wasn’t in step 3, after I already baked everything :(

          1. Oh no Aimie! I’m so sorry about that. I made a mistake. I’ve corrected the recipe, the sugar does indeed go in on step 3. Thank you for commenting, I’m so sorry your bread didn’t work out!

  6. I made this lemon bread this weekend using Meyer lemons from our tree. Threw in about a cup of blueberries that I needed to use up. Everyone loved it! 

    1. Love the idea of adding in blueberries Claudia! Thanks so much for sharing, and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  7. Just made this and am eating it now. It’s delicious! A bit lighter texture than Starbucks and the end of the loaf was more done than I prefer in order to get the center done but definitely a success. Thank you!

  8. I have always wondered how to get the thick glaze that Starbucks has on their lemon loaf. What a great idea to glaze in layers. This is my favorite Starbucks treat and I can’t wait to make it!

    1. Yes, this tip came from my mother-in-law! She’s a genius and I’m so glad she gave me the idea to glaze in layers! Makes all the difference in my opinion!

  9. This looks awesome! I have never tried Starbucks treats but this looks delicious! I will be trying when I pick up some lemons. 

    1. I made this bread yesterday and it is so delicious! I like the balance of tart and sweet. Thanks for the recipe!

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