This copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe is super moist and fluffy, full of bright lemon flavor, and made with simple ingredients. This easy recipe is vegan and made with a delicious lemon glaze. It has the perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavor, and it's perfect for breakfast to enjoy with a cup of coffee, or as a delicious citrus dessert to have at any time of the day!
You can either make this recipe into a loaf and create an even better version of your favorite coffee shop treat, or you can bake it in a cake pan and turn it into a delicious vegan lemon cake recipe!
What you'll need to make this yummy copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe
- all purpose flour: all purpose flour or cake flour work best for this recipe.
- sugar: I used white cane sugar. White sugar works best in this recipe to keep the color of the cake vibrant and yellow, but you can also use coconut sugar or brown sugar if you prefer. Just know that the color will be different if you do.
- baking powder
- baking soda
- dash of turmeric: optional, just for color
- a pinch of salt
- non-dairy milk: I used soy milk to keep the recipe vegan, but you can use any kind of milk that you prefer.
- dairy-free yogurt: Again, I used vegan yogurt to keep this recipe plant-based, but you can also use greek yogurt instead.
- olive oil: the olive oil in this recipe makes the loaf super moist and adds a beautiful golden color to the loaf. Because the lemon flavor is so much stronger, you can't taste the olive oil at all. If you don't have any olive oil on hand, you can also use vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil.
- vanilla extract: I used clear vanilla extract so I can keep the color of the recipe bright and vibrant, but that part is completely optional. You can use whatever vanilla extract you have on hand.
- fresh lemon juice and lemon zest from a real lemon
- vegan cream cheese: For this recipe, I made a delicious vegan cream cheese frosting. If you don't care about the recipe being vegan, you can use regular cream cheese instead.
- powdered sugar/ icing sugar
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice and zest
The full ingredient list with all of the ratios, directions, and nutritional information is written at the bottom of the post in the printable recipe card. If you try and like this recipe, it would mean so much to me if you could leave a rating and a review!
- loaf pan
- large bowl: for mixing the batter
- medium bowl: for mixing the frosting ingredients
- a whisk and silicone spatula
- kitchen scale (optional): this is not a requirement because you can use measuring cups instead, but I find that it can sometimes be tricky to get the exact amount of flour using a measuring cup, so I find that weighing my flour is the best way to ensure I am measuring correctly. This is why I have included the grams for this recipe in the recipe card. You can just make this recipe using measuring cups, but make sure you are measuring correctly. Here is a great video showing how to correctly measure flour.
- optional: you can use an electric mixer or stand mixer to make the frosting, but I didn't use one for this recipe.
Can I use lemon extract instead of fresh lemon juice?
I made this recipe with lemon juice and lemon zest from a real lemon. I have not tested this recipe with lemon extract like this, so I do not recommend substituting for it in this recipe.
How to make this lemon loaf cake recipe gluten-free
For this recipe, I used all-purpose flour. All-purpose works the best in this recipe because of the fine texture and the light color, but if you needed to make the recipe gluten-free, fear not! You can use a 1:1 baking flour in place of the all-purpose flour.
1:1 baking flours are specifically designed to replace regular flour in recipes, so make sure that the flour you choose says that it can be used for that purpose. Two brands that I have used and love that have flours like these are Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur Baking. Using almond flour or coconut flour to substitute the all-purpose flour will not work in this recipe.
I have not tried using oat flour in this recipe, but I suspect that it will work, but that the final result will be a less fluffy version. However, I have not tested this, so I cannot say for certain.
How to make the perfect lemon loaf
Preheat the oven to 350*F/ 175*C.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and mix them well.
Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk them together.
Grease a loaf pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.
Pour the lemon cake batter into the prepared loaf pan. Gently pound it on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and level out the top. Place the loaf in the preheated oven and bake it for 50-55 minutes. I baked my loaf for exactly 50 minutes, but your baking time may differ based on your oven.
When the loaf is done baking, place it on a cooling rack and allow it to cool off at room temperature.
While the loaf is baking, prepare the lemon icing. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk up the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest. You can use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, but I just used a whisk and whisked it up by hand.
Make sure the loaf has completely cooled off, then add the sweet lemon glaze on top of the loaf. You can also decorate it with extra lemon zest on top. Note: If the loaf is still warm, the frosting might melt off, so make sure that you wait until it has cooled off.
Slice the loaf and enjoy! Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Making this lemon loaf into a lemon cake
I love making this Starbucks lemon loaf recipe as a loaf because it is so easy to do- you just pour the batter into a loaf pan, bake it, and layer the glaze on top. However, this recipe also makes for an amazing base for a lemon cake!
To make this lemon loaf into a cake, simply bake it in a regular cake pan instead of a loaf. Once it has baked, you can level off the top of the cake to make it flat, and glaze the top of the cake with the lemon frosting. You can even decorate it with lemon slices and more lemon zest, or even edible flowers if you want to make it extra pretty! It's a great cake to serve at a birthday party or to bring to special occasions or gatherings.
You can also divide up the recipe into mini loaf pans and make mini loaves out of the recipe. You can use a bundt pan to make it into a lemon bundt cake, or even pour it into a muffin pan and make lemon cupcakes! The possibilities are endless because this recipe works great and tastes amazing.
Of course, an important thing to note is that the baking time will change if you change the vessel that you bake the cake in, so you will need to adjust it.
A great tip for checking when the recipe is done baking is to stick a toothpick in the middle of the baked good. If the inserted toothpick comes out clean, with no wet batter on it, the recipe is ready. You'll know that the recipe is close to being done once the top of the baked good starts to form a dome and the edges start to look golden brown. Once that has happened, you can take out the baked good and check with the toothpick to see if it has finished baking.
If you love Starbucks copycat recipes, you'll also love these recreations of their seasonal favorites
If you love lemon desserts, you'll also love these other treats perfect for lemon lovers
Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe
- loaf pan
- large mixing bowl
- 2 cups all purpose flour 240 grams
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- dash of turmeric optional, just for color
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dairy-free milk
- ½ cup vegan yogurt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ⅔ cup vegan cream cheese
- ½ cup powdered sugar 50 grams
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon zest
- To a large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and mix them well.
- Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk them together.
- Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level out the top. Bake the loaf for 50-55 minutes at 350*F. I baked my loaf for exactly 50 minutes, but your oven or pan might differ.
- While the loaf is baking, prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, whisk up the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Refrigerate the frosting.
- When the loaf is done baking, allow it to cool off at room temperature.
- Make sure the loaf has completely cooled off, then add the cream cheese frosting on top. Note: If the loaf is still warm, the frosting might melt off.
- Slice the loaf and enjoy! Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Can I freeze lemon loaf?
Yes, you can freeze this lemon loaf and enjoy it at a later time. To do this, fully bake the vegan lemon loaf cake and allow it to cool off completely on a cooling rack at room temperature. Then wrap the baked cake tightly in plastic wrap. I actually recommend wrapping it twice, just to be extra sure to prevent freezer burn. You can also put it in a freezer bag instead. Store it in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy it.
When you're ready to thaw the loaf, remove it from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap completely. Let it is on a wire rack at room temperature for 4-5 hours until it has completely thawed. Then slice and enjoy and refrigerate the leftovers for 3-4 days.
How to store this delicious lemon cake
To store the loaf, you can place it in an airtight container or put it back into the loaf pan that you baked it in, cover it in plastic wrap or with a piece of foil, and keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days.
I can't speak for the icing, but I made the cake and it worked beautifully! I actually did it as 12 muffins (which took just 25 minutes to cook) then drizzled them with a simple icing sugar/lemon juice mix, and my family loved them. It is so great to be able to make a vegan version of a classic lemon sponge that doesn't rely on vegan butter or a processed egg replacements, both quite expensive and hard to find. I will definitely be saving this recipe and making it again!
This made me so happy to read! So happy that you got to share these with your family- thank you so much for trusting in my recipe 🙂 <3