Lemon Loaf Cake


Tender and moist, this cake is bursting with bright flavor.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins

This bright Lemon Loaf Cake makes for a refreshing treat any time of day. It's tender and moist with a chewy and delicious crust, and it's reminiscent of the Starbucks lemon cake that many know and love. This lemon loaf cake recipe isn't too sweet thanks to the added salt in the frosting, which enhances the tang of the lemon. Add pudding mix to the batter to give the cake extra moisture and help hold the structure while also keeping the texture fluffy. Look for Jell-O brand instant lemon pudding mix, which is available at most grocery stores (substitute with vanilla if desired for a more subtle flavor). This easy lemon loaf cake is a bit sticky due to its high sugar content, so it's best practice to line your pan with parchment paper so it comes out cleanly. To make this recipe even more enticing, it is an easy loaf to prep in advance as the cake can be stored in the freezer before frosting for up to 3 months.

Lemon Loaf Cake
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Karen Rankin


  • Cooking spray

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 (3.4-oz) package lemon instant pudding mix (such as Jell-O)

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • .5 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • cup canola oil

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons), divided

  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, divided

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz.) unsalted butter, softened and divided

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) powdered sugar

  • Lemon zest curls


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper, and coat parchment paper with cooking spray. Combine flour, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, and ¾ teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together oil, 5 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and ½ cup of the Greek yogurt in a separate bowl until smooth; set both bowls aside.

  2. Beat granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons of the butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down sides as necessary, 45 seconds. Beat in vanilla and lemon extract until blended, about 15 seconds.

  3. Gradually add flour mixture to granulated sugar mixture alternately with yogurt mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven until cake is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

  4. Whisk together powdered sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt, and ¼ teaspoon salt until completely smooth (yields ½ cup). Once cake has cooled completely, spread frosting over top of cake, and garnish with lemon zest curls.

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