This lemon loaf features a moist and tender quick bread loaded with lemon flavor! It’s drizzled with a simple lemon glaze and uses pantry staples: no eggs, no butter, and no milk needed.
If you’ve made our lemon cake or pound cake before, this lemon loaf will surely be your new favorite.
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The best lemon loaf recipe
A tender and moist crumb, my lemon loaf cake reminds me of the famous Starbucks lemon loaf.
I could not stop eating it once it was glazed, and it only lasted 24 hours in my household!
- It’s naturally vegan, gluten-free, and can be made sugar-free.
- You can make this loaf with fresh or bottled lemon juice, and I honestly couldn’t taste the difference. Well, except the former was ten times the price!
- This lemon loaf is extremely forgiving too. Want more lemon flavor? Add some lemon juice to the glaze! Only want a slight tang? Hold back on it.
- I promise you, this is the BEST and EASIEST lemon loaf you’ll ever make. It’s made using pantry staple ingredients and is a fun recipe to get your kids involved in.
- No fancy mixers or time spent in the kitchen to make it.
How to make a copycat Starbucks lemon loaf
Most lemon bread recipes use a mix of flour, eggs, and sugar. This one is a little different. Instead, we use a combination of self-rising flour and oil to produce the lightness of the cake’s texture.
As with all my other dessert recipes, I use easy and simple ingredients for this lemon bread without sacrificing taste!
- Self-rising flour– It gives the loaf rise and texture without the need for baking powder. It also skips the need for salt. Skip the expensive store-bought kind and make your own.
- Superfine sugar– To give sweetness to the loaf! Superfine sugar is often called caster sugar or bakers sugar.
Caster sugar (superfine sugar) has a texture in between table sugar and confectioners’ sugar. To achieve this texture, you can use a high-speed blender or food processor and blend your sugar, until it has broken down into a finer texture.
- Baking powder– Leavens out the lemon bread. Do not omit, or the loaf will sink in the center.
- Lemons– To both juice and add zest into the batter for that lovely citrus flavor.
- Water– Replaces the need for any milk or other liquid.
- Sunflower oil– Replaces any need for butter or margarine. You can use any neutral flavored oil (coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc).
- Powdered sugar– To make the glaze/icing for the top of the loaf. This is often called Confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar.
- Lemon juice– Mix with powdered sugar to produce a tangy lemon glaze. You can use water or milk if you want less lemon flavor.
- Vanilla extract– Optional but adds a lovely flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. If using lemon zest, add it here too. Add your oil, lemon juice, and water and whisk until fully combined and the batter is smooth.
- Pour your batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake the lemon bread for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, drizzle with the lemon glaze before slicing.
- Oven times differ, so use the ‘toothpick’ or ‘skewer’ trick to see if the loaf is done. Insert it into the center, and it’s ready if it comes out clean!
- Avoid opening the oven and checking if the loaf is done BEFORE the 30-minute mark- You risk the loaf sinking in the center.
- If you prefer a more pronounced lemon flavor, you can substitute 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the water with lemon juice or some lemon extract.
- Use extra parchment paper so it hangs over the loaf pan. This makes removing the loaf from the pan much easier when it’s time to cool it on the cooling rack.
- Do not glaze the loaf cake until it’s completely cooled. Otherwise, the glaze will drizzle too much off the sides.
- Feel free to fold through some nuts, seeds, or other mix-ins to the lemon loaf mixture.
- For an even fluffier loaf, add some baking soda.
To store– Store vegan lemon bread at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 5 days. You can also refrigerate it, which will keep it fresh for up to 10 days.
To freeze– Place lemon bread in a freezer-friendly container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also freeze individual slices and keep them in ziplock bags.
Frequently asked questions
As this lemon bread has no butter in it, the oil is necessary to keep the texture light and fluffy while also being moist.
Unfortunately, you cannot substitute the self-rising flour for another flour. Self-rising flour has specific properties that ensure this loaf bakes correctly and has the gorgeous texture (light, fluffy and moist) that we all love in a lemon loaf.
If you need to substitute lemon extract for lemon juice, a good rule of thumb is to use 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract for every two tablespoons of lemon juice called for in the recipe.
Lemon extract is generally stronger than lemon juice in terms of flavor concentration. However, lemon juice has a more acidic flavor than lemon extract, which can affect the overall taste of a recipe.
Yes, you can use a gluten-free flour blend, provided it is self rising and has xanthan gum added to the dough.
More delicious lemon desserts to try
- 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour gluten-free, if necessary
- 1 cup superfine sugar caster sugar * See notes
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup water
- 6 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil can use any oil of choice
- 1 lemon juiced and zested
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar confectioners's sugar/icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add your self-rising flour, baking powder and superfine sugar/caster sugar, and mix well. Add your lemon zest, water, oil and lemon juice, and mix well, until a smooth batter remains.
- Transfer the batter into the lined loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, glaze the loaf and slice.
- To make the glaze, combine your powdered sugar with either 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice, milk or water, until desired texture remains.
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Can you tell us what size loaf pan you used? I have many different sizes. I appreciate the non dairy recipes for those of us who must avoid dairy at all cost.
How much lemon juice? Maybe I’m missing it, but I don’t see an amount for it! 🙂
Hi! Half of the lemon, squeezed. More for the glaze, if you prefer a very strong lemon flavor 🙂
Just out of curiosity, can I add eggs to this recipe? I appreciate its aimed for vegans but i was impressed with all the comments so just wondered. I have a similar recipe for double choc courgette cake using oil but also has 3 eggs too. Would this be similar do you think? Thank you kindly
I haven’t tried, you are welcome to experiment and see 🙂
My batter is looking really dry and sticky. Not smooth at all. I’m still going to pop it into the over to see what happens!
It shouldn’t be dry at all, did you omit any ingredients?
Quick question. So you need baking powder in spite of the self rising flour here? Thanks.
You sure do!
Hi! Can I swap the water for Almond milk? Just to give it a better flavour.
Hi! I haven’t tried, but I don’t see why not!
Love love – thank you for so easily sharing with us and not making folks hunt for the ingredients, quantity or baking instructions! I continue to search for low sugar/carb recipes so my daughter can enjoy fun treats too!! 🙌🏻❤️😎
Ive made this 3 times already and substituted key lime for the lemon and lim juice for the water and it is ABSOLUTLEY DELICIOUS! The “batter” turns out more like dough for me and I was worried at first it was going to be dry but it turned out super moist on the inside and crunchy soft on the outside. This is now my weekly sweet treat for my family. THANKS ARMAN! <3
You are so welcome, Rachael- Thanks for the feedback!
Is it possible to make this without the lemon juice and instead use the base to make a different loaf cake? Or does the lemon juice have a specific purpose other than flavor?
It adds the flavor, but you can omit it- If the batter is too thick, add a little extra water.
I followed this recipe step by step. Once I mixed the ingredients the dough was dry, so I know that either the measurements are off or there are missing ingredients on this recipe.
I baked it for 45 min and took it out and it was not cooked thoroughly. It did not rise either. So I baked for another 10min. I took it out again and same thing, uncooked. So I baked it another 10 min. I had to take it out, because the outside was getting ver toasty.
I took it out and let it cool for 15 min. When I sliced it, it was a chewy consistency, almost like a mochi bread.
I am very disappointed. I had to throw it away, since no one dare to eat it.
That’s no good, it must come down to either using incorrect ingredients or poor quality ingredients, as this recipe has been made by thousands already and everyone adores it. Better luck next time!
The batter had nothing to do with looking smooth … it looked more like a fluffy dough, which made me sceptical about the result, but it turned out to be a successful try.
Glad it turned out well- It can sometimes be fluffy if your flour is a certain brand!
Can I use aluminum foil?
Easy to make and delicious cake, soft and tasty
Can unsalted butter be substituted for the oil?
I found it a little greasy when I tried it with butter.
I love your recipes so lovely Thankyou
Amazing! I made this for my vegan friend. She loves it!! I tried some and omg. It’s amazing and certainly doesn’t taste like it’s missing dairy products. Give it a go! But I’d recommend making extra icing 😊