Lemon Loaf


5 from 480 votes
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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. 

lemon loaf.

If you’ve made our lemon cake or pound cake before, this lemon loaf will surely be your new favorite.

Table of Contents
  1. How to make a copycat Starbucks lemon loaf
  2. Tips to make the best recipe
  3. Storage instructions
  4. Frequently asked questions
  5. Lemon Loaf (Recipe Card)

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!

The ingredients

  • 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.

Homemade tip

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. 

The Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour your batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake the lemon bread for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. 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.
lemon loaf recipe.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • 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. 

Storage instructions

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.

Starbucks lemon loaf.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this oil-free?

As this lemon bread has no butter in it, the oil is necessary to keep the texture light and fluffy while also being moist.

What can I substitute the self-rising flour with?

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.

How much lemon extract equals lemon juice? 

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.

Which is stronger- lemon extract or lemon juice?

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.

Q: Can I substitute the self rising flour for gluten-free flour?

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

lemon loaf recipes.

Lemon Loaf

5 from 480 votes
This lemon loaf recipe is the perfect balance of sweet, zesty, and tangy! Inspired by Starbucks, our version tastes like the real thing but has no eggs or dairy.
Servings: 12 Slices
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes


  • 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.


TO STORE– Store lemon loaf at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 5 days. You can also refrigerate it, which will keep fresh for up to 10 days. 
TO FREEZE– Place the loaf 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. 


Serving: 1SliceCalories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 3gFat: 8gSodium: 42mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 32g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    The vegan lemon loaf turned out delicious, with just the right amount of sweetness and lemon scent. Looks just like your photos. I followed the recipe exactly as written, except for baking it in a glass loaf pan (1 qt capacity) at 375 F for 50 minutes. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

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