Iced Lemon Pound Cake

This simple lemon pound cake is buttery moist, rich, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.

One reader, Laurie, says: “I’ve never made pound cake before but this turned out very well. It was moist and delicious. It took 50 minutes to bake and I’m glad you mentioned that a couple of moist crumbs on a toothpick is ok, otherwise I may have left it in the oven longer and it may have been a bit dry. I used the zest of 1 1/2 lemons as suggested as I love lemon. I’m making another one today!”

lemon pound cake loaf

Here’s exactly what you need to make if it’s citrus season: grapefruit Greek yogurt cake. And if grapefruit isn’t your ideal choice, iced lemon pound cake is a home run.

Do you enjoy pound cake? My favorite is this cream cheese pound cake which has an upgraded flavor, tight/dense crumb, and remains wonderfully buttery and soft. Brown butter pound cake has a similar texture and is flavored with brown butter. Point being– I love adding flair and flavor to pound cake and lemon is always a lovely choice.

  • By the way, if you’ve tried the lemon loaf recipe in my cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction, you’ll appreciate today’s recipe too. The cookbook variation is a lighter-crumbed quick bread– soft and airy like birthday cake, but with big and bright lemon flavor that hits as soon as you take the first bite.

The Exact Texture of This Lemon Pound Cake

Today’s recipe has the same wake-up-your-tastebuds flavor as my cookbook variation, but the texture is a little different. It is:

  • unapologetically moist
  • very dense without tasting heavy
  • super rich and buttery
  • extra smooth with a velvety crumb

lemon pound cake slice

lemon pound cake with icing

Quick Video Tutorial for Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Overview: How to Make Lemon Pound Cake

Today’s recipe is a lot like my brown butter pound cake, but I left 1 egg out to make room for lemon juice and sour cream. Here’s a brief overview of the process so you understand how to make it before starting with the full written recipe below.

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together: You need flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Beat butter, then add sugar: Beat room temperature butter until smooth, then beat in granulated sugar until creamed and combined.
  3. Add room temperature eggs 1 at a time: Add the eggs 1 at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. When the eggs are room temperature, the mixer only needs a few turns and won’t over-mix them. Over-mixed batter = overly heavy lemon pound cake.
  4. Beat in remaining wet ingredients: You need sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. If you don’t have sour cream, you can use milk instead. Keep in mind that your pound cake won’t have a super tight crumb that is signature to pound cakes. Instead, the cake will have a lighter and more cakey texture.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Spoon/spread batter into greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake the pound cake. Halfway through baking, loosely tent the cake with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.

Let the pound cake cool in the pan for awhile, then remove from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack or on a serving plate or platter.


Want to Make it in a Bundt Pan?

This recipe, as written, is too small for a Bundt pan. If you want a larger lemon pound cake served in a Bundt pan, here are 2 options:

  • Double this recipe, but use 3/4 cup (180g) of sour cream. (If you were doubling the recipe, you would use 1/2 cup but make sure you increase to 3/4 cup for added moisture.) The rest of the ingredients are simply doubled. Spoon/spread into a generously greased 10-12 cup Bundt pan. (Use butter or nonstick spray to grease.) Follow the baking time and temperature from my cream cheese pound cake.
  • Use my lemon poppy seed Bundt cake recipe. Feel free to leave out the poppy seeds. That cake has a lighter texture and isn’t quite as heavy as pound cake.

lemon pound cake batter

lemon pound cake batter in loaf pan

lemon pound cake

Lemon Icing for Lemon Pound Cake

I believe the saying goes… when life hands you lemons, make lemonade glaze. The icing on top of the pound cake adds a whole other level of lemon flavor. It’s thick and sets after a couple hours, producing a sweet and zingy layer you’ll want to save for last. You need heavy cream (or half and half or milk), lemon juice, and confectioners’ sugar.

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lemon pound cake slice

Iced Lemon Pound Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This simple lemon pound cake is buttery moist, rich, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • zest of 1 lemon*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (22ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) heavy cream or milk (heavy cream produces a thick icing as pictured)

Instructions

  1. Lower the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Once the last egg is completely mixed in, stop the mixer. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, then beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture may look curdled as a result of the varying textures combining. This is normal and the batter will come together when you add the dry ingredients in the next step.
  4. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined. If needed, run a whisk through the batter a few times to rid any large lumps. Avoid over-mixing. Batter is thick.
  5. Spoon/spread the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, tenting the cake with aluminum foil halfway through baking to prevent the top from over-browning. Pound cakes are dense and take awhile to bake in the oven. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours and don’t be alarmed if yours is taking longer. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean. A couple moist crumbs are OK.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool in the pan on the wire rack for 1 hour, then carefully remove the slightly warm cake from the pan. Let it continue cooling on a wire rack or on a serving plate/platter. You can add the icing while the cake is still warm or wait for it to cool.
  7. Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together and pour over cake. Serve immediately or wait until the cake cools completely, which promises neater slices.
  8. Cover and store leftover cake for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the pound cake ahead of time by freezing it. (I suggest icing it right before serving.) Bake it, cool it, then wrap it in aluminum foil and freeze the loaf as a whole. Allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before topping with icing and serving. The cake freezes well up to 3 months.
  2. Sour Cream: If you don’t have sour cream, you can use plain yogurt or dairy/nondairy milk instead. If using milk, your pound cake won’t have a super tight crumb that is signature to pound cakes. Instead, the cake will have a lighter and cakier texture.
  3. Lemon Zest: I usually use zest from 1 and 1/2 lemons instead of just 1. I like a lot of lemon flavor and if you do too, zest more than just 1 lemon.
  4. Bundt Pan: Want to make this in a Bundt pan? See options/instructions in the blog post above.

Keywords: lemon pound cake, lemon cake, pound cake

211 Comments

  1. One word:

    ✨FABULOUS ✨

  2. This is the lemon cake I’ve been dreaming of and searching for the right recipe for years. Flavorful and moist, it was absolutely delicious. I doubled the recipe and followed Sally’s instructions for baking a bundt cake. (Ps. you can buy a gorgeous Nordic ware bundt tin at Costco for $19)

    1. did you double the butter as well?

  3. Hi Sally

    I’m going to be making this cake in a bundt pan. Your notes say to double everything other than the sour cream. Does the recipe really call for 4 sticks of butter? I’ve seen most bundt pound cake recipes call for up to 3 sticks of butter, but I’ve never seen 4 before.
    Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Steph, correct — we find this recipe works best in Bundt cake form by doubling the ingredients (except the 3/4 cup of sour cream), so four sticks of butter. Let us know if you give it a try!

  4. Kristin Anderson says:

    Absolutely wonderful. Easy and yummy. My brother in law and sister in law sent us some Meyer lemons from their tree in California. I decided to get baking with all those lemons!

  5. Hi Sally, this recipe is really helping me. I love this lemon pound cake. For the glaze, can the heavy cream or milk be optional?

  6. Samoy Mainda says:

    Hello Sally,
    If I use cake flour, how much would I need to use instead of all purpose flour?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Samoy, use the same amount of cake flour for a slightly lighter texture. Enjoy!

  7. Hi Sally. Would this be good served with your strawberry compote (from your brown butter pound cake recipe?) Maybe if I leave out the icing so it’s not too sweet? I’ve made both recipes before and they’re so good!
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely! We would love to hear what you think of the combination, Natasha. Enjoy!

  8. My grandmother adores lemon and ginger. Besides adding some finely chopped crystallized ginger on top, do you think I could put some (or ground ginger?) in the cake as well? I’m not sure how much to use so it doesn’t overwhelm the lemon. Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alice, sounds like a delicious idea. You can certainly try adding some ground ginger into the batter — we’d recommend starting small (1/4 teaspoon – 1/2 teaspoon or so), and then adjusting as needed the next time. If your grandmother loves that combination, she might also enjoy our lemon ginger cookies!

  9. Jena' Roberge says:

    I’ve not yet tried this recipe, but plan to…I’m wondering if I could make this in a muffin top pan – I’ve made other pound cake recipes in the muffin top pan and they came out fine, just baked them at 325 F for longer and they were exactly fine, but not as moist as I’d like…so I’m wondering if I should use the recipe here as is with the sour cream or add extra sour cream if baking in the muffin top pan – fyi, the muffin top pan is approximately 4″ wide by 1/2″ deep and I fill them using 1/3 cup batter, no matter what I’m baking, the 1/3rd cup batter seems to be max fill with no overflow. PS – I’ve made your Lemon Blueberry layer cake, Blueberry Bread and Strawberry Bread several times and they are always absolutely amazing! Love your recipes! I don’t often find trustworthy recipes online and tend to be more of a traditionalist, trusting in my cook books rather than other peoples’ recipes, but yours are golden, 100% every time!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jena! We haven’t tested this recipe in muffin top pans, but let us know if you give it a go. We’d love to hear how they turn out. Thank you so much for making our recipes!

  10. Laurie Higgins says:

    I’ve never made pound cake before but this turned out very well. It was moist and delicious. It took 50 minutes to bake and I’m glad you mentioned that a couple of moist crumbs on a toothpick is ok, otherwise I may have left it in the oven longer and it may have been a bit dry. I used the zest of 1 1/2 lemons as suggested as I love lemon. I’m making another one today!

  11. Can I modify the recipe to fit an 8×4 loaf pan?

    1. Absolutely. The bake time will be a few minutes longer, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  12. This recipe was just plain awesome. Thanks much, Sally! Finally I have a pound cake that I enjoy so much done right at home ☺ so delicious even without the icing!

  13. Hi Sally I guess I should have read all your tips/notes prior to making this pound cake. I do like a good lemony flavor but didn’t see the tip about adding extra zest until after my cake was in the oven. ☹️ Another question I had is you mention lowering your oven rack to the lower 1/3 of the oven. My 3 oven rack from the bottom puts the cake pretty center in my oven? After reading the comment about somebody’s edge is burning I questioned if my cake was going to be too high in the oven so I put it down on the second to the bottom rack could you please clarify the positioning in the oven where the cake should be cooked? Example bottom quarter of the oven middle of the oven etc. baking now, hope all goes well as this is being served to my daughter for her birthday per her request & a group of ladies at work this afternoon.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christi! The bottom third of the oven is what you’re looking for. Not on the bottom but near it. Hope the cake is a hit!

  14. HI Sally
    I’m a fairly experienced home baker. I’m made this cake over the weekend. It had a really good flavor and texture – however it was kind of flat in appearance. Just wonder if it needed a bit more leavening or any other suggestions? I baked it in a light colored aluminum 9X5. (I don’t have glass.)

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andi! Was your baking powder fresh? This pound cake doesn’t have a super high dome, but it may come out a bit flat if your baking powder isn’t fresh — we find it starts to lose power after about 3 months. Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try!

  15. It was amazing!! Thank you!!

  16. Lauren Gardiner says:

    Hi Sally! I love your recipes and usually have great success because your directions are so thorough. I made this recipe 3x in the past week and it was always underbaked. Light color with golden edges and a skewer came out clean, but then the cakes always sunk as they cooled and became too stodgy. I will admit that I played with the baking times and cake shape (two 7in layers first round, full bundt second round, and a dozen mini bundts third round). Baking powder isn’t expired and oven heating coil was just replaced. Please help me figure out what I am doing wrong.
    Side note, the flavor of this cake is seriously amazing! Which is all my friends and family care about, but I want a perfect pound cake crumb!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren! Happy to help troubleshoot. The different size cake pans can be tricky, as each will have a different bake time. In particular, we’ve found that the cake will be very dense and squat if baked in round pans. When checking for doneness with a toothpick, make sure it is reaching far enough into the loaf to ensure the bottom is baked through — note that a few light crumbs are okay otherwise you could risk over baking it. In the future, if you find it browning too soon on the edges before the middle is baked, you can try reducing your temperature by 25 degrees, increasing the bake time, and lightly tenting the edges with foil to prevent burning. Hopefully this helps for next time, and remember that pound cakes do have tighter and denser crumbs than traditional loaves or cakes 🙂

    2. I had the same issue tonight. I tested the baking powder to be sure it was fresh ( and it is). So I wonder if it could be that between the sour cream and the lemon juice there is too much acidity and needs to be balance with some baking soda perhaps?!?

  17. Smita Dhanuka says:

    I have a small bundt pan. Can I use the recipe as it is in that pan?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Smita! It depends on how big/small your Bundt pan is. Our cake pan sizes and conversions guide will be helpful to scale this recipe for your needs!

  18. Absolutely adore this recipe. My friends entirely enjoyed this cake as well!

    I was wondering if this recipe could perhaps be adapted to use with a mini muffin pan (i.e. more akin to lemon blossoms)?

    Thank you for your delicious recipes!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashley! We haven’t tested this recipe in a mini muffin pan, but let us know if you give it a go. We’d love to hear how they turn out. We’re so glad this recipe is a hit for you!

  19. yummy I will make this again thanks

  20. Hi Sally! My loaf came out pretty good but with quite a few cracks on the top (this happens with every loaf I ever bake!). It’s baked fine but what can I do to prevent the big cracks in the top in the future?
    Also, since I only used 1 lemon worth of zest in the cake, could I add lemon zest to the glaze to make it extra lemony?

    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kate! Quick breads are meant to crack on top! It’s the air being released from the bread as it bakes. You can add zest to the glaze if desired. Enjoy!

  21. Hey! Could I add blueberries to this? If so, how much? Of course I’d toss in flour first.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cassidy, blueberries would be a fantastic addition– we would stir in about 1 cup.

  22. Wesley Pemberton says:

    Sally you never disappoint! I’ve tried so many pound cake recipes and this one turned out perfect! My search ends here ❤️

  23. Michele Portner says:

    Hello! Have you ever baked this on a sheet pan? I know to modify the baking time, but wondering if you’ve done it this way? Thank you in advance for your input!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michele! We haven’t tested this pound cake recipe in a sheet pan. You may enjoy this lemon cake recipe instead – see recipe notes for instructions on baking it in a 9×13. Enjoy!

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