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!”
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
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.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together: You need flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Beat butter, then add sugar: Beat room temperature butter until smooth, then beat in granulated sugar until creamed and combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
- Spoon/spread batter into greased loaf pan.
- 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 Icing for Lemon Pound Cake
I believe the saying goes… when life hands you lemons, make lemon
ade 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.
Feel free to add candied lemons on the top for presentation, like we do with lemon poppy seed bread.
More Delicious Lemon Recipes
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
- Lemon Blueberry Tart
- Oatmeal Lemon Crumble Bars
- Lemon Cake
- Lemon Berry Trifle
Iced Lemon Pound Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
- Yield: serves 8-10
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
This simple lemon pound cake is buttery moist, rich, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 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
- 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)
- 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.
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and store leftover cake for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer | 9×5 Inch Loaf Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Zester | Mesh Sieve
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Reader Comments & Reviews
how would you convert or manage this recipe using a 4×8.5 loaf pan?
Hi Michelle, here’s everything you need to know about cake pan sizes and conversions. You could use this batter as written, and then use any leftover batter for a muffin or two on the side.
For this recipe, I wonder what the height of the loaf pan needs to be for best results–is a 2.5 inch height loaf pan suitable for this recipe?
Hi Allison, 2.5 inch height should work well. The pan we use is 9 x 5 x 2.7.
When it comes to loaf pans, does the height of the loaf pan make a big difference for the final result? Why or why not, I wonder?
Hi Allison, you just want to make sure the pan is deep enough so it won’t overflow.
What can I use for substitute for heavy cream? I only managed to find heavy whipping cream at the store.
Hi Lauren, heavy whipping cream (as long as the word heavy is in the title) will work. They’re often the same!
Made this last night for the first time. This cake’s texture was velvety, dense and buttery and somehow not heavy or greasy. It has a bright zesty sweetness and it’s buttery. My husband and son both loved it. (I have a fantastic lemon bar recipe that’s a lot of work, and they said this is just as good, and it’s a whole lot easier and quicker to mix up and get into the oven.) This loaf cake is exactly what you are hoping for when you choose lemon loaf or lemon pound cake. Oh, and I used 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Next time I’ll add a little zest to the glaze as well.
I added an extra lemon/zest and almond extract along with the vanilla. This is a keeper, yum.
I added more zest and lemon extract to both cake and icing. It was very good.
Next I will take it out of the pan after about 15 minutes like I do banana bread. The outside turned a bit black.
Really good, followed recipe. Came out moist and lemony. Will use as a base for MY version of strawberry shortcake . Thanks, it’s a keeper.
A burst of sunshine in every bite! Excellent instructions, glad I measured the very juicy lemon, it was well over 3 tablespoons, saved the rest for the icing. Noticed my husband came back in for a second slice. A keeper recipe.
Did you test the recipe with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? I’m not a fan of sour cream.
Hi Sara, yes, you can use plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
I must have done something wrong. This was ok, but not full of flavor (even used extra zest) and didn’t rise. Stayed exactly the same height as the batter. Help?
Hi Pam, we’re happy to help troubleshoot. How did you measure your flour? It sounds like it may have been over measured, which can cause it to become a bit dense and take away from the flavors a bit. Be sure to spoon and level or use a kitchen scale for the most accurate measurements. Is your baking powder fresh? We find ours starts to lose its potency about 3 months after opening, even if it’s not yet expired. Finally, be sure not to over mix the batter either, which can cause cakes to become squat and dense. Keep in mind that there isn’t a ton of rise with this cake and the crumb should be on the denser side, but these tips should help for next time!
Yummmmm!!! This was easy to make and so delicious! I love the baking facts and step by step instructions. Just started trying her recipes around Christmas and have made 5 different recipes all delicious!!! I’ve made this one 4 times now as the neighbor gave us a lot of lemons. You will not be disappointed!
I read an article that said NOT to preheat the oven for pound cake (a slow warmup gives leavening agents more time to work). Since this is my go-to recipe blog, I’m curious what Sally thinks about that – and whether anything about this recipe would change as a result? Thanks in advance!
Hi Kate! I missed this question last week. I’ve heard of that for cheesecakes, but will have to research it more for pound cakes. And I’m certainly intrigued to test it! Butter and egg-heavy pound cakes love cooler ovens, so it makes sense.
This pound cake is amazing! My first time. I made 3 mini loaf pans. Baked them at 350 for 30 minutes. Then glazed as directed. Perfect. This is a keeper!!!!! Next will be the Bundt cake version. Thank you Sally for sharing.
This recipe is so delicious! I’ve made it several times – I really could make – and eat it – it all the time.
Question, though, can I throw in some blueberries with this recipe???
Hi Pamela, blueberries would be a fantastic addition– we would stir in about 1 cup.
Hi! Any tips for baking this at high altitude?
Hi Sophie, I wish I could help, but I have very little experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
Hi! I just made this today and my elevation is about 5,700 ft (near Denver). I followed the recipe exactly as written (with 1.5 lemons worth of zest) and baked for 50 minutes and it came out really good. Maybe a touch on the dry side, so next time I might try baking for 5 minutes less or adding an extra tablespoon of Greek yogurt (that’s what I used instead of sour cream). Hope that helps!
This cake is so perfect! I doubled the recipe on the first try because I’m making a gift for someone doing me a favour but I wanted to keep some cake at home too.
I had to made a small tweak though because I did not have enough butter. So instead of using 2 cups of butter, which would be the amount in a double recipe, I used 1 cup of butter as if baking a single batch and creamed 1 cup of sugar first. After 3 eggs, I added ¾ cup of plain yogurt, and then continued creaming another cup of sugar and the remaining 3 eggs.
I made this tweak based on a suggestion I read on the internet to substitute ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of Greek yogurt for recipes calling for 1 cup of butter. I guess had I done the mathematics correctly, my substitution for a double recipe should have come to 1 cup of yogurt (2 × ¼ cup for the original recipe, + 2 × ¼ cup to substitute ½ a cup of butter twice). But I miscalculated and ended up only using ¾ cup of yogurt for a double recipe. That said, this miscalculation worked in my favour.
My cake turned out very well. The crumb is inevitably a bit different from a pound cake made with the proper amount of butter, but the texture is all the right places.
So yeah, to tweak a single recipe of this cake the way I did… that means you would use ½ cup butter + ⅜ cup plain yogurt or sour cream? But ⅜ cup is such an awkward measurement!
I wish I read the note about zesting 1½ lemons! I only zested one. It still delivers that punchy lemon flavour, but I could definitely use more.
Now about the sweetness… I’m Asian so my idea of complements for a dessert I make sounds like, “Not too sweet!” And one common problem I’ve encountered in Sally’s recipes so far is that they’re way too sweet for my palate. The ones I’ve tried anyway.
This cake tastes lovely, with a very balanced flavour profile in all other aspects, but IMO it leaves this stinging sugary aftertaste for the next half hour or so. And that’s without the icing. (But I’m baking this as a gift, and the cake really does look a lot better iced, so this gives me conflicting feelings about whether or not to ice the cake!)
So as I have commented in other recipes here, I would love to hear from people who have made this cake with less sugar. Could I get away with just half the sugar? Or ¾? And if so, how do I compensate for it using other ingredients so that the cake would still turn out the right texture?
I would definitely make this cake again, and will share if I find a “less sugar tweak” that works!
Followed it exactly and the bread has very little flavor ( I even zested 1.5 lemons) it is also very greasy to the touch and mouth feel. A disappointment.
Would this be a good recipe for adding blueberries or raspberries?
Hi Carol, blueberries would be a fantastic addition– we would stir in about 1 cup.
Have you tried making a variation with rum? I’m curious as to what would be the right amount of rum.
Switched out the lemon with a large navel orange. Also added about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. It came out absolutely delicious!
Can I add nuts to this? Planning on making for thanksgiving.
Hi Kimberly, you can try adding up to a cup of nuts to this recipe.
I love the crumb on this pound cake. Although it tastes great, it didn’t rise very much. Is that normal for this recipe? All of my ingredients were fresh and room temperature. Thanks for any tips.
Hi Mary, there isn’t a ton of rise on this pound cake, but be careful not to over mix as that can cause cakes to become overly dense and a bit squat. We’re glad you enjoyed this one!
It didn’t work out all the butter was floating on top I followed the recipe step by step and didn’t turned out good
I wonder what you mean by your cake ended up with all the butter floating on top–do you mean the wet batter or the baked cake?
If you mean the batter then you’re on the right track. The mixed wet ingredients are supposed to curdle (which I presume is what you mean by “butter floating on top”), and then they would mix properly once you added the dry ingredients.
But yeah I can’t imagine following this recipe step by step and ending up with a cake with butter floating on top. And I guess good means different things to different people–may I suggest elaborating concretely what you mean by not turning out good so that we fellow bakers can learn from your experience.
My cake turned out very well, and I tweaked a double recipe on the first try. So I am curious how this recipe could go wrong, so that I could avoid the mistakes you made (as I plan to tweak some more in the future) or maybe help you out, if you’re interested.
Hello Sally, I am wondering about mini pound cakes in small loaf tins. Any tips on the baking time or difference in the oven temp?
Hi Rose! Bake them at the same oven temp, we’re unsure about baking time as small loaf tins vary by size. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!
Hi Sally. I have a question for you?
If I make 2 or 3 Iced Lemon Pound cake all at the same time? Do I still set the baking temperature same as if I was only making one cake?
Hi Gail, you can bake the cakes at the same temperature. You do want to make sure there is enough room for them to all bake on the same rack in your oven. If they are on different racks/levels, they will bake unevenly. If they do not all comfortably fit on the same rack/level, it is best to wait and bake them in batches.
This is my all time favourite cake.Also Sally would appreciate if you can tell me a subsitute for Eggs .,as i want to try this recipe without eggs
Greeting from India
Hi Sana, we haven’t tested this recipe with any egg substitutes, but let us know if you give anything a try. If you’re interested, here are all of our egg-free recipes.
Can you use Gluten free (Bob’s) Flour to replace the all-purpose flour. I love lemon and wondered if I could make a gluten free pound cake.
Hi Terri, we haven’t tested it but please let us know how it goes if you do!
This looks like a wonderful holiday gift for First Responders. Have you ever added craisins or butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips? Do you think it would problematic if I did add one or two of these items? Or, do you have a different lemon loaf that would be better with these add-ins? Thanks!
Hi Karen, we haven’t tried this but don’t see why not! Enjoy.
Wow! I’m Not a baker but I’m aspiring to becoming one. So I read all of your tips before making this cake,which were very helpful. It turned out fantastic! Very moist yet required a full 60 minutes. Thanks for inspiring me!!
I love lemon and this is the most moist lemon loaf I have tried so far.Next time I will add Craisins or white chocolate chips. That would really take it up a notch.
This cake came out perfect upon first try! Followed recipe exactly (including ingredients at room temp and more lemon zest) and baked for 1 hour at 350. I have been looking for a good lemon pound cake recipe for a long time and this is IT! Baked it for our anniversary and hubby loved it!! Thank you!