Iced Lemon Pound Cake

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

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 how you roll, 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 irresistible brown butter. Point being– I love adding flair and flavor to pound cake and lemon is my new favorite upgrade.

  • 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 completely 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

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 cakier 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.

Print
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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 iced lemon pound cake is moist and rich, feels like springtime, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon icing.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (172g; 1.5 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

412 Comments

  1. Anne Gallant says:

    Would it be okay to ice in the morning? It won’t be cool before I go to bed or shortly before bed.

  2. This was an exceptional cake – the best lemon pound cake I’ve ever had. Moist, dense, all-around a great flavour. The instructions were very easy to follow and it was easy to make. It lasted less than a day in our home! I will make it again and I highly recommend it to everyone. Thank you for a perfect recipe 🙂

  3. Can you use heavy cream as a substitute for sour cream?

    1. Hi MJ, Plain Greek yogurt is the best substitute for the sour cream.

      1. Oh good. I was just about to ask about substitution of Greek yogurt.

  4. Hi Sally! I can’t wait to make this! If I make the icing ahead of time, will it harden before I am ready to ice the cake? I want to bake the cake and icing and travel with it. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Mila, The glaze will set when left to dry. You can certainly try to place the icing in the container and then lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so that it is not exposed to air, however I would recommend just icing the cake before traveling!

  5. Robin Smith says:

    I made your cake today. It was so delicious! I like the loaf size. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  6. I know you said this cake is going to be moist and soft… but I’m still surprised by how nice it turns out!! I used zest from 2 lemons and also put some zest in the frosting to make it look pretty. I’m pretty sure it’s the softest thing I have baked!

  7. Richard Miller says:

    Can I use pastry flour instead of the regular flour? BTW I made your Sour Cream Poundcake recipe a couple of days ago and it was wonderful!

    1. Hi Richard, Pastry flour should be fine. Enjoy!

  8. Hi, how long is the shelf life for this cake? Also, if I were to re-heat, how long should it be in the toaster/microwave?

  9. Can I straight sub the flour for gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Courtney, I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

      1. Can comfirm, it’s delish with Gluten Free sub! I used the “free from” brand (in AU)

  10. Sheila Heinrich says:

    How do I make this for a mini Bundt cake pan.

  11. Pateel Rose says:

    Just iced and had some of this cake…..wow wow wow. This cake is so so good. I like the cake more than I like the frosting, but the frosting is still good. But, the CAKE! So flavorful, so fancy, and so easy! I can’t speak highly enough about this cake. Mine did bake a little flat, without the dome shape, not sure why. But, it doesn’t bother me! This cake is seriously a favorite. I can always trust Sally’s recipes!

  12. Carla Cueva says:

    Hello, I am on my 3rd attempt of this pound cake. It is delicious and that is why I keep trying, but it keeps coming out too dark on the edges. Why is that?? I have been covering it with foil, lowering the temp, I am baking it o the rack it’s supposed to, and still too dark on the sides. Help!!

    1. Hi Carla, Any chance you are using a dark metal pan? Dark metal absorbs more heat and can darken the edges of your baked goods.

  13. What do you suggest for making sure this cake doesn’t stick in a bundt pan? I’ve been on an unlucky streak lately, but I don’t want to avoid using my beautiful bundts. Non-stick spray only? No flour? And should I cool completely before removing from the pan? Thanks in advance. 🙂

    1. Hi Pam, I swear by spraying bundt pans very generously with nonstick cooking spray before adding the batter. With all the crevices and design, I don’t usually suggest butter for greasing it. Allow to cool for about 1 hour inside the pan. Then invert the slightly cooled cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. Allow to cool completely before glazing, slicing, and serving.

  14. Hi Sally,
    Thanks heaps for your recipes and we love them!!
    Just a quick question: Love your cream cheese pound cake which we made prior but this lemon pound cake which I made last night is very hard compared to the cream cheese pound cake made prior. Is the hardness due to the plain flour used instead of cake flour?
    Is this due to the plain flour I used for this lemon pound cake as the recipe calls for cake flour for cream cheese pound cakes?
    Would I be able to use cake flour for this lemon pound cake instead ?
    If so, how about using cake flour for nutella swirl pound cakes as well?
    Please advise.
    Many thanks.
    arlena

    1. Hi Arlena, This is a very dense pound cake. You can certainly try to use cake flour (same amount) for a lighter texture.

  15. Hi! I have not yet baked this yet but am about to make it for Father’s Day… Would it alter the outcome of the recipe if i lowered the amount of sugar? MY dad doesn’t like overly sweet foods… just wondering if I could do that.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sam, reducing the sugar will, of course, affect the taste, but it also changes the texture. You’ll lose volume in the batter and the butter won’t have as much sugar for the creaming step. The cake could taste greasy and dense as a result.

  16. Amazing super easy recipe. I just finished it. So it does have a dense texture and it tastes delicious – but I don’t eat pound cake often and I can’t tell if it’s dry or it’s just how it tastes? I don’t think it’s dry but I can’t help but wonder if it should be wetter? I used all ingredients as is.

    1. Hi Chloe, As a pound cake this should be pretty dense, but not dry! I wonder if it’s simply a little over-baked. An easy fix for next time is to check it a few minutes earlier. Also be sure to measure your ingredients properly (spoon and level the flour – not scoop!).

  17. Really tasty. It turned out pretty flat but I think that is my malfunctioning oven. However, the crumb was still good and it was really moist. Would make again.

  18. Hi Sally,

    Do you think I can make this as a cupcake lemon cake? Would there be big differences on texture, cooking time, etc.?

    My son loves cupcakes and I’d like him to try your yummy recipe. ❤️

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kat, You can make this in cupcake pans but it is pound cake so expect a very dense texture. I’m unsure of the bake time. For lighter lemon cupcakes you can use this Lemon Cupcake recipe and top with your favorite frosting.

  19. Stephanie E says:

    Oh, man, I want this recipe to be good…but my cake is overdone on the outside and not quite done in the center. My oven has a hotspot near the front, so it developed a crack, but the worst part was the exterior of the cake…I did bake it in a Nordic Ware pan and it is brown…like a deep coppery color. Could that be it? How should I modify the heat/baking time to work around this? If I drop the temp to 325, do you think that would be enough?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for trying this recipe. A few small adjustments to the oven settings will help for next time. First, it sounds like your oven may run hot so I recommend reducing the oven temperature down to 325°F (163°C). Lower the oven rack as well. Use a light colored loaf pan if you can. By lowering the oven rack and oven temperature, the cake will need longer in the oven. When you notice the exterior browning, tent it with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent it from burning before the center can cook. Hope all of this helps!

  20. Omg soooo amazing!!! Tastes just like Starbucks iced lemon loaf which is my fave! Found a easy to save $$ and make it home

  21. Hi Sally! I made this pound cake today and it didn’t turn out as I expected it. It rose half way and everything else was stiff/not soft. Did I do something wrong? Or do I need more baking powder or something? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Annie! I’m glad to help. The pound cake will have a dense and tight crumb, not at all like a regular vanilla or white cake. Did you follow the recipe exactly? It sounds like it could have been under-baked.

  22. Loved the cake.i made a second cake, using a nigh quality glueten free flour, and it had a great flavor but was very dry. How can I fix this, is g.f. Flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacey, Yes gluten free flour can to lead to more dry and crumbly baked goods if a recipe isn’t written specifically for it. We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour so I’m not confident of a quick fix without more testing.

  23. Can I use lime instead of lemons or will there be a drastic change in flavor?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Upa, We haven’t tested this with limes. It should work for a lime flavor cake instead of lemon flavor but let us know if you try it.

  24. I am super picky, and this cake was PERFECTION!!! My daughter made it for our family, and it was everything a lemon pound cake should be! Thank you so much, Sally!

  25. Lori Kurochkina says:

    Hi Sally 🙂 I plan on making this pound cake tomorrow morning, but I first wanted to ask if it would change the texture/taste any if I used cooking oil instead of the butter. I never substitute butter when making scones, but I do sometimes with other baking. But I wasn’t too sure about pound cakes. (I only ask because butter seems to be pricey where I live, they even have security stickers on butter packages here, lol)

    1. Hi Lori! I’m glad to help. While you’ll lose the butter flavor, you can try substituting in the same amount of room temperature (solid) coconut oil for the butter. Let me know how it turns out!

  26. Lisa Fiorello says:

    I made this lemon cake yesterday and actually doubled the recipe. One is going with us today for a family visit and one for us to keep. It is absolutely wonderful.
    I will make this recipe again for sure. I love your recipes Sally! Perfection every time. Thank you!

  27. Kevin Sprague says:

    This is AWESOME!!! I made the bundt cake. I used cake flour instead of all purpose and it came out light and wonderful.

  28. Hi Sally, can I replace the sour cream with cream cheese instead?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dorothy, Plain Greek yogurt is the best substitute for the sour cream.

  29. Made this tonight. Really delicious. I think I over baked just a bit since it is a tad on the dry side. Will just have to try again.

  30. Bernadette Hall says:

    Hi,
    Can i use kemon extract instead of lemon juice.

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bernadette, I don’t recommend substituting the lemon juice with lemon extract. Extract is much more concentrated than juice, however, you could add 1/2-1 teaspoon of lemon extract in addition to the lemon juice for even more lemon flavor.

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