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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.

Feel free to add candied lemons on the top for presentation, like we do with lemon poppy seed bread.

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 810 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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!

    1. Hi Karen, we haven’t tried this but don’t see why not! Enjoy.

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Terri, we haven’t tested it but please let us know how it goes if you do!

  5. 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
    Thanks
    Greeting from India

    1. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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!

  8. 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

    1. Hi Kimberly, you can try adding up to a cup of nuts to this recipe.

  9. Switched out the lemon with a large navel orange. Also added about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. It came out absolutely delicious!

  10. Have you tried making a variation with rum? I’m curious as to what would be the right amount of rum.

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