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

417 Comments

  1. heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    yes!! anything with lemon glaze is a winner (: and i love the sound of sour cream in here; it’s just bound to make the cake a little tangy and more tender and delicious!

  2. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Lemon pound cake is my fave! This is one gorgeous cake for citrus season!

  3. This sounds sooooooo good! I’ve said it before, but lemon glaze might be my drink of choice 😉 I’m actually amazed that spring seems imminent in North Carolina…what a huge difference from Colorado! I’m sure we’ll still have cold days, but there was one snowstorm (only a few inches, but very icy) so far this season and everyone freaked out…so I think it’s pretty uncommon 😉

  4. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    YUM. Lemon desserts are some of my favorites! Definitely need to make your grapefruit Greek yogurt cake too. ALL of the citrus! 🙂

  5. I ned to make this for my father in law! He loves lemon desserts – good excuse to bake 😉 
    So funny to hear how cold it is up north while here in the Deep South we’ve had literally ONE weekend where it got down to about 15…the next weekend it was back up to 80! 

  6. The lemon loaf recipe in your first cookbook is not only my most made recipe in the book, but one of my favourite recipes ever! I made it for the first time last Spring, and countless times since then. And anything citrus flavoured is exactly what I’m craving right now. I’m so tired of Winter! It’s been below 0 degrees here almost everyday since early December. Desperately missing early fall and everything pumpkin and cinnamon, but first we have to go through spring – and some weather where it’s finally warm enough to eat ice cream and not drink 1930 cups of coffee a day is exactly what I need right now 🙂

    1. Stay warm! This cake is just like the lemon loaf, just more like decadent dessert!

  7. Drool!!!

    Iced lemon pound cake = the best ever. I just made your orange cranberry bread yesterday, and it was amazing too. Love citrus and berries so much 🙂

  8. Shawnna Griffin says:

    hey girl- this looks so yummy!

  9. Michelle @ Brown Butter and Biscuits says:

    This looks so fresh and refreshing! Perfect way to escape from the cold winter for at least a moment!

  10. This ds so delicious and looks beautiful!

    Rachael xx.
    theteacozykitchen.blogspot.co.uk

  11. Stella @ Stellicious Life says:

    Aww that sunny yellow cake with the mint and pink raspberries look so pretty and inviting! Perfect for Sunday afternoons (or breakfasts 😉 )

  12. I can attest to the fact that your Brown Butter Pound Cake is to die for good! I’ve made it and couldn’t quit nibbling on it! This looks like another winner! Just noticed that your recipe doesn’t include the Make Ahead Tips section. Can’t wait to try this.

    1. The most important section! I added it in. Mostly tips on making it ahead by freezing it.

      1. Hugs and kisses!! You’re awesome!

  13. Wow, I would love a slice of this pound cake! It looks so incredible!

  14. My aunt is a professional chef. When she gave me a zester as an 18th birthday present, telling me this is something I can’t live without, I said thank you and then rolled my eyes. Boy, was I wrong! Now I love my zester and zesty recipes like these!

    1. You’re right. I didn’t think a zester would come in this handy! I use it more than practically any other kitchen gadget.

  15. I do love myself a good lemon cake! I think I need to make this!

    Cat // https://fromgirlc.wordpress.com

  16. One of my favorite pound cakes is almond – very much looking forward to trying your lemon recipe! I think tonight is a good night for that. (After I make my son’s requested Dorito salad for supper.) It’s drizzly and foggy here – yuck. But above freezing at the moment so not complaining!! Enjoy your day!

  17. Sara @ Last Night's Feast says:

    This is just beautiful, Sally!

  18. Hi Sally! I’m just a little surprised you didn’t mention that its MLK day, because you seem to acknowledge other holidays. I love your recipes, but I’m just saying…today is an important day, and should be respected.

    1. Hi Leatta! My sincerest apologies; I don’t tend to include non-food related holidays on my blog (such as Presidents Day, MLK Day, Veterans Day) but that is certainly something to keep in mind for future holidays this year and for years to come. Thank you so much for bringing it up.

  19. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Why must you tease us with spring dessert in January 😉 I only ever had pound cake at a wedding, I think it was vanilla with mascarpone frosting and it was so delicious!  Def love how easy they seem to make.

  20. I LOVE anything with lemon in it and this sounds sinfully delicious!!

  21. Francesca Ciampi says:

    Hey Sally! This look delicious. You always seem to put up at recipe that exactly matches what im craving! Two questions: 1. I assume the butter is softned, correct? 2. What about adding blueberries to this receipe? My husbands favorite cake is your lemon blueberry cake, so I wanted to give him something similar. Thanks for everything!

    1. Yep, softened to room temperature 🙂
      I think blueberries would be a fantastic addition– I’d stir in about 1 cup.

  22. I will be making these cupcake size. Not a fan of lemons but love lemon cake. Thank Sally 🙂

    1. Great idea. I’d say about 20-22 minutes bake time as cupcakes.

  23. Simply beautiful! I love anything with lemon and cannot wait to try out this recipe. Sally, I have to ask – Is there a difference in baking when using Meyer Lemons as opposed to regular lemons? I see Meyer Lemons in the shops and am eager to try them out. This may be a good opportunity, but not at the risk of spoiling the taste of this gorgeous cake! Thank you!

    1. I find Meyer lemons have a slightly sweeter flavor and lower acidity. There will be less of a *bite* in desserts if you use Meyer instead of regular. I don’t think anything in the recipe should be changed if you decide to use Meyer lemons in this 🙂

  24. Hi Sally!!!
     I made this pound cake this morning!! And just like all your other recipes I have made. It came out perfect.. Thanks so much for this recipe!!!!

    1. I’m so happy you love it!!

  25. Blogtastic Food says:

    This is my favorite kind of cake. In fact lemon is my favorite flavor to put in nearly any dessert. My mum always loves to make different kinds of lemon cakes like this. So you brought back some fond memories (:

  26. Sally I can share with everyone that  your Brown Butter Pound Cake is wonderful. I made it for my book club and everyone went crazy for it and wanted the recipe. I have your first cookbook, so I’ll have to find that lemon recipe too. I love, love lemon so this might be my next book club dessert! Thanks. 

  27. Sally,

    I’m wondering if I can use this recipe to make my Easter lamb cake (in the aluminum mold). It calls for a pound cake recipe and I’ve always used the box mix. I’d love to try a scratch recipe if you think it would hold the  shape.  It sounds delicious!  

    1. I can’t see why not!

  28. Gorgeous pics Sally!!

    1. Thanks Penny!

  29. Hi hi! Just wondering, Sally, do u think this recipe would work in a 9×13 pan? I often do volunteer baking where 40 portions are required, so any recipe that works in a sheet pan is wonderful. This looks and sounds spectacular, by the way

    1. Hi Lynie! This isn’t enough batter for a 9×13 pan, but this lemon cake is enough for a 9×13 pan. The cake will take 40-43 minutes at 350. You can leave out the blueberries.

  30. Sally, could you suggest a smaller size baking pan and how to determine the amount of batter in the pan, for the lemon pound cake? I’d like to take 6 smaller loaves to a women’s guild meeting. They look wonderful, I can’t wait to make them.
    (A temperature and baking time would also be greatly appreciated for smaller pound cakes.)
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Andrea! It’s hard to say without knowing the size of the pans you are using– what are the dimensions of the smaller loaf pans? In my experience, breads baked in mini loaf pans like these take about 25 minutes to bake.

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