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
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

391 Comments

  1. So lemony and delicious! Almost melt in the mouth texture, airy and moist at the same time. LOVE it! The only thing I did differently was that I poked holes all over the cake and poured a lemon syrup over the hot cake, let it all soak in and cool completely before slicing into it. Beautiful cake. 10/10 will make again and again!

  2. Hi Sally,
    I just made this and it cracked on top. Any suggestions as to why and wha can I do to prevent that from happening again?

    1. Quick breads are meant to crack on top! It’s the air being released from the bread as it bakes. You didn’t so anything wrong– you did it right!

  3. This cake turned out super moist and bursting with flavour. I love lemon-lime-poppey seed cake so I added 1.5 tbs of poppey seeds and the zest of one lime (in addition to the lemon). I also doubled the recipe and turned it into a sheet cake (NB! Shorter baking time, about 25 min). My co-workers loved it!

    Your recipes are soo incredibly good and easy to follow. This will be my new go-to recpe for lemon cake. Thanks!

  4. So purely hypothetically…if one were to be correctly following directions until they added the sour cream after the lemon juice/zest could they have accidentally curdled the sour cream? I was following along then saw sour cream (room temperature) and was like “dang! I forgot room temp!” So while the sour cream warmed in a water bath I added the lemon stuff and vanilla. When all the wet ingredients were in the bowl it would not combine properly- chunks (butter or sour cream not sure) that would not combine in the mixer! Do you think it was the sour cream or something else? I gave up and threw out batter. Thankfully I did a better job with your easy 20 min honey garlic shrimp for dinner!

    1. Hi Sue– if you notice chunks of butter/sour cream, they will be easily incorporated as you beat in the dry ingredients. Wish you hadn’t tossed the batter because that’s what mine looks like sometimes too!

      1. Thank you Sally!! I tried again and was successful! Turned out fabulous and will now be my go to lemon fix.

  5. Hi Sally.I baked this yesterday and the top half of the cake was perfectly baked. The bottom half is more dense like a fudge brownie (more moist looking). I checked doneness with a toothpick and it came out clean. 
    What i could I have done wrong?

    1. Hi Diana! Was the cake batter thoroughly mixed up? I can’t imagine how that could be possible, I’m so sorry! Are you using a dark metal loaf pan?

  6. Hi Sally, looks like I never told you how much we love this cake over here! Three members of my family have their birthday in March and all requested this cake to be on the coffee table for sure 🙂 And I brought it to several events with friends and family since January, everybody loved this cake! The lemon flavour, the addition of sour cream and this glaze – perfect. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Sina

    1. Thank you so much for telling me! It’s one of my favorite flavors so I love hearing that others enjoy it as well!

  7. Is the lemon juice for icing.. Supossed to be actual lemon juice that you already buy or is it also from fresh lemon like in cake just was curious if it mattered or if 1 was better then other.
    Btw
    I live for this site and your recipes they feed me and my family’s soul …
    Always a hit with your recipes
    Keep up amazing work doll

    1. fresh lemon juice from lemons is best 🙂

  8. Do you think I could use this recipe to make an Easter lamb cake? 🙂

    1. I’m unsure of the dimensions of the cake pan(s), but you may need more batter. I’d use a lemon cake recipe instead. Again, I’m unsure of the exact amount of batter you’ll need.

  9. Hi Sally! I have made this a few times now and love it! Any recommendations for adding blueberries to the batter?

    1. Hi Becca! I think blueberries would be a fantastic addition– I’d stir in about 1 cup.

  10. I don’t recall you saying use a “metal” pan therefore mine has been in the oven for almost an hour and getting burnt.

    1. Hi Lola, 

      Please look at the photo that Sally posted with the batter in it. She is using a metal loaf pan. Also, in her “Shop the Recipe” she lists a metal loaf pan. If you use a glass pan, you need to cook longer as glass takes longer to heat up compared to metal. 

  11. Chris Arisman says:

    Hey Sally
    I volunteer at a non-profit coffee house and I do some baking for it, too . I make this recipe and we can’t keep it in the pastry case. It sells out so fast. This recipe turns out perfect every time. Thanks for this great recipe! 

    1. I’m so glad to hear it!

  12. Hi,

    I would like to know the difference between this Iced Lemon Pound Cake recipe and the recipe called “Glazed Lemon Loaf” in your book.

    Thank You

    1. Check out the written paragraph above the recipe discussing the difference– love both!

  13. Hi Sally! I don’t have confectioner’s sugar for the icing. Any good subs for this or should i just go ahead and make the run to the store? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Confectioners’ sugar (aka icing sugar!!) is the best– and only, really– for the best icing 🙂

    2. You can put regular sugar is a food processor with a tad bit of cornstarch. Mix it until it looks just like powdered sugar.

  14. So I have made this a few times now, and absolutely LOVE this recipe! The first time I made it was in the winter, I took one bite and told my son, you ha e to taste this. It tastes like summer! He gave me a weird look, took a bite and then cracked up laughing and agreed. We’ve made it many times after that, and every time it’s a hit. Thank you so much for all that do, you make me look like such a pro!

    1. I’m so happy this lemon pound cake is a hit!

  15. Hi Sally! I just have a question, if I want to add blueberries to this recipe what amount should it be?

    1. I’d add about 3/4 – 1 cup.

  16. Saadia Qureshi says:

    Hi Sally! I was wondering what you use to grease the pan? Butter or canola oil spray?

    1. I’ve used both!

  17. Hi Sally! I tried this with the oven rack lowered to the third slot from the top, and my edges were burnt, with the middle ending up fairly raw. My pan was glass. I’m not sure what went wrong, but thought maybe I misunderstood the oven rack direction? I’d appreciate any help!

    1. Hi Dany! I would check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. Or you can try lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees OR covering the cake loosely with aluminum foil as it bakes– this will help encourage even baking.

  18. Hi Sally! This is the first time l’ve tried a pound cake and l am ecstatic at how beautiful it turned out! It’s a taste sensation of moist, lemony goodness! Thank you so much for this recipe. Greetings from Germany. 🙂

  19. Hi Sally,
    LOVE all your recipes and this one is no exception. I did have a question for you. I do a lot of baking and this is the only recipe I have made where the eggs make the batter split when incorporating. It doesn’t seem to have any affect on the output but I can’t figure out why this is occurring. Last time the first two incorporated fine and the third caused the batter to split. I am very careful about ensuring everything is room temperature.
    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Sally! Thank you so much. It happens often when the ingredients are varying temperatures. The butter may have been warmer (and pretty soft) and the eggs may have been slightly cooler than the butter. As you said, it makes no difference in the outcome of the recipe. As long as all of the cold ingredients are close to room temperature, you’re good!

  20. Hi Sally
    I brought a jumbo cupcake pan.  I want to use a pound cake recipe for this.    Will this recipe work?

    1. I’m unsure how much batter your pan holds, so I can’t be sure. How much batter?

      1. Sally 
        Sorry its a jumbo cupcake pan i am looking  to use this recipe for.  It take 2 1/2 cups of batter on top and the bottom pan take 3  1/2 cups.   Do you think this recipe will be enough

      2. I don’t think so. I would make the batter twice (rather than doubling) and fill the pan with however much you need.

  21. I need 2 1/2 batter for the top pan and 3 1/2 batter for the bottom pan.   

  22. I have someone that requested this cake so she can keep it in the freezer and defrost/serve when she has company. Do you think it’s ok to freeze with the glaze? I see your note to freeze the loaf and add the glaze later, just hoping I can make his work for her!

    1. Hi Talia! This lemon pound cake can certainly be frozen with the glaze. For the best taste, though, I recommend fresh glaze.

      1. Thank you!!

  23. How do I halve this particular recipe as it requires 3 eggs?

  24. Anisah Sheikh says:

    So you cover the tin with foil to get the pale top?

    1. Hi Anisah! To avoid over-browning, I suggest loosely covering with foil towards the end of baking.

  25. We had this for Mother’s Day dessert and it was fantastic! It is completely gone already and everyone raved how dreamy it was. Will absolutely make this again!

    1. So happy that it was a such a it, Susanna!

  26. Jane Landis says:

    I baked this recipe to use in your Lemon Berry Trifle. The cake is only about 1 1/4″ in height when baked. My baking powder has not expired but could that be the problem? Or, I did use kosher salt as my salt. Do you think that could have caused the cake to not “rise” up very much? Anyway, I’m going to use the cake in the trifle but will have to use another pound cake in order to have enough for the trifle. The flavor is good but am disappointed in the final results. 🙁

    1. I baked this cake last night and mine was also short….but I actually expected it to be because of the pics shown above…. I think it’s just the way this cake is! Tastes great to me!

  27. My loafs only raised 2 inches followed directions exactly .i have fresh baking powder so its not that .

  28. Hi Sally! I made this pound cake, as well as several others in the past, and it tasted great. However, I can never get my pound cakes to bake all the way through. They always end up burned around the edges and underdone in the middle. I’ve tried putting foil over the top to stop them from burning. Do you have any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong? Thanks so much for your help and all of your amazing recipes!

    1. Have you ever used an oven thermometer to test your oven? It might running a bit hot but with an inexpensive thermometer it can be an easy fix! Also be sure you are using the right size pan 🙂

    1. Can I bake this in a Bundt an ?

  29. Stephie Scat says:

    i made this for the first time today. My loaf was done at about 55 minutes, however, I started checking it at about 42 minutes as my oven tends to bake things quicker. ( I do have an oven thermometer.) I felt the end product was just a bit dry, however, I did test it several times in between and a toothpick didn’t come out clean until about 55 minutes. I didn’t want to over bake it, so I watched it closely, but I will cut the baking time a bit next time. However, it was still very good and everyone liked it! I was very happy with this recipe, and I have tried many like it! Thanks.

    1. Yes, I would suggest a few minutes less next time. But I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor!

    2. Can we make this cake using whole wheat flour too?

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