Iced Lemon Pound Cake

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.

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 simple lemon pound cake is buttery moist, rich, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.


Ingredients

  • 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

225 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Could this be used for a decorated layer cake? If I double the recipe would it fill 2 8-inch rounds and still have good texture? What would you do for baking time and temp on a thinner cake like that?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi April, The cake will be very dense and squat if baked in round pans. I recommend sticking to a loaf pan, however the batter would likely fit into one 9 inch round pan if you wish to try it. For a lemon layer cake I recommend using this recipe.

  5. Made this today and absolutely delicious!

  6. I made this today for a friend that requested a lemon loaf. I doubled the recipe. My lemon loads turned out beautiful and OMG!!! I rarely choose anything with lemon, not really sure why. But again OMG !!! This lemon loaf is so out of this world good. It’s not as sweet and tart like I thought it would be. It has just the right hint of lemon. It is definitely going to be hard to choose between this Lemon loaf and my all time fav Pumpkin. You have to try this even if your not sure you like Lemon. It will change your mind. It is so so good!

  7. Can a single recipe work for a 7 inch Bundt cake pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, That should work! Enjoy!

  8. This cake was the best pound cake I have ever made. My kids loved it and wanted the recipe. Now it will be a staple as family events. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I’ve made this a few times but with double zest. I’ve used sour cream and I’ve used Greek Yogurt. I’ve also added blueberries. It’s absolutely delicious and I’ve even had requests to make from friends and even my 12 year olds friends. Love this recipe. Thinking I’m going to try it with orange and maybe add cranberries. Also planning on making it in muffins. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  10. I’ve made this recipe before EXACTLY as it is and it’s amazing! Not a single thing needs to be adjusted. It is literal perfection!

    I want to make mini loaf pan pound cakes. Would this recipe be enough for two or three cakes? Think those 5″ x 3″ aluminum mini loaf pans. And by how much should I adjust the baking time and temp?

  11. Hi! I bought all purpose whole wheat flour by accident. Will that still work for this recipe??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brian, whole wheat flour would produce a much heavier and denser loaf. You can certainly give it a try, but we’d recommend using all-purpose flour for best results.

  12. Regina Wiley says:

    I have not baked in years. This was the best pound cake. I went for it and zested two lemons. So glad I did! Your tips were the best.

  13. The best thing I’ve ever baked. Seriously so good. Thank you so much for all your amazing recipes!

  14. I’ve made this recipe several times. Once, I used pineapple juice (omitted zest). Another time I used a combination of apple juice, lemon juice and molasses lol (omitted zest). Every time I make this recipe I double it. Last night I placed both pans in the oven and few minutes later I realized I forgot to add the sour cream!!!!! So, I pulled them both out of the oven. They had started to get slightly firm around the edges but I just mixed in the sour cream in anyway. Both. Came. Out. Perfect!!!!! 🙂 I always come to this site first for recipes. I bake with my boys every weekend to make their treats for the week. No more store bought cookies or cakes for us! Thank you Sally!

  15. This is one of my favorite lemon pound cake made to perfection thank you!

  16. This is a fantastic recipe! Everyone loves I. Better than Ina’s or America test kitchen.

  17. Have you ever made this with orange or lime? Wondering if I can substitute with the same measurement for zest and juice. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, we haven’t tested it but the lime should be an even substitution. For orange we’d use 3 Tablespoons of fresh orange juice and 2 Tablespoons of zest.

  18. This is too tough and dense for me, even for a pound cake. The flavor was good, but next time I will need to add some more liquid to the batter, perhaps.

  19. I have always been the notorious “water burner” in my family. Everyone always made fun of my cooking. When I found Sally’s website it finally looked like I could make fancy things – the explanations and pictures made me feel like I could do it. And, I did! I really did it! My son even smacked his lips when he ate a piece of this Iced Lemon Pound Cake. Needless to say, I’ve baked and cooked my way through some of the other recipes from this website – all winners! I can’t thank you enough for helping me with my cooking confidence!

  20. Wow this was amazing. The loaf was heavy in weight but so light and soft inside. I’m glad you put that note about it looking curdled after the one step. I thought I messed it all up 🙂 Super easy to make and had so much lemon taste even though there was not a ton of lemon in it. I did use a little more… like 5-6 tablespoons between the loaf and the icing but it wasn’t overwhelming or too sour. Already had two family members request their own loaf. Thanks!!

  21. Amazing recipe as always! It has already been requested again! I added lemon curd filling and covered in Italian meringue to make it a “lemon meringue” pound cake and it was delicious

  22. Hi, how long should I bake the cake if I use mini loaf pans? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tiffany, You can bake this as mini loaves but mini pans vary greatly in size, so how many you will get from one recipe and the exact bake time will depend on your exact pans. Keep close eye on them and use a toothpick to check for doneness. Enjoy!

  23. Sorry if this question has been asked already! I’ve been scrolling trying to find it.. but can I use buttermilk instead of sour cream? If so how much.
    Please help!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Debbie, Buttermilk is a fine substitution if you’re in a pinch. Same amount.

  24. Can I add poppy seeds to this? if so how much would you recommend?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Destiny, definitely! We’d add 1-2 Tablespoons of poppy seeds.

  25. Hi Sally! How should I adjust the recipe to make a vanilla pound cake (still planning on make the lemon glaze)? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erin! You can use this recipe for mini vanilla pound cakes instead – you can bake in a loaf pan (see recipe notes for details).

  26. great recipe as always, very moist and flavorful!

  27. This pound cake was delicious and moist and overall very fun to bake and eat, although, the bottom seemed to get chewy after a couple days. This recipe is great and I definitely recommend it!

  28. Hi! This recipe has always been a huge hit! Is it ok to use Meyer Lemons??

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy! We 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, but it should work just fine without any adjustments to the recipe.

  29. Hi Sally! I’ve made this several times and everyone loves it! I want to try it out in a tube pan. Is that possible? Will I need to make adjustments?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dani, we can’t see why not! See the post for instructions on making in a Bundt pan — follow those for making in your tube pan. Let us know how it goes!

  30. I followed the recipe exactly. My cake tester came out clean after an hour, but as it cooled, the whole middle of the cake sank. It also didn’t come out very clean from the pan, even though I greased it with shortening, like I always do. I wonder if I should have floured the pan, which I was tempted to do like other loaf pan recipes. It doesn’t look pretty, which means I couldn’t use it for the party I made it for. But the flavor is good. Just very disappointed about how it came out. I may try it again, but I’m not sure.

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