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

393 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. First time I tried to bake this lemon pound cake according to the recipe. But two days later my husband requested it once again (it was so good!). But I didn’t have any butter at hand so I came up with an idea to use coconut oil instead. It worked out so well. And that coconutty flavour – it was delicious))

  2. Hi sally!

    I made this cake yesterday and it was PERFECT. So easy and came together quickly with a great lemon flavour. I made it again today and it came out quite a bit more dense and didn’t rise. Any idea how this could have happened?

    1. Hi Kirst! I’m so happy you loved the lemon pound cake! I’m unsure what could have happened between the 1st and 2nd loaf. Did you change anything? Even the smallest change: the oven rack position, the loaf pan?

      1. Nope! Everything was the same, and all ingredients came from the same batch. Could it be an over mixing issue?

      2. Overmixing could very well be the culprit.

  3. I have a Freinds birthday coming up and he requested a lemon cake. I was thinking about making this since I won’t have a lot of time beforehand to make a more fancy layered cake. Do you think if would work to bake it in a different pan? For example a bundt pan to get a more fancy shape?
    I love all your recipes btw and am super excited to test this one out since lemon cakes are my favourite.
    Cheers
    Sophia

    1. If you would like to make a bundt I would suggest this recipe that has the right amount of batter for that particular pan: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/02/19/glazed-lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake/
      Enjoy!

  4. Could I use cake flour instead of the all purpose with baking powder? Also could I separate the eggs to make it more lighter? Or is this a pretty airy cake already?
    I seriously love all your recipes!! You have taught me so much.

    1. Hi Ruth! This is a dense pound cake. You can certainly play around with the recipe using your best judgment for an airier cake 🙂

  5. Cindy Bumgarner says:

    Hey! Have you ever made a keto version of this pound cake? If so I would love to know. My daughter is doing keto and I just tried to make one I found and it did not turn out right. We love pound cakes and I make them about once a month. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cindy! I don’t have much experience baking keto recipes. Sorry I’m not the best source!

  6. Made this today as I suddenly got the urge to bake something. Lemon cake is my favourite and this did not disappoint. Used milk in both the cake and the icing as I had it to hand. It was so delicious! Your recipes never disappoint.

    1. So nice to read this! Thank you so much for trying this recipe, Lauren!

  7. Hi Sally,
    It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and we don’t love pumpkin pie in our house (shocking, I know) I was thinking of trying the lemon pound cake recipe but in my mini bundt style molds.
    I have made two or your recipes this past month and they both turned out beautifully.
    So glad I finally found you!

    1. Oh yum! Let me know how it goes and happy Thanksgiving!

  8. First I want to say that you are a major source and inspiration for me and my baking and I have yet to have a recipe of yours disappoint! I often like to experiment and play with your recipes too. I love, love, love this pound cake but tonight I experimented and put a mix of lemon, lime, and orange zest/juice in and then also make it into cupcake tins. They baked for about 25 minutes and came out so perfect! Had the same great density and moistness like it does in the loaf tin! And the mix of citrus was so fun! I really just adore your recipes. (If you’re ever looking for suggestions or ideas can I throw Italian rainbow cookies at you? They’re my FAVES)

    1. Thank you so much for the kind comment, Leigh! Your citrus cupcakes sound delicious! And I love suggestions from readers for recipes – thank you so much for the idea!

  9. Hi, I want to say I am a huge fan! Is it possible to add blueberry into the recipe if I wanted to make a blueberry and lemon pound cake?

    1. Yes, definitely! I suggest about 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw).

  10. Hi Isabella! I strongly recommend making 2 separate batches for best taste and texture. I recommend covering and storing without the icing, then icing the day you are serving it.

  11. Kathleen Hallas says:

    Hi Sally,
    Can Greek yogurt be substituted for sour cream?

    1. Shouldn’t be a problem!

  12. Shreya Srivastava says:

    Hi Sally,
    I tried your many recipes and they came out so perfect!
    I would like to know is there any substitute of sour cream or can I make it at home by using common ingredients.

    1. You can try using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Enjoy!

  13. Can you use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream?

  14. Sally, would this be something I could mail to my daughter stationed overseas? Always trying to find new baked goods to send her. Thanks

    1. Hi Diane! You could, I would just be wary of the freshness of the moist cake. Cookies or bars would be a better option. Here are some of my favorites:

      Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies
      Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Drop Style Sugar Cookies (you can use rainbow sprinkles or, if she enjoys lemon, a little lemon extract)
      White Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles
      Salted Butterscotch Blondies

      and here are my recommendations for shipping cookies.

  15. Arthi Vijay says:

    Sally, I made this and it turned out great!

  16. Can I swap out Greek yogurt for the sour cream? Planning on making this today!

    1. Yes you can!

  17. Such a delicious pound cake! The perfect amount of lemon, this would be amazing without the icing but that just brings it to the next level in my opinion! I thought I overbaked it but it looks just like yours & it’s so yummy!

  18. I have searched like crazy for 9 x 5 loaf pans and can never find them. I have several 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pans. Will this change the cooking time or the amount I should pour in?

    1. Hi Val! This batter will fit into a 8.5×4.5 inch loaf pan. The bake time will be slightly longer.

  19. Krisha Hodge says:

    Hi Sally! I made this today and it was so fresh and lemony, I loved it! I needed a smaller recipe for when I want something lemon without a huge cake and this fits the bill perfectly! I have a question…I noticed you asked another baker if she had used a dark coated pan. That’s what I had at home and used…do you actually recommend the lighter coated pans like the links you shared? Would my results be even better? (Perhaps a little more rise or slightly less dark on the outside?). It was still Delphi but I’m always looking to improve the next time. I’m far from an experienced baker!

    1. Hi Krisha! I’m so glad you love this lemon pound cake, thank you so much for taking the time to share! Lighter or glass pans don’t brown the crust as much and I usually prefer them for loaves, which require a longer bake time and thus, could easily burn on the outside. Does that help? 🙂

  20. I discovered this recipe two weeks ago, and will be baking it for the third time tonight! Thank you for sharing! It is the perfect spring dessert!

    1. So glad you love it! Thanks Andie!

  21. If I were to use milk instead of sour cream in the cake, how much milk should I use?

    1. Milk will slightly thin out the batter, so the pound cake won’t be as dense. That being said, use the same amount (1/4 cup which is 60ml).

  22. This is so delicious! No need to go to Starbucks when it’s better homemade!

  23. Can i use milk instead of sour cream in this cake or what can i replace sour cream with ?

    1. Hi Prachi! I don’t recommend milk. Plain yogurt would be a fine substitution for the sour cream.

      1. But in the description of your recipe you have written to use milk . I am a bit confused. What do you suggest I should use then ?

      2. Hi Prachi– sorry, I should have been more clear. You can use milk, but the texture of the pound cake will change. It will have a lighter crumb since it will thin out the batter. Plain yogurt is my recommend substitution.

  24. Can we use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar?

    1. Hi Shruti! You certainly can, but the flavor of the cake will slightly change.

  25. Denise Spahr says:

    I made this today for my sweet neighbor as a thank you for all her cuttings from her garden to my garden. It was wonderful.

  26. Wow! This is a beautiful cake! I made it last weekend, and went for the extra zest as you mention in your note. It was so good (and disappeared so rapidly), I’ve got two of them baking in the oven now! I may have put too much lemon juice in the icing, as it was a bit too runny last time, so I’ll try not to go overboard with it! Thanks for yet another winner, Sally!

  27. Made for dessert with our Sunday supper a couple of nights ago and it was a HUGE hit! The dense, moist crumb you want with a pound cake, and the perfect lemon pucker. My hubby said it’s the best pound cake he’s ever had, and they’re his fave. Made in a fancy loaf pan, so lots of nooks and crannies for the icing to pool, and more crunch (my favorite part). Have another in the oven now, on the special request of a pregnant friend, ha!

  28. Don’t have words for just how amazing this pound cake is!

  29. Denise Morrison says:

    Made this on Friday, replaced the lemon with orange, it was delicious

  30. Hi Sally,
    Will this work with yoghurt instead of sour cream? Love the taste of yoghurt in anything:)

    Thanks,
    Shanta

    1. Yes, you can substitute yogurt.

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