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.

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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

Comments are closed.

  1. Planning to make this this weekend. How many smaller loaf pans would you recommend splitting it between? I just love mini loaves!

    1. Hi Marni, 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.

    2. I’ve made this recipe twice in mini loaves and got three out of the batter. I would recommend cooking at 350 for 25 minutes. The first time I cooked them 35 minutes and they were a little dry……the next time I cooked them 30 and they were definitely better. Next time I’m going to try 25 minutes and I think they will be perfect ♥️

  2. I have made this a couple of times and love it, but I’d like to make an orange juice version. Any idea if the juice measurements would change if I did that?

    1. I would use the same measurements.

  3. Hi, baked this lemon pound cake this arvo. It’s so so good! Thank you very much! Going to try making your other lighter lemon cake next week

  4. Can you substitute cream cheese for sour cream? Thanks

    1. I don’t recommend it. Plain yogurt is the best substitute.

  5. I’m do not have any lemons on hand; would lemon juice be okay to substitute?

    1. Yes, bottled lemon juice works just fine.

  6. Excited to make this! If I use a round pan, what size is best? Also can I sub with crème fraîche?

    1. Hi Krista, I don’t recommend a round pan. The cake will be very dense and squat. I recommend sticking to a loaf pan. In a pinch, crème fraîche may be used instead of sour cream.

  7. I’m making it in the Bundt pan, following your cream cheese recipe. I’m confused on how long to leave it cooling in pan. 1 hour like this recipe or 2 hours.
    The time range is so big 75-95 minutes. I’m nervous! Do I just keep checking it starting at 75 minutes?
    Btw, I LOVE your recipes. The almond raspberry coffee cake is ridiculously good. We don’t share it with the kids, adults only.

    1. Hi Cristina! Yes, begin checking it at 75 minutes for doneness and checking with a toothpick every few minutes after that. Let it cool for 2 hours in the pan before inverting.

  8. For anyone wanting to use a round pan: I doubled the recipe per the instructions and added a teaspoon of baking soda and this made 2 lovely 7″ layers. You could easily stretch it to get 2 8″ layers, although they may not be big enough to slice for layers.

  9. Do you have any specific suggestions if using a glass loaf baking dish versus metal?

    1. Hi Fiona, in general, if using a glass pan, the bake time may be a few minutes longer. As always, insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf to check for doneness.

  10. Karen Fraley says:

    If I make the iced lemon pound cake following only the cream cheese pound cake recipe is the only thing I would have to do is add the 3 Tablespoons (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
    zest of 1 lemon*

    1. Hi Karen, double this Iced Lemon Pound Cake 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.) Follow the baking and cooling instructions of the cream cheese pound cake.

  11. Karen Fraley says:

    So you can’t use the cream cheese recipe and just add the lemon flavoring

  12. wonderful recipe!
    how do you get the syrup to distribute evenly? mine sort of absorbed in heavy spots but was still delicious.

    any recommendations for making cupcakes?

    thanks for everything!!

  13. Hi, wondering if adding some berries would work with this recipe? I just made the lemon yogurt cake with berries and it was a HUGE hit. I think it was even better the day after. I have berries and would like to use them in the pound cake but want to make sure that would be suitable. Or if certain berries are better than others. Thank you!

    1. I’m so happy the Lemon Yogurt Cake was a hit, Kara! You can add up to 1 cup of berries to this cake without making any other changes. Enjoy!

  14. Can anyone tell me if full fat greek yogurt would work instead of sour cream? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa! Yes, you definitely can! See my recipe note 🙂

      1. Oh thank you for the quick response!!! I wasn’t sure if Greek was allowed! Can’t wait to bake this tomorrow!!

      2. I only have non-fat Greek yogurt. Will this work too?

  15. Born2Shop says:

    This is an amazing recipe! I used milk instead of sour cream and it was still delicious. It was a hit, and I will definitely make it again.

  16. Hi, just attempted to make your lemon pound cake, I didn’t have any yoghurt or sour cream, so I did go a little off your recipe, by using evaporated milk, everything else as you recipe said. My cake tastes lovely, very happy , except to say it was a little rubbery ? Would that be the evap milk?
    Loving your web site. I’m new to baking and have made 3 other lemon drizzle cakes, which were very good, as I’m such a novice, but were a little dry, then I found YOU . No more dry cakes, thanks to your tips ! Also is it ok to add oil to all cakes, or does it have to be specific mixtures?
    Also how do I make the icing a little thicker , didn’t get that quite right.

    1. Hi Janice, The texture was likely due to the evaporated milk in place of the sour cream. For thicker icing simply increase the amount of sugar or decrease the amount of milk.
      These are my best tips for How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake.

  17. Love it! Spot on with texture and taste! Reduced the sugar by 25% and still tasted great! Might even reduce more with the next round of this cake!

  18. Hi Sally, I was wondering what the difference between this recipe and your lemon poppyseed Bundt cake is and which one I should use considering they have different bake times and temperatures?? I’m looking to make a lemon pound cake just in a Bundt pan for Mothers Day. Or just what time and temperatures would you suggest for a lemon pound cake in a Bundt pan?

    1. Hi Laila, the lemon poppy seed bundt cake isn’t quite as dense. This is a pound cake, so it’s denser. See my recipe note (and instructions in the post) if making this in a bundt pan.

  19. I’ve made this cake multiple times and use nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream because I never have sour cream on hand. I also don’t make the glaze as its sweet and rich enough and is perfect without . Love this recipe and it is my go to now for lemon pound cake.

  20. Hi Sally! we baked this lemon pound cake this past weekend and it was such a hit! Congrats, it’s super delicious, we added poppy seeds on the icing too and we loved it! What would you recommend if we want to be a little less dense? Adding maybe a bit more baking powder or baking soda? thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Olatz, I’m so happy this cake was a hit! This is a pound cake, so it’s denser. You might want to try my Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake as it isn’t quite as dense.

      1. This cake came out awesome. Moist, tangy and delicious. I added more heavy cream to the icing because it was too thick and dry for my liking.

  21. Hi Sally! I want to use yogurt instead of sour cream. how much should I use kindly let me know and is the cake taste the same using yogurt?

    1. Hi Huda, use the same amount of yogurt for sour cream. The pound cake doens’t taste quite as tender since yogurt is typically lower in fat.

  22. Made this tonite- followed your recipe to a T and it came out delicious. I’ve made many pound cakes over the years and this will definitely be in my ‘favorite recipes’ box.

  23. Made this tonight – holy moly, it is so delicious and absolutely perfect. I took a little slice off the end to try it, and it’s just so good. The crumb is lovely and it’s just amazingly dense, in the best way. I haven’t even iced it yet, but I’m definitely keeping this recipe for the future. Also, it was super simple to put together – it’s already one of my favorites. I believe I may have put in the zest of 1 1/2 to 2 lemons and maybe a little over three tablespoons of the fresh squeezed juice and the lemon flavor is *chef’s kiss* – perfect. I’m glad you recommended tenting foil over it at the half way point, because it browned just the right amount. Wow. Thank you!

  24. Can I add blueberries?

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

      1. Thank you so much! Wishing you and your family (plus new baby soon) well!

  25. So disappointed with this one. I absolutely love your other recipes but this one was not a winner sadly. I made it for my Dads birthday cake and it was just mediocre and didn’t taste of lemons! I actually added an extra half of a lemon juice and the icing was super lemony but just tasted of icing sugar. (confectioners sugar). The cake cooked too much on all sides but was only just cooked within. The top was fine but the sides and bottom dried and over browned. I usually line my tins but this said grease the loaf tin so I followed the recipe. It was probably something I did / didn’t do correctly but I won’t do this one again. Will try out another lemon one of yours with buttermilk as they always turn out amazingly.

  26. zoe1808123 says:

    Hi Sally, I have a question. I would like to bake this in one of those disposable aluminum pans. Will that work out fine? My only other option is a glass baking dish. Which one of these will work?

    1. Either work as long as they are a 9×5 inch pan. The bake time is pretty much the same across the board, though a loaf baked in a glass pan may take a couple extra minutes– use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  27. Lucy Tujague says:

    This pound cake was incredible! Rave reviews from the family. It was moist and bursting with lemon flavor. I did add a little more lemon zest to it as suggested for more lemon taste.

  28. Jamie Delaney says:

    Hi Sally – I literally just made the loaf to bring to my mother in law. The bread is more brown on sides and bottom than on top? Is it my oven temp? the Pan? I’m hoping to still tastes good. Can’t wait ti try.

    1. Hi Jamie, If you are using a dark metal pan it could be causing the sides and bottom to brown faster (a darker color pan will absorb heat more quickly). If you think it could be your oven I highly suggest using an oven thermometer (see number 7 in my Top 10 Baking Tips).

  29. I made this cake for your lemon berry trifle and I couldnt help but double this recipe and make a loaf just for us! This is the best lemon pound cake i ever had!

  30. Tastes divine, but with a scant half teaspoon of baking powder, it hardly rose. (And yes, the baking powder is fresh; has worked fine in all other recipes of late.) Anyone else have this issue? Or maybe this is the norm for this particular poundcake…?

    1. Hi Momto5, this is a dense pound cake so it doesn’t rise much. Thank you for trying the recipe!

      1. Thanks, Sally! I do plan to make it again; it definitely “tastes” like spring. I have a lot of baking experience & too many recipes already (is such a thing possible?!), but I recently came across your site and have enjoyed all your bakes I’ve made so far. Good job!

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