If you’re hankering for Starbucks lemon loaf, try my kid’s copycat recipe

I’m forever trying to get my children to cook with me, to almost no avail, until recently, when Leo, who is 10, told me he’d like to recreate a favorite snack from the Starbucks drive-through: lemon loaf. It’s not a pound cake, but more of a moist, sweet/sour loaf cake with a thick cap of lemon icing. It is his favorite.

It happened that he’d recently been to visit his grandparents in California and, as you do when you live in Alaska, returned with a suitcase-load of lemons. So we started making loaves and settled on a pretty decent copycat recipe. To achieve the required Starbucks bakery lemony-ness, we learned we couldn’t just rely on lemon juice without the recipe becoming too sour, so we used a spot of lemon extract to boost the citrus flavor.

We also tried different oils. In a slight departure from Starbucks, we decided the flavor and texture of the loaf with light olive oil was best, though other neutral oils work too. Leo doesn’t drink coffee, but I tested it and it goes pretty great with a latte.

Leo’s copycat Starbucks lemon loaf


For the cake

3 eggs

⅔ cup white sugar

1 cup full fat sour cream

½ cup light olive oil (can sub grapeseed, canola or avocado oil)

Zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract

1 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

For the glaze

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 5 by 9 inch loaf pan.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar on medium until creamy. Add sour cream, oil, zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and lemon extract, mix until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour, salt, baking powder. With the mixer running on low, gently shake the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined into a smooth batter. Don’t overmix. Scrape batter into the loaf pan, and bake for 52-55 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake.

Once the loaf is completely cool, about 30 minutes, pour powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Add lemon juice and vanilla and stir rapidly to form a thick glaze. Pour the glaze over the loaf and spread gently with a spatula to distribute. Slice with a sharp knife when the glaze has set.

2 thoughts on “If you’re hankering for Starbucks lemon loaf, try my kid’s copycat recipe

Comments are closed.