Lemon Pound Cake

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This lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers.

Partially sliced lemon pound cake on a plate.

Calling all lemon lovers! This lemon pound cake is a dessert made just for you. The recipe incorporates both lemon zest and lemon juice into the cake batter, infusing the cake with a lovely lemon flavor. But the real magic happens after baking — the cake is generously doused with lemon syrup and then drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, delivering an intense burst of lemon flavor with every bite. The recipe yields two ultra-moist loaves that stay fresh for days on the countertop or can be frozen for later. If you’d like to switch things up, try my popular lemon poppyseed cake and lemon blueberry pound cake variations. A big thank you and shoutout to Karen Tannenbaum, one of my longtime readers, for inspiring this wonderful recipe!

What You’ll Need To Make Lemon Pound Cake

ingredients for lemon pound cake

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Start by zesting and juicing your lemons. And be sure you zest the lemons first, otherwise, it will be impossible once they are juiced. The best tool for zesting is a rasp grater but any fine grater will do.
Lemon zest next to halved lemons.Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. I always add dry ingredients in little piles so I don’t forget what I’ve already added.

dry ingredients in mixing bowlWhisk and set aside.

whisking dry ingredients

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside.

buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in bowl

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

creaming butter and sugar

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

beating in the eggs

With the mixer on low speed, beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture.

Pound cake batter in a stand mixer.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and give a quick mix to make sure all of the ingredients are well-incorporated.

mixed lemon pound cake batter in mixer

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pans and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Loaf pan full of lemon pound cake batter.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.

Set the cakes on a cooling rack, and cool in the pans for 10 minutes.

Two loaf pans of lemon pound cake.

Carefully run a knife along the unlined sides of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan. Using the parchment slings, lift the cakes out of the pans and place onto the rack, leaving the parchment paper in place under the cakes. Let cool for about 1 hour.

When the cakes are almost cool, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

making lemon glaze

To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Add more confectioners’ sugar or lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze (it should be a little thicker than you’d think, about the consistency of molasses or honey).

how to make lemon glaze

When the cakes are cool, carefully transfer them to serving platters. Gradually brush the warm syrup all over the cakes, including the sides, letting it soak in as you go.

Finally, spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

glazed lemon pound cake

Let the cakes sit for about one hour to allow the glaze to set before serving.

How To Freeze Lemon Pound Cake

The cakes can be frozen without the glaze for up to 3 months. After they are completely cooled, double-wrap them securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place them in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving. (Add the syrup before the cake is frozen and add the glaze after the cake is thawed.)

Note: This recipe was updated in 2022; to see the original version, click here.

Partially-sliced loaf of lemon pound cake.

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Lemon Pound Cake

This lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers.

Servings: Two 8½ x 4½-inch loaves, about 16 servings
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 25 Minutes, plus about 1 hour cooling time

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is fine) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) grated lemon zest (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs

For the Syrup

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray two 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the long sides of the pans with parchment paper “slings” and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and give a quick mix to make sure all of the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  6. Divide the thick batter into the prepared pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.
  7. Set the cakes on a cooling rack, and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife along the unlined sides of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan. Using the parchment slings, lift the cakes out of the pans and place onto the rack, leaving the parchment paper in place under the cakes. Let cool for about 1 hour.
  8. When the cakes are almost cool, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  9. When the cakes are cool, carefully transfer them to serving platters.
  10. Gradually brush the warm syrup all over the cakes, including the sides, letting it soak in as you go.
  11. To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Add more confectioners' sugar or lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze (it should be a little thicker than you'd think, about the consistency of molasses or honey). Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let the cakes sit for about one hour to allow the glaze to set before serving.
  12. Note: If you’d like to make your own buttermilk, check out the easy method here.
  13. Note: You'll need 4 to 5 large lemons for the entire recipe.
  14. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cakes can be made up to 1 day ahead of time and stored in a cake dome or airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen (without the final glaze) for up to 3 months. After they are completely cooled, double-wrap securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place them in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving. (Add the syrup before the cake is frozen and add the glaze after the cake is thawed.)

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 313
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 59g
  • Sugar: 40g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Sodium: 143mg
  • Cholesterol: 51mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Perfect lemon flavor! Took this to a holiday get together and everyone loved it!

    • — K F on July 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • I brought this lemon pound cake to a family reunion. I use Jenn’s recipes often and receiving compliments about the prepared dish is normal. This time I was inundated with requests for this recipe, clearly exceeding reactions to any other Jenn recipes previously made. And, baking is not my strong suit.

    This lemon pound cake had perfect density and moistness. I removed it from the oven when the internal temperature was 209 degrees. The lemon taste was front-and-center, but far from being overwhelming. The outer shell had a small noticeable crunch that was a nice added texture. I made this cake one day ahead. I followed the recipe exactly.

    • — Mike Ess on July 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Does the cake have tendency to stick on bottom if parchment sling not used. Did in Bundt pan and whole cake stuck. Very delicious but could use . Carmela

    • — Carmela on June 19, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Carmela, I know many people had problems with this sticking in a Bundt! (That’s why I changed it to two loaf pans.) I’d recommend using the parchment sling to ensure it doesn’t stick.

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2024
      • Reply
  • would a full tsp of baking soda make a difference?
    it’s too dense and looked like it didn’t totally rise in the middle.
    very dense.

    • — Maria H on June 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, I’m sorry you had a problem with this but don’t recommend increasing the baking soda. While the cake is slightly dense as it’s a pound cake, it shouldn’t be overly so. It sounds like it may have been a bit underbaked, so if you try it again, I’d leave it in the oven a touch longer.

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made this just like the recipe called and baked it in a Bundt pan! Perfection! This will be my new, go-to recipe for a lemon pound cake!!

    • — Lori Duckett on May 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • Jenn,

    What am I doing wrong? I used this recipe before (the same ingredients, only done in a Bundt pan) and it always came out perfect. Now, I keep getting a sinking in the middle. Help!

    • — Joann on May 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Joann, I’m sorry you’ve had a problem with these as loaves! It sounds like they’re underbaked. Next time you make them, I’d let them bake a few minutes longer.

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • So good. I make it in a spiral bundt pan and everyone is always impressed!

    • — Gianna on May 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I was wondering if this cake could be made as a layer cake. I have a friend who loves lemon cakes and would love to make it for her as a birthday cake. If so, what kind of frosting would you use? I love your recipes they never disappoint!

    • — Kimberly Ann Daley on April 22, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Kimberly, So glad you like the recipes! You can make this into an 8-inch layer cake, but keep in mind that it will be more dense than your typical layer cake. I think this would be nice with a cream cheese frosting. Hope your friend enjoys!

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thank-you Jenn I will try and let you know how it turns out.

        • — Kimberly Ann Daley on April 23, 2024
        • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        I did as you suggested and baked this cake in 2 8-inch pans. I did the lemon syrup on the first layer as well as a layer of raspberry jam the cream cheese frosting, I just iced the top and decorated it with some fresh raspberries. It was perfect!!! The birthday girl loved it as well as everyone else! they are still talking about! As per the course your recipes never fail me thank you again for another great one!!!
        Kim

        • — Kimberly Ann Daley on April 30, 2024
        • Reply
        • Sounds delicious – so glad it came out well!

          • — Jenn on April 30, 2024
          • Reply
  • I am baffled, I love this website and the recipes, but this recipe seems a bit dry to me or maybe its dense? Its just odd that I am not experiencing this moist cake every
    One is referring to. Should the flour have been sifted? Any chance I can get the weight of flour so I am more precise? Also, I added water and lemon juice to make the batter resemble the photos as mine looked dry. Thank you in advance – Vanesa

    • — Vanesa on April 21, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Vanesa, I’m sorry you found this to be dry! Because it’s a pound cake, it’s definitely more dense, but it shouldn’t be dry. The flour does not need to be sifted, but I’m wondering if you’re using too much flour. The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps and that you get a better result if you make it again!

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2024
      • Reply
  • This recipe used to be done in a bundt cake pan and I never had any problems. Now I’ve had one sometimes both pound cakes sink in the center and be very wet! What is causing this? Has anyone else experienced this problem?

    • — Joanne on April 18, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Joanne, I’m sorry you had a problem with the loaves sinking! It sounds like they are underbaked. Are you sure your loaf pans are 8½ x 4 ½”and not 8 x 4“? If they’re the correct size, it sounds like the loaves need to bake a little longer. And if you never had a problem with the Bundt version sticking, I’m happy to share the recipe with you. Just let me know and I’ll email it.

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thanks for the offer. I’ve saved and duplicated the Bundt pan recipe.
        I’ve been unable to find any 8-1/2 x 4-1/2″. I’ve been using the foil 8-1/2 x 4-9/16″ pans.

        • — Joann on May 7, 2024
        • Reply
  • This cake is so good, my friends regularly buy me the ingredients so I’ll bake it for them. 🤣 I use a bundt pan and they turn out perfect at 65 minutes every time.

    It is probably my favourite cake ever. Thank you for the recipe!

    • — M. MacLeod on April 15, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’m not much of a baker, but this recipe made me look like one.

    • — David Blake on April 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this exactly per the recipe except for using a bundt pan. Baked for 70 minutes. I trimmed a small amount off the bottom so it would sit flat.
    Is is spectacularly delicious and exceeded my expectations.
    This one is well worth the effort.

    • — Chip Beman on April 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • What would the baking time be if I used a 8 by 23 pan instead of two loaves.

    • — Mel on April 5, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Mel, I’m not familiar with an 8 x 23 pan. Might that be a typo?

      • — Jenn on April 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • Delicious! Since there were 2 pound cakes I decided to make one a Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake. So I took 1/2 -3/4 cup of blueberries rolled them in flour like in Jenns other recipe: “Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake” and wala! 2 different cakes for the same occasion! Turned out GREAT!

    • — Dina on March 31, 2024
    • Reply
  • I probably missed it somewhere, but how many total lemons should I purchase for this recipe? Thanks!

    • — Emily on March 28, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Emily, You’ll need 4 to 5 large lemons. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 29, 2024
      • Reply
  • Excellent! I love this pound cake.

    • — Shermsmom on March 20, 2024
    • Reply
  • Could this be made in a small Bundt cake pan like the Nordic ware bunny pan for Easter?

    • — Mary on March 4, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, I’d be hesitant to recommend it, as the cake is prone to sticking.

      • — Jenn on March 5, 2024
      • Reply
      • I, too, wanted to replace one of the loafs with a 6-cup bundt cake. Deciding to take the risk of not being able to get it out of the pan, I thoroughly coated the Nordicware 6-cup Bundt pan with King Arthur Flour’s baking spray with flour. The cake came out of the pan very easily. No problem.

        • — MP W on March 14, 2024
        • Reply
  • Another 5-star recipe from Jenn! I love the texture of this cake, and the flavor is just right: not too tart, not too sweet. I have tried other lemon pound cake recipes which also call for vanilla, in addition to the lemon juice and zest. This recipe makes me realize that vanilla should NOT be called for in a lemon pound cake — you get a brighter citrus flavor without.

    I made the earlier Bundt pan version of this cake a while ago, and it turned out beautifully. Today I made the newer, 2-loaf version, and it turned out two delicious cakes. I’ll probably also do the Bundt pan version again (it looked so pretty on my jadeite cake stand!), but I love producing two cakes in one bake, one to keep and one to give away (or freeze).

    • — mary kate on March 3, 2024
    • Reply
  • Love the taste and texture of this cake! I was a little worried because I had just put the cakes in the oven when I realized I forgot to add the lemon juice and zest… I should be banned from the kitchen! I took them back out, poured the batter back into the bowl, and mixed the lemon in. So if this happens to anyone else, just know adding the lemon at the end of the recipe works just fine! It tasted fabulous!

    • — Samantha on March 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi if I make one loaf ,shall I reduce all the ingredients to half?

    • — Nikki on February 28, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn! If I want to make 1 loaf, how many eggs should I use? 1 or 2? Or 1.5?

        • — Sara on April 20, 2024
        • Reply
        • Hi Sara, Use 1.5. Beat that second egg in a measuring cup, discard half of it, and use the remaining half. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on April 22, 2024
          • Reply
    • Jenn, could you put a “tunnel” of purchased lemon curd in the center of the cake and then bake as directed? Would this alter the bake time or ratio of ingredients at all? I love the idea of lemon curd in there, but not sure if it’s advisable from a chef’s perspective. Please lmk your thoughts

      • — Karen G on March 29, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Karen, I think it will work. It shouldn’t impact the baking time much, but I’d keep an eye on it. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

        • — Jenn on March 29, 2024
        • Reply
  • Hi-If I make only one loaf, how do I just the timing? Thanks!

    • — Fredrick on February 16, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Frederick, the bake time will be the same. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2024
      • Reply
  • Has anyone tried this recipe with gluten free flour?

    I have made this cake numerous times and it is ALWAYS a huge hit!

    • — Alice on February 12, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Alice, a number of people have commented that they’ve made this with gluten-free flour and have been happy with the results (and so glad you like it)!

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn! I am wanting to make this gluten free and also your lemon blueberry version. Do I use plain GF flour or self raising GF flour? Thank you! 🖤

        • — Peita on April 9, 2024
        • Reply
        • Hi Peita I’d use an all purpose gluten-free flour. Many people have commented that they’ve had success with King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour and Cup4Cup original flour blend. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on April 9, 2024
          • Reply
  • Just made this last night… delicious!! However, I couldn’t understand why it didn’t rise so much. I thought I did something wrong. And then it dawned on me and I looked up the recipe and I was using loaf pans that were larger than what you suggested. It still came out delicious and tasty, I will make that adjustment next time.

    • — Desiree N on February 4, 2024
    • Reply
  • Super moist and fluffy was a big hit in my household, and the fact that it makes two loaves made me popular with my colleagues too!

    • — Amanda on January 31, 2024
    • Reply
  • Jenn I forgot to ask about the pan you’re using (it’s in the picture). Can you point me in the direction where to purchase them?

    Thanks!

    Lisa in Laton

    • — Lisa on January 15, 2024
    • Reply

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