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Lemon Pound Cake

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

This lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers. Lemon zest and lemon juice are added to the cake batter, which lightly perfume the cake with lemon. The cake is then doused with lemon syrup and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze to add a pop of intense lemon flavor to every bite. The recipe makes two 8½ x 4½-inch ultra-moist loaves, which keep beautifully for days on the countertop and freeze well, too. Many thanks to my longtime reader Karen Tannenbaum for inspiring the recipe.

(Note: I revised this recipe in March 2022 in response to readers having issues with the cake sticking to the pan. To see the original recipe, which was made in a Bundt pan, click here.)

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.
zesting lemonsCombine 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.

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.

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.

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.)

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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

  • Jenn,

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I totally love it! The best lemon pound cake I ever had!

    I had a little bit of leftover cake batter and I refrigerated it for 24 hours before I baked it into cupcakes and it turns out perfect too!!!!

    • — Ying-Ti on September 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m unable to locate link to Bundt recipe. Would you mind emailing to me, please.

    • — Susie Whittinghill on September 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Here you go!

      • — Jenn on September 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Warning do not attempt this if you use the website’s convert to metric feature. the ratios are disastrously wrong! Trying again with cup measures 🤞

    • — iolani fredericks on August 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best cake I’ve ever made, period. I was having guests and realized too late that I didn’t have enough lemon rind. I could only come up with half the amount of rind (I used lemon, orange and lime) but WOW did it ever turn out amazing! I just renamed it “citrus pound cake”. My guests took home the rest of the first cake and we ate the second one in two days (my husband called it “put on the pounds cake” because he couldn’t stop eating it.) The only problem I encountered was that I used one very intricate pound cake tin and some of the bottom stuck to the pan so I won’t be using that one again. The one that was made in the regular tin came out perfectly, even without the parchment sling. I buttered and floured both the pans. I’m making this cake for my introduction to the fancy neighbours this weekend because it is so perfect.

    • — Julie Godwin on August 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can’t wait to make this cake. If baking in a bundt pan, should temperature be 325 or 350?
    Is it best to follow the recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (without the poppy seeds)?
    Thanks Jenn. Love your recipes.

    • — Barbara on August 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, there’s a link to the bundt version on the page but it’s a challenging to find. I just emailed you a copy of it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • Dear Jenn, is it possible to bake this in a 9” cake tin? Looking for a lemon cake.. without buttercream icing..

    • — Shannon Tay on August 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Shannon, Are you referring to a round pan? If so, I think it will work but you’ll need to halve the recipe if you’re only using 1 pan. Bake time will be shorter so keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe produces the definition of what a lemon pound cake should taste like. There are a lot of steps but my 13 yr old had no problem following them and made us a beautiful delicious dessert. Thank you!

    • — Tinisia on June 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • I was so happy that this recipe was for two pound cakes. So delicious. I eliminated the syrup and the glaze and put 2 not 2 1/4 cups of sugar into the cake. This will definitely be a go to dessert in the future. I had fresh strawberries, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream for anyone who wanted to to this cake. It’s perfect by itself. Thanks.

    • — Charlotte on June 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this today and it turned out amazing. Super moist and delicious!

    • — Cal Schadt on June 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Perfect!

    • — Makara on June 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I halve the recipe to make just 1 loaf?

    • — Lewis on June 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2022
      • Reply
      • Bundt recipe?

        • — Penny Price on June 16, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Penny, there’s a link to it on the page but it’s a little hard to find. I’ll email a copy of it. 🙂

          • — Jenn on June 17, 2022
          • Reply
  • The recipe says bake at 350F but you just mentioned 325F. Not sure which to use or does it make that much difference? Rose

    • — Rose Swan on May 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rose, I’m sorry for the confusion. I changed the recipe a few months ago (and changed the oven temp at that time), so 350°F is the correct temperature. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on May 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this for a special dinner party this weekend and it came out perfectly. I used a bundt pan and followed the instructions to coat with oil and then sprinkle sugar. I actually combined the sugar with flour. No sticking!
    Only little issue was with the glaze- it disappeared when normally it stays white after glazing. Might have been that the cake was not totally cooled.
    I did add the 1tsp of butter from the newer recipe so not sure if that was the reason. But no matter, this is stunning! Served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Thank you Jen for another great one!

    • — Beth George Schulberg on May 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Lovely cake.1 cup of butter tricky! Converted oven temperature to 176 centigrade. After 50 minutes top was just catching so better probably 45 minutes.

    • — Tricia Heaps on May 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this exactly as directed and it is absolutely delicious!

    • — Karen on May 2, 2022
    • Reply

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