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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. Then, after baking, the cake is doused with lemon syrup and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, so you get a pop of intense lemon flavor in 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. If you’d like to play around with variations, try my popular poppyseed and blueberry versions. Many thanks to my longtime reader Karen Tannenbaum for inspiring the 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.
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.)

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

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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

  • Delicious to the max!

    • — Sheila E. W. on January 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Love, love the lemons pound cake(use your old Bundt Cake pan recipe). Have you tried limes rather than lemons? I have friends that are lime lovers and think this cake is so good with lemonsl Just maybe limes would work. Thank you!

    • — Debbie Smith on January 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, Glad you like this! I haven’t personally tried this with limes, but some other readers have and have been happy with the results, so I think it’s worth a try!

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • Awesome recipe, I always give 1 cake away & there’s never a crumb left by 8pm so I’m told. I’m really a lemon cake fiend & I at least double the zest & FRESH lemon juice parts 1,2&3 of recipe. Glaze to my taste xtra thick & syrup adds nice kick.

    • — Gregory on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was a little too sweet for me, but it needs the soaking syrup and – in my opinion – the glaze. How much can I reduce the sugar in the cake before it compromises the structure?
    Thanks

    • — Lora on January 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lora, You can get away with cutting the sugar by 1/2 cup. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • I kept thinking, “that’s not enough lemon juice to make it super lemony like we love!” SO wrong! It was perfect! I made it with a gluten free flour (commercial 1-to-1 type) and wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it was amazing. I froze one to see how that would work out and can’t wait to try it.

    • — Tami on January 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn –
    I’ve got these pound cakes in the oven now.
    I’d love to see a post about using the convection setting on ovens. I’ve got a beautiful Fisher & Paykel oven and I’d love to use it to its fullest potential. All I can find when I google “how to cook with convection oven” is basically that you reduce the temp by 25 degrees and some things work better than others. Not very helpful. Since you’re a professional baker, can you give us some insight?
    Thanks,
    Lora

    • — Lora on January 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lora, I always develop and publish my recipes using the regular setting on my oven (because many people don’t have convection settings on their ovens), so I really don’t have any experience with the convection setting. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made these for Christmas gatherings. I didn’t make the glaze as I don’t like overly sweet desserts. It was very good the same day and even more lemony the next. I will definitely make it again.

    • — Eileen Hansen on January 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen!

    I have a bag of Meyer lemons so I would like to do this recipe but in a Bundt pan. Do you have any suggestions on how to modify your recipe for a Bundt pan? Also, would you recommend adding poppyseeds?
    I made your Rum cake recipe TWICE over the holidays and it was so delicious!!!! Also I made your beet and mixed green salad. It was a hit!

    • — Jennifer Patzer on December 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, This would be delicious with poppy seeds — I actually have a recipe for a bundt version with poppy seeds, so I’d go that route. Also so glad you’ve enjoyed some of the other recipes over the holidays!

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have made this recipe twice and LOVE IT! I work in a hospital and brought the cake in for all, individually sliced and placed in plastic bags. Staff loved it and were coming back for seconds, indicating it was the best lemon pound cake ever! When making it the first time, I was not sure of the lemon syrup that goes on the cake, but make the recipe exactly as you wrote it…so glad I did !! Crisp, bold lemony taste and SO moist!!!!

    • — Susan on December 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Do you have the recipe for one loaf please.

    • — Esther Seymour on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Esther, you can just cut all the ingredients in half. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is a lovely pound cake; I should say cakes since it does indeed make two full cakes. Made without any modification, this pound cake does indeed deliver that true lemon loveliness that you’re looking forward to. I hate zesting though (who doesn’t?) so just remember that though you are going to want that full 2 tbsp. of zest, you still won’t need to zest all 4-5 lemons thank goodness. (But of course you will need to purchase enough lemons for all the fresh juice required)

    • — Margaret O on December 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • You have been inspiring me to start baking! I am in my later years… made your pumpkin and ginger bread … great! On lemon cake I did an oooooops and instead of 3 cups flour, I did 3/4 cup! Sigh. It still tastes good but very flat/thin…
    Is there a reason you don’t use baking powder? Ty Elaine 💕

    • — Elaine Naismith on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Oops! I’m glad that it still tasted good despite being very thin. 🙂
      And baking soda needs acidic ingredients (like the buttermilk in this recipe) to activate, whereas baking powder needs only liquid to activate it, so it’s used in recipes that don’t contain acidic ingredients. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
      • What is the baking temp? 350°??

        • — Kerrie Stack on December 15, 2022
        • Reply
        • Yes, it’s 350°F. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on December 15, 2022
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Could you please let me know what is the weight of 1 cup of unsalted butter?

    • — Sally on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sally, It’s 230 grams. And 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!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2022
      • Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing your recipe Jenn. It was superb. I made the Bundt version with 3/4 cup yoghurt & 1/4 cup milk. I also reduce sugar to 1 2/3 cups. I also use castor sugar. The cake was moist and delicious with a light hint of lemon!

      • — Sally on November 24, 2022
      • Reply
      • So glad you enjoyed it — thanks for taking the time to report back! 🙂

        • — Jenn on November 25, 2022
        • Reply
  • First of all this pound cake is AMAZING!! Quick question. My oven has it done in 40 mins. The first batch was dry. Would reducing the heat to 325 (like your also AMAZING Pumpkin Bread) help? Thank you for so many wonderful recipes!

    • — Jessica on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jessica, Are you using the soaking syrup at the end?

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2022
      • Reply
      • I am!!

        • — Jessica on November 10, 2022
        • Reply
        • The only other thing I can think of is that maybe you used too much flour. Did you use the spoon and level method? Even a few extra ounces can make a big difference. This article/video explains it nicely.
          If you did use that method for measuring the flour, next time around I’d either reduce the oven temperature to 325° or bake it for less time.

          • — Jenn on November 11, 2022
          • Reply
      • I switched to the metric because I prefer weighing the ingredients. Unfortunately, the recipe didn’t turn out, very loose, spilled over pans, very chewy like it had too much sugar. When I checked the metric against your standard recipe, the metric sugar amount is off, it says 495 grams, but 2 1/4 cups of sugar should be 450 grams. I checked the rest, the flour is off but it’s actually a little over, (should be 360 grams). I think the biggest issue was the sugar.

        • — Kelly on November 20, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Kelly, I’m so sorry about the problem you had with the cakes! You’re right — the sugar was off by 45 grams and I think that’s what impacted your results (I’ve corrected it). Again, I’m sorry for the frustration!!

          • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
          • Reply
  • I made this exactly as instructed. I used Meyer lemons from my tree and it was delicious. A huge hit, everyone had seconds. I froze the second cake and will use it for Thanksgiving dessert.

    • — Dogmom on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just a question. Can this recipe be made as one large cake? If so are you able to suggest cake pan size (say, 25cm) and cooking time? Much appreciated.

    • — Alison Stewart on November 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Alison, I used to bake this recipe in a bundt pan. It looked beautiful but some people had problems with it sticking to the pan, so I revised it to be 2 loaves. Do you have a bundt? If so, you could go that route and treat the pan very well prior to baking. If you’d like to go that route, let me know and I’ll email you the recipe.

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have a question Jenn. This lemon pound cake is the BEST as are all your recipes. My question is about using Castor sugar. I’ve been seeing recipes using it (I actually made my own recently to use in a shortbread cookie recipe and they came out wonderful) but I was wondering if it would make a difference in cake recipes.

    • — carol oneill on October 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, So glad you like the recipes! 🙂
      I’ve never baked with castor sugar but think that it’s doable. I’d suggest weighing the sugar though as castor sugar weighs 225 g per cup and granulated sugar weighs a little less, coming in at 220 g. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2022
      • Reply
      • I have not made this recipe yet but read all the reviews sounds delicious, my question is I would like to make this in mini loaf pans for giving, can it be done? If so how much per, how long and what temp would you recommend?

        • — Sue on January 16, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Sue, I think mini loaves would work here. I’ve never made this in mini loaf pans, so I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it should make 4 – 5 loaves. The oven temp should be the same – I’m not certain how long they’ll take to bake (so keep a close eye on them), but I would start checking them at about 35 minutes. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

          • — Jenn on January 16, 2023
          • Reply
  • What if you’re trying to make it in a Bundt pan?

    • — Melissa on October 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, You can find the Bundt version here.

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • If making mini loaves (4-Inches x 2-Inches x 2-Inches), how many will this recipe make? Thanks!

    • — Aparna on October 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Aparna, I’ve never used loaf pans that size so I’m not sure, but I’d guesstimate 7 loaves or so. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,

        Would like to ask if this recipe would work if I made it into small lemon shape breads but with lesser baking time?

        • — Rach on October 31, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Rach, I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t work. Just make sure you treat your pans thoroughly with butter or cooking spray. Good luck!

          • — Jenn on October 31, 2022
          • Reply
      • Hi Jenn! It made six loaves. 🙂

        • — Aparna on November 26, 2022
        • Reply
        • Good to know — thanks for reporting back!

          • — Jenn on November 27, 2022
          • Reply
        • Do you mind sharing how long it took to bake them? I am trying this out right now 🙂

          • — Vicki Vanilla on December 24, 2022
          • Reply
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 didnt quite understand the cup size… is it 250 ml?
      Thank you!

      • — Alena on January 5, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Alena, Are you referring to the butter?

        • — Jenn on January 5, 2023
        • Reply
  • I made this exactly as directed and it is absolutely delicious!

    • — Karen on May 2, 2022
    • Reply

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