Baking Blog

Easy 1-Hour Lemon Loaf Cake

This light and easy lemon loaf cake is the ideal dessert for almost any occasion because it’s both delicious and easy to make. The whole recipe can be put together in one bowl and doesn’t require any special mixing equipment. It’s almost too good to be true, so you’ll have to give the cake a try and taste it for yourself!

How to Make a Classic Lemon Loaf Cake in One Bowl

Why we love this lemon loaf cake

It’s oh-so easy to make

This is a one-bowl cake recipe where all the ingredients are simply whisked together in one large bowl before baking. You don’t even need to use a hand mixer to combine the ingredients — just grab a whisk or a spatula. It’s a very straightforward technique that produces a cake with a soft, moist crumb and lots of lemon flavor. 

It’s got loads of lemon

How to make a Classic Lemon Loaf Cake in One Bowl

The cake features lemon in two different ways to ensure that there is plenty of zesty citrus flavor in each bite: fresh lemon juice and zest.

I used two lemons to get enough juice for this recipe, but you may find you need a third if your lemons are on the smaller or less juicy side. Use a microplane to zest the lemons (or use this technique if you don’t have a microplane!) before juicing them, as they’re easier to handle that way. 

Did we mention the glaze?

The cooled cake is topped with a glaze that is made with just powdered sugar and lemon juice. You’ll need a second bowl to make the glaze, but it mixes up in under a minute.

I prefer a thicker glaze that kind of pools on top of the loaf, but it’s possible to thin your glaze with a few extra teaspoons of lemon juice for a thinner mix that will completely cover the sides of the loaf. The glaze should be allowed to set before slicing.

This is a great everyday cake, but it is also delicious enough to bring it out at a dinner party. To dress it up, serve a slice with whipped cream and berries. It’s quick to make and keeps very well, so it’s sure to become a fast favorite in any kitchen. 

A quick note before you get baking

I always line my loaf pans with a strip of parchment paper. You can cut a rectangle that just fits the bottom of the pan, or cut a strip that is long enough to come up the sides of the pan, as well.

Loaf Pan Lined with Parchment Paper

If you opt for the smaller liner, you can always run a knife around the edge of the loaf to release it, if necessary. If you create a liner with some overhang, you can simply lift your cake out of the pan after it has cooled. It saves a lot of time and guarantees that your loaf will emerge in one piece.

One Bowl Lemon Loaf Cake

One-bowl lemon loaf cake recipe

Serves 10 – 12


For the cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 1 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. 

Step 2:

How to make a Classic Lemon Loaf Cake in One Bowl

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon zest, eggs and vanilla extract until well-combined.

Whisk in buttermilk and lemon juice. Add in flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until batter is uniform and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.

How to make a Classic Lemon Loaf Cake in One Bowl

Step 3:

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift it out and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Step 4:

Once the cake is cooled, make the glaze. Combine powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining lemon juice to thin glaze, as needed. Pour glaze on top of the cake and spread it into an even layer.


Lyn Wigginton

Been looking for and easy, small lemon loaf! Thanks so much for sharing.

Olga Mackay

I tried this recipe and was concerned that there was no oil or butter mentioned in the list of ingredients. I thought perhaps that the 2 eggs would provided the necessary fat needed to make for a tender loaf. The finished loaf was very dense tough and very lemony. In rechecking the ingredient list I wondered if the 1/2 cup of lemon juice was listed in error and should have instead been for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.


Doesn’t the buttermilk have fat? And since it’s a lemon loaf, I don’t think they accidentally meant to put in oil instead of lemon

Cathy Holden

Well I’m even more confused than you are Olga! I printed this on 27th February and the ingredients included 1/4 vegetable oil . I don’t bake so I was checking today to see if it was 1/4 cup or what, and I discovered that oil in gone from the ingredients AND Step 2 where it was in with the sugar and eggs. Nothing here say it was edited so I’m at a loss as to what to do.

Olga Mackay

Thanks Cathy for the info regarding the previous posting of this recipe. The addition of 1/4 cup oil makes sense as after checking out other lemon loaf recipes the amount of oil can vary from 1/4 to 2/3 cup of oil. I will try this recipe again this weekend using the 1/4 cup oil and update as to results. I will whisk eggs, oil, buttermilk & vanilla together and then add to dry ingredients (flour etc.). After everything is just combined I will whisk in the lemon juice. In reply to the previous post buttermilk does not have enough fat to compensate for the oil. Buttermilk in fact has very little fat. It is the liquid left behind after churning when making butter. Hope this helps and makes sense.


Tried it, loved it.. Good job Nicole. My husband lov3f it as well. Prefect as is! Will make it again.


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