There’s nothing quite like a slice of my Glazed Vegan Lemon Loaf Cake (made with real lemons!) to bring a little ray of sunshine to my day, no matter what time of year.
This easy, everyday pound cake recipe is simple enough to make during the week but flavorful enough to serve for a celebratory weekend brunch. In short, it’s the sweet treat you need in your life right now!
Looking for more easy, fruity vegan cake inspiration? Try my Vegan Banana Cake, Vegan Carrot Cake, Easy Vegan Apple Cake, or No-Bake Strawberry Chocolate Fudge Cake next!
📖 Recipe Overview
- Quick & Easy - All you need is about 15 minutes of active prep to get this citrusy loaf cake in the oven. Better yet, you don’t even need to get out your mixer to make it!
- Budget-Friendly - Since this recipe is made with primarily pantry staples, you can fix yourself an entire vegan Starbucks iced lemon loaf for the same price you’d pay for just one or two slices!
- Made With Only 12 Ingredients - And I’d venture to bet that you probably already have at least half of the ingredients on hand.
- Light, Bright, & Terrifically Tender - With a combination of tart lemon and tangy vegan yogurt, this tender-crumbed vegan cake is simply bursting with citrusy splendor.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
As promised, you only need a handful of ingredients plus some pantry staples to make this simple lemon loaf recipe. Here’s what you need:
Here are a few notes to keep in mind:
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda - You will need both types of leaveners to achieve the soft and tender crumb we’re looking for. Please don’t try swapping one for the other — it simply won’t work.
- Soy Milk - When mixed with fresh lemon juice it becomes an excellent vegan buttermilk swap. If soy is not an option for you, try using full-fat oat milk instead.
- Lemon Juice & Zest - In order to get the full luminous range of flavor that lemons offer, make sure to reach for real fruit — no bottled juice, please!
- Granulated Sugar - I tested the loaf several times with different amounts of sugar and conclude that it's not a good idea to reduce the amount, as it brings moisture content down. Make sure you use organic sugar if you’re based in the US to ensure that it’s vegan.
- Vanilla Pod - Vanilla beans are a bit pricey, but their flavor is rich enough to justify the cost. In order to get the most from your Tahitian beauties, save the spent pods for making homemade vanilla extract or vanilla-flavored sugar. You’re also welcome to swap in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, vanilla paste, or vanilla powder, or a teaspoon of ground vanilla bean instead.
- Olive Oil - The subtle fruitiness of olive oil adds a lovely dimension of flavor and a faint tint of yellow here, plus it helps to keep the cake from drying out.
- Vegan Greek-Style Yogurt or Skyr - You can also use plain soy or coconut yogurt if needed. The protein content from the yogurt together with the fat from the olive oil acts as an egg replacer in this vegan loaf.
- Powdered Sugar - Also aptly named “icing sugar,” this is an essential element for a smooth and shiny glaze. If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily make your own using granulated sugar, cornstarch (or potato starch), and your food processor.
🥣 To Make Vegan Lemon Loaf
Find the complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
This simple lemon cake loaf will be ready for the oven in just 15 minutes. Here’s how:
Prep. Preheat your oven. Lightly grease a loaf tin and line it with parchment paper. Make vegan "buttermilk" by mixing the soy milk and lemon juice and allowing it to sit for 10 minutes.
Step 1: Flavor the sugar. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and scraped-out seeds from the vanilla pod to a large mixing bowl, using your fingertips to rub and combine.
Step 2: Cream the sugar and butter. Add the melted butter and whisk until combined.
Step 3: Whisk in the olive oil and yogurt until smooth.
Step 4: Whisk in the vegan buttermilk mixture, until all the wet ingredients have been combined.
Step 5: Dry ingredients. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined.
Step 6: Bake. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Cut thin strips of vegan butter and place them down the center of the loaf. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick stuck into it comes out clean.
Step 7: Cool. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 8: Make the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and yogurt until smooth.
Step 9: Glaze. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, pour the glaze on top of the cake. Smooth it over the sides so that it covers the entire surface.
Step 10: Enjoy immediately, or allow the icing to set for an hour or so before serving.
🍽 Optional Variations
While I love this vegan version of Starbucks lemon loaf, there is plenty of room for you to customize it to your liking. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Swap your citrus. I don’t recommend you actually make a citrus swap since different fruits have different acidity and sugar levels. However, you may want to try my Vegan Orange Loaf Cake recipe if you love citrusy cakes!
- Add up to a cup of fresh or frozen berries before baking. Blueberry lemon loaf and raspberry lemon loaf are both simply divine. Toss your berries in a bowl with a few tablespoons of plain flour before folding them into the batter. This will help to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf during baking.
- Or, add up to 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds to make vegan lemon poppy seed cake. The little black flecks are both visually appealing and they add a nice bit of crunch.
📝 Recipe Tips
This sweet vegan lemon bread is simple enough for even novice bakers, but there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way:
Make sure to leave some parchment paper overhang to help you remove the loaf from the pan. Oh, and if that parchment keeps misbehaving and rolling up on you? Crumple it into a tight ball, then unwrap it. All the little folds will help it stay in place.
Roll, zest, then juice. Firmly rolling your lemon on the countertop for 10-15 seconds will help to release all the juice inside. When zesting, remove only the top, bright yellow layer — the white pith is quite bitter. When you’re done juicing, save any extra juice for making lemon curd.
Don’t overmix the batter. Consider this Baking 101. Overmixing results in the overproduction of gluten, which creates a tough, dense cake.
Adding a thin line of butter slices down the middle of the batter helps to create a lovely crack in the center of the cake. Thanks to CloudyKitchen for the idea!
Before pouring on your glaze, place a sheet of parchment paper under the cooling rack to catch any icing.
Serving suggestions: This delightfully bright and sunny vegan lemon cake loaf is the perfect “everyday cake” to keep on hand for whenever your sweet tooth strikes. I like to have a slice with my afternoon tea, but you could just as easily eat a slice for breakfast if you prefer. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell! 😉)
Store the glazed loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze this cake in an airtight container for up to a month and defrost it at room temperature a couple of hours before serving.
I, unfortunately, have not tested this recipe with GF flour. Making lemon loaf vegan is one thing, but eggless GF bakes can be a little tricky. If you try it out, remember to let the batter rest a full 30 minutes before baking to let the flour rehydrate. Also, please let me know how it turns out in the comments below!
When I tested this recipe using only olive oil and no butter, it wasn’t as soft, moist, or rich. My instinct leads me to believe that using strictly fat substitutes like applesauce will result in a dry, tough cake, so I don’t recommend it.
🍞 More Vegan Loaf Cake Recipes
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- 118 ml (½ cup) soy milk
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice, freshly squeezed, *see notes
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar, use organic if in the US
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest, approx 2 large lemons
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
- 75 g (⅓ cup) vegan butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 60 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil, or plain soy or coconut yogurt
- 140 g (⅗ cup) vegan Greek-style yogurt or Skyr
- 240 g (1 ½ cups + 3 tbsp) plain flour (all purpose), sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt, sifted
- 150 g (1 ¼ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon vegan Greek-style yogurt or Skyr, or plain soy or coconut yogurt
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly grease an 8" loaf tin and place a sling of parchment paper into it to help lift out the cake once baked.
- To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soy milk and lemon juice to a small bowl, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the sugar, lemon zest, and scraped-out seeds from the vanilla pod to a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar.
- Add the melted butter and whisk to combine. Add in the olive oil and yogurt and whisk for a minute until everything is combined. Then add the vegan buttermilk mixture, and whisk again.
- Add the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl with the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined and there aren't any visible pockets of flour - be careful not to overmix the batter.
- Bake: Transfer the cake batter to the prepared loaf pan. Cut thin strips of vegan butter and place them down the center of the loaf, this will help the loaf to crack in the center once it bakes (*see notes). Bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is ready by inserting a knife or toothpick into it, which should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make the glaze: Meanwhile, add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and yogurt to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Once the cake has cooled, place a sheet of parchment paper under the cooling rack to catch any icing. Pour the glaze on top of the cake, and smooth it over the sides so that it covers the entire surface. You can eat the cake as is, or allow the icing to set for an hour or so before serving.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze this cake in an airtight container and defrost it a couple of hours before serving.
- When you’re done juicing, save any extra juice for making lemon curd.
- Use organic sugar to ensure that it's vegan if you live in the US.
- Adding a thin line of butter slices down the middle of the batter helps to create a lovely crack in the center of the cake. Thanks to CloudyKitchen for the idea!
- Add up to 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds to make vegan lemon poppy seed cake. The little black flecks are both visually appealing and they add a nice bit of crunch.
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