Light, moist and zesty, this easy vegan lemon loaf is sure to be a new favourite!

Sliced lemon pound cake topped with glaze on a cutting board lined with parchment paper.

Packed with zesty, lemon flavour with the most delicious, soft texture, this easy lemon cake is seriously addictive.

The recipe falls somewhere between a Starbucks lemon loaf and lemon pound cake, yet it’s made without eggs and dairy. For the perfect sweet treat, you can also top it with the simple lemon glaze to make it a lemon drizzle cake!

Though it’s perfect for Spring, Summer and special occasions like Easter and Mother’s Day, it’s lovely year round too. Brunch, breakfast, morning coffee or afternoon tea, enjoy a slice any time of day for a sweet treat or snack.

Recipe Features

  • Great base for flavour variations like lemon blueberry, lemon cranberry, lime drizzle or orange.
  • Dietary Needs: Vegan (egg-free, dairy-free) and nut-free.
  • Easy to make with 6 simple ingredients.
  • Perfect balance of sweet and tart lemon flavour with a soft, moist texture.

Ingredient and Substitution Notes

Visual ingredient list for making vegan lemon loaf cake with icing.

Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.

  • Flour: The recipe was developed using all-purpose flour and has not been tested with anything else. For best results, use a kitchen scale and follow the gram amounts listed in the recipe.
  • Sugar: I used organic cane sugar but you should be able to substitute light brown sugar or white sugar. For a sugar-free recipe, you can use monk fruit sweetener and skip the lemon glaze.
  • Oil: You can use melted coconut oil, olive oil or canola oil. Note if you’re using coconut oil, the milk and lemon juice need to be at room temperature to prevent the oil from hardening.
  • Lemon: You’ll need 1/3 cup so depending on how juicy your lemons are, you may need 2-3 whole lemons. You can use store-bought lemon juice if you prefer.
  • Plant-Based Milk: Unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk is suggested.
  • Lemon Zest: If you don’ t have a citrus planer, you can use a grater or slice a few chunks of peel off and mince them with a sharp knife.

Step-by-Step Photos

The complete written recipe can be found at the end of this page. The section below features step-by-step photos for a visual overview.

Before You Begin: Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a standard-size loaf pan with parchment paper so it sticks out over at least 2 of the sides.

Step 1: Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Be sure to mix well so the baking powder and salt are well distributed.

Dry baking ingredients being mixed together in a glass mixing bowl with a whisk.

Step 2: Add the oil, milk, lemon juice and zest and vanilla and fold everything together until all of the ingredients have been wetted and the batter is smooth.

Quick Note: If you’re using coconut oil, make sure the lemon juice and milk are at room temperature to prevent the oil from solidifying. If the liquids came straight from the fridge, warm them briefly in the microwave until they come to room temperature.

Thick and smooth lemon loaf cake batter in a mixing bowl with a metal whisk.

Step 3: Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth with a spatula.

Bake the loaf for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Step 4 (Optional): If you’d like to add the lemon glaze, mix the powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice together in a small bowl until completely smooth.

Once the loaf has fully cooled, pour the mixture over the loaf.

Sliced lemon loaf with icing on a cutting board.

Notes and Tips

  • Oven temperatures can vary, so the toothpick trick is helpful to make sure the loaf is baked through. Poke it into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready!
  • Avoid opening the oven until you’re ready to check if the loaf is done. I would wait at least 30 minutes before checking.
  • To make the cake easy to lift out of the pan, line with parchment so it hangs over at least two sides.
  • Make sure you wait until the cake has fully cooled before adding the glaze.
  • Want more icing? You can as much as double the sugar (keep the lemon juice and milk amounts the same or increase slightly if needed).

FAQs


Can I make this oil-free?

No, this particular recipe needs the oil and has not been tested with an oil-free baking substitue like applesauce or banana.

For oil-free baking, try my carrot cake banana bread, easy banana bread or blueberry muffins.

Can I use carton lemon juice?

Sure. Both fresh lemon juice or store-bought lemon juice work fine but you’ll need whole lemons to make the zest (unless you use lemon extract but lemon zest is superior, in my opinion!).

Slice of lemon drizzle cake with icing on a small plate with a fork.

Recipe Variations

From lemon poppy seed loaf to lemon cranberry loaf, here are a few ways to switch it up:

  • Blueberry and Lemon Loaf: Fold in up to 1 cup fresh blueberries with the wet ingredients.
  • Lemon Cranberry Loaf: Fold in up to 1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries with the wet ingredients.
  • Lemon Zucchini Loaf: Fold in 1/2 cup drained, finely grated fresh zucchini with the wet ingredients.
  • Raspberry Lemon Loaf: Fold in up to 1 cup fresh raspberries with the wet ingredients.
  • Lime Drizzle Cake: Use lime juice and zest instead of lemon.
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Cake: Mix in 2 tbsp poppy seeds with the dry ingredients.
  • Orange Loaf: Use orange juice and zest instead of lemon. Try this with cranberries for a lovely Christmas recipe.

Storing

  • To Store: Let the loaf cool completely then store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 1 weeks.
  • To Freeze: Let cool completely then wrap in foil and store in a freeze-safe bag or continuer or slice beforehand and freeze individual slices in a freezer bag.

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Print
Sliced lemon pound cake topped with glaze on a cutting board lined with parchment paper.

Vegan Lemon Loaf

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Light, moist and zesty, this easy vegan lemon cake is sure to be a new favourite. No butter, eggs or dairy needed!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (270 g)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (120 g)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, olive oil or canola oil (70 g)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (55 g)
  • 1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons plant-based milk (210 ml)
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

For the Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (50 g)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp plant-based milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) and line a standard-sized loaf pan with parchment paper so it sticks out over at least 2 sides of the pan (this will make it easier to lift the loaf out once baked).
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oil, milk, lemon juice and zest and vanilla and fold everything together until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated and no lumps remain. Note that if you’re using coconut oil, be sure the lemon juice and milk at at room temperature to prevent the oil from hardening. If your milk is cold,  you can briefly warm in the microwave until it’s at room temperature.
  4. Transfer the batter to the baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes then lift it out of the pan and onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  6. If you’d like to add the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice until completely smooth. Once the loaf has fully cooled, pour the glaze over the cake and allow to set for a few minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

Storing: Let cool completely before storing. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. To freeze, wrap in foil or saran then store in a sealed container or freezer-bag, or slice beforehand and store individual slices in a good freezer bag. It will keep for 3-4 months in the freezer. 

For best results, it’s recommend to bake with a kitchen scale and follow the weights listed for accuracy.

For more icing, you can as much as double the amount of powdered sugar.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 254
  • Sodium: 41 mg
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Keywords: vegan lemon loaf, lemon drizzle cake