Gluten Free Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Gluten Free Iced Lemon Pound Cake

This gluten free iced lemon pound cake is a moist and tender, sweet pound cake is just like those thick slices of lemon pound cake that stare back at you in the glass case at Starbucks.

Gluten Free Iced Lemon Pound Cake. Just like Starbucks makes, but gluten free for you!

There’s room for disagreement about Starbucks’ coffee. In fact, I’m not a tremendous fan. It just tastes burnt to me.

But their pastries, cookies and cakes are simply spot-on. But when you’re gluten free, you can’t have them and that’s just not right.

Gluten Free Iced Lemon Pound Cake. Just like Starbucks makes, but gluten free for you!

A simple loaf cake made in the traditional style, this pound cake gets its lift from eggs and eggs alone. No baking powder and no baking soda.

In the past, I’ve made this recipe with True Lemon crystals, which are truly delicious, but they can also be hard to find for some. This time, the bright lemon flavor comes exclusively from lemons themselves, both the juice and the zest.

I even added some lemon zest to the glaze, which is by far the sweetest part of the pound cake—especially since I reduced the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup.

Gluten Free Iced Lemon Pound Cake. Just like Starbucks makes, but gluten free for you!

The lemon flavor in this pound cake is intense. But what really sets this pound cake apart is the combination of butter and cream cheese in the batter. My classic pound cake, delicious in its own right, has only butter, sugar, eggs and flour.

When you enjoy a slice, be sure to make yourself a nice, hot cup of coffee. And if you really really want the whole Starbucks experience, try burning the coffee a bit. ;)

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 loaf pound cake


Pound Cake
1 1/4 cups (175 g) all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch (or try arrowroot or potato starch)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

4 eggs (200 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups  (173 g) confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a loaf pan that is no more than 9-inches by 5-inches, and set it aside.

  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, salt and about 3/4 of the lemon zest, and whisk to combine well, working to break up any clumps of lemon zest. Set the bowl aside.

  • Make the pound cake batter. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), place the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the granulated sugar and mix to combine. Add the eggs and lemon juice, mixing well after each addition until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, beating well to combine after each addition. The batter will be smooth and thick, but relatively light. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth the top with a wet spatula.

  • Bake the pound cake. Place the loaf pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the pound cake comes out clean (about 50 minutes). If the loaf begins to brown too much, cover it tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove the pound cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Make the glaze & assemble the cake. Once the pound cake is nearly cool, make the glaze. In a small bowl, place the confectioner’s sugar, salt, and the remaining lemon zest, and whisk to combine and to break up any lumps in the confectioner’s sugar or the lemon zest. Add the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, and mix well. Continue to add lemon juice by the teaspoon, stirring in between additions, until the glaze is thickly pourable. Pour the glaze over the cooled pound cake, and allow to set at room temperature. Slice and serve.

  • Recipe originally published in March 2013. Adapted from the Pound Cake recipe on page 186 of my first cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.

Comments are closed.

  • Lorraine
    February 1, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    Hi Nicole. I believe the cake should be made with GF Self-raising flour otherwise the cake will not rise, hence Kristan’s problem with it being dense & flat. Am I right or am I wrong? Lorraine.

    • February 1, 2016 at 9:36 PM

      The recipe is correct as written, Lorraine. Pound cake is leavened only with eggs. I, and many others, have made it as written successfully many, many times.

  • Raquel LM Sukhu
    January 25, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    Thanks for this recipe Nicole. I am unable to use dairy or soy. Can I substitute anything else for the cream cheese?

  • Kristan
    January 22, 2016 at 4:55 PM

    Thank you for this recipe. However, I followed it to a tee, with out substituting and it came out very dense and flat (almost uncooked). Is it possible to use Expandex for the 1/4 cup of cornstarch? Thank you Nicole

    • January 22, 2016 at 6:30 PM

      Hi, Kristan, that sounds frustrating. However, this is one of the best-tested recipes on the blog and it will work when made as written. There are so many variables than it is very hard for me to guess where you went wrong but I would always begin with your flour blend (you must use one of my recommended blends), be sure you are measuring by weight, not volume, and be sure you are using an oven thermometer as most ovens run hot. You definitely can’t use expandex!

      • Kristan
        January 23, 2016 at 1:22 PM

        Thank Nicole. Yes, I use Better Batter Flour as suggested….and use Arrowroot to replace the cornstarch.

    • Cindy
      January 31, 2016 at 6:46 PM

      I had the same problem. The cake was dense and almost gummy in the middle. I beat the batter a little extra to achieve the “lightness” described in the instructions. Is it possible the eggs were overbeaten causing the cake to rise too much and then fall as it cooled ? I checked the oven temp so it wasn’t that. Your thoughts, Nicole?

      • February 1, 2016 at 8:23 AM

        Without knowing more, Cindy, I’m afraid I really don’t know so I’ll just give you my standard tips! First, I always look to the flour blend. If you’re not using one of my recommended blends, the recipe simply isn’t going to work. Not all flour blends are created equal. Second, if you’re not measuring by weight, but rather by volume, your proportions are likely off. And finally, if you are making substitutions, I’d always look there.

  • Georgia
    January 19, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Hi!!! I wanted to know when you put the cornstarch… Want to make this, it looks delicious and easy!!! Thanks Nicole!! 😊

    • January 19, 2016 at 2:56 PM

      So sorry, Georgia! I added it to the instructions. You add it right after the flour and xanthan gum (if your blend already doesn’t contain it). :)

      • Georgia
        January 20, 2016 at 4:50 AM

        Thanks Nicole! I thought it would be like that! I made it yesterday… And it isn’t what I expected… I think I did something wrong as it’s a bit hard… 😓

      • January 23, 2016 at 5:50 PM

        I’d always check your flour blend first, Georgia. They are not all created equal! For success, you must use one of my recommended blends and measure by weight, not volume. Check your oven temp, too, as most ovens run hot.

  • Maureen Flynn
    January 19, 2016 at 9:53 AM

    Hi Nicole. So far every recipe of yours I’ve tried has been incredibly successful. Thanks for making me feel less deprived. I use Bobs Red Mill 1 to 1 gf flour blend do I still need to use the cornstarch or potatoe flakes in this recipe?

    Thanks again for your mastering gf baking.



    • January 19, 2016 at 12:25 PM

      So glad, Maureen! I really don’t care for Bob’s flour blends, especially the grittiness of the rice flour in their 1:1 blend. If you like it, you can try to see if it will work here, but yes, you’ll still need the cornstarch!

  • Anne Lairmore
    January 18, 2016 at 10:24 PM

    Can anyone help me with a paleo substitute for the refined and powdered sugar? I’m dying to make this for my husband but don’t know if 1:1 honey would work (he doesn’t eat coconut, so coconut sugar is not an option this time.). Thanks so much for giving us our pound cake back!

    • January 19, 2016 at 12:23 PM

      Hi, Anne, I’m afraid this simply isn’t a Paleo recipe. Even if you replaced the sugars, it must be made with a rice flour-based all purpose gluten free flour blend. I recommend you have a look through the Paleo recipes here on the blog.

  • Tonya
    January 18, 2016 at 3:19 PM

    This looks amazing and I am surely going to give it a try. I’m VERY lactose intolerant, I would like to know if there is a substitute for the cream cheese.

    • January 19, 2016 at 12:24 PM

      Hi, Tonya,
      If you’re lactose intolerant, you will have an issue with both the butter and the cream cheese. I’m afraid that is a really dramatic substitution in a recipe like this, so I really couldn’t promise results!

    • I darefsky
      January 27, 2016 at 3:30 AM

      I cannot eat any cows milk products, grew up on goats milk. I found that yogurt from ewes milk (sheep), can be turned into wonderful cream cheese, by hanging in cheesecloth, for savory add a bit of salt before hanging. A couple of hours, when it has the right consistency, use.
      I hope this is an option you can use.

      Ghee (butter fat) has neither lactose nor protein, it is 99.9% fat, just has the butter taste. I use that along with some tasty marge when baking/cooking.

  • Mglazer1
    March 10, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Just made this for my non-gluten free family(only I follow gluten-free) and they were all  coming back for seconds and thirds!  We are all so impressed with everything you create! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this amazing recipe!!!

  • […] Gluten Free Starbucks Copycat Iced Lemon Pound Cake […]

  • Melissa
    March 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Yum! I want to lick the screen, but that would just be weird, not to mention disappointing, so I think I have to go to the store for the few ingredients I’m missing and make this when I return.

  • Gina Kelley
    March 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    This pound cake looks delicious!

  • Lavendergrey
    March 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I used to work at Starbucks and I loved, loved, loved their lemon pound cake until the day I was diagnosed.  Thank you so much for this recipe!  Btw, I’m on a crazy tight budget but I’m saving my pennies to buy both of your cookbooks asap because I can’t bake from a computer screen.

  • March 5, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    OK, seriously Nicole, my husband is totally in your debt (in a purely baking sense). First of all, he asks me to make your apple pie on a daily basis. Second, he’s eaten about 7 of your banana coffee cake muffins in 24 hours. Third, during his gluten days, he loved an iced lemon loaf made not by Starbucks, but by a local cafe, and has been bemoaning his lack of lemon loaf ever since. So. You see. He owes you big time. Thanks for this recipe! Once I get my hands on that pure lemon business, I will be making these. Though I really have no excuse not to make the apple pie. 

  • March 5, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I remember these at Starbucks. We loved them. The glaze is a nice touch. I’m going to bookmark this recipe and try it for Easter. I think the kids will love it.  I’ve never baked it slow and low before. I’m curious, what’s the reason for doing that? Does it keep it from browning too fast?

  • March 5, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    wow.. this looks delicious.
    thanks for sharing

  • Butterfly Bakery
    March 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Nice Recipe! Butterfly Bakery is into Gluten Free & Sugar Free bakeries. It’s great to see new recipes for Gluten Free people. Cheers!!

  • March 4, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Have I mentioned how much I love your work! Last week you gave me pierogi and this week my lemon pound cake back!! Sigh! Thanks.

  • Carole
    March 4, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Everytime I get the ingredients together for a recipe you come up with something that sounds even better.
    So many decisions !!!!!

    • Michelle
      March 4, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      I know! I have the same problem, but it is a good problem to have, isn’t it?

  • Michelle
    March 4, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Gorgeous Meyer lemons! Our Starbucks *briefly* had a delicious gf orange cake. (long gone now) They were tiny- about like a cupcake- and I want to think they were also flourless- I think maybe the Italian-type cake with almond meal? Except I don’t remember them being almond-y. They were delicious, but I like lemon even better, and I especially love pound cake.  We always hang out at Sbucks after our Friday run, so I think I will bring some of this and lord it over my friends with their boring, mass-produced pound cake. Hah! That will teach Starbucks not to have any treats for me! Maybe I should bring some non-burned coffee in a thermos, while I am at it…. BTW- not trying to start an argument, but why are so many people wanting to replace the TrueLemon? It’s just crystallized lemon that helps give a more intense lemon flavor.  I am the pickiest person in the world when it comes to lemon (would not use lemon extract at gunpoint) and I like TrueLemon. I’m just curious…

    • RebeccaLB
      March 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Since I learned about True Lemon from Nicole I am never without it in my kitchen.  And True Orange and True Lime…make baked goods get raved about.  Of course I do use Nicole’s recipes too!  No one knows that everything I make is G-free unless I tell them.

      • Michelle
        March 4, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        I have the lemon and lime and have been looking for the True Orange here,  but haven’t found it yet. I agree about how useful it is- I hesitated to try it for so long, because I thought it would taste fake, but it doesn’t at all.

  • Simply_fresh
    March 4, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I love Meyers LEMONS!!!! They are delicious…and they only carry them here at one grocery store that is an hour away!!!…. The drive will be well worth it, and I can swing into Starbucks for a Tall Americano no room…. HEEHEEHEE… 

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      I’m all for a Tall Americano, Simply Fresh, just not from Starbuck’s. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • March 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Oh my goodness. I love lemon. I love you. Thank you. P.S. Still raving about your Brown Bread!

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Love you back, Allison! You love that brown bread, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It loves you back. 
      xoxo Nicole

  • Juneyb
    March 4, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    I agree – a tall should be a big. I only go to Starbucks because they make good hot choc. Our local stores sell popcorn in a bag. Seriously that is the only GF snack you sell?! I am looking forward to making this pound cake! Keep up the good work and funny posts! You make my day. 

  • Mary Hall
    March 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    OHMYGOODNESS! I gasped when I saw this recipe. I am totally, 100%, madly, deeply in LOVE with anything LEMON!!!  And add poundcake into the mix, and I swoon, simply swoon, I tell ya. I cannot wait to make this.

    And, let me tell you on a side note, I’m so glad you don’t put all those distracting calories and fat grams and stuff with your recipes, because if you had them, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to pretend that eating a huge piece of the lemon poundcake counts as a “serving of fruit”, cause it totally counts as a serving of fruit, right?

  • sara
    March 4, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    OMG… I was just looking at the lemon cake at Starbuck’s the other day.  (I have a lemon cake and icing weakness) Over in England, they’re in the dog-house for not paying taxes into the British economy.  Just making money hand over fist.  The only time I ever get a cup of their fancy shmancy coffee is when I’m at the airport!  Can’t wait to try this recipe.  Well, can’t wait to EAT some of it anyway.  :o)  Thank you, Nicole!

  • bn
    March 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    It is National Pound Cake Day, or at least it is according to my local Whole Foods.  This is perfect for my lemon loaf loving celiac hubby!  Will be attempting to make this today.  Does your Starbucks not carry the Kind Bars any more?   Ours thankfully still carry Kind bars as well as nuts.  Not exactly a pastry, but my husband is thankful for anything to munch in an emergency.

    • Mary Hall
      March 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      It’s National Pound Cake Day?!?!  How did that not make it onto my calendar this year? 

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      I would like to state for the record that I had absolutely zero idea that it was National Pound Cake Day when I posted this recipe! I am simply not that, well, together. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennifer S.
    March 4, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    yummy.  I feel sad when I go to starbuck’s and can’t eat any of the stuff there anymore… I’m making this and freezing individual portions!  you’re the best! :)

  • April
    March 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    This sounds heavenly! I can’t wait to make this. I have a silly question; when you turn up the oven for the final time, you put in parenthesis ‘about an hour’. Is that a total of an hour including the previous 50 minutes or an additional hour?

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      An additional hour, April. It is meant to be read literally!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Steffie1977
    March 4, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    What can I use in lieu of the true lemon

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      I haven’t tested this recipe with any substitutions, Steffie. Feel free to experiment.

  • Eckinaz
    March 4, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    Question….  I prefer to not use gluten free flour blend, I like to mix my own.  What mixture would you recommend for this particular recipe?  Currently I have coconut, blanched almond and garbanzo bean flour on hand.  Would and combination of those three work for this recipe?  Also, what is 3 packets (0.24 g) True Lemon lemon crystallized lemons…. I have never heard of this?

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      No, you cannot make an all purpose gluten free flour blend with the flours you have. Please see the link in the recipe for a post about flour blends. 
      True Lemon is crystallized lemons, available in packets in larger grocery stores.

      • Eckinaz
        March 4, 2013 at 10:25 AM

        Bummer…..  I stay away from the rice/potato/starch flours for personal reasons.

      • Chris
        March 5, 2013 at 10:35 AM

         I went searching for pound cake recipes with almond and coconut flour…..easily found one at yourlighterside.com…don’t use the spices and add lots of lemon zest/crystallized lemon instead.  Perhaps a little lemon juice instead of some of the applesauce, too.  I’m sure there are others out there.  Just Google!!

  • Robbielewis52
    March 4, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Could I substitute anything for the True Lemon crystals? Thank you.

  • Robbielewis52
    March 4, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Could I substitute anything for the True Lemon crystals? Thank you.

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      I haven’t tested this recipe with any substitutions. Feel free to experiment.

  • RebeccaLB
    March 4, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Oh goodness! I was going to make your chunky apple muffins this morning but now it will have to be this scrumptious lemon pound cake. Excuse me while I wipe up the drool…..

    • gfshoestring
      March 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      Love your pragmatism, Rebecca!
      xoxo Nicole

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