Buttermilk Lemon Bread

A stack of glazed Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

My Buttermilk Lemon Bread is a tangy lemon loaf that practically sings with fresh lemony flavor, and I’m spilling all the secrets to this perfect citrusy pound cake right here!

A stack of Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

This lemon cake has a lovely classic soft texture (just look at that crumb!) and a tangy flavor (can you say buttermilk and fresh lemon?)  I crave lemon from time to time, and a great lemon loaf can’t be beat. Baking up this easy bread at home means you get a true, natural lemon flavor that you just won’t get from commercial products, and if you’re lemon-obsessed like I am, a classic lemon loaf like this is the holy grail of lemon recipes.

Secret #1 Buttermilk makes this cake impossibly tender

You can always count on me to make little improvements to any recipe, and this one is no exception. I swapped out regular milk for thick tangy buttermilk, the cultured kind you can find in your regular supermarket. It’s been fermented, like yogurt, and is low fat and super healthy. I love the stuff, it makes such a difference in so many recipes. Buttermilk is acidic, and actually tenderizes cakes, but also adds lots of flavor.

Fresh out? Here’s how to make your own buttermilk

  • Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of whole milk. Let sit for 15 minutes before using. While this doesn’t result in the thick cultured style buttermilk you find at the supermarket, it works in a pinch.

A stack of glazed Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

Secret # 2  I use cake flour

Cake flour is an easy switch that results in a more tender bread. Cake flour is a lower protein flour, which means it forms less gluten than regular flour in baked recipes. When I have it in the pantry I tend to use it a lot, because I prefer a delicate tender crumb in my baked goods.

Fresh out? Here’s how to make your own cake flour

  • To make a cup of cake flour, measure out a cup of all purpose flour, then remove 2 tablespoons. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and sift to combine. Now you can use it just like you would use regular flour. If you’d like to make it in bulk, remove and replace 1/2 cup flour with cornstarch for every 4 cups of flour.

Buttermilk Lemon Bread, sliced

Secret # 3  I make my easy lemon sugar to amp up the lemon factor

This is a secret I just love, I’ve used it in my Scottish Lemon Sugar Shortbread and my Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake. Instead of grating lemon zest to add to the batter, I process the lemon peels with granulated sugar in my food processor. The result is a moist, fragrant, and insanely lemony sugar with the essence of fresh citrus infused into every crystal.

Making lemon sugar in a food processor for Buttermilk Lemon Bread

Here’s how to make lemon sugar

  • I remove the zest of a lemon with a vegetable peeler. I love my serrated peeler,  it allows me to easily peel off just the yellow, but none of the bitter white, zest. Add that to the cup of sugar listed in the recipe, and give it a good whiz! The result is a pale yellow, insanely fragrant lemon sugar ready to use.

Glazing a Buttermilk Lemon Bread

Secret #4  I use Meyer Lemons

Since Meyer lemons are in season I used them, and their delicate flavor makes this cake super special. You can especially tell the difference in the glaze, which is made simply with powdered sugar and fresh Meyer lemon juice.

Meyer Lemons, sliced

What’s the difference between Meyer lemons and regular lemons?

I’m so glad you asked! I love lemons and I love talking about them almost as much as I love cooking with them.

  • Meyer lemons are a very old natural hybrid citrus, so old and mysterious that no one really knows for sure how they came about, but it’s thought that they resulted from a cross between 2 of the original citrus fruits (a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid) in China.
  • Meyers are plump, thinner skinned, and more of a warm orange=y yellow than regular lemons.
  • Their flavor is much sweeter, less acidic, with a definite hint of orange, and a little bit floral.
  • While regular lemons are always in the supermarket, you’re more likely to find Meyer lemons from December up until spring.
  • Use Meyer lemons exactly the same way you use regular lemons.

More Meyer lemon recipes to try ~

Reader Rave ~

“Wow this bread was moist, fragrant and delish! The buttermilk does wonders in breads, going to make sure I always use it in my breads. Thank you for the lemon sugar tip too.” ~ Yvonne

A stack of Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices
3.78 from 184 votes

Buttermilk Lemon Bread

My Buttermilk Lemon Bread is a tangy lemon loaf that practically sings with fresh lemony flavor, and I'm spilling all the secrets to this perfect citrusy pound cake right here!
Course Breakfast, quick bread
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Calories 346.87kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour use all purpose flour if you like
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • lemon juice to thin start with 1 tablespoon and add more as necessary


  • Preheat oven to 350F Lightly butter a 9x5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper with long ends so you can lift the bread out later for glazing and slicing.
  • Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best for this. You want to remove just the yellow part of the peel, with little of the bitter white part.
  • Put the sugar and lemon peelings in a food processor and process until the peels are completely incorporated into the sugar.
  • Put the lemon sugar and butter into a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy ~ a full 5 minutes.
  • Beat in each of the eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixer, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, but don't over beat.
  • Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spread out evenly, and bake on the center rack for 50-55 minutes, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)
  • Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove, using the parchment paper handles, and let fully cool on a rack.
  • Meanwhile whisk together the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread.

Cook's notes

The success of any cake or quick bread is in the details. Make sure your oven is accurate. Make sure you measure correctly. Use the fluff/scoop/level method for measuring flour: fluff up the flour first to loosen it, then scoop it with your cup measure, then lightly level if off with the flat side of a knife or your finger.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit


Calories: 346.87kcal
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

e-book sign up prompt


You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    5 stars
    made it ! yummy, a must make. I made the meyer sugar and followed the recipe except for the icing. I didn’t want to use as much icing. thought it might mask the cake. so I just cut the amount of conf sugar and added lemon juice as needed to reach the consistency I was looking for. Hope it lasts for morning share

    • Reply
      February 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      Thanks for the report Carol 🙂

  • Reply
    January 28, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    5 stars
    Wow this bread was moist, fragrant and delish! The buttermilk does wonders in breads, going to make sure I always use it in my breads. Thank you for the lemon sugar tip too.

    • Reply
      January 28, 2019 at 6:37 pm

      I love how long buttermilk keeps, Yvonne, and truth be told, I use it a little beyond the date on the carton, it just gets tangier 🙂

      • Reply
        Barbara Abebe
        March 29, 2019 at 2:06 pm

        Made this recipe today. Absolutely delish!! Loved the buttermilk & lemon sugar tip. This batter will great muffins with poppy seeds.

        • Reply
          March 29, 2019 at 3:53 pm

          Great to hear you loved it Barbara, and yes to the poppy seeds!

  • Reply
    Valerie Klobuchar
    January 26, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, 2 sticks of butter! Oh well, you only live once! Going to the store to get what I need. Morning coffee and lemon bread, heaven!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    There are several serrated peelers on the Amazon site. Which do you prefer?

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    January 16, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Gorgeous, Sue! This loaf looks perfect! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef
    January 15, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Sweet breads like this are my favorite to have with my afternoon tea .

  • Reply
    2 Sisters Recipes
    January 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Sue this bread looks so good! We love anything with lemons and you had me with Meyer lemons ! Pinning!

  • Reply
    Priscilla Rochin
    January 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Sue– I love your recipes and am going to try this one but I need some help.
    We have a wonderful lemon tree but our lemons are rather large so I need to know
    how much lemon juice to use for this recipe? You only mentioned using 1 lemon.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      The cake itself only uses the peel, processed with the sugar. The glaze uses enough lemon juice to thin to a drizzle consistency, which will be about 1/2 the lemon, you could start with a tablespoon and go from there. I’ll see if I can clarify this in the recipe Pricilla.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Dear sue,

    I love ur recipes but here in holland we use grams instead of cups. Can u tell me how much grams is 1 cup flour ? Thx so much

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 9:28 am

      That would be 120 grams Gayt.

    • Reply
      Priscilla Rochin
      January 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Oh, I feel so stupid, sorry. I just re-read the instructions. Thanks for quick reply. 🙂

      • Reply
        January 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm

        No no! I clarified it after reading your comment, thank you!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 3:42 am

    I love that tender smooth crumb…almost like pound cake!

1 2 3 4

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png