Easy Southern Lemon Pound Cake

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Traditional Southern Lemon Pound cake is so delicious and easy, this recipe is sure to become one of your go-to pound cake recipes! Classic Southern homemade lemon pound cake is one of my go-to recipes I use all the time!

I love a delicious pound cake. And I love lemons. And I love a lemon cake. Put those three things together and I’m in HEAVEN! Lemon Pound Cake never disappoints a crowd, is super easy and comes out perfect every time.

This is my grandmother’s original recipe handed down to my mom, so this is a true old-fashioned Southern lemon pound cake. Now, I come from a long line of Betty Crocker chef- like bakers, but it’s important to note, I’m really not one of them. Baking isn’t my strong suit nor is it my superpower. HOWEVER, this cake is so, so, SO easy, even I can do it. Which means ANYONE can!

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Ingredients for Lemon Pound Cake:

  • 2 sticks margarine or butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (2%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract (McCormick Brand)

Pick Your Pan:

You can use a regular loaf pan, like this one, for your cake if you want. But I like to use a bundt pan like this one. It makes it a really pretty cake and it’s just a little more fun! I’m all for adding in a little more fun. You can even get super fancy and get a bundt cake pan like this one for an even more beautiful cake. Any tube pan will work if you don’t have a bundt pan or a loaf pan.

Now for the Cake Preparation:

We’ve got our pan, now we are off to the races!

First: Prepare The Oven and The Pan

Preheat oven to 325°.

Now, prepare your pan. Spray your pan WELL with non-stick cooking spray, like Pam or Baker’s Joy. (I like the Baker’s Joy because it already has some flour in it to further help the cake not stick in the pan! I’ll take all the help I can get!). You could also butter your pan and dust it with flour. On this particular day, I had Pam Cooking Spray easy at hand, so I went with it! If you want to use butter and dust with flour, this tutorial from Our Everyday Life is very helpful.

Second: Get the Electric Mixer ready

This cake really needs an electric mixer. I used my trusty Kitchenaid Stand mixer. My husband got it for me as a gift 10 years ago and these mixers really are worth all the hype, in my opinion. Plus, mine is red and just beautiful. Use whatever electric mixer (or even a hand mixer!) you have available and the cake batter will mix beautifully.

Next Up: Butter and Shortening

Butter

Butter vs. Margarine. You can use either one. My mom swears by using the margarine in this cake, and I’m certain that’s what my grandmother used too. In fact, most Southern lemon pound cake calls for margarine. I’ve made it both ways, and I have to agree, it is a smidge tastier with the margarine. But it’s delicious with either ingredient!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter (at medium speed). That’s 2 sticks of room temperature butter stirred up until it’s nicely mixed together. So, you need softened butter for this recipe. But usually, I don’t have the foresight to put the butter out to come to room temperature, so, I simply soften it a smidge in the microwave. I’m sure the pastry chefs of the world would cringe at that… but let’s face it, they aren’t coming to my blog for answers to their baking questions either! Hahahahahahaha!

Shortening

After the butter is blended together nicely, add 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening and mix together until the butter and shortening are nicely combined like in the picture above with the beater.

Continue On: Add Sugar and Eggs

Sugar and Eggs – 1 at a time!

On low speed on your mixer, add in all 3 cups of sugar. Then immediately begin dropping the eggs in one at a time until you have added 5 eggs. Wait until each egg has been fully absorbed into the batter before adding the next egg. I like to crack all of my eggs into a measuring cup with a spout, and then I can just pour them, shell-free, one at a time into the mixer.

Then: Baking Powder and Lemon Extract

Next up, while the mixer is running, add in 1/2 teaspoon of baking POWDER. And 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract. I love how wonderful the lemon extract smells. You can order it online here or now most grocery stores have it in the baking aisle, near where you would find the vanilla extract. I’ve always used the McCormick brand. There are lots of other brands that I’m sure are probably just as good, but I just go with what I know works beautifully. Let those two ingredients mix in all the way.

For the Lemon Lovers:

Some of you lemon lovers may be horrified that there is no fresh lemon juice in this cake. You are just going to have to take my word for it, you need the lemon extract. You cannot get the same powerful punch of lemon flavor from lemon zest and lemon juice that you need for this cake. The lemon extract is concentrated, and it’s magical.

Next: Flour and Milk

Alternate Flour and Milk

Now it’s time for the flour mixture and milk. Hang with me on these directions because it will save you a big mess AND make the cake delicious too. You are adding 3 cups of flour total and 1 cup of milk total.

Turn off the mixer, add in 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 of the milk. Turn on the mixer and mix together until incorporated. Once fully incorporated, repeat this process 2 more times until you are out of flour and milk. Doing the additions this way stops the flour from going everywhere and the milk helps the flour absorb into the batter more easily. Plus, that’s how my mom does it, so that’s what I do too!

Almost Done!

Now that the milk and flour are all mixed in, the cake is almost ready. Stop the mixer, scrape batter down the sides of the bowl and the beater with a rubber spatula to make sure all the ingredients are getting incorporated, and then turn the mixer on high for about 10-15 seconds to make sure everything is mixed well. But don’t do this long, you don’t want to overmix either. (I know – it’s a delicate balance!)

In the end, you’ll have a really thick, beautiful pale yellow batter that smells like lemons! It also tastes DELICIOUS but I’m probably not supposed to encourage raw batter eating.

Get the Batter Into the Pan

Pour batter into your prepared pan, filling no more than 2/3 of the pan. Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula to make it smooth and even in your pan.

Bake in the oven!

Bake your cake at 325° with a bake time of 60 minutes. Check the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick (or a cake tester if you have one) into the middle of the cake. If the wooden pick comes out clean, the cake is done. If it has batter on it, continue to bake the cake and check it in 5-minute increments.

Cool, Flip, Cool Some More

When the cake comes out of the oven, sit it upright on a baking wire rack for 15 minutes and allow it to begin to cool down. After about 15 minutes on the cooling rack, turn the cake over onto whatever platter, cake stand, or plate you want the cake to be served on. The cake pan should slide right off. If not, give it a little more time and gently tap on the cake pan until you hear the cake release.

Time to Eat

This cake is delicious at any time, but it’s hard to beat it when it’s warm and out of the oven. That’s my favorite time to eat it for sure! It’s wonderful for breakfast with some coffee too.

Icing?

One of my favorite things about this cake is that it doesn’t have icing. For some reason, to me, icing a cake, seems like a nearly herculean effort. It’s not, but to me it seems that way. So I’m all for a cake that needs no icing!

You could definitely make an easy lemon glaze if you wanted, like on The Kitchen Magpie. Or dust it with powdered sugar (Or confectioners’ sugar). Or even serve it with a jar of lemon curd. Try simply adding in some fresh berries and whipped cream for a delicious summer dessert. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Storage and Shelf Life

This cake will last 3-4 days left out on the counter in a covered cake container. If you have any leftovers or don’t want to eat the entire cake, it freezes beautifully. To freeze, I go ahead and cut the cake into slices and then wrap each slice very well in plastic wrap. Then, I take the wrapped up pieces and put them inside a freezer-safe gallon size bag. You can take a piece out and microwave it for instant warm cake dessert!

Wrap Up: Lemon Pound Cake

This Lemon Pound Cake truly is so easy to make and it’s such a crowd-pleaser! PLUS, it doesn’t need any icing! EXTRA bonus and that makes it the perfect dessert in my book! As far as lemon desserts go, it doesn’t get any more simple and delicious than this perfect cake. So, for me, easy, simple and delicious lemon pound cake is a winner. As a busy mom, I need a recipe in my arsenal that doesn’t require crazy ingredients, is easy, and comes out perfect every time. I love to take this cake to pot lucks, give it as a gift for a friend that needs a pick me up or just to have on our kitchen counter as a snack! Try this recipe for the best lemon pound cake today. You won’t be sorry!

Kitchen Tools Used for Lemon Pound Cake:

Make it a Meal!

Want a great meal to go with this dessert? Try my easy and scrumptious Blackberry Pork Tenderloin!

Lemon pound cake with a slice cut out of it on a blue and white plate

Lemon Pound Cake

Print Recipe
An amazingly simple and deliciously traditional pound cake with the flavor of lemon to make it bright and scrumptious.
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:1 hr

Equipment

  • bundt cake pan

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks margarine (or unsalted butter)
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening I use Crisco brand
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk I use 2% or whole
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoons lemon extract I use McCormick brand

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Spray your pan well with non stick cooking spray that has flour included. Or butter your pan and dust it with flour.
  • In your mixer, mix 2 sticks butter with 1/2 cup vegetable shortening until well blended.
  • On low speed on your mixer, add in 3 cups of granulated sugar and 5 eggs, dropping the eggs in one at a time. Wait until each egg has been fully absorbed into the batter before adding the next egg.
  • Continue to mix on low speed and alternate adding in the 3 cups of flour with 1 cup of milk (I.e. Put in a third of the flour, pour in a third of the milk, let mix and absorb, then add in another third of the flour, another third of the milk, etc.).
  • Add in 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and let mix in completely with batter.
  • Add in 2 1/2 teaspoons of lemon extract. (I use McCormick brand.)
  • Once all ingredients are incorporated scrape down the sides of the bowl (while mixer is off) to ensure all ingredients are mixed together and then turn mixer on high speed for about 30 seconds for one final mix.
  • Pour batter into your prepared pan, filling no more than 2/3 of the pan.
  • Bake at 325° for 60 minutes. Check the cake by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If it has batter on it, continue to bake the cake and check it in 5 minute increments.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, sit it upright on a baking rack for 15 minutes and allow to begin to cool. After 15 minutes, turn the cake over onto whatever platter or plate you want the cake to be served on.

Notes

I cannot stress enough the importance of a good, quality pan. I use a bundt cake shaped pan for this cake, but it would also work beautifully in a traditional loaf pan. Since pans come in all shapes and sizes, a good rule of thumb is to not fill the pan more than 2/3 of the way full, to leave room for the cake to rise as it bakes. If you use smaller loaf pans, you could probably get 2 or 3 smaller loafs out of one batch of cake batter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 557kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 806IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon cake, lemon pound cake, pound cake
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 557kcal
Author: Sarah
Cost: $10

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sliced lemon pound cake on a blue and white plate

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8 Comments

    1. Cheryl, thanks so much for your question! You can use cake flour. The rule of thumb is use 1 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons of cake flour for every cup of regular all-purpose flour that’s called for in a recipe. This is a pound cake, so it’s meant to be a dense cake. The cake flour might change the texture a bit and make it lighter. Thanks so much for reading! – Sarah

    1. Hi Llewellyn! The answer is yes and no. Lemon extract is super concentrated to give it the most bang for its buck. So, to achieve the same amount of lemon flavor as lemon extract, you need to use 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice for every 1 teaspoon of lemon extract. In a salad dressing or savory dish, this would be totally fine. But in this cake recipe, that means you’d be using 5 Tablespoons of lemon juice, which is going to throw off your liquid to dry ingredient ratio in the cake. If you want to go this route, I would suggest subtracting 4 Tablespoons of the milk in this recipe, so that you keep the recipe liquid/dry ingredient ratio intact. And then one more thing to consider is actual lemon juice is more sour and tart than lemon extract, so the cake taste would change a little bit too. But I bet it would be delicious! I’d throw in a couple of tablespoons of grated lemon zest while you are at it just for good measure! Let me know if you try it with fresh lemon juice! I’d love to hear how it goes! Thanks so much for reading! – Sarah

  1. Hello, why do you suggest 2% milk rather than whole milk? Would using whole milk ruin the cake?

    1. Hi! Whole milk is totally fine, and would probably make this cake even more delicious! Generally we usually only keep 2% milk at our house, so that’s what I use most of the time. If you have whole milk on hand, I would use that for sure! Thanks for reading!

    1. Hi Donna! Thanks so much for your question! Generally, you don’t want to replace a “solid” fat (the shortening) with a “Liquid” fat (vegetable oil) in a recipe. The cake consistency will not be the same, especially in a dense pound cake. If you don’t want to use shortening or don’t have it on hand, just use an extra stick (1/2 cup) of margarine or butter. If the only thing you have on hand is vegetable oil, then I’d recommend adjusting the recipe. Only use 75% of the amount of fat needed for oil. For example, if it calls for 1 cup of shortening, then only use 3/4 cup of vegetable oil in the recipe. In this Lemon Pound Cake Recipe, it calls for a 1/2 cup shortening, so you’d use 3/8 cup vegetable oil if you were going to substitute. Thanks so much! – Sarah

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