Easy Gluten-Free Lemon Pound Cake

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How to make a moist, delicious, gluten-free lemon pound cake. Easy recipe that's light and fluffy with sweet lemon flavor in every bite!

If you've followed my blog long enough, you'll discover I have a thing for lemon. I'd say my craving for lemon cake is almost as big as my craving for chocolate zucchini cake.

sliced loaf of gluten-free lemon pound cake on brown cutting board with lemon slices

Just because I follow a gluten-free diet doesn't mean I have to give up my favorite lemon-y desserts either, like this delicious, most scrumptious, moist and citrus-y, gluten-free cream cheese pound cake.

Although traditional pound cake does not use a leavening agent, instead relying on proper creaming of the eggs, butter and sugar for good rise, I chose to use a gluten-free yellow cake mix with a leavening agent for this recipe. Not only is this easier, but it's also more fail-proof for beginning bakers, and it results in a lighter, fluffier and moister cake than traditional lemon loaf.

Made with cream cheese, a gluten-free cake mix, and lemon zest, this gluten-free lemon loaf is yet another to add to my list of favorite lemon desserts. Make it a gluten-free lemon drizzle cake with a simple powdered sugar glaze, or you can just slice it and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Gluten-free lemon pound cake is right up there with my favorite lemon sheet cake recipe. If you love lemon cake recipes as much as I do, you'll also enjoy lemon blueberry cake and lemon poppyseed muffins. I even make this easy lemon poke cake with a whipped cream frosting in the summertime! And if you're not gluten-free, this regular lemon pound cake recipe will do just fine.

slice of gluten-free lemon loaf, topped with whipped cream and a slice of lemon, on white plate with fork

Like my favorite cream cheese pound cake, this recipe is both easy to make and quick to mix up. It can be made dairy free by swapping out the cream cheese with a dairy-free alternative. Why go to Starbucks when you can make it better at home?!

Why Make This Lemon Loaf

  • It's super easy to make and quick to mix up. Classic, old-fashioned recipe that goes great with a piping hot cup of coffee over breakfast!
  • This is a gluten-free lemon pound cake, and you'll never tell the difference! This recipe uses a gluten-free yellow cake mix to give it a bit more rise and a lighter, softer texture than traditional pound cake.
  • Scrumptious, moist and delicious lemon loaf that is easily one of my favorite lemon desserts. The cream cheese in this recipe yields a rich flavor and texture that really sets it apart from other pound cakes.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Lemon zest – I use a citrus zester to quickly and easily zest a washed fresh lemon.
  • Gluten-free yellow cake mix – You can usually find basic gluten-free cake mixes (yellow and chocolate) at the grocery store. I've had good luck in Walmart's gluten-free section and Aldi. If you can find a lemon cake mix, you may be able to leave out the lemon extract.
  • Cream cheese – It is important that you soften the cream cheese ahead of time. I'd even recommend whipping the cream cheese separately before you mix anything else with it. This will help to keep any lumps from ruining your cake batter. A full-fat cream cheese is best for this dessert. You can use a lower fat type, like Neufchatel cheese, but the full fat cream cheese will make a better pound cake. To make a gluten free dairy free lemon pound cake, substitute the cream cheese for a dairy free, plant-based cream cheese. You'll also want to make sure your cake mix doesn't have any dairy.
  • Canola Oil – For this recipe, I recommend using canola oil. If that's not available for whatever reason, you can substitute 1:1 using vegetable oilcoconut oilavocado oil, or even unsweetened applesauce. You can also just use regular unsalted butter, or these Earth Balance Buttery Sticks if dairy is a concern.
  • Lemon Extract – If you don't have any lemon extract on hand, it is possible to substitute lemon juice. Because lemon extract is far more concentrated than most lemon juice, it is recommended that you substitute 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for every 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
  • Eggs – In this recipe, eggs assist in better rise, a more tender texture and an improved flavor. If you can't eat eggs, it is definitely possible to make this an egg-free lemon pound cake. The Pioneer Woman has a great list of the Best Egg Substitutes that would work very well for this recipe.
  • Xanthan Gum While you shouldn't need xanthan gum for this recipe because most cake mixes already have it… Xanthan gum gives the dough more elasticity and can keep a gluten-free cake from being too crumbly. If you notice your cake mix doesn't have this important ingredient, you might add a pinch of xanthan gum to curb this problem.

Remember, all of the ingredients and ingredient amounts you’ll need are in the printable recipe card below.

slice of gluten-free lemon loaf cake on white plate with fork

How to Make Gluten-Free Lemon Pound Cake

Before getting started, prepare your loaf pan by spraying it well with non-stick cooking spray. This will keep your lemon loaf from sticking to the sides. Let's get started…

  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend the lemon zest with the sugar (and only the sugar) first, so the oils from the lemon zest can be infused into the sugar. You can even let this mixture sit for a few minutes to really give it time to infuse, although this isn't really necessary if you don't have a lot of time.
  2. Then mix the cake mix and cream cheese into that lemon sugar mixture.
  3. Next add the canola oil, hot water, lemon extract, and eggs.
  4. Mix everything together really well, until you have a smooth, creamy batter.
steps for how to make gluten-free lemon pound cake batter in stainless steel mixing bowl, including 1. mixing lemon zest and sugar together; 2. adding cream cheese and yellow cake mix; 3. mixing in canola oil, hot water, lemon extract, and eggs; and 4. mixing batter until smooth and creamy

Then just pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or longer.

You can tell it's done when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Otherwise, undercooking the pound cake may result in a soggy middle.

gluten-free pound cake batter in metal cake pan on oven rack

How to Make This a Gluten-Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

To make this a gluten free lemon drizzle cake, mix up a simple glaze with about 2 cups of powdered sugar and 6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Use a toothpick or a thin knife to poke holes all over the top of your lemon loaf, and then pour the lemon glaze over top while it's still slightly warm.

Poking holes into the top allows the glaze to seep and soak into the cake as it cools, resulting in a richer, more flavorful lemon drizzle cake.

bite of gluten-free lemon pound cake on fork over white plate

Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's

How do you keep a gluten-free lemon cake moist?

Pound cakes use fat for a moist, tender crumb. This is why I don't recommend skimping on the cream cheese. If you're dairy free, use a dairy-free, plant-based cream cheese. If your pound cake is dry and crumbly, it is also possible that it was overcooked. Gluten-free lemon pound cake is fully baked when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the top is a deep golden-brown.

Why did my gluten-free lemon loaf not rise?

Traditional pound cakes do not use a leavening agent, instead relying on the proper creaming of the butter, sugar and eggs for a lift while baking. This is where most home bakers have trouble, as in this scenario everything has to be just right for good rise. In this recipe I use a gluten-free yellow cake mix with a leavening agent for a lighter, fluffier lemon loaf that is also a bit more fail-proof. It is also important that you bake at the proper temperature, as too high of a heat will seal off the crust before the cake has had time to rise. I recommend baking lemon pound cake at 350ºF.

How should I store gluten-free pound cake?

You can store lemon pound cake for 4-5 days at room temperature in an airtight sealed container.

Can I freeze pound cake?

Yes, you can. For best results, place the completely cooled lemon pound cake in an airtight container and freeze the day of baking after it's cooled completely. Stored this way, it should last around 3 months in the freezer.

What Do You Serve With Lemon Pound Cake?

sliced GF lemon loaf on brown cutting board with slices of lemon

More Gluten-Free Recipes You'll Enjoy

  • This one is kind of a no-brainer. If you like pound cake, you'll definitely love this gluten-free dairy-free banana bread recipe! Yum yum YUM!!
  • Whip up a batch of these gluten-free bakery style blackberry and strawberry muffins from scratch. Full of fresh, juicy berries, these muffins are sure to please!
  • This simple peach dump cake uses only 5 ingredients, and it's super easy to make gluten-free! Just throw it in the pan and go!
  • Check out this gluten-free cherry dump cake! As you can tell, I LOVE dump cake. So easy and so simple…
  • My youngest son loves anything blueberry, and these gluten-free blueberry muffins are no exception. They're light, fluffy and perfectly sweet with a fresh berry flavor in every bite!
  • This orange Jello poke cake with a refreshing citrus topping is super easy to make, and I even include instructions for making it gluten-free.
  • If you love sheet cake as much as I do, you'll love my Aunt Jennie's gluten-free chocolate sheet cake. Topped with a rich, fudgey chocolate icing, this has got to be the best chocolate cake recipe I know!

If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And subscribe to my email list too!

gluten free lemon loaf pound sliced up on a large gray cutting board with fresh lemon slices

Gluten-Free Lemon Pound Cake

How to make a moist, delicious, gluten-free lemon pound cake. Easy recipe that's light and fluffy with sweet lemon flavor in every bite!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast and Brunch, Desserts, Gluten-Free Desserts
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 386kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Equipment

Ingredients

Optional Lemon Glaze:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350° F, and grease a loaf pan or bundt pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix or blend the lemon zest with the sugar (and only the sugar) first, so the oils from the lemon zest can be infused into the sugar; let this mixture sit for a few minutes to really give it time to infuse.
  • Then mix the cake mix and cream cheese into the lemon sugar mixture.
  • Next add the canola oil, hot water, lemon extract, and eggs.
  • Mix everything together really well, until you have a smooth, creamy batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan or bundt pan, and bake at 350° F for about 45 to 50 minutes, or 'til a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Oven times may vary.

(Optional) Gluten-Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

  • Start by mixing up the powdered sugar and lemon juice while the cake is still in the oven.
  • Once fully baked but while still warm, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick or sharp knife, and pour the powdered sugar glaze all over.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

*While you shouldn't need xanthan gum for this recipe because most cake mixes already have it… Xanthan gum gives the dough more elasticity and can keep a gluten-free cake from being too crumbly. If you notice your cake mix doesn't have this important ingredient, you might add a pinch of xanthan gum to curb this problem.
*Be sure to soften the cream cheese ahead of time. I'd even recommend whipping the cream cheese separately before you mix anything else with it. This will help to keep any lumps from ruining your cake batter.
How should I store gluten-free pound cake?
You can store lemon pound cake for 4-5 days at room temperature in an airtight sealed container
Can I freeze pound cake?
Yes, you can. For best results, place the completely cooled lemon pound cake in an airtight container and freeze the day of baking after it's cooled completely. Stored this way, it should last around 3 months in the freezer.
How do I make it dairy-free?
To make a gluten free dairy free lemon pound cake, substitute the cream cheese for a dairy free, plant-based cream cheese. You'll also want to make sure your cake mix doesn't have any dairy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 404mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g
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