This delightful Lemon Bread Recipe is a fresh and bright treat that promises a burst of lemon in every bite. Its moist, tender texture is achieved through a careful combination of ingredients and techniques. With a triple hit of lemon from zest, extract and juice, this bread is overflowing with tangy citrus flavor. And, toasted chopped pecans provide a satisfying crunch and balancing flavor. Easy to prepare, too!

Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe for Lemon Bread works
  2. Lemon Quick Bread Recipe ingredients
  3. Lemon Bread variations
  4. How to Make Lemon Bread
  5. Tips for keeping this Easy Lemon Bread Recipe moist
  6. How to serve the Best Lemon Bread Recipe
  7. How to store Lemon Bread
  8. Lemon Quick Bread Recipe

Why this recipe for Lemon Bread works

Here’s why this recipe works to deliver a flavorful, light, and moist lemon bread:

  • Three layers of lemon (juice, extract and zest). Lemon extract adds concentrated lemon flavor, lemon zest a bright, citrusy punch, and lemon-and-sugar syrup (added post-baking) yet another hit of lemon deliciousness while also adding moisture.
  • Chopped pecans. Toasted chopped pecans add a pleasant, contrasting crunch and nutty flavor.
  • Creaming butter and sugar. Creaming these two ingredients with an electric mixer allows the sugar to dissolve and also adds air pockets to the butter, ensuring the right amount of rise and a lighter texture.
  • Sifting the flour twice. Sifting the flour once, then a second time with the baking powder and salt, helps to aerate the dry ingredients, removing any lumps and ensuring a smooth batter. Plus, this step also contributes to a lighter texture.
  • Alternating dry and wet ingredients. Adding the sifted flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture alternately in thirds helps to ensure an even distribution of ingredients, which in turn limits overmixing and contributes to the bread’s tender crumb.
  • Cooling and resting the bread. Cooling the bread in the pan for a bit gives the lemon syrup time to fully penetrate the entire loaf. And, once completely cool, wrapping and letting the bread rest overnight at room temperature allows the flavors to meld and intensify.

Lemon Quick Bread Recipe ingredients

Here’s what you need to create this “very lemony” bread (details, including proportions, are in the recipe card below):

  • All-purpose flour, preferably unbleached, sifted
  • Baking powder
  • Table salt
  • Salted butter, at room temperature
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon extract
  • Large eggs
  • Whole milk
  • Lemon zest
  • Toasted chopped pecans
  • Fresh lemon juice

Lemon Bread variations

While this lemon bread recipe is amazingly delicious as is, here are a few ideas for variations, if you want to make it your own:

  • Add blueberries. Lemon and blueberry are a classic combination. Gently stir in 1 cup fresh blueberries when you add the zest and nuts. Since blueberries release moisture as they bake, I would add 1 tablespoon flour to maintain the right consistency of the batter. Also, the bread may take a bit longer to cook.
  • Add raspberries. Another delicious combination is lemon and raspberry! Follow directions for adding blueberries, except gently fold in raspberries after adding nuts, to avoid crushing them too much.
  • Add poppy seeds. Poppy seeds provide another delightful textural element and enhance the overall flavor profile. Add 1 tablespoon when you add the zest and nuts.
  • Omit pecans. If you’re not a pecan fan, then leave them out. Try substituting toasted chopped walnuts. Alternatively, poppy seeds (mentioned above) would be another great substitute and would maintain a contrasting crunch to the texture.
Eight slices of lemon bread, arranged overlapping on a white background.

How to Make Lemon Bread

Here’s an overview of how to create this impressive lemon bread:

  1. Bring ingredients to room temperature.
    The amount of time needed will vary based on the temperature of your kitchen; I would allow 1 hour. for the butter, 30 minutes for the eggs, milk and lemons.
  2. Prep oven and pan.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
    Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium mixing bowl (you will have sifted the flour twice). Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar.
    With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, then lemon extract and continue beating on medium speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl. Continue beating on medium speed for another minute or until the mixture is smooth (no lumps), light and airy.
  5. Add eggs.
    With the motor running, add eggs one at a time and continue beating until blended and the mixture looks like whipped cream.
  6. Add dry ingredients and milk.
    Add 1/3 of sifted flour mixture alternating with 1/3 of milk, just until all the flour and milk have been incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  7. Add zest and nuts.
    With a spatula or spoon, stir in lemon zest and chopped pecans; again, don’t overmix.
  8. Place in pan and bake.
    Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Prep lemon syrup.
    As soon as you place the bread in the oven, whisk together lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand at room temperature while bread is baking, stirring occasionally.
  10. Cool bread; add lemon syrup.
    Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes. Before removing, using a skewer or ice pick, poke holes from the top and through the bread in several places (around 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart). Immediately spoon lemon mixture over the top. Let sit (in the pan) until lemon mixture is absorbed, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  11. Finish cooling.
    Remove bread from pan and place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed cookie sheet or on waxed paper to finish cooling. (The pan or waxed paper are to catch any lemon syrup that may drip out.)
  12. Wrap and let rest.
    Once completely cool, wrap bread in foil or plastic wrap. This bread tastes best if you store it overnight, wrapped and at room temperature (or in the refrigerator), before serving.
Two slices of lemon bread on a white plate, the top one broken in half

Tips for keeping this Easy Lemon Bread Recipe moist

Here are my tips to ensure that your bread comes out moist and tender every time:

  • Soften butter. Butter must be softened, but not melted, to correctly cream together with the sugar. So, it’s important to let the butter sit at room temperature until it still has structure but gives when you poke it. This can take 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. If you’re butter is too cold, the butter-sugar mixture will be lumpy; too warm or melted, it will be thin and oily.  Both will result in bread that doesn’t rise properly.
  • Bring eggs and milk to room temperature. Cold eggs or milk will have the same effect on the batter as cold butter – they will result in lumpy batter that doesn’t rise adequately. If you forgot to take the eggs out of the refrigerator, place them in a bowl of warm water for around 10 minutes.
  • Bring lemons to room temperature. You will get more juice out of a lemon that’s warm than one that’s cold. Also, rolling a lemon on the kitchen counter while applying pressure with the heel of your hand will help to release the juices. If your lemon is cold, microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Don’t overmix the butter and sugar. When creaming the butter and sugar, if you beat it for too long the butter will become oily and separate. At that point, you’ll have to start over.  
  • Don’t overmix the batter. When adding the dry ingredients and milk, if you mix for too long you’ll end up with less rise and dense, tough bread.
  • Toast chopped pecans before adding. Toasting nuts enhances their nutty flavor, makes them crunchier and deepens their color.
  • Mix sugar and lemon juice as soon as bread goes into the oven. It’s important to give the lemon and sugar time to blend and the sugar to dissolve before adding to the bread.

How to serve the Best Lemon Bread Recipe

Here are a few suggestions for serving this homemade lemon bread:

How to store Lemon Bread

Wrap cooled bread tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or refrigerated for 5 to 7 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. (Note that FDA guidelines recommend refrigeration after 2 hours.)

Can Lemon Bread be frozen?

Yes, this bread can be well wrapped, placed in a freezer safe zip top baggie and frozen for up to 2 months. After freezing, the flavor will diminish somewhat and the texture will change slightly. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Print
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several slices of lemon bread stacked vertically, with the rest of the lemon loaf behind

Lemon Quick Bread Recipe

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5 from 1 review

This delightful Lemon Bread Recipe is a fresh and bright treat that promises a burst of lemon in every bite. Its moist, tender texture is achieved through a careful combination of ingredients and techniques. With a triple hit of lemon from zest, extract and juice, the bread is overflowing with tangy citrus flavor. And, toasted chopped pecans provide a satisfying crunch and balancing flavor.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cooling time: 50 mins
  • Cook Time: 55 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 (9 by 5-inch) loaf 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/3 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons lemon extract (a 1-ounce bottle)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Bring all ingredients to room temperature. The amount of time needed will vary based on the temperature of your kitchen; I would allow 1 hour. for the butter, 30 minutes for the eggs, milk and lemons.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium mixing bowl (you will have sifted the flour twice). Set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, then lemon extract and continue beating on medium speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl. Continue beating on medium speed for another minute or until the mixture is smooth (no lumps), light and airy.
  5. With the motor running, add eggs one at a time and continue beating until blended and the mixture looks like whipped cream.
  6. Add 1/3 of sifted flour mixture alternating with 1/3 of milk, just until all the flour and milk have been incorporated. Don’t overmix. With a spatula or spoon, stir in lemon zest and chopped pecans; again, don’t overmix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. As soon as you place the bread in the oven, whisk together lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand at room temperature while bread is baking, stirring occasionally.
  9. Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes. Before removing, using a skewer or ice pick, poke holes from the top and through the bread in several places (around 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart). Immediately spoon lemon mixture over the top. Let sit (in the pan) until lemon mixture is absorbed, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  10. Remove bread from pan and place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed cookie sheet or on waxed paper to finish cooling. (The pan or waxed paper are to catch any lemon syrup that may drip out.)
  11. Once completely cool, wrap bread in foil or plastic wrap. This bread tastes best if you store it overnight, wrapped and at room temperature (or in the refrigerator), before serving.

Notes

High Altitude Adjustments:  No adjustments are necessary up to 7,500 feet. Above 7,500 feet:
1. After buttering and flouring the loaf pan, line it with parchment paper, then butter and flour the paper.
2. Reduce baking powder by 1/2 teaspoon.
3. Reduce cook time to 40 to 45 minutes; check at 35 minutes.

See post for ideas on variations as well as how to serve and store.

 

  • Author: From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: Quick breads
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 174
  • Sugar: 16.3 g
  • Sodium: 188.8 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.1 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 33.6 mg
Eight slices of lemon bread, arranged overlapping on a white background.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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