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The very best lemon cream cheese pound cake is a classic Southern dessert that has been loved for generations! It’s rich, buttery, and dense, with a moist crumb, bright citrus flavor, a beautiful golden brown crust, and a sweet lemon glaze. Perfect for Christmas, Easter, fresh summer berries, and weekly Sunday suppers!

Close up side shot of a sliced lemon pound cake with lemon glaze.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. The Difference Between Pound Cake and Bundt Cake
  3. The Secret to a Good Pound Cake
  4. Ingredients
  5. How to Make a Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
  6. Serving Suggestions
  7. Preparation and Storage
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Expert Tips
  11. Lemon Pound Cake Recipe

If you’re looking for even more lemon dessert recipes, be sure to try this lemon Bundt cake (using cake mix), this old-fashioned lemon squares recipe, and a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread, too!

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

Few desserts are more classically Southern than a lemon cream cheese pound cake! Every home cook should have a delicious and easy go-to dessert that she can turn to when hosting a party or serving a special Sunday dinner, and this moist cake always delivers.

It has that crisp exterior and soft, buttery crumb that we all know and love, maintaining the dense pound cake texture without feeling dry or crumbly. Add plenty of fresh lemon zest and a sweet and tangy glaze, and this treat is totally over the top. Simple dessert perfection!

Side shot of a lemon pound cake on a table with flowers in the background.

The Difference Between Pound Cake and Bundt Cake

Any cake that’s baked in a Bundt pan is technically a “Bundt cake.” Not all Bundt cakes are pound cakes, however.

A classic pound cake can be prepared in a Bundt cake pan, a tube pan, or a loaf pan, and typically has a dense, rich texture and a crisp crust. Made with simple ingredients like butter, flour, sugar, and eggs, pound cakes are large, heavy cakes that don’t rise as much as other cakes. In this case, the eggs help the batter rise a little bit, along with the aerated creamed butter and sugar. While a simple dusting of powdered sugar is a classic finish, some versions also include an icing on top (like this sweet and tangy lemon glaze!).

Process shot showing how to make a cream cheese pound cake

The Secret to a Good Pound Cake

A homemade lemon pound cake should be light, with a finely textured, moist, and even crumb. It should have a firm, crispy crust that serves as a beautiful contrast to the soft, buttery inside. Finally, the cake should boast a rich flavor, which is why this recipe calls for plenty of vanilla extract in addition to the lemon zest. Here are some of our favorite tips for a moist lemon pound cake with cream cheese:

  • Room temperature ingredients: starting with room temperature ingredients makes it easier to cream the butter, sugar, cream cheese, and eggs. This ensures maximum volume and lift for your cake.
  • Real butter: always use real butter (not margarine or other substitutes) for the proper fat content and texture.
  • Cold oven: by cooking the cake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, you achieve an extra-deep brown, thicker, more flavorful crust — a product of the Maillard reaction and caramelization of the sugars in the batter.
  • Store at room temperature: wrapped tightly, the pound cake will stay fresh at room temperature for 4-5 days. It actually gets better as it sits! While refrigerating the cake will extend its shelf life, this can also alter the texture of the cake.
Adding flour to a bowl of cream cheese pound cake in a stand mixer

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for an old fashioned lemon cream cheese pound cake. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Granulated sugar: for just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Salted butter: for rich flavor and moist texture.
  • Cream cheese: use a block of full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese that’s softened at room temperature. Do not use whipped cream cheese or spreadable cream cheese from a tub.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure and lift.
  • Cake flour: such as Swans Down brand. The cake flour (rather than all-purpose flour) gives the cake a more tender crumb, and an extra-light, extra-fluffy texture.
  • Kosher salt: just enough to balance the sweetness in the cake. The cream cheese and the butter have salt in them, so you don’t need to add too much extra.
  • Pure vanilla extract: for rich, warm flavor.
  • Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice: for fresh lemon flavor in both the cake and the glaze.
  • Confectioners sugar: use the powdered sugar to dust the pound cake, or to make an optional lemon glaze.
Pound cake batter in a Bundt pan

What does cream cheese do in baking?

A lemon pound cake with cream cheese is one of the best desserts out there! The cream cheese helps the cake stay moist and dense, similar to how sour cream or yogurt add moisture to baked goods. This ingredient also contributes flavor and richness, since it’s slightly salty, very creamy, and full of fat (a key to delicious pound cake). It’s the perfect balance to the bright, fresh lemon.

Drizzling glaze over grandmas lemon pound cake recipe.

How to Make a Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This Southern lemon cream cheese pound cake comes together with just a handful of very simple ingredients and an electric mixer. Bake it in advance and enjoy the cake for days — when hosting holiday gatherings, sipping tea with a friend who drops by, or at a large church potluck. No matter the season or the occasion, this dessert is always well received! You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  1. Mix together the batter in the bowl of a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, scraping the sides of the bowl regularly.
  2. Pour the cake batter into a Bundt pan or tube pan.
  3. Place in a cold oven, turn the temperature to 300°F, and bake for about 2 hours.
  4. Let the cake cool, then slice and serve!
Homemade lemon pound cake on a blue and white cake stand before slicing.

Serving Suggestions

This old fashioned lemon cream cheese pound cake recipe is absolutely delicious served plain, with just a dusting of powdered sugar or a tart lemon icing. That said, you can make it even fancier with some fresh berries (or other fresh fruit) on the side and a dollop of whipped cream! You can never go wrong with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, too.

Square side shot of a slice of lemon pound cake on a blue and white plate with a fork.

Preparation and Storage

  • The pound cake will stay fresh when covered at room temperature for 4-5 days — it does not need to be refrigerated. To extend the life of your cake, wrap it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Store Pound Cake: For the refrigerator or countertop, you can just wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap. For the freezer, I recommend a layer of plastic wrap, followed by another layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
  • The cake is best when prepared 1 day in advance. The flavors come together and it gets more moist as it rests!
Square side shot of old fashioned lemon pound cake recipe on a platter.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of the lemon glaze, finish the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar.
  • If you don’t have a Bundt pan or a tube pan, you can use two 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch loaf pans. Alternatively, cut the ingredients in half to make just 1 loaf cake.
  • If using unsalted butter, add an extra ½ teaspoon – ¾ teaspoon of salt to the batter.
  • I used this “Anniversary” 12 cup Bundt pan here, but I have also tested this recipe with a smaller Bundt pan and that works as well (it’s just very full).
  • Swap out the fresh lemon zest and use lemon extract instead. You’ll need at least 1-2 teaspoons of extract, or more to taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes a pound cake to be heavy? There are a number of different reasons that a pound cake can have a heavy texture, but one of the most common factors is actually the quality of the ingredients used. For the best results, use name-brand ingredients. Store-brand sugar, for instance, is often more finely ground than name brands, so you end up with more sugar per cup — which can cause the cake to fall. Similarly, store-brands of butter may have more liquid fat, and store-brand flour might have more hard wheat. All of these factors can contribute to a heavy pound cake.
  • Why does my cream cheese pound cake fall? Make sure that you properly measure your ingredients, because too much leavening can cause a pound cake to sink in the middle. This is because the leavening (such as baking powder or baking soda) activates too quickly during baking, causing a too-fast carbon dioxide reaction. Other reasons your cake may fall include opening the oven before the cake is cooked through, or jarring/moving the cake while it’s still baking.
  • Why is my lemon pound cake dry? A pound cake may be dry because you made mistakes while measuring or mixing the ingredients, or because you baked the cake for too long or at too high of a temperature.
  • Why is it called Elvis Presley Cake? According to internet lore, Elvis Presley’s favorite dessert was a whipping cream pound cake. Another cake that includes pineapple and a cream cheese frosting is also sometimes called, Elvis Presley Cake. Regardless of the truth to this story, you can be sure that The King would have approved of this recipe!
Side shot of lemon pound cake on a wooden table with flowers in the background.

Expert Tips

  • When zesting the lemons, be sure that you’re only scraping off the outer layer of the peel (this is where the essential oils and delicious flavor can be found). Be careful not to grate any of the white pith from the fruit, because that is bitter and definitely not what you want in your cake.
  • Grease the pan really well and then coat with flour, or use a nonstick baking cooking spray.
  • Use a block of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use spreadable cream cheese from a tub or whipped cream cheese for this recipe.
  • Properly measure the flour by spooning the flour into the cup and lightly leveling with the straight edge of a knife. Packing the measuring cup too tightly and using too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together smoothly, resulting in a pound cake with maximum volume.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, at least 3-4 minutes. Whipping this air into the batter will help the cake rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
Sliced easy lemon pound cake on a blue and white cake stand.

More Pound Cake Recipes to Try

Close up square shot of lemon cream cheese pound cake.

Lemon Pound Cake

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 457 kcal
The very best lemon pound cake is a classic Southern dessert that has been loved for generations!

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups bleached cake flour (such as Swans Down brand)
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional, for dusting: powdered sugar

Optional Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 ¼ cups confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Grease and lightly flour a tube pan or Bundt pan; set aside. Do not preheat oven.
  • In a large bowl, use the paddle attachment on an electric stand mixer to cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the cream cheese; beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically.
    Process shot showing how to make a cream cheese pound cake
  • Gradually add the flour, mixing on low speed after each addition, and scraping the bowl as needed. Mix just until combined, about 1 minute total.
    Adding flour to a bowl of cream cheese pound cake in a stand mixer
  • Add the salt, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice; beat until smooth.
    Overhead shot of a bowl of cream cheese pound cake batter
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Tap it a couple of times on the counter to release any big air bubbles.
    Pound cake batter in a Bundt pan
  • Place the pan on a rack in the lower third of the cold oven. Shut the oven, and turn the temperature to 300°F. Bake the cake until a wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 50 minutes – 2 hours.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert on a serving plate or wire rack to cool completely.
  • Dust cake with powdered sugar, or drizzle with lemon glaze.
    Drizzling glaze over grandmas lemon pound cake recipe.

Optional Lemon Glaze:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and vanilla extract until a thick, pourable glaze comes together. If the glaze seems too thick, add more lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. If the glaze is too thin, gradually add more confectioners sugar.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.
    Homemade lemon pound cake on a blue and white cake stand before slicing.

Video

Notes

  • When zesting the lemon, be sure that you’re only scraping off the outer layer of the peel (this is where the essential oils and delicious flavor can be found). Be careful not to grate any of the white pith from the fruit, because that is bitter and definitely not what you want in your cake.
  • Grease the pan really well and then coat with flour, or use a nonstick baking cooking spray.
  • Use a block of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use spreadable cream cheese from a tub or whipped cream cheese for this recipe.
  • Properly measure the flour by spooning the flour into the cup and lightly leveling with the straight edge of a knife. Packing the measuring cup too tightly and using too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together smoothly, resulting in a pound cake with maximum volume.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, at least 3-4 minutes. Whipping this air into the batter will help the cake rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 457kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 6gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 224mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 1gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 812IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: lemon cream cheese pound cake, Lemon Pound Cake, lemon pound cake recipe, recipe for lemon pound cake
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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