Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf is a moist and tender cake bursting with lemon flavor with a rich cream cheese swirl. It is delicious and visually stunning, with a beautiful marbled pattern from the swirl. It’s a delightful option for breakfast, brunch, a sweet snack, or dessert. If you prefer just the citrusy loaf without the cream cheese, make my Lemon Loaf for a zesty and refreshing treat.

Overhead of a Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf on Counter with Lemons.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Room Temperature Ingredients: For best results, use room temperature ingredients, specifically eggs and sour cream. It helps create a better texture and consistency in the final product, including a more moist and tender crumb.

Sour Cream: Adding sour cream to the lemon loaf enhances the flavor (a little tanginess), texture, and overall quality of the loaf. If you don’t have any sour cream on hand, you could substitute plain, full-fat yogurt or buttermilk. However, the substitutions may affect the final product.

Lemon Flavor: In the loaf, I used lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Since you need the zest from lemons, I recommend using the lemon for freshly squeezed lemon juice (rather than the bottled lemon juice, but that will also work in a pinch). If you don’t have lemon extract, you could use a little more than a tablespoon of lemon zest to replace the extract.

Cream Cheese Swirl: To make the swirl, all you need is an 8-ounce block of cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar.

Steps for Adding Cream Cheese and Swirling Cream Cheese in Lemon Cake Batter in a Loaf Pan.

Can I Use a Different Sized Pan?

Sure! If you don’t have an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (or a 9×5-inch loaf pan), you could use an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square baking dish. A bundt pan can be another great option for baking this dense, moist cake. The shape of the pan allows for even baking and a beautiful presentation. Or, make cupcakes. Keep in mind that using a different size or shape of the pan may affect the baking time and the texture of the finished cake. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the cake as it bakes and test it frequently with a toothpick to ensure it is fully cooked.

Sliced Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf with Lemons Around It.

How to Store Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf

Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days. For a little longer storage, it will last in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.

Stacked Slices of Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf.

Can I Freeze Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf?

Yes! If you are not planning to enjoy the lemon cream cheese loaf within a few days, store it in the freezer. To freeze the loaf, first, let it cool completely. Next, wrap the loaf in a layer of plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once partially frozen, wrap it in another layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Label and date the loaf; it can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

Overhead of a Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf on Counter with Lemons.
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf is a moist and tender cake bursting with lemon flavor with a rich cream cheese swirl.


Lemon Loaf

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • ½ cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Cream Cheese Swirl

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup (62.5 g) confectioners' sugar


Lemon Loaf

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add eggs, sugar, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Start on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high. Beat until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed to ensure all ingredients are well combined. Slowly drizzle in oil.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix until just combined. (Some lumps are okay.) Set aside while you prepare the cream cheese mixture.

Cream Cheese Swirl

  • In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in confectioners' sugar and beat until well combined.


  • Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan, topping with half of the cream cheese mixture.
  • Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the cream cheese mixture.
  • Pour in the remaining batter and then top with the other half of the cream cheese mixture. Gently swirl in the cream cheese with the butter knife.
  • Bake for 75-80 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs. However, check the loaf at 45 minutes, and if it is starting to brown too much, cover it with a loose foil tent. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving (about 30 minutes).


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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. l love you cooking you are the best cook 👩‍🍳
    l like to learn from you tqvm
    love from Malaysia 🇲🇾

  2. I made this for the first time least week and it’s so very delicious, this is my favorite bread at the moment 🤤🤤🤤 Thank you for sharing with us 💐💐

  3. Not bad! Was done in 50 minutes. Stays moist, this is good! I am a huge fan of lemon but not of lemon oil extract. For those looking for a “cheesecake” like experience with the filling, you’ll be disappointed. The filling is like the title says “lemon cream cheese loaf”. If you are looking for a luxurious “cheesecake” like, natural lemon loaf look elsewhere.

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