This vegan lemon cake recipe is moist, fluffy, and LOADED with lemon flavor! Sweet and tangy, this cake uses just one bowl and takes 5 minutes to prepare!
One of my all-time favorite kinds of desserts is one involving lemon. After making my lemon loaf and lemon olive oil cake on repeat, I’ve been looking to add another vegan lemon dessert to my repertoire.
Table of Contents
Why you’ll love this recipe
If you’ve never made a vegan cake before, this vegan lemon cake recipe is the one you MUST try first. It’s a dessert our family have been enjoying for years, thanks to the lemon tree in the backyard!
- It uses pantry staple ingredients. If you’ve made any of my other cake recipes before, this should be no surprise!
- It’s super moist and fluffy. The unique combination of flour, vinegar, and olive oil gives this cake the perfect texture.
- You can adjust the lemon flavor. Just like I did in our lemon poppy seed cake, if you are a hardcore lemon lover (guilty!), add even more lemon to the batter AND the frosting.
- There is barely any prep. Everything is made in one bowl so you have no excuses not to make it!
How to make vegan lemon cake
This vegan lemon cake was inspired by my vegan vanilla cake and chocolate cake recipes. Also known as a crazy cake or depression cake, these moist and fluffy cakes are made without eggs, milk, or butter, but you would never tell.
- All Purpose Flour– Also known as plain flour. You can also use cake flour for a lighter crumb.
- Sugar– Any sugar works. I used white sugar, but coconut and brown sugar also work well. Be wary, though; the darker the sugar you use, the darker the lemon cake will be.
- Baking soda– Gives the cake some rise and fluffiness.
- Salt– Brings out the sweetness of the cake.
- White Vinegar– Acts as a binding and leavening agent. You can use apple cider vinegar, too.
- Oil of choice– I used canola oil, but any neutral-flavored oil works.
- Water– You can use milk if you’d like, but water works just as well.
- Lemon juice– Gives the lemon cake the gorgeous tangy lemon flavor. You can add as much or as little as you’d like!
- Lemon Extract– Brings out the lemon flavor even more! If you don’t have any lemon extract, you can use vanilla.
- Lemon zest– Optional, but highly recommended for some extra lemon flavor.
Creamy lemon cream cheese frosting
- Vegan butter. Choose a vegan butter from block, not a spread. This will not only whip better but yield a creamier frosting.
- Vegan cream cheese. Softened to room temperature. Like the butter, choose the cream cheese from a block if possible.
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon juice
- Powdered sugar
Start by mixing together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then, add your wet ingredients and whisk very well until fully combined. Transfer the lemon cake batter into a square pan and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out just clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan or a wire rack completely, before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
To make a layer cake, double the ingredients and bake the cake in two pans. Once cooled, spread the frosting between the layers and on top, and decorate with fresh lemons.
- Do not overbake the dairy free lemon cake, as it continues to cook while it is cooling in the pan. Once the skewer comes out ‘just’ clean, it is done.
- Do not overmix the batter, as this can cause the cake to become dense and tough. Mix the batter until just combined.
- Line your cake pan with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.
- Feel free to fold through some fresh berries to have something like a lemon blueberry cake.
- If you prefer your lemon cake less sweet, adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe accordingly.
- Use fresh lemon juice wherever possible, as it makes all the difference in flavor.
- Swap out the frosting for a lemon glaze. To make this, combine confectioners sugar with lemon juice an drizzle over the cake before serving.
To store: Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature, covered, for up to three days. If you want to keep it longer, store the cake in the refrigerator.
To freeze: Place slices of the cake in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
More cake recipes to try
- Chocolate peanut butter cake
- Death by chocolate cake
- Applesauce cake
- Snickerdoodle cake
- Walnut cake
- Snickerdoodle cake
Frequently asked questions
No, there is no need to substitute the lemon juice for extract as there is already lemon extract in the batter.
For a gluten free lemon cake, swap out the flour for a gluten-free flour blend that contains added xanthan gum.
Yes, almond milk, soy milk, or any plant based milk can be used instead of water.
All-purpose or cake flour are the best flours to make the perfect lemon cake. Alternatives like almond, oat, or coconut flour would require all the other ingredients to be altered.
Vegan Lemon Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Once mixed, add your vinegar, oil, water, lemon juice, lemon extract and mix well.
- Transfer your lemon cake batter to the square pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out just clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan completely. Once cool, frost if desired.
- To make the frosting, beat together the vegan cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until smooth. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar until fluffy.
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