This vegan lemon cake recipe is moist, fluffy, and LOADED with lemon flavor! Sweet and tangy, this vegan lemon cake uses just one bowl and takes 5 minutes to prepare! Gluten Free, Dairy Free.
One of my all-time favorite kinds of desserts are ones involving lemon. After sharing my easy lemon loaf recipe, I’ve been looking to add another vegan lemon dessert to my repertoire.
If you’ve never made a vegan cake before, this lemon cake is the one you MUST try first. The taste and texture is incredible- Moist, fluffy, and topped with a creamy lemon cream cheese frosting! You won’t believe how easy and simple this vegan lemon cake recipe is to make, using basic pantry staple ingredients.
How to make vegan lemon cake
This vegan gluten free lemon cake was inspired by my vanilla cake and chocolate cake. 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. I opted to use gluten free flour, to keep this a lemon cake also gluten free.
- Sugar– Any sugar works. I used white sugar, but coconut sugar and brown sugar will also work well. Be wary tough, 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 any vinegar or even lemon juice.
- Oil of choice– I used vegetable oil, but canola or safflower oil will work well, too.
- 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.
Start by mixing together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then, add your wet ingredients and mix very well, until fully combined. Transfer the lemon cake batter into a square pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan completely, before frosting.
Vegan Lemon Cake Frosting Ideas
While this dairy free lemon cake tastes amazing on its own, you may opt to frost it, as pictured.
- Lemon cream cheese frosting– 1/2 cup vegan butter, 8 oz vegan cream cheese (or standard), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 3 cups powdered sugar. Use a stand mixer or food processor and blend together and just combined and thick.
- Vanilla glaze– Mix together powdered sugar with lemon juice and vanilla extract. Pour over the top of the cake.
- Coconut Butter Drizzle– For a lemon drizzle cake, drizzle coconut butter over the top of the lemon cake.
Tips for the BEST vegan lemon cake
- 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.
- For a more pronounced lemon flavor, you can replace all the water for lemon juice. Be wary though, that this will have a very strong lemon flavor.
- Your vegan lemon cake must be cooled completely if you choose to frost it.
- Feel free to fold through some blueberries, to have a delicious vegan lemon blueberry cake.
Storing and Freezing Tips
- To store: Place leftover eggless lemon cake pieces into a sealable container and keep stored in the refrigerator. The vegan lemon cake will keep fresh for up to 7 days.
- To freeze: I love a good freezer friendly cake! This cake can definitely be stored in the freezer, so be sure it is completely covered. It will keep well for 6 months.
- To thaw: Thaw pre-frozen lemon cake in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing in the microwave, as it will become super moist then dry out.
More delicious vegan dessert recipes
- Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
- Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
- Best Vegan Brownies
- Homemade Crunch Bars
- Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Vegan Lemon Cake (Gluten Free)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour Use gluten free flour, if needed
- 1 cup sugar * See notes
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 5 tablespoon oil vegetable, canola, safflower etc.
- 3/4 cup water ** See notes
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract can use vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 9-inch square 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 into the square pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan completely. Once cool, frost if desired.
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This looks amazingly simple and tasty!!! Thanks so much! 😊😋
Would it be possible to bake this recipe as cupcakes?
Of course- Just reduce the cooking time.
I made this last month with gluten free flour and it came out wonderfully. Today I made it with regular flour (kept everything else the same, as recipe is written) and it did not rise properly in the middle of the cake. There is a pronounced well in the middle of the cake. I will fill it in with frosting, but I was disappointed.
It sounds like you undercooked it then 🙂
Please remove my last name from above post. Or remove post completely.
Can you replace the water with coconut water in this recipe?
I haven’t tried!
I followed the recipe to the letter. It did not make a “wet” batter. It was powder when all the ingredients were mixed. The tips mentioned subbing out some lemon juice for some of the milk but the ingredients list and recipe doesn’t mention milk. Are some liquids missing? I used coconut flour with 3/4 cups water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 5 tablespoons oil and the vanilla extract
Hi Tim, there is no coconut flour in this recipe. It uses all purpose flour or gluten free all purpose flour.
Thanks I researched and saw my mistake in substituting the coconut for all purpose flour in equal amounts….next time.
Would this recipe make a double layer, 8 inch round cake?
Yes 🙂 Double the ingredients.
would it be okay to substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?
The recipe was amazing made 6 cupcakes by halving the portions. Amazing flavour and sponginess…I also added some Lemon zest. Thanks for sharing it.
Fabulous- Thanks Meghan!
This recipe is much simpler than other vegan GF cake recipes, and it comes out better than any others I’ve tried. I used Trader Joe’s GF flour blend, reduced the sugar by a quarter, and did half juice and half water. The batter was really liquidy so I was worried, but I baked it as it was, and it came out perfectly. I also doubled the recipe so I could make a layer cake with vanilla frosting. It came out great. Thank you – this is my go to lemon cake now.
I cannot believe how easy this was to make! This might be the moistest cake I’ve ever made. Super delicious
Does this work with juice of lemon in the jar from the grocery store or do you recommend fresh from the fruit?
Either works 🙂
Hi there, does a sugar substitute work, such as allulose? Thanks
This is by far the best lemon cake I’ve ever had. Taste and texture are perfect! I put 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water and I folded some blueberries in as you suggested and did a vegan buttercream icing. It was AWESOME!Super easy and quick to make. Thank you for this beautiful recipe.