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This is a fluffy, moist, and easy Lemon Cake recipe with a lemon buttercream frosting. I made it a lemon sheet cake but you can also make this as a layer cake or even cupcakes. If you love lemon desserts this will be a favorite recipe!

lemon cake with white frosting and a lemon slice on top.


Homemade Lemon Cake

I love love love lemon cake! Lemon desserts in general, really. I spent so many years thinking I hated lemon in dessert that I’m making up for lost time, which is why my Lemon Cake recipe is SO full of flavor. I want it for my birthday cake pretty much every year.

I decided to make this a lemon sheet cake instead of layer cake because while layer cakes are gorgeous they’re kind of difficult and hard to serve. Sheet cakes are faster and easier – so I get to eat it sooner!

This lemon cake recipe has tons of lemon flavor in the moist and tender cake but it also has a lemon buttercream frosting – so much citrus flavor in every bite! Learn how to make lemon cake the easy way – from scratch!

INGREDIENTS IN LEMON CAKE

Ingredients Needed

  • Flour – The recipe uses all-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted butter – Make sure that your butter is softened properly.
  • Milk – It’s best to use full fat milk but you can swap nondairy as well. The more fat the milk has the moister your cake. While my normal cake recipes use buttermilk, this recipe doesn’t need it because the lemon juice activates the baking soda.
  • Fresh lemon juice – About 2-3 large lemons will do – don’t use bottled lemon juice. Fresh is best for baking and flavor.
  • Lemon zest – about 2 large lemons. The lemon zest is where all the lemon flavor comes from – your cake will not be lemony enough if you don’t add it!

Click to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

How to make lemon cake

  1. To start, preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13” pan with nonstick cooking spray- the kind that has flour in it. Or grease the pan with butter. You can also use shortening and flour.
  2. Cream the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mixing the sugar and lemon zest at the beginning infuses the sugar with tons of lemon flavor.
  3. Add the milk, lemon juice, and eggs to a large measuring cup or bowl. Whisk thoroughly until the ingredients are combined.
  4. Add the wet and dry ingredients into the creamed butter in two separate parts. Alternate adding the milk mixture and flour mixture, beating on low speed until they’re all combined.
  5. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-43 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Make sure you cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the buttercream frosting: cream together butter and powdered sugar until crumbly. Add salt, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix until it’s completely smooth, adding more milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired spreading consistency. Frost the cooled cake.
lemon cake with white frosting and a lemon slice on top.

Expert Tips

  • Make sure to use fresh lemon juice, this will make your cake nice and moist.
  • Before mixing the batter, it’s best if your eggs are room temperature. This is a trick that helps you batter ome together quicker and helps the eggs stick to the other ingredients!
  • If you want even more lemon flavor, feel free to add 1 teaspoon lemon extract to the cake and/or 1/2 teaspoon to the frosting. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to the cake if you want.
  • Never forget the zest! That’s where the most lemon flavor comes from in any lemon cake recipe.
  • If you want to remove the entire lemon cake from the pan, be sure to line the base of the pan with parchment paper and grease and flour it. 

Storage

  • Store lemon cake in an airtight container to preserve freshness.
  • Lemon cake will last around 2 days on the counter or 4 days in the fridge.
  • You can freeze cake, make sure you keep it in an airtight container in the freezer!
lemon cake with white frosting and a lemon slice on top.

FAQs

Why is my lemon cake not fluffy?

Usually when a cake isn’t fluffy it’s because the butter and sugar weren’t creamed properly together. When butter is creamed, air is pushed into it which makes it fluffy and aerated- hence a cake that is nice and fluffy.

Can I use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour?

I don’t recommend it – I have only tested this recipe with all-purpose flour and it comes out light and fluffy.

How long does lemon cake last?

If wrapped well or stored in an airtight container, it will last 2 days on the counter or 4 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze lemon cake?

You can definitely freeze cake! Freeze in an airtight container or well wrapped with plastic.

lemon cake with white frosting and a lemon slice on top.

Lemon Cake Recipe

5 from 11 votes
This is the perfect lemon sheet cake with tons of lemon flavor and a lemon buttercream.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield 24 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups (372g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (237ml) milk
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
  • 4 large eggs

For the Frosting:

  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 3 cups (339g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13” pan with nonstick cooking spray (the kind with flour) or grease the pan with butter or shortening and flour.
  • Stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the milk, lemon juice, zest, and eggs to a large measuring cup or bowl. Whisk until combined.
  • Add the wet and dry ingredients into the creamed butter in two additions, mixing between each, just until the mixture is combined. Don't over mix!
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-43 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting: cream butter and powdered sugar until crumbly. Add salt, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon milk. Mix until smooth, adding more milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you've reached desired spreading consistency.
  • Frost cooled cake and serve.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • Store cake loosely covered on the counter for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Cake can be frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Make sure to use fresh lemon juice, it tastes much better than bottled.
  • Don’t omit the lemon zest – that’s where all the lemon flavor comes from.
  • Want even more lemon flavor? Add 1 teaspoon lemon extract to the cake and/or 1/2 teaspoon to the frosting.
  • It’s best if your eggs are room temperature before mixing.
  • This cake can also be baked in three 8-inch pans or two 9-inch pans.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 412IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Variations

  • You can also bake this recipe in two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8 inch cake pans.
  • If you’re looking for lemon pound cakes I have that recipe too, and it’s got a lemon glaze with lemon syrup!
  • You can swap out the frosting recipe for cream cheese frosting if you want!

Favorite Lemon Desserts

Last Updated on May 14, 2024



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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67 Comments

  1. That snack cake looks just delightful, love the lemon glaze!  I’ve never actually used almond milk, but you’re making me want to try!  I’ll have to do that soon!  And I’m with you on going to the store hungry, that’s always a bad idea, I end up buying way more than I intend to!  🙂

  2. Ohhh preach it. When I’m hungry and shopping, you’d think I was feeding a family of 12 with the amount of excess food I keep piling in the cart. It’s a problem. Buttt this cake looks amazing! Snack cakes totally mean more than one slice is acceptable. 

  3. Grocery shopping on a hungry stomach means a 500$ grocery bill AND junk food for daaaaays! 😀 

    This snack cake must be so wonderful!  Lucky me…..I have all the ingredients to make it! 

  4. I try very hard not to go to the grocery store hungry too, but sometimes it doesn’t work.  I will see things and wheels start spinning on something to make or I just see it and have to have it.  The candy bars in the checkout isle, ugh!  I love this lemon snack cake and I really love how it only uses one bowl!!!  And yes since it is a snack cake I believe 2 pieces for snack and 2 for dessert is appropriate! 🙂