Moist, soft and tender, perfectly sweet vegan lemon cake with lemon frosting is a delightful dessert recipe for spring and summer. There is fresh lemon juice and zest throughout the scratch-made cake and frosting, so every bite is bursting with deliciously tart, tangy citrus flavor!
Sometimes a sweet tooth needs a tang of tartness, you know? I absolutely adore the sharp and sweet flavor of using lemon in baked treats, and this recipe is here to satisfy! My vegan lemon cake with lemon frosting features an eggless, dairy-free, scratch-made lemon sponge cake topped with a luscious homemade vegan frosting…with lemon. We’re talking lots of lemon.
This recipe is like a more decadent version of our vegan lemon loaf with lemon glaze, with a tender, moist cake and rich, sweet and tangy lemon vegan “buttercream” icing. It’s perfect for picnics and outdoor parties when the weather is warm, or anytime you need a taste of lemony sunshine!
Seriously: if you like the taste of bright, bold lemon you are going to LOVE this recipe.
To make the dairy-free and eggless lemon cake you need:
- Lemon juice
- Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- Grapeseed oil: or other neutral oil
- Raw cane sugar – we recommend organic
- Lemon zest
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
Note: Do not use coconut milk or coconut oil in this vegan cake recipe. It doesn’t curdle properly to create the right texture and flavor and will add an unpleasant taste.
For tart and sweet vegan buttercream you need:
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN LEMON CAKE
This easy vegan cake recipe is perfect for making as a tiered cake in two 9 inch square or circle pans, in a 9×13 inch pan for a sheet cake, or as 24 yummy handheld cupcakes to share.
Here are the easy steps for making the lemony-good cake batter:
- First, combine the almond milk and lemon juice in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. Allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes until it looks curdled and kinda lumpy/foamy. This is how you make vegan buttermilk from scratch! This method slightly thickens the milk for the recipe and helps give this cake its tender texture without any actual dairy or eggs. As the buttermilk is sitting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Once the buttermilk is ready, next add the sugar, vanilla, and oil to the measuring cup, and whisk them together until the sugar is dissolved.
- In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: cake flour, lemon zest, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Now slowly pour in the wet mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix!
HOW LONG TO BAKE DAIRY-FREE AND EGGLESS VEGAN CAKE
For Cupcakes (fill about 3/4 of the way): Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For 9 inch Cake (fill two 2.5 inch tall cake pans about 3/4 of the way): Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
For 9×13 inch sheet cake: Bake 25-30 minutes. If you use a glass or metal pans this will vary the cook time. Be sure to watch the cake by setting it to the lower end of these cooking instructions, and give it 2-3 minute increments more until your toothpick comes out clean.
HOW TO MAKE PERFECT VEGAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
To get the best vegan frosting consistency, you want to work with plant-based butter that is slightly softened to room temperature.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, whip the butter until a little fluffy (about 30 seconds).
- Add the powdered sugar, working 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is fluffy and creamy. It should stand up on the mixer paddle or beaters.
- Then add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and beat again for another minute. If the frosting seems loose, add more powdered sugar a bit at a time until just the right consistency is reached.
Spread the homemade lemon frosting onto the completely cooled cake or cupcakes.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST VEGAN CAKE AND FROSTING
- Cake flour is a must for this recipe. It is what creates just the right fluffy, light, and tender texture without any eggs.
- To make your own cake flour simply sift together 1 cup of regular all-purpose flour – minus 2 tablespoons of flour – with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For the best results sift together at least twice to evenly distribute the cornstarch and break up any little lumps.
- For this recipe, you need 3.5 cups of flour, minus 7 tablespoons of flour, and plus 7 tablespoons of cornstarch.
- Cake pan thicknesses can vary. If you have high-sided bakery-style cake pans you’ll need twice the batter. This recipe was written for standard 9 inch layer cake pans typically used by home cooks.
- If you need to double the recipe, increase the baking time by a few minutes and keep your eyes on the cake to ensure it doesn’t over bake.
- The lemon frosting recipe is enough for 24 cupcakes. However, if piping icing onto cupcakes with a large tip you may need to double the icing recipe.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE LEMON CAKE WITH LEMON FROSTING
Keep the cake in a sealed container or loosely wrap with plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week, but cake with frosting tends to get a bit hard once refrigerated. If you do put it in the fridge, l suggest that you let it sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes to come to room temperature before enjoying.
Likewise, you can freeze homemade cake with vegan frosting for up to 3 months. The frosting tastes best when fresh, so you might want to freeze just the lemon cake wrapped in plastic, then easily whip up a batch of lemon buttercream when ready to serve.
If you tried this vegan lemon cake recipe let me know in the comments below and share a photo using #mindfulavocado. I’d love to hear from you! Want to see more recipes? Let’s get social! CONNECT WITH ME on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to see what I’m currently cooking up!
Vegan Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting
For the Cake:
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1.5 cups cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons, depends on size)
- 3.5 cups cake flour see notes for substitution
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
For the Lemon Frosting:
- 8 ounces (1 stick) vegan butter softened. Earth Balance or Country Crock Plant Butter are my favorites!
- 4-5 cups organic powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus more to taste (about 1 lemon)
- zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons
- 2 9" cake pans
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup or mixing bowl, combine lemon juice and almond milk. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes until it looks curdled. This is just vegan buttermilk.
- Once the mixture has been sitting, add the cane sugar, vanilla, and oil. Whisk the mixture together until the sugar is dissolved.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Fill both cake pans about 3/4 of the way (note this is for a regular 9-inch cake pan that is about 2.5 inches tall): Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. See notes to make this recipe using a sheet pan or cupcake pan.
- Remove cake from the oven and let cool before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely before assembling!
To Make the Lemon Frosting:
- Whip the softened butter until a little fluffy (about 30 seconds). Start to add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until frosting is fluffy and well incorporated. I used 4 cups.
- Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Taste and add more lemon zest or juice if necessary. If frosting is too liquidy, add more powdered sugar.
- Once cakes are cooled, add 1 cake to a cake stand and frost a thin layer on top using a butter knife or frosting knife.
- Carefully place the second cake on top of the frosted cake and frost the top and sides of both cakes.
7-9% for cake flour) so it won’t be a 1:1 swap. For best results, cake flour is recommended because it gives the cake a light and fluffy yet moist texture.
- To make your own cake flour at home simply take 1 cup of regular flour and remove 2
tbsp. Replace that 2tbsp. with corn starch. If you use this method you must sift it at
least twice. This will mix it together properly and take out any granules that can be in all
- For Cupcakes (fill about 3/4 of the way): Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- For 9 inch Cake– fill about 3/4 of the way (note this is for a regular 9 inch cake pan that is about 2.5 inches tall): Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- For 9×13 inch sheet cake– Bake 25-30 minutes. Please note that glass or metal pans will vary in cook time. You should watch the cake by setting it to the lower end of these cooking instructions and give it 2-3 minute increments more until your toothpick comes out clean.
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