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What is your favourite lemon cake recipe?

Lemon Cake with lemon cream cheese frosting is the taste of sunlight on a platter! Perfectly sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender, this lemon cake recipe is positively bursting with bright lemon flavor.

Beautifully frosted lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and lemon slices on top

This fluffy lemon cake is my favorite of all the amazing lemon recipes on my blog (from the finest Lemon Bars to the Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake).

This is hands-down the finest lemon cake recipe I’ve ever eaten anywhere, and very likely the best cake I’ve ever prepared.

In the comments section below, you’ve referred to this easy lemon cake recipe as:

  • “Super moist”
  • “Easy”
  • “Perfectly fluffy,” and even
  • “The best lemon cake recipe in the world”

As for the frosting: its creaminess is exquisite.

It’s not excessively sweet, due to the cream cheese’s acidity to balance it out.

The quantity of lemon in the cake and icing is just right.

It’s beautiful, simple to prepare from scratch, and can brighten up any day.

Lemon layer cake with lemon cream cheese frosting on a cake stand with birthday candles, ribbons and fresh flowers

The Very Best Lemon Cake Recipe

These are a few of the reasons why this cake should be on your table.

It’s 100% worth making lemon cake from scratch.

  • The cake crumb is sublimely soft and fluffy but still holds together when you cut into it.
  • The lemon flavor is balanced and fresh .
  • The layers are easy to work with and frost .
  • It slices cleanly and looks beautiful on the plate , which is essential in any cake, particularly a festive layer cake.
Slice of lemon layer cake with lemon cream cheese frosting on a white dessert plate

How to Make Lemon Cake from Scratch

With just a few basic ingredients, this lemon cake comes together quickly.

For a really unique treat, top it with tart lemon cream cheese icing.

The Ingredients

Although this is not a healthy lemon cake, it is well worth the indulgence (remind yourself that you are baking with real, simple ingredients, not making lemon cake with cake mix).

For the Lemon Cake Batter

  • Cake Flour It’s lighter and more airy than ordinary flour, therefore it’s crucial to the cake’s texture.

Substitution Tip!

Cake flour is crucial in making this dish light and fluffy. If you don’t have cake flour, combine all-purpose flour and cornstarch to create your own. Read the directions at the bottom of the recipe card for further information.

  • Egg Whites Another important factor is the cake’s delicate texture (save the yolks to make Banana Ice Cream).
  • Buttermilk . Helps create a tender crumb.

Substitution Tip!

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand all the time, you may manufacture your own homemade buttermilk alternative.

  • Let 1 cup of milk to rest for 5 minutes with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Then add to the recipe as directed.
  • Lemon Zest + Lemon Extract How do you prepare lemon cake? Lemon extract has a concentrated flavor, which helps the lemon shine.

What Does Lemon Do to a Cake?

The flavor of lemon may have a big influence on the result of your cake. While you can add lemon juice to cake mix (like this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake), I do not recommend lemon juice for this recipe, as it can alter the acidity level which can affect the rise of the cake and the overall flavor.

If you can’t get lemon essence, use additional zest instead of lemon juice in the cake.

  • Butter . Lemon cake tastes like absolute melt-in-your-mouth decadence. The solution is butter! It provides rich flavor and keeps the lemon cake moist.
  • Baking Powder . Acts as a leavener to make this cake rise.

For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese . It adds body to the frosting, balances the sweetness, and adds a delightfully acidic taste. Lemon cream cheese frosting trumps lemon buttercream in my book.
  • Butter It adds structure and a delicate richness to the icing.
  • Powdered Sugar . Adds sweetness without taking it over the edge.
  • Lemon Juice + Lemon Zest . Bold, bright, and zippy lemon flavor.
  • Vanilla . Vanilla is great in lemon dishes since it improves the taste.


Check Expiration Dates Check the expiry dates on your baking materials (particularly the baking powder) to verify they’re still fresh to guarantee your cake tastes wonderful and rises correctly.

The Directions

  1. Sieve the dry ingredients together. Mix the buttermilk and egg whites together.
  2. Stir together the sugar and lemon zest to release the lemon taste, then cream in the butter and lemon essence.
  3. Alternately add the dry and wet components.
  4. Smooth the tops of two parchment-lined cake pans with the batter. Bake the lemon cake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F. Let to cool till room temperature.
  5. After making the frosting, frost and decorate the cake as desired. (If possible, set the cake aside for 40 minutes.) Cut and ENJOY!


Serve at Room Temperature . For the finest lemon taste, serve this at room temperature. Since it’s kept in the refrigerator, I prefer to take it out before we sit down to dinner to let it to warm up before dessert.

A simple lemon cake recipe decorated with cream cheese frosting, flowers, and candles

Lemon Cake Recipe Variations

  • Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd . I filled the cake layers with the same frosting that was on the exterior (which tasted fantastic), but you can make it into a lemon curd layer cake by putting lemon curd between the layers and then spreading the lemon cream cheese frosting on the outside.
  • Lemon Sheet Cake This tiny lemon cake recipe does not give enough batter for a full 913-inch pan, but if you don’t mind a somewhat thinner cake, you may experiment with it or make 1.5 times the amount. Bake it at the same temperature indicated in the recipe, but be sure to check early, as it might finish more quickly. * NOTE * Since I haven’t tried it myself, it would be a total experiment. I recommend reading through the comments also, as several readers have shared experiences with baking the cake in assorted pan sizes.
  • Lemon Cupcakes . This recipe has been reported to produce 24-26 standard-size cupcakes by readers. Bake for approximately 16 minutes at the same temperature. Use paper liners to keep them from sticking.
  • Lemon Blueberry Cake Fold the blueberries into the batter gently (coat them with a little flour first to prevent sinking).
  • To Use Cake Mix . Although I don’t advocate making this lemon layer cake from a box, my Grandmother Dorothy’s top-rated Lemon Poke Cake is one of the greatest lemon cake recipes made using cake mix.
  • Lemon Cake with Almond Flour . This cake should not be made using almond flour. Instead of a gluten-free lemon cake, try this crowd-pleasing Almond Flour Cake with Lemon.
  • Vegan Lemon Cake . One reader reported that she was able to produce a fantastic vegan version of this lemon cake recipe by using cornstarch as an egg replacement and almond milk with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar instead of buttermilk. As usual, feel free to try new things.
lemon layer cake recipe frosted with lemon cream cheese frosting, topped with fresh lemon slices

Storage Tips

  • To Store Cover the cake with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  • To Freeze Lemon cake may be frozen for up to 2 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature before serving.

Meal Prep Tip

Make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead of time, then cool entirely before wrapping airtight. Keep them at room temperature until you’re ready to frost them. Frosting may be made a day ahead of time and kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

What to Serve with Lemon Cake

Healthy Lemon Cake topped with lemon cream cheese frosting, fresh spring flowers, and candles


Essential Stand Mixer

Let’s be honest: making a lemon layer cake recipe may be time-consuming. The stand mixer makes it much more manageable!

lemon layer cake frosted with lemon cream cheese frosting, garnished with lemon slices



  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour*
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder I suggest avoiding aluminum.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 pound room temperature unsalted butter (equivalent to 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract


  • 8 ounces  cream cheese softened
  • 1 pound softened unsalted butter (equivalent to 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces)
  • 2 3/4  cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately half a big lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle. Butter and flour two 8×2-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter the parchment too.
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing basin. In a separate medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites until combined.
  • Rub the granulated sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large mixing basin until the sugar is wet and aromatic. Add the butter and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed, or until extremely light and fluffy. Include the lemon extract.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the egg/buttermilk combination, and beat until incorporated on medium speed. While continuing to beat on medium speed, add the next third of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining eggs/buttermilk. Beat until the batter is smooth, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes more on medium speed, making sure the batter is properly blended and has lots of air in it.
  • Smooth the tops with a rubber or offset spatula after dividing the batter equally between the two pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen, spring back lightly when touched, and a small knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Put the cake pans on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before loosening the sides with a dull knife. Carefully flip the cake onto your palm to release it from the pan, then remove the paper liner and return the cake to the wire rack, bottom (flat) side down and right-side up. Let to cool till room temperature.
  • To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed with a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer until smooth and no lumps remain, approximately 3 minutes. Lower the mixer speed to low, then add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla essence, and salt. As the sugar starts to dissolve, raise the mixer speed to high and beat for 3 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon lemon juice to thin if desired.
  • To frost the cake, first trim the tops of the cake layers using a broad serrated knife to produce a level surface. Put one layer of cake on a cake plate or stand. To protect the dish, tuck wax or parchment paper strips below the borders of the cake. Cover the top evenly with lemon cream cheese icing. Put the second cake layer, cut-side down, on top. Spread extra frosting over the edges and on top of the cake. Decorate to taste. You may slice the cake straight away, but for a clean cut, leave the frosted cake in the refrigerator or a cold room for 40 minutes to set. Let the cake to come to room temperature before serving—serving it cold might make some of the fresh lemon flavor difficult to detect.
  • *Cake flour is required for this recipe in order for the layers to be exceptionally fluffy and light. If you don’t have cake flour, create your own by measuring 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, removing 5 tablespoons of the flour, adding 5 teaspoons of cornstarch, and sifting the mixture 5 times. Bake as suggested after measuring out the 2 1/4 cup required for the recipe.
  • To Make Ahead Make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead of time, then cool entirely before wrapping airtight. Keep them at room temperature until you’re ready to frost them. Frosting may be made a day ahead of time and kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.
  • To Store Cover the cake with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  • To Freeze Your frosted or unfrosted cake may be frozen for up to 2 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature before serving.

1 serving (of 12) Calorie count: 479kcal 73g carbohydrate 6g protein Fat: 19g 12g Saturated Fat 1g polyunsaturated fat 5g Monounsaturated Fat 1 gram of trans fat 52mg cholesterol 235mg potassium 1g fiber 54g of sugar 588 IU of vitamin A 2mg vitamin C 111 milligrams of calcium 1 milligram of iron