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+ servings
whole frosted lemon cake

Lemon Cake

Sweet zingy lemon cake frosted with lemon buttercream frosting then decorated with a fresh sprinkling of lemon zest! Perfect for springtime!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemon Cake, Lemon Cake Recipe
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 16 servings
Calories 459kcal


  • 3 8" round cake pans
  • 1 stand mixer


For the Lemon Cake

For the Lemon Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter at room temperature
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice give or take 1 tablespoon
  • 1 whole lemon zested


Make the Lemon Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
    whipped butter, sugar and eggs
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest together. Set aside.
    adding milk to cake batter
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to combine. Set aside.
    dry ingredients added to lemon cake batter
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
    cake batter in bowl
  • Divide evenly between three baking pans and smooth the top.
    lemon cake batter in three round cake pans
  • Bake 30-40 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
    baked lemon cake layers on cooling rack

Make the Lemon Frosting

  • To make the lemon frosting, mix softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest together slowly to break apart the butter. With the mixer on low, add in lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time until it turns into a thick paste. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until completely smooth. Frosting may only use 3 tablespoons of lemon juice but may need up to 4. The frosting is done when it can hold its shape, but you can run a butter knife through it easily.
    whipped lemon frosting in bowl

Frost the Lemon Cake

  • Layer cake and frosting together using an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly between the layers. Add frosting around the edges and across the top. Use any excess frosting to decorate with a large star tip and disposable piping bag. Add extra lemon zest and/or lemon slices and serve.
    layering frosting with lemon cake


Recipe will make:
  • 1- 9x13 thick cake (bake for 40-55 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (40-50 minutes)
  • 24 cupcakes (bake for 18-20 minutes)
Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker teflon will give you darker, crispier edges which doesn't really have a place in cake, in my humble opinion.


Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 566IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg