This lemon cake recipe is the perfect cake for lemon lovers. It turns out light and fluffy and oh-so-delicious. Topped with a homemade lemon glaze, it is a party in the mouth with every bite. If you are a fan of lemon cakes you have got to try this tender amazing cake.
If you prefer a classic frosting instead of a glaze you can easily do that instead. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors and cake is one of my favorite things to make and eat. Put those two things together and I am in heaven!
This homemade lemon cake recipe is incredibly easy to make if I can do it. You can do it. Let’s get baking!
This homemade lemon cake made completely from scratch puts the box cakes to shame. And it doesn’t take that much longer time to do it from scratch. It has a great balance of sweetness, tang, and tartness that you are going to love.
I don’t find it to be overly sweet which is great for people who want a good balance of flavor and sweetness. The batter comes together in minutes and is incredibly simple to make.
If you are a fan of lemon desserts make sure to try my easy lemon curd, lemon poppy seed muffins, lemon bars, and lemon butter cookies.
What you will need
In order to make this delicious tender moist lemon cake you will need the following ingredients:
Butter – I used unsalted butter but salted will be fine as well.
Sugar – Use regular white granulated sugar.
Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed is what I use, but out of the bottle is fine too.
Buttermilk – You can use sour cream, plain greek yogurt, or milk with a few teaspoons of lemon juice as well.
Lemon Zest – Lots of flavor in the lemon zest.
Flour – Use cake flour or all-purpose/plain flour.
And for the lemon glaze, you will be using powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice. Super simple and tasty.
Sifter or sieve
5×9-inch or 4×8-inch bread loaf pan, cake rounds, or cupcake pan
How to make a lemon cake from scratch
Begin by preheating the oven to 350F/176C.
Add the softened butter and the sugar to a large bowl and mix for 2 to 3 minutes until all is incorporated and the mixture looks really pale, almost white.
If you don’t have an electric mixer, use a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon.
TIP: If you forget to put the butter out at room temperature to soften about an hour beforehand, just warm it in the microwave or in the oven while it preheats.
Now add the eggs one at a time mixing until well combined. If you accidentally add more than one, it isn’t the end of the world, and your cake will still be fine.
Time to add all the flavor. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract and mix those in.
Next, add the buttermilk and lemon zest. There is so much flavor in the lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure all the ingredients are mixed properly.
NOTE: Use a zester to get the lemon zest from the lemon. While you can leave it out, I always add it, it really amps up the lemony flavor.
Also, the batter may look a little funky at this point. Don’t worry, it is supposed to look like that. That is what happens in a highly acidic liquid is added to the cake batter. It will look normal once the rest of the ingredients are added.
Finish the lemon cake batter
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a sifter and sift about half of it into the bowl, and then use a spatula or wooden spoon to fold it into the batter. Then add the remaining flour mixture and fold that in until well combined.
If you don’t have a sifter, just whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
And just like that, the lemon cake batter is done.
How to Bake a moist Lemon Cake
I always bake my lemon cakes in a bread loaf pan. It gives it a classic look, but you can also bake it in a couple of cake rounds, or even use a cupcake pan and make lemon cupcakes if desired.
Prepare a 5×9-inch bread pan by using shortening on the sides and bottom, then add a tablespoon of flour and tap it all around the pan.
Or you can spray it with cooking spray and use a piece of parchment paper on the bottom.
Pour all the cake batter into the pan and spread it out evenly.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until a toothpick or long wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan then remove it and place it on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way. You may want to run a butter knife or cake spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.
NOTE: You can use 8-inch rounds for a smaller thinner round cake, or use a cupcake pan too if you like. The baking times will be less about 22 to 28 minutes.
Easy Lemon Glaze
You can frost this cake with traditional frosting or make a yummy lemon glaze.
In a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice until thick and well combined. If you want it thinner add a little more lemon juice or milk.
Pour the glaze over the top and spread it out evenly. You can eat it right away with a runny glaze or let the cake sit for about 10 minutes so the glaze can firm up.
Slice and serve that yummy homemade lemon cake! You can get 10 to 14 servings depending on how thick you make the slices.
How long does lemon cake last?
The cake will stay fresh for a few days at room temperature if stored in an air-tight container. After that, you can store it for another 3 to 4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze this cake for a few months. Just wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in a freezer bag.
If you already know you are going to freeze it, for example, you plan on doubling the recipe and making two cakes, whichever one you want to freeze, just leave the glaze off. Then make the glaze and put it on before you want to actually eat it.
Here are other recipes that you may like:
Best Homemade Cornbread
Chocolate Mug Cake (one serving cake)
Best Homemade White Bread
If you love cake, make sure to check out my other cake recipes.
Easy Moist Lemon Cake Recipe
- Sifter or Sieve
- 5×9-inch or 4×8-inch baking pan, or cake rounds, or cupcake pan
- 1/2 cup of butter softened (113g)
- 1 cup of white granulated sugar 200g
- 3 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp of lemon juice 45ml
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract 3ml
- 1/2 cup of buttermilk 118ml
- 2 Tbsp of lemon zest or zest from 1 1/2 lemons (9g)
- 1 1/2 cups of cake flour or all-purpose/plain flour 180g
- 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder 6g
- 1/2 tsp of salt 2g
- 1 cup of powdered sugar 130g
- 1 Tbsp of milk 15ml
- 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or more to make the glaze thinner. (15ml)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/176C
- Mix together the softened butter and the sugar in a large bowl for 2 to 3 minutes until pale.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated and the batter is nice and fluffy.
- Next, add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Add the buttermilk and lemon zest and mix until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the main bowl about half to start, fold it into the batter with a spatula, then add the rest of the flour mixture and fold until combined. The Lemon cake batter is ready.
- Grease with shortening and flour a 5×9-inch bread pan. A piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan works great as well.
- Pour all the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 40 to 55 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean when poked in the center.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes then run a butter knife or cake spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Remove cake and set it on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
Make Lemon Glaze
- Mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.
- Pour it down the center of the cake then spread it out evenly with a spatula. Eat right away or let the glaze firm up for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve! Enjoy!
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This recipe was easy to follow, specific and great step by step for mixing. The cake made the house smell delightful while it was baking. Made cream cheese frosting and added extra lemon. Cake was scrumptious, just top knotch. Followed on Instagram! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.
So glad you tried it and liked it, Brittney! 🙂 🙂 And thank you so much! I love this lemon cake!
This was one of the most amazing recipes I have tried in a while! I love a good lemon recipe, but this one just hit the spot! I will be making it again for thanksgiving dinner!
Thank you so much for the nice compliment! So glad you liked it and are planning on making it again!
There is nothing better than homemade lemon cake!! This has the perfect amount of zing & the icing is perfection on top!
Agreed!! 🙂 🙂 And thank you!
this cake is super moist and just overall amazing. thank you so much for sharing this recipe
Glad you like this lemon cake recipe! You are very welcome!
I made your lemon cake today and it turned out very light, lemony and delicious. I used sour cream and it added a richness to taste. The icing added a nice lemon flavour with the Meyer lemons I used in the recipe. Thanks so much, it’ll be pinned to my favorite recipes to make more of.
So awesome, Beverly! I am glad you tried it and liked it. 🙂 You are very welcome!