This Vegan Lemon Cake is an amazing layered summer treat! The perfect combo of both sweet and tart together to make your mouth explode with happiness.
Lemon flavored desserts are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The flavors burst in your mouth and do a happy dance. This layered vegan lemon cake is no exception.
We paired this one with a vegan cream cheese buttercream frosting that is just delicious and the combination together is simply amazing.
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WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU NEED TO MAKE VEGAN LEMON CAKE?
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make easy lemon vegan cake:
- Flour – We only used all-purpose flour here because we wanted this recipe to be as accessible as possible for everyone.
- Lemon Juice and Zest – Since there are no vegan buttermilks on the market, we use acid to mix with the dairy free milk to make a vegan buttermilk. Acid helps tenderize gluten and therefore making a softer cake. Plus lemon is the star of this recipe too! We do NOT recommend using bottled lemon juice.
- Dairy Free Milk – Using milk instead of water adds more flavor into the recipe. We have tried this with both oat and almond and there’s not much of a difference honestly. Use either unsweetened plain or unsweetened vanilla flavored milk, but you don’t want any sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is what we are using. If you want to learn more about why your sugar may not be vegan, you can learn more by clicking on the link.
- Dairy Free Yogurt – Our favorite is Vanilla by Oui, but you can use your favorite sweeter variety of dairy free yogurt. This helps with moisture and binding.
- Oil – Cake needs some fat to really give the perfect texture
- Cornstarch (if not using cake flour) – helps to make the cake lighter and is traditionally added to cake flour for that texture. If swapping all-purpose flour for cake flour we add this in
- Turmeric – This is to give a deeper yellow color since we aren’t using eggs. You cannot taste it.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
- Dairy Free Milk – Any dairy free milk that you like can be used in this. The important thing is just not using a sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Flour – All-purpose flour. Also an all-purpose or 1:1 gluten free flour could be used.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – While we haven’t tried, you could replace this with a coconut sugar or date sugar
- Oil – Melted coconut oil could also be used here and it is normal for it to resolidify when mixing. It will melt back down again when baking. Alternatively, you could use applesauce (same amount) for even half oil, half applesauce if you are trying to reduce your oil consumption.
- Dairy Free Yogurt – could sub with applesauce or coconut cream (fatty part on the top of canned coconut milk)
- Cornstarch – you can sub with arrowroot powder if needed or add the same amount more all-purpose flour
Tips for how to make the best vegan lemon cake:
See below tips and tricks for making this cake perfect!
- Follow the instructions pretty please. Cake baking is a science, especially when making a dairy free/vegan cake. Every step has a purpose to ensure the perfect vegan lemon cake.
- While we don’t do it in the video or the recipe, if you are not comfortable baking, we highly recommend sifting the ingredients into the bowl. This loosens the ingredients and make sure there are no clumps leading to a more airy cake.
- Make sure to line with parchment paper and grease your pans. No one likes a cake that can’t come out of the pan. It’s one of the most frustrating things and doing these two things will helps.
- Make sure that you evenly distribute the cake batter into the cake pans. You can use a scale to make sure that they are all within a small range of each other.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool evenly.
- Let the cakes cool to touch. DO NOT RUSH. Let it cool completely.
- When ready to make the cake – use a cake leveling tool to make sure there’s no uneven tops.
- Place a small amount of frosting down first on a rotating cake stand, then your first layer. The frosting acts as a glue so the cake won’t slip.
- Use a piping bag and a large round tip and pipe frosting in a circular motion from the outer edge completely in to the middle.
- Use a cake spreader to gently even out layer of frosting. Place next layer and repeat. Step back and see if there is any gaps in between the layers. If there are, place enough frosting in those areas to get frosting to the edge.
- Use a cake scraper to go around the cake and ensure evenness around the entire cake. This step is really important. Place frosting on the top of the cake and more on sides if needed and frost evenly. Using a spreader on the top and the scraper to even evenness.
- Get creative. If you can’t get as smooth as you want or even as you want – you can also add toppings like crushed nuts or drizzle glaze along the edge so people focus on that. Plus it looks better either way.
- *Bonus Tip: If you want to frosting the cake but keep a clean cake stand, cut four 7″ pieces of wax paper and overlap them before placing the first layer on the cake stand. When you are completely done frosting the cake, carefully remove the four pieces of wax paper.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Absolutely! Did I just make your day? You can swap out the vegan all-purpose flour for Gluten Free Cup for Cup flour. All the other ingredients that we use in this recipe are naturally gluten free and no swaps are needed.
Besides the flour, that you can use gluten free as recommended above, the only other ingredient is the vegan yogurt.
Just choose a vegan yogurt that is suitable for your allergens.
This vegan lemon cake is so moist. The right amount of fat (oil) combined with making our own dairy free buttermilk (non dairy milk + acid) and adding in leavening agents (baking powder) all act together to insure this will not be a dry vegan cake.
Also, the importance of minimally processing the ingredients together. We only mix until combined. We do this because the longer you mix flour, the more gluten forms making for a not so great cake.
You can absolutely make this into dairy free lemon cupcakes. Simply make the recipe as normal and then instead of greasing a loaf pan, spray a cupcake pan or liners. Fill each one up 3/4 of the way. You’ll want to reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes. You should get about 18 cupcakes.
Yes. You can make this oil free. Replace the full amount of oil for applesauce. It is very important to know that using applesauce does lead to a more dense cake.
A vegan lemon cake is better for animals and the environment; however, we still use flour, sugar, and oil in this recipe. We are not claiming that this is a healthier alternative to a cake that contains dairy based milk and traditional eggs.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can’t even tell the difference. In fact, we’ve served vegan cake to many non-vegans and they had no idea!
CAN I MAKE THIS A SHEET PAN CAKE INSTEAD?
Yes! You can use a 9×13 cake pan in order to make this cake. The batter should work well to fill the cake pan but keep in mind that you should not fill the cake more than 3/4 way full. If you have too much you can use for mini cupcakes!
What other frosting ideas could I use on this vegan lemon loaf cake?
We highly recommend using the strawberry glaze recipe below; however, we know that some people want other options than that. Other ideas for how to frosting are:
- Vegan Strawberry Frosting
- Using Dairy Free Whipped Topping (Homemade “Cool Whip”)
- Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- Vegan Buttercream Frosting
I don’t want so much cake? Can I make less?
This cake is very very similar to our vegan lemon loaf cake. If you want a smaller amount of cake, we’d recommend that you follow the instructions for that recipe
What are other vegan cakes I can make?
Once you have perfected this vegan cake, you may be looking out for other delicious dairy free cupcakes or cakes. Here are some dairy free dessert recipe ideas.
- (Pictured Above) Vegan Strawberry Cornbread Cake
- Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Vegan Coconut Cake
- Dye Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Vegan Strawberry Cake
- The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Apple Pie
- Vegan Carrot Cake
- The Best Vegan Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Vegan Lemon Pound Cake
Pin this vegan lemon cake for later!
Vegan Lemon Cake
- 4 cups cake flour (sub for 3 2/3 cups all purpose + 1/3 cup cornstarch)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- zest of 2 whole lemons
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups vegan cane sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1 1/2 cups dairy free milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup dairy free yogurt (can sub applesauce or coconut cream)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 9" pans and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients ( cake flour, baking powder, salt, turmeric, and lemon zest). Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (lemon juice, both sugars, vegan butter, oil, non-dairy milk, yogurt, and vanilla) until very well combined.
- Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Use a spatula to fold together just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Pour into prepared pans evenly.
- Bake for 30-40 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool before removing.
- While cooling, into a large bowl, beat vegan butter and cream cheese together until creamy.
- Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating with mixer after each. Add in lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Blend together again.
- Spread or pipe frosting onto cake as desired.
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