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Finished slice of lemon cake with raspberries and lemon slice on top.

Vegan Lemon Cake

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  • Author: Lexi
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This Vegan Lemon Cake is one of our all-time favorite recipes! It's light and fluffy, packed with bright, lemony flavor, and it's topped with a creamy, fluffy vegan lemon buttercream frosting. It's also easy to make and can be used as a base for so many types of cake!


Units Scale

Vegan Lemon Cake:

  • 3/4 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons nondairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon zest
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour (or gluten free all purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Vegan Lemon Buttercream:

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4-4 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, divided
  • 2 tablespoons nondairy milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract



  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F / 175˚C. Lightly grease a 9x13" baking dish and line with parchment paper. 
  2. Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla extract, the lemon extract, and the lemon zest. 
  3. Mix in the applesauce. It may look separated, but once you add the dry ingredients, it will come back together.
  4. In a separate large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in 2-3 batches, alternating with the milk and lemon juice, until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 34-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely at room temperature before frosting.


  1. Beat the butter and powdered sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  2. Add in milk, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract and continue beating for 1 minute on high speed.
  3. Frost the cake, then top with remaining lemon zest. 


Cake pan conversions for circular layer cake: To make this vegan lemon cake into a 2 layer cake, use TWO 9-inch round pans. Divide the batter in half and use an equal amount in each pan. The baking time may be a bit shorter – start with 24 minutes and go from there until a toothpick comes out clean.

Storage: Since this cake doesn't contain any dairy products, it stores well covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you live somewhere very warm, you can store in the refrigerator to prevent the frosting from melting.

Make sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting, otherwise the buttercream will melt.

Lemon juice: It's super important to use freshly squeezed lemon juice in this vegan lemon cake. It's the best way to add flavor, plus you'll need the zest from a fresh lemon, so you might as well use the whole thing! (And no, you can't skip the zest – it's where most of the flavor comes from in this recipe.)

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 613
  • Sugar: 62.6 g
  • Sodium: 454.1 mg
  • Fat: 27.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 92.4 g
  • Fiber: 1.7 g
  • Protein: 4.2 g