Light, zesty, and so lemony, this Vegan Lemon Cake is the best springtime recipe around! Celebrate the warm weather with a slice decorated in lemon buttercream and fresh vegan lemon curd in the center, if desired.

3 pieces of cake on plates with pink flowers around it

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate sunny weather than with a big slice of this Vegan Lemon Cake. Like eating sunshine on a plate, this tangy cake is so soft, fluffy, and packs in bright and fresh flavors. It’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten!

This recipe is similar to my moist and decadent vegan vanilla cake. The cheerful specks of yellow from the added lemon zest and lemon extract transform this cake into a treat with a pop of fresh flavors. It really is the prettiest cake around. I added a touch of yellow food coloring for that vibrant yellow hue, but you can leave it out if you like.

I haven’t forgotten about the buttercream either! It’s a lemony dream with all of the creaminess you love about a classic buttercream frosting. Give this eggless cake a try when you need the perfect dessert to bring to Easter dinner or any lemon lover’s birthday.

piece of cake being lifted out from the rest of the cake

How to make vegan lemon cake

Start by making vegan buttermilk. Combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a measuring glass and let it sit until it curdles.

Pour the aquafaba into a bowl and mix on medium-high speed until it’s light and foamy. It does not have to form stiff peaks.

Line two round cake pans (8 or 9 inch) with a square or round piece of parchment paper, and spray very well with oil.

collage showing steps for making vegan lemon cake

Beat the vegan butter, oil, sugar, and lemon zest together in a large bowl.

Next, add the lemon and vanilla extracts and beat again. Add the yellow food coloring as well, if using.

Pour in the aquafaba and vegan buttermilk and mix one last time.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until they’re just combined. 

collage of how to make cake batter

Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the cakes comes out clean. When they’re done, let the cakes cool completely on a wire rack.

yellow cake batter in two pans

How to make vegan lemon buttercream frosting

Beat the softened butter until it’s light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add in the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Finish by mixing in the rest of the powdered sugar and adjust the texture as needed.

Decorate the completely cooled cake layers with buttercream and vegan lemon curd if you want. Add decorations like candied lemon slices, vegan whipped cream, or fresh berries on top and enjoy!

frosting a cake

Tips for success

  • Is the frosting too thick? Mix in a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time to thin it out. 
  • Is the frosting too thin? Add more powdered sugar until it gets a bit thicker.
  • Cake flour – For the best results, make this recipe with cake flour. It comes out of the oven super fluffy with a fine crumb that is unmatched! All purpose flour will also work if you can’t find cake flour.
  • Decorating – If buttercream isn’t your thing, decorate the cake with Cream Cheese Frosting instead. Add a layer of Vegan Lemon Curd in the middle and fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries on top for a colorful presentation.

close up of a piece of vegan lemon cake with pink flowers

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is aquafaba? Aquafaba is the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Simply drain the chickpeas over a bowl and collect the liquid.
  2. Can it be made gluten free? Yes! Replace the cake flour with a 1:1 gluten free flour. It works out quite well!
  3. Can this recipe be made into cupcakes? Pour the batter into two prepared muffin tins and bake for around 20 to 24 minutes. You could also use my recipe for Vegan Lemon Cupcakes.

Storing and freezing lemon cake

Leftover cake can be kept covered at room temperature for about 3 to 4 days. To keep it longer, store the individual slices or the whole cake covered in the fridge for around 1 week.

The baked cake layers also freeze nicely. Once they’re cool, wrap the layers well in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

cut piece of cake showing fluffy yellow texture

Want more vegan lemon desserts?

square image of a piece of lemon cake on a plate with a fork in it
4.92 stars (118 ratings)

Vegan Lemon Cake

Light, zesty, and so lemony, this Vegan Lemon Cake is the best springtime recipe around! Celebrate the warm weather with a slice decorated in lemon buttercream and fresh vegan lemon curd in the center, if desired.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 slices


For the lemon cake

  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon pure lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour*
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon yellow food coloring, optional

For the frosting

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment rounds (I cut them out myself to fit the bottom of the pans to prevent sticking.)
  • Vegan buttermilk: In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until it curdles (this is your vegan buttermilk.)
  • Aquafaba: In a medium sized bowl, drain the chickpeas to collect the liquid from the can. (Rinse the chickpeas and refrigerate for another use.) Measure 1/2 cup of aquafaba. With a hand mixer, mix on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and foamy. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the softened butter, oil, sugar and lemon zest. Beat on medium speed with the handheld mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Now add in the lemon and vanilla extracts and beat to combine. If using the yellow food coloring, add it in now as well.
  • On low speed, add in the vegan buttermilk and aquafaba and mix. Now add the flour, sprinkle the baking powder and salt on top of the flour and mix on low until well combined, about 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed with a spatula. Do not over mix.
  • Divide the batter equally in the prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen, and carefully invert the cakes onto your hand. Remove the parchment paper and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the frosting: Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the vegan butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed, add in the 2 cups of the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Beat on low, then switch to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Now add in the remaining 2 cups powdered sugar and mix. If the frosting seems too thick, add a tablespoon at a time of non-dairy milk. If the frosting seems too thin, add more powdered sugar until a desirable consistency is reached.
  • Frost the cake: Place one of the cake layers on your cake stand or plate. Frost the top evenly. Place the second cake layer on top. Top the second layer with more frosting, and frost the sides as well. Decorate as desired and serve!


  1. Aquafaba is the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Simply drain the chickpeas over a bowl and collect the liquid. 
  2. Cake flour is wonderful here if you can find it. The cake will come out fluffier with a fine crumb, but all purpose works if you don't have access to cake flour. Gluten free all purpose flour works quite well, too.
  3. Store leftover cake at room temperature for 3-4 days and make sure to cover any cut parts. Or keep it in the refrigerator for 1 week. It freezes perfectly as well.
  4. Cupcakes - Divide into liners and bake for 20-24 minutes.
  5. Consider adding a layer of vegan lemon curd to the middle, if desired.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 532kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 316mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 65g | Vitamin A: 1081IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

*This recipe was originally published July 2018 and has been updated April 2021 with new photos and an improved recipe to make it even more moist and fluffy, and with clearer instructions for the aquafaba. I’m always working on improving my recipes!

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  1. Hi Nora, thanks for all the greatnrecipes. Can I substitute applesauce for the vegan butter to reduce calories. Thanks

    1. You could try it in the cake itself, but it may have a bit of a gummy texture to it, as fat free baked goods tend to have. Thanks and hope you enjoy!

  2. Hi! Thanks for sharing your recipe. So with the aquafaba, do you beat just until foamy or until you have soft or somewhat stiff peaks? Also, how do you measure/scoop your flour?

    1. For this recipe, I just beat or even whisk until it’s foamy, it does not have to have stiff peaks. To measure flour, I usually use the “scoop and level” technique. So I scoop the flour out of the container with a spoon, into a measuring cup, then level it off with a knife. Hope that helps!

  3. I’m planning on making this cake for my son’s birthday. He loves lemon cake but also chocolate frosting. Do you have a vegan chocolate buttercream recipe I could use with this cake?

  4. I made this for a carnivore crowd on Super Bowl Sunday. I was a little worried because as the cake was baking I notice I had added two sticks of vegan butter to the batter! Instead of the 8 TBS. OOPS. So I didn’t get as good of a rise, it was like heavenly lemon pound cake. An absolute hit with the entire crowd. Will go on my make again list (the correct way). Great recipe.

  5. Thank you so much Nora for another perfect recipe. I am so hesitant to make cakes, they usually turn out less than ideal for me even with recipes, but this one came out PERFECT! I used mini non-stick cake tins and greased and floured them and they came out perfectly. We kept the frosting by the side (in a sealed container on the counter), slathering the little cakes with them before eating to make storage easier, and they were a total hit!

    Lemony tart, moist, decadent and sweet. Everything you’d want in a lemon cake!

    Thank you again so much for this solid recipe, I’m saving it forever!

    1. It might work, but I’m sorry I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure! I have heard good things about using Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour Mix.

    1. Yes, it works for cupcakes, I’ve done it several times now! You can use the same measurements, just lower the cooking time. Regular sized cupcakes will take 20-25 minutes.

      1. Made these as cupcakes. Came out perfect!!! Thank you!! How do your store the extra batter and frosting? Refrigerator or can you leave out the batter and frosting out overnight?

        1. I’m so glad they came out perfect! Do you mean the cake batter that hasn’t been cooked yet? I would keep it in the refrigerator for sure, though I think it would be best to bake it right away, not let it sit overnight. Any extra frosting I would keep in the refrigerator. But the frosted cupcakes are fine at room temperature, in a covered container or carefully covered with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Hope that helps!!

    1. I haven’t tried making it as a bundt cake, no, but I’m sure it would work! I’ll definitely try that soon!

  6. Hi Nora,
    I made this recipe twice and both times my lemon frosting
    separated and made clumps, it wasn’t smooth and creamy like your picture.
    Do you know what I might be doing wrong? Is it the acid in the lemon juice? Does the butter need to be cold? Please let me know your thoughts:)

    1. Hi Monica! Oh how strange! I have never had that happen, in all the times I’ve made this cake. The vegan butter should be softened, but not melted. It doesn’t need to be cold, no. You might want to try adding the lemon juice last, or if you must, simply add lemon zest but not the lemon juice and see if that does it.

  7. Dear Nora:
    This is the BEST vegan cake I have ever had: it’s light, moist and tastes like cake instead of cornbread as do too many vegan “cake” recipes. I love cake and was interested in trying aqua faba; this lemon cake did not disappoint and it stayed moist for days!

    Do you have a recommendation for tweaking this for vanilla or coconut cake? I would use coconut milk or vanilla something , but any other suggestions? The lemon zest, etc would be omitted so what do you suggest for other rich flavors?

    Thank you so so much for sharing this recipe!!

    1. Thank you Mary for this wonderful comment! This is my favorite cake, too. I agree, many vegan cakes do taste something like cornbread; too dense and dry. I’m so glad you enjoyed the lemon cake! I actually recently posted a Vegan Vanilla Cake, so you may want to check that out. It’s quite similar to this cake, just vanilla. For coconut cake, perhaps you could omit the lemon flavors, and add a teaspoon or so of coconut extract, and replace the milk with coconut milk. Maybe add a little coconut extract to the frosting as well, and a little shredded coconut on top. Sounds delicious!

    2. I just made this and decided to go with coconut lemon, I cut the vanilla extract down to 1.5 tsp and used 1/2 tsp coconut extract. It was amazing!

  8. Do you know how I could make this cake in two 9″ rounds?? Can’t wait to try it. I don’t have lemon extract but may try almond?? What do you think.
    Thank you!

  9. Hi Nora i want to make this for Christmas day at work (lucky me I have to work), and I would have to make it a couple of days in advance, will it keep?
    Thanks, Anthea.

    1. Hi Anthea! I’m sorry you have to work on Christmas, what a bummer! But hopefully you can enjoy some of this delicious cake. 🙂 Yes, you can make it a few days in advance. After you make it, and frost it, I would refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it. Make sure to cover it as well to prevent it from drying out. Hope you enjoy!

  10. Do you have nutritional info about how much saturated fat is in the recipe for this and your chocolate cake? Thanks for these yummy recipes!!

    1. Thanks Karen! I don’t have that exact information, I generally only include estimated calories for my recipes. You can plug in all the ingredients at a website such as to get more details. Hope that helps!

  11. I made this for a vegan friend at work. I put a bit of lemon juice in it instead of lemon essence, and I put lemon drizzle and lemon icing on the top instead of the frosting. It was DELICIOUS, by far the most authentic textured dairy free cake I have made. Everyone enjoyed it and didn’t believe it was vegan. 5 stars.

  12. Soya milk is best to curdle as it curdles beautifully forming something like liquid cheese. Used it in other recipes now I am trying this one.

  13. I made this (twice) a week ago and loved it. It was the hit of our vegan pot luck and made a sweet lady turning 89 very happy to have this as her birthday cake! The only thing I did different the second time was to not whip the aquafaba until I was ready to use it. I think I am too use to using egg whites and was afraid to over beat it.

    I am a huge lemon fan so I would love to up the quantity of zest next time. Otherwise it was great!

    This was the FIRST vegan thing I have ever baked and I was thrilled. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Bakers should keep in mind that “I can’t believe it’s not butter vegan” is not real butter. It’s wetter so results will vary. Learned that lesson with the icing – or should I say “glaze” 🙂

    1. So glad to hear this Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing! So happy it was used for a wonderful birthday celebration. 🙂 And absolutely, earth balance is the brand to go with.

  14. That cake sounds delicious and I am super curious to try it. Do you think that coconut oil or any other oil could substitute the vegan butter in the cake (only in the cake – of course not in the frosting) with same results? I tried it successfully in the past but I guess every cake is slightly different.

    1. I haven’t tried it with coconut oil or other oil, but I’m pretty sure it would work. I hope if you make the cake you enjoy it! I think it’s my favorite cake ever. 🙂

  15. Hi Nora – I plan to make this for my son’s birthday. Would any other dairy free milk work okay? We typically use rice milk but could use coconut or hemp milk, just can’t do almond or soy. Thanks.

      1. Thank you Nora. The cake was delicious. I do have another question. If I wanted to use eggs how many would I use in place of the aquafaba? Thanks.

  16. Am I overlooking something in the cream cheese frosting? I don’t see cream cheese in the recipe…. wouldn’t this be a buttercream frosting?

    1. It is a lemon buttercream frosting. Originally, I posted it with a cream cheese frosting, but found vegan cream cheese to be rather unpredictable to work with, so I changed it to a simple lemon buttercream frosting. 🙂

  17. I had such high hopes for this cake, as it looked and sounded amazing. It was my first time using aquafaba, and while my cake looked delicious and I followed the recipe to a T, sadly it tasted dense and gummy and not super lemony. I don’t know where I went wrong.

    1. Hmmm… I wonder what happened? Many people have made this cake now with good results, so it’s hard to know what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you. Cakes are rather tricky; if just one thing is off it can throw it off. If it was dense, I’m wondering if maybe your baking powder was bad. Or maybe you didn’t whip the aquafaba until it was foamy? The other problem can be incorrectly measuring the flour, so you end up with too much or not enough. The correct way is to spoon flour into a measuring cup and then level off with a knife. Those are a few of my ideas on what may have gone wrong for you, I’m sorry it didn’t work out, it’s one of my favorites I make often for special occasions and have never had that problem!

  18. Hi Nora,
    Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar? What about substituting lemon juice for lemon extract (maybe 2X so 2 tsp.)?

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I think that would work just fine. Just replace the vinegar with lemon juice equally, and it you aren’t using the lemon extract, I would double lemon juice, and perhaps use a little extra lemon zest as well if you want more lemon flavor. 🙂

    2. Hi Nora! I want to make this cake for my little guy’s first birthday smash cake. Does it matter if the can of chickpeas is sodium free?

  19. Hi Nora! Can’t wait to try this! I was thinking about making this a day ahead for Easter, would I need to refrigerate due to the cream cheese?

    1. Hi Tami! No you don’t need to refrigerate it, it will be ok on the counter for 2-3 days. Unless you live somewhere where it’s already really warm, then I might. ? I hope you enjoy the cake!

  20. Just made this. It was so delicious!!! As a “new” vegan I’m trying to find new foods I can enjoy that my family will still like, or at least tolerate. Your recipes have been a blessing! Thank you!!

    1. I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed this lemon cake Christine! Thank you so much for sharing, your comment made my day! 🙂

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