This Vegan Lemon Cake with lemon buttercream frosting is hands down the best lemon cake I’ve ever eaten. Scratch that, it may be the best *cake* I’ve ever had. Each bite is infused with bright lemony flavor, and is so fluffy and moist you may want to cry from joy!
Can you see those little bright yellow flakes in the cake? That’s lemon zest, which adds such bright, lemony goodness to both the frosting AND the cake layers. Plus, I love how pretty it is!
Perfect for Easter or any lemon lover’s birthday, no one would guess this lemon cake is vegan. The cake layers are incredibly moist and fluffy, and the lemon buttercream frosting is so rich, creamy and bright.
Let’s talk about this Vegan Lemon Cake.
It uses aquafaba as an egg replacement, which makes it incredibly moist, and means that unlike when you use ground flax, there are no brown flakes in this cake. Just fluffy, white, moist layers of lemon cake. Don’t be afraid of aquafaba, it’s super easy to work with. Just drain a can of chickpeas, reserving the liquid, mix it a bit and carry on. 🙂
I used two 8-inch round cake pans for this recipe, but you could also make a sheet cake by baking it in a 9 x 13 cake pan. If you do that, just watch the baking time. It will take more like 45-50 minutes to be done. I’ve also made cupcakes out of this recipe, and they took about 25 minutes to be done.
For all the bright lemon flavor, I used both lemon zest and lemon extract in the cake layers, and more lemon zest and lemon juice in the frosting. YUM!
Once the cakes are completely cooled, spread the frosting evenly between the layers, on top and all around with an icing spatula. Or get fancy and make flowers or something. I usually just keep it simple and smooth, but sometimes I like to have fun with decorating!
You could also top it with fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or blackberries!
I hope you love this happy vegan lemon cake recipe! It’s basically sunshine in a cake. 🙂
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If you make this recipe, let me know how it goes! Rate it, leave a comment and tag a photo @noracooksvegan on Instagram. Enjoy!
- Zester and grater– It is so helpful to have a decent zester for the lemons. I love this one and use it for ginger as well.
- Cake stand
Vegan Lemon Cake
For the Lemon Cake:
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup aquafaba* 1/2 cup measured AFTER whipping, see Note
- 8 tablespoons vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Frosting:
- 1 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature (2 sticks earth balance or 16 tablespoons)
- 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, line with parchment rounds (I cut them out myself to fit the bottom of the pans, prevents sticking), and grease the parchment paper as well. Sprinkle lightly with flour.
- In a measuring cup, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until it curdles (this is your vegan buttermilk).
- In a medium sized bowl, drain the chickpeas to collect the liquid from the can. (Rinse the chickpeas and refrigerate for another use) With a hand mixer, mix on low-medium speed for about 1 minute, until light and foamy. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest. Stir to combine. 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.
- On low speed, add in the almond milk mixture 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.
- 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 standing mixer or handheld 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!
- Aquafaba is the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Simply drain the chickpeas over a bowl and collect the liquid. With a hand mixer, mix until light and foamy, about 1 minute. Then measure 1/2 cup.
- For best results, use Earth Balance brand of vegan butter. It has the best flavor in my opinion.
- You could replace the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour if desired.
- Inspired by Well Plated.
- Recipe updated 7/31/18 with improved instructions and new photos. I found that a vegan buttercream frosting worked better than the original vegan cream cheese frosting, as vegan cream cheese can be difficult to work with, some are quite runny and melt too quickly. This buttercream frosting holds up much better.