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
4.93 stars (127 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!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Read my full disclosure here.

Posted In: , , , , , , , ,

you may also like:


  1. I just cannot get the butter/oil/sugar/lemonzest right it starts to curdle…. yes everything is the same temp. I tried adding in 1 by 1, after 3 times I just gave up….sad because I really wanted this to work.

    1. It’s okay if it looks curdled, it will still come out just fine! Just continue on and add the dry ingredients.

  2. I put all my love and anxiety into this one. And it was the best thing I’ve ever baked. Just wondering how you got the one in the picture so yellow. I dropped too much yellow food dye in mine and it was barely yellow. Other than that, it was yummy and gone in less than 15 mins. Thank you Nora! I can always count on your recipes. Xxoo ? 

    1. Hi Brandi. I’m so happy that this cake turned out delicious and wonderful for you! Thank for sharing your great feedback! I’m thrilled you are loving my recipes! As for the color, I used some yellow food dye. Happy cooking!

  3. I made this cake for my birthday and it was a huge hit! I’ll definitely make it again. 

    I tried making the lemon curd according to recipe instructions but it would not thicken so I couldn’t include it in the cake.

    The recipe for the lemon curd says to warm it through, although I wonder if bringing the mixture to a boil would have thickened it as it refrigerated overnight. 

    1. I’m so glad you loved the cake, Chloe! Sorry to hear the curd didn’t thicken enough. The texture can be runny when it comes off the stove but does thicken after sitting in the fridge. I would recommend letting the curd sit overnight in the fridge if you try this recipe again!

  4. Made two of these–1 for fam & 1 for church bake-off. I’m gonna win! This is a deliciously moist dense cake. The lemon curd takes it to the next level–don’t skimp. I tried torting 1 cake. Don’t do it, crumbles. Plus, it’s good as 1 solid layer with curd in the middle and icing all around. Delish. Thanks!!!

  5. Hi Nora! First let me say how much I love your recipes! I’ve made so many of them and we’ve never been disappointed. I was a bit disappointed in the final result of this recipe because the center of my cupcakes completely fell. I’ve never encountered this before so maybe you can help me out. 

    1. I’m sorry to hear this, Kesha. Cupcakes can sink for a variety of reasons, such as when the batter is overmixed, your oven temperature is off, or the baking powder is expired. Hopefully with these in mind, the next batch will turn out much better!

  6. I’m currently waiting for cakes to cool. First time making this. Might be a dumb question but if I’m doing the lemon curd in the middle, do I also do some of the frosting or just the curd? This is my first layered cake.

    1. It’s up to you! You can frost the middle and add a layer of curd on top of the frosting, place the curd in the middle of the cake and surround the outside with frosting, or just spread the curd across the middle. Hope this helps!

    1. I haven’t made this in a bundt pan yet, but I imagine it should work. They will take a bit longer, maybe an extra 20 minutes or so. Let me know how it works for you!

  7. Everything came out perfectly. The cakes, the frosting, the curd (my favorite part, I kept sneaking spoons of it while baking the cake). I love all things lemon, and this cake was the ultimate. Instructions were easy to follow – this was my first time using aquafaba, and it worked! Will be making this and your chocolate cupcakes for a baby shower in a couple weeks!

    1. Hi Kelly. I love lemon as well! I am so encouraged by your wonderful feedback! I’m glad the recipe was easy for you to follow, and delicious! Wonderful cake choices for a baby shower! Enjoy!

    1. Yes, but the lemon flavor may not be as strong. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice instead of the extract.

  8. Easy and yummy recipe as always! I get nervous sometimes because we don’t have an electric mixer, so everything is done by hand, but it turns out fine every time! Lemon taste was a great addition to our Easter desserts. Not as great as your strawberry or chocolate cake, but still good! Thanks for another awesome recipe!

    General cake question for you….. your chocolate cake recipe requires AP flour, but would it have more lift if I used cake flour?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake, Emily! I don’t recommend using cake flour in my chocolate cake recipe because it will make the already moist and fluffy cake too delicate.

      1. Thanks for the explanation. Baking science is such a mystery to me. I’m glad you’re on the front lines doing all these experiments!

      2. Hi Nora, i just discovered your blog while looking for a lemon layer cake for my daughter’s 8th birthday, we are not vegan here but she has a lot of food allergies(eggs, dairy…and the list goes on) so I think that I will use your recipe for the sponge but i was wondering if i can substitute the aquafaba for more soy milk is it going to work?

        Thanks a lot

        1. Hi Hannah! I’m afraid the cake will turn out dense if you substitute more soy milk for the aquafaba, but I haven’t tested it to know for sure. So you could try it, but the aquafaba actually helps make the cake light and fluffy, like egg whites would. Hope that helps and you all enjoy the cake!

  9. I love the icing and the cake tastes good but didnt rise much. It rose when it first came out and I tested the doneness so I know it was cooked. Actually since I made it in a 9x13pan I had to cook it a bit longer.
    Are all vegan cakes more dense compared to cakes with eggs ?
    Maybe I will try it as cupcakes next time.

    1. Did you use cake flour? It should come out pretty light and fluffy with cake flour. Sometimes I use regular flour and it’s a bit denser. Make sure to not over bake the cake as well, this can lead to a dry, dense cake. Vegan cakes do not have to be more dense than non-vegan cakes, and this one should be fluffy and light, not dense. Did you make any substitutions at all?

  10. I made these for the first time this past weekend. I’m not vegan, but a friend is. They were the best thing ever! They are fresh and light and the lemon is a burst of sunshine in your mouth. Wouldn’t change a thing. I made cupcakes and mini cupcakes in an electric oven. The regular size cupcakes took 20 minutes to bake and the minis took 10 minutes. Let them sit before eating as they will fall apart if you try to take them out of the paper while warm. Once they cool, they do not. Also, I found I didn’t need to use the milk in the frosting. I could have added more sugar. Another note the “aquafaba” from the chickpeas, I found that one can has enough liquid (more than you need). I will definitely be making these again!

      1. Hello I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe as it gets so many great reviews 
        How would I go about scaling up the quantity for a 10” and 12” cake as I’m making it for a friends wedding cake? Please 

        1. I haven’t tried baking this in anything bigger than an 8-inch cake pan, but I’d suggest doubling or tripling the recipe (depending on how many layers you want) for 10 and 12-inch cakes. The 10-inch layers will only need to bake for about 30 minutes and the 12-inch layers should need to bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

  11. Hi Nora. I have made several of your cakes and they are not only delicious but always work. I am going to make this one too but can I check, is self raising sponge flour the same as cake flour? Or should I use regular self raising or plain/all purpose flour? Many thanks. 

    1. Self-raising flour and cake flour have different amounts of protein and will produce different results. Cake flour is the best choice here but all purpose flour is the next best option.

  12. Hi Nora! 

    I have a soon-to-be 7 year old daughter who requested a lemon cake with a raspberry frosting for her birthday. I saw you have a recipe for a strawberry frosting, which is close enough in my book :). My question is, are the flavors of each of these (the lemon cake and the strawberry frosting) strong enough that you think they will compete rather than complement each other? If I swapped the strawberries for raspberries in your frosting recipe, would it work as written? My last option is to do the full lemon cake and simply decorate with berries.
    Thanks so much for your incredible creations! 9 times out of 10, your website is my go-to for vegan recipes 🙂

    1. Hi Maria. The lemon cake can be quite ‘lemony’, so I’d recommend substituting fresh lemon juice for the lemon extract to help tone down the flavor. And yes, the frosting would still work really well with raspberries! Hope this helps 🙂

  13. I am going to try this cake for a family birthday gathering. Can’t wait to try it. Can I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil?

  14. HI Nora! What should the aquafab look like when it’s done mixing? Should it have liquid with foam on top or be like meringue?

    1. Hi Catherine. The aquafaba should be light and foamy when done mixing, and should NOT have stiff peaks.

      1. My daughter-in-law is just dairy-free but can eat eggs..can I substitute egg whites for the aquafaba? We have made your Best Vegan Chocolate Cake twice and it is truly the BEST chocolate cake ever! My son and daughter-in-law have birthdays only 4 days apart but they each want their own chocolate cake lol Even my husband who doesn’t have any dietary issues said “don’t lose this recipe!” So glad to have found your site, Nora ?

        1. Hi Suzette! Welcome to my site! I am so glad you are enjoying my recipes! I truly love creating easy and delicious recipes! I have not tested this recipe using egg whites, however, I think it could work. I’d try using 4 egg whites. Please let me know how it goes for you! Thank you for your wonderful feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking as you journey through my recipes!

  15. I just made this for my upcoming 35th birthday dinner and LET ME TELL YOU IT IS DELICIOUS!!! I’ve tried so many from scratch recipes and they have failed (including the one I tried earlier this morning) but THIS one is perfection!!! Thank you so much for doing the due diligence and creating such an amazing recipe! I have the strawberry cake (made from your vegan strawberry cake recipe) in the oven now and can’t wait to try it!! ? ?

    1. Happy birthday, Jennifer! I’m thrilled you loved the lemon cake! My mother-in-law loves this one as well! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review and feedback! I hope your birthday celebration is magical!

  16. OMG! this recipe was PERFECTION!!! 🙂 vegan cakes in the past have usually been either really dry and crumbly or overly moist and dense but this lemon cake was better than even any regular cake i’ve had in my life. perfect flavour and all of my guests were super impressed about how delicious it was. i made the cake and icing but also added candied lemons as edible garnish on top. thanks so much for sharing this amazing recipe! 🙂

    1. Hi Crystal, thank you for sharing your fantastic review and comments! I love the idea of candied lemons on top 🙂

  17. When I added the wet and dry ingredients my mixture curdled into a horrible mess !! Any ideas on how to prevent this? I followed the steps exactly

    1. Oh no! This can sometimes happen when the ingredients aren’t at room temperature. If you try it again, make sure all of the ingredients sit on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes before getting started.

  18. I made this for my mom’s birthday party and it was a HUGE hit with everyone. Thank you! I just wish I could share my pictures!!!

    1. You are so welcome! I wish I could see the pictures! How wonderful to hear the cake was a hit! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy birthday to your mom!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.