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This Lemon Cake Recipe is so luscious and fluffy. It’s the perfect lemon cake full of lemon flavor. 

A slice of Lemon Cake being removed from the rest of the cake.

Do I have to use buttermilk in this recipe?

The buttermilk in this recipe interacts with the baking powder to create a fluffier cake. If you do not have buttermilk, you can easily make a buttermilk substitute.

Can I use a different kind of frosting in this recipe?

This lemon cake recipe uses a cream cheese frosting. If you do not like cream cheese frosting or cannot find cream cheese, you can replace the cream cheese with butter which will create a buttercream frosting.

What is the easiest way to frost a layered cake?

The easiest way to frost a layered cake is to transfer all of your frosting to plastic piping bags. Place the empty piping bags into a tall glass to make it easier to transfer the frosting.  You don’t need to use a piping tip, simply snip off the bottom. Squeeze the frosting in a spiral on top of each layer of cake, then use a knife to spread it out in an even layer. Once all layers are assembled, you can squeeze the remaining frosting around the outside of the cake as well and smooth it out.

Lemon Frosting being inserted into a piping bag that is in a tall glass.
Lemon frosting being swirled onto a layer of the lemon cake.
Cake Conversion Guide

Can this lemon cake be made into a 2 layer cake?

Yes, this recipe is designed for either a 3 layer cake with thin layers, or a 2 layer cake with thicker layers without making any adjustments to the ingredients in this recipe. For a 2 layer cake, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in some of our other delicious cake recipes:

Slice of lemon cake on a white plate with a bite taken out of it.

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

A slice of Lemon Cake being removed from the rest of the cake.
This Lemon Cake Recipe is so luscious and fluffy. It's the perfect lemon cake full of lemon flavor. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract optional
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Lemon Frosting

  • 1 cups softened butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • Grease three 9-inch pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. 
  • Use a fork to combine the eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon extract together in a bowl or 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
  • In another mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix in until just combined. Add in half of the milk mixture and combine. Add in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients until combined followed by the remainder of the buttermilk mixture. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix with the hand mixer until just combined, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom to make sure everything is mixed in. Gently fold in lemon zest.
  • Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit in pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before layering and frosting.


Calories: 678kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 405mg | Potassium: 198mg | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 1150IU | Vitamin C: 2.7mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Cake
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July 29, 2019 6:25 pm

This cake turned out wonderfully. I added a few blackberries from my backyard in between the layers. The last few lemon recipes I made, the cake came out VERY dense. This one came out lighter, exactly how I wanted it. The frosting is the kind of frosting that makes you dance around your kitchen goin, “Mmm mmm mm!” after you dip your finger in for a taste.

Thanks for the recipe.

Karen Clowdus
September 4, 2020 2:45 pm
Reply to  Gabrielle

My cake came out very heavy and dense also
Even though extremely delicious.
Can you tell me what you did different to make it not so dense and not so heavy?

Lena Gallagher
November 28, 2020 3:01 pm
Reply to  Karen Clowdus

Hi. Did you get a reply to this? Mine also came out very dense 😛 Didn’t rise at all either.

May 4, 2020 5:39 pm

5 stars
This cake was delicious! Thank you!! Just wondering if you would update the recipe to include the directions for the frosting, if possible? Thank you so much!!

December 28, 2020 6:29 pm

3 stars
The icing was awesome! Best cake icing I’ve ever tasted. The cake? Well, as others mentioned, mine came out too dense. It also didn’t have enough lemon flavor for my taste. I followed the directions exactly as stated, so I was a little disappointed. I’ll try another lemon cake recipe, but keep the lemon icing recipe.

December 24, 2020 8:47 am

I made this cake for the Fire Dept guys working on Christmas Day. I wish I could sneak a corner piece. The directions are so exact, I appreciate that. Like how long to beat things. The batter was so fluffy. My heaping teaspoon of lemon zest was really heaping. 😉 And I put some in the fluffy frosting too. Thank you so much for your work on your recipes. I have never had a flop with you. Sometimes folks post things that sound good, and I’m usually disappointed. Now I’ve learned, if the don’t reveal their names, I might not… Read more »

December 24, 2020 11:19 am

I took the egg whites aways from the yolks and whisked them a lot to get all airy, then I whisked in the yolks. Maybe that would help those who felt like it was dense. I did cut out a corner of the cake, since our son is the fire chief, it really is airy and nice flavor. 😉

November 1, 2020 9:17 pm

3 stars
The icing was great but my cake turned out dense. I am not sure if I should use cake flour instead of plain flour…

October 29, 2020 9:17 pm

2 stars
Not a fan…heavy, dense..very disappointing.

June 21, 2020 8:19 am

The best lemon cake ever😊♥️

March 11, 2019 1:58 pm

5 stars
This cake recipe is incredible!!! I was searching for a lemon cake and tried another website’s recipe that I was disappointed in. Then I remembered that your chocolate cake recipe is my absolute favorite so I decided to search and see if you had a lemon cake one I could try for my daughter’s birthday. And thank goodness you did. It was so delicious! I’ve made it twice now and have gotten rave reviews! Thank you for another dynamite recipe!

November 27, 2020 4:12 pm

Husband said this is the first lemon cake he actually enjoyed. Its so delicious. Thanks for posting!

Karen Clowdus
September 1, 2020 10:25 am

Cake was very easy to make and it is delicious but I had one problem, the cake seemed very heavy to me ?? What do you think I might have done wrong ?? 😔

Mary Ellen Handwerk
August 28, 2020 12:06 pm

5 stars
I made this lemon cake for my family yesterday. So easy and so delicious! Highly recommended!

Terra Chang
July 12, 2020 12:09 pm

5 stars
My son asked for a lemon cake for his birthday and this came out SO good. The frosting was a bit too sweet for my liking, but our guests loved every bite. I also added in some blueberries and blueberry icing to the center.

May 4, 2020 1:08 pm

5 stars
This looks delish!
Can I use two 8 inch round cake pans instead? I do not own 9 inch cake pans.

May 2, 2020 8:21 am

Sponge tasted great. I made it in a 9inch square tin and baked for 50 mins. The cocktail stick came out clean and it had browned on the outside however when I cut the cake, it seemed a bit too soft. It wasn’t springy, rather just all stuck together like play dough?!so not sure if I should have cooked it a little bit longer. I also used half of the frosting as it was quite sweet, split my cake in half and sandwiched it with the frosting as well as putting some on top. But it was still quite sweet… Read more »

March 5, 2020 12:58 am

5 stars
I made the chocolate cake and i had so much praise everyone said it was restaurant style. Im excited to make this lemon cake today. Will post the outcome. Love your cakes amazing!!!!

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