Based on my popular vegan lemon loaf recipe, this light and airy vegan lemon cake is bright, zesty, and perfect for feeding a crowd.
The cake is drizzled with lemon syrup to help it stay moist, for an added pop of sweetness, and to intensify the natural lemon flavor.
Serve it topped with my light and creamy not-too-sweet vegan lemon frosting which perfectly complements this easy lemon sheet cake.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Flavorsome - Made with 100% REAL lemon and vanilla bean, no extracts or artificial flavorings.
- Quick & Easy - With under half an hour of active prep time and no need for fancy kitchen equipment.
- Light, Fluffy, & Incredibly Tender - With a combination of zesty lemon and tangy vegan yogurt, this tender-crumbed vegan lemon drizzle cake is buttery, moist, and fluffy.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here's everything you need to make this easy vegan lemon sheet cake from scratch:
- Lemon Juice & Zest - The combination of both really elevates the lemon flavor of this vegan cake. Plus, the lemon juice is dual purpose as when paired with non-dairy milk, it also creates a vegan buttermilk substitute.
- Vegan Greek-Style Yogurt or Skyr - You can also use plain soy or coconut yogurt if you can't find those in your supermarket. The protein content from non-dairy yogurt together with the fat from the olive oil acts as a vegan egg replacer to create a moist and fluffy cake.
- Vegan Butter - This recipe calls for vegan block butter, such as Violife Block or Flora Plant Butter, not the spreadable margarine-style spread from a tub. Because the butter is melted, there is no need to cream it with a stand mixer.
- Vanilla Pod - You’re also welcome to swap in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, vanilla paste, vanilla powder, or a teaspoon of ground vanilla bean instead.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Lemon Cake
This easy vegan lemon cake comes together in 3 simple stages (cake, lemon drizzle, and frosting):
Step 1: Flavor the sugar. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and scraped-out seeds from the vanilla pod to a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar.
Step 2: Add vegan butter: Add the melted butter to the lemon vanilla sugar and whisk to combine.
Step 3: Combine wet ingredients. Add in the olive oil and yogurt and whisk for a minute until everything is combined. Then add the vegan buttermilk mixture, and whisk again.
Step 4: Add dry ingredients and bake. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and fold with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top of it with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown.
Step 5: Make the lemon syrup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.
Step 6: Poke and drizzle. Once the cake is baked, immediately pierce it several times with a bamboo skewer while still hot. Then drizzle the lemon syrup all over the surface of the cake.
Step 7: Frost. Make half a batch of vegan lemon buttercream and frost the cooled cake using an offset spatula.
Step 8. Decorate. Top with fresh lemon slices and lemon zest just before serving.
Store the eggless lemon cake in an airtight container. It's best served at room temperature but if you don't plan on eating it the same day it's baked, you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
The cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 5 days without the frosting.
I have not tested this recipe with GF flour, but if you do try it remember to let the batter rest a full 30 minutes before baking to let the flour rehydrate.
Also, please let me know how it turns out in the comments below!
Yes, you can freeze this citrus cake in an airtight container for up to a month and defrost it at room temperature for a couple of hours before serving, or in the fridge overnight.
I don't recommend swapping the lemons for another fruit as will change how the ingredients work. Try my recipe for vegan lime drizzle cake instead.
🎂 More Vegan Cakes
- 150 ml (⅔ cup) soy milk
- 40 ml (3 tbsp) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar, *see notes
- ½ vanilla pod, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste *see notes
- 100 g (0.44 cups) vegan butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil, or neutral oil such as sunflower or rapeseed
- 175 g (0.71 cups) vegan Greek-style yogurt or Skyr
- 300 g (2 ⅖ cups) all-purpose flour, (plain flour)
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 60 g (0.3 cups) granulated sugar, *see notes
- 60 ml (¼ cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ batch vegan lemon frosting
- fresh lemon slices, optional
- lemon zest, optional
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 10.5" rectangular pan with some oil or vegan butter and a sheet of parchment paper. To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soy milk and lemon juice to a small bowl, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Flavor the sugar: Add the sugar, lemon zest, and scraped-out seeds from the vanilla pod to a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar.
- Mix the wet ingredients: Add the melted butter and whisk to combine. Add in the olive oil and yogurt and whisk for a minute until everything is combined. Then add the vegan buttermilk mixture, and whisk again.
- Mix the dry ingredients: Add the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl with the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined and there aren't any visible pockets of flour - be careful not to overmix the batter.
- Assemble and bake: Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top of it with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown. Check the cake is done by piercing it with a toothpick or a knife, the knife should come out clean. (Move on to the next step and make the syrup while the cake bakes)
- Make the lemon syrup: Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.
- Poke and drizzle: Once the cake is baked, immediately pierce it several times with a bamboo skewer while still hot. Then drizzle the lemon syrup all over the surface of the cake.Allow the cake to cool completely for an hour.
- Frost: Make half a batch of vegan lemon buttercream and frost the cooled cake using an offset spatula. Top with fresh lemon slices and lemon zest just before serving.
- Storage: This cake is best served at room temperature to ensure it keeps its fluffy consistency. If you don't plan on eating on the same day it's baked, seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. Then remove the cake from the fridge about 1-2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature. Unfrosted, it will last at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Use organic sugar to ensure that it's vegan if you live in the US.
- If using vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, add during the same stage as adding the olive oil.
- When you’re done juicing, save any extra juice for making lemon curd.
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