This gluten free lemon cake is a true summer delight! With layers of moist lemon cake and perfectly tangy and sweet lemon buttercream, it's hard to beat. I'll even show you how to decorate it so you can serve it at a seasonal party or for a birthday celebration. This lemon cake is delicately flavored to please all palates.
Could there be a more appropriate dessert for the warm months than tender, citrus-flavored cake? This moist lemon cake is just what I want at this time of year: tangy and bright flavor from the lemon but still perfectly sweet. The lemon buttercream is (literally) the icing on the cake for this recipe. Bake it for all occasions: birthday parties, spring or summer gatherings, baby showers, and anniversaries! This lemon layer cake will shine at any event!
Why this recipe is the best!
Lemon cake is deliciously moist with tons of flavor. This is the perfect cake to celebrate summertime, and even better that it's gluten free! You'll love sharing it with party guests or devouring a slice (or two) all by yourself. Here are a few more reasons to love this cake:
- This lemon cake recipe is the definition of simple - you only need 8 ingredients.
- This cake contains twelve servings, so it's perfect for a party.
- It takes just under 1 ½ hours to come together.
- This is a one bowl recipe, so you won't have many dishes to clean.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Vegetable oil - While there is no substitute for the oil, you can use canola oil if you prefer.
- Granulated sugar - The white sugar can be substituted with Swerve sweetener.
- Eggs - The eggs can be substituted with a chia or flax egg, but the cake will be denser.
- Gluten free flour mix - King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour mix was used in this recipe. Other mixes may not create the same texture.
- Salt - The salt can be omitted or reduced for those following a low salt diet.
- Baking powder - There is no substitute for the baking powder.
- Almond milk - The almond milk can be swapped with coconut or oat milk.
- Lemon zest - There is no substitute for the lemon zest.
Measurements for each ingredient, along with instructions for making the cake are in the recipe card below.
How to zest a lemon
To zest a lemon, you'll need a small grater. Start by washing and drying your lemon, then rubbing the lemon with the grater 3 times back and forth. Do this in sections all over the lemon, and be careful to not get into the white part of the lemon. Make sure to zest the lemon right before using it in the recipe.
Gluten free lemon cake step by step
Step 1: Add the oil and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add 2 of the eggs and mix on medium for 10 seconds.
Step 2: Add the other 2 eggs and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
Step 3: Add the gluten free flour mix, salt, and baking powder, then mix on low for 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
Step 4: Add the milk and lemon zest, then mix on low for 15 seconds.
Step 5: Scrape the bowl and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350F and spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line them with circles of parchment paper.
Baking & serving
Step 7: Pour the batter evenly into the pans. Bake at 350F for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step 8: Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
Step 9: Flip the pans over and let the cakes cool until they release easily from the pans.
Step 10: Cool the cakes completely before making the frosting. Place a dollop of frosting on the bottom cake layer and frost with ⅔ -1 cup frosting.
Frosting & decorating
Place the second cake layer on top of the frosted bottom. Frost the top with another ⅔ - 1 cup frosting.
Use large dollops of the remaining frosting to frost the sides. Smooth the frosting at the end.
Place the remaining frosting in a decorators bag and use tip #199 (or #21 will also work) to pipe stars around the top of the cake. Sprinkle with remaining lemon zest or yellow colored sugar if desired.
Note on cake appearance
You'll notice a darker cake on the top of the wire rack and a lighter cake on the bottom - that is due to the cake pan used to bake the cakes. The lighter cake pan results in a lighter color cake. The darker pan results in a darker cake. Both were baked for the same time.
💭Pro tips for making this cake
1. Use room temperature ingredients
It's important to let all of your cold ingredients come to room temperature before starting. Cold ingredients are much more difficult to mix and incorporate into the batter.
2. Don't overmix the batter
After you add the flour to the batter, make sure you mix it for only 15 seconds. Overmixing the batter will result in a dense cake.
3. Cool the cakes before frosting
Remember to let the cake layers cool completely before you frost and decorate the cake. They should be cool to the touch, or else the frosting will melt.
4. Make lemon cupcakes or sheet cake
This recipe can be adjusted to make 24 cupcakes or a sheet cake!
For cupcakes: Bake at 350F and start checking for doneness at 22 minutes. For sheet cake: Bake at 350F in a 9"x13" pan and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
5. Helpful tools
Here are a few tools that will help you make this cake:
Gluten Free Lemon Cake FAQs
Yes! Cut the cake into slices and store in the freezer until you want to have them. Defrost in the microwave when you're ready for a slice of cake.
Yes! This recipe will make about 24 cupcakes. Bake at the same temperature, just check for doneness at 22 minutes. You can also make a sheet cake in a 9"x13" pan if you bake at the same temperature and start checking at 30 minutes.
Yes, you can bake the cake layers a day ahead of time, then make the frosting and frost the cake the next day before you serve the cake.
Other recipes you may like!
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Gluten Free Lemon Cake
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 250 grams granulated sugar about 1 ½ cups
- 4 large eggs
- 330 grams King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour mix about 2 ½ cups
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup almond milk
- 3 teaspoons lemon zest about 2 lemons
- extra lemon zest for decorating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil and granulated sugar. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
- Add two eggs to the oil mixture and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
- Add remaining two eggs and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
- Add gluten free flour mix, salt, and baking powder. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides.
- Add the milk and lemon zest. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides and set batter aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- Toward the end of the rest time, preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray, then line the pans with parchment paper, cut to fit as necessary.
- Pour batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out crumb free.
- Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
- Turn the pans over and let cool on the wire racks until cakes release easily from the pans.
- Cool cakes completely before frosting.
- This recipe was tested with King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour mix. Other mixes may not result in the same cake texture.
- Swerve sweetener may be substituted for the granulated sugar.
- The eggs can be substituted with a chia or flax egg, but the cake will be denser.
- Coconut or oat milk may be substituted for the almond milk.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
- Be sure to mix the batter for only 15 seconds once the flour is added otherwise the texture may be dense.
- Cut the parchment paper to fit the bottom of the 9" pans.
- Cool cakes completely before frosting. The frost recipe is this lemon buttercream frosting.
- This batter can be made into cupcakes. It will make at least 24 cupcakes. Bake at the same temperature and start checking at 22 minutes for doneness.
- Batter can also be baked in a 9"x13" pan. Bake at the same temperature and start checking at 30 minutes for doneness.
- Cakes can be made a day ahead of time and then frosted.
- Store frosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Freeze individual slices for longer storage.