This Lemon Olive Oil Cake is a real treat, baked with extra-virgin olive oil, which not only is a healthy fat but a delicious flavor to bake with resulting in an incredibly moist cake! The easy prep of an olive oil cake is the best part. All you need is one bowl, a whisk (no mixer required!), and a few ingredients including fresh lemon juice and zest.
I’ve been making lemon olive oil cake for years and I can’t wait to finally share it with you! It’s my go-to dessert. My cardamom spiced orange olive oil cake is a big hit around the fall and holidays, so I wanted to share another olive oil cake perfect for warmer weather or Easter dinner.
The olive oil makes this cake stay moist for days, so it’s perfect to make ahead of time. With a light, refreshing taste from the lemons, it’s a crowd-pleaser that isn’t too heavy or rich.
It’s hard to mess up an olive oil cake. There’s no butter to soften, no electric mixer required, no frosting to make (just a dusting of powdered sugar if you want), and you probably already have all the ingredients you need.
I love using Meyer lemons for this recipe because they are great for baking and a little sweeter and juicier than regular lemons, but any kind of lemon will do.
Let’s get to it! Be sure to check out the video in the recipe card below if you want a visual for how to make it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lemons (the zest and juice) – I used Meyer lemons but any will do. You can also use another citrus fruit like lime or orange if you want to experiment.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Plain yogurt – I used plain whole milk yogurt (Stonyfield Brand). Greek yogurt will also work. I recommend whole milk yogurt. You can also use 3/4 of the amount of buttermilk, regular milk, or a plant-based milk
- All-purpose flour
- Salt, Baking Powder, and Baking Soda
How to make Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- First, prepare your cake pan and preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, greasing both under and over the paper and the sides of the pan with olive oil. I trace the outline of the pan with a pencil and cut just inside the line so it fits perfectly.
- Prep the lemons. Be sure to zest the lemons first, THEN juice them! If you juice them first, you’ll be sad. I’ve done this before.
- Then, mix the batter. Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, yogurt, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
- Add the flour to the batter and whisk until it’s mixed well.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan before removing it. Pop it out onto a cutting board, then flip onto a serving dish.
- Finally, dust with powdered sugar just before serving and cut into 8 slices. Serve warm or at room temperature.
It’s easy to make this olive oil cake dairy free! Just substitute the yogurt with a plant-based yogurt or with 3/4 cup plant-based milk.
You can add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon extract for an extra lemony flavor.
I love it topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh fruit on top (raspberries are perfect with the lemon flavor). You can top with whipped cream, some yogurt, or make an icing to go on top. A lemon glaze icing would be delicious!
Other Baking Recipes with Olive Oil
I LOVE baking with olive oil for the flavor, healthy fat benefits, and that it keeps things super moist! Here are some other recipes that bake with olive oil:
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Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest from about 2-3 lemons, preferably Meyer
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 2-3 lemons, preferably Meyer
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup plain yogurt Greek or regular is fine, see notes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- confectioners sugar for dusting the top, optional
- Line a 9" circular cake pan with parchment paper (I use a pencil to trace an outline of the bottom of the pan on the paper, then cut slightly inside the line) and grease generously with olive oil, under and over the parchment paper and up the sides of the pan. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and place an oven rack in the top third of the oven.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil (¾ cup), lemon zest (1 tablespoon), lemon juice (¼ cup), sugar (1 cup), eggs (3), yogurt (1 cup), kosher salt (½ teaspoon), baking powder (½ teaspoon), and baking soda (½ teaspoon).
- Add the flour (1 ½ cups) and whisk until well-combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees F in the top third of the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean (see notes).
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan on cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. Run knife along the edge to loosen and flip onto a cutting board to remove, then flip back over onto the serving dish.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar. You can do this with a sifter, or by placing a couple of spoonfuls of the powdered sugar in a mesh sieve and tapping the edge of it to dust the top. Do this just before serving, as the sugar will absorb into the cake over time.
- Slice into 8 pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature, with more powdered sugar, whipped cream, and/or lemon zest, if desired.
- I used plain whole milk yogurt (Stonyfield) for this recipe. You can use Greek if you like. I recommend whole milk yogurt. You can also use 3/4 cup of buttermilk or regular milk if you don’t have yogurt, or a plant-based milk or yogurt for a dairy-free version if you like. I find this recipe very forgiving.
- For a more intense boost of lemon flavor, add 1-2 teaspoons lemon extract.
- Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than regular lemons, and have a deeper orange color. They are kind of like a cross between a lemon and an orange. Regular lemons will work just fine in this recipe. I usually pick up Meyer lemons at Trader Joe’s.
- Troubleshooting undercooked cake: This cake is very moist. This recipe may have varied results if you are at a higher elevation, if you use a different size cake pan, if your yogurt brand is particularly watery or lower in fat, your oven temp, or even depending on the brand of flour (I always use King Arthur). If your cake seems like it’s not cooking in the middle after 70 minutes or so, I recommend tenting with foil, so the top of the cake doesn’t burn, and turning the temperature of your oven up to 350 degrees F until it’s cooked.
- This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about three days. The olive oil makes it stay super moist for a long time.
- For best results, dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Otherwise, it will disintegrate into the moisture of the cake.
- In the unlikely event you have any, the leftovers can be frozen and stored in an airtight bag or wrapped tightly in plastic for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: