The BEST homemade Lemon Cake is super moist and topped with a delicious Lemon Buttercream Frosting. A cake lover’s dream!

Don’t miss all of my favorite cake recipes, including my popular Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling and German Chocolate Cake.

A slice of Lemon Cake standing up on a plate.

I’ve provided two recipes for this Lemon cake, and I have tell you that BOTH are awesome!

FIRST is a “from scratch” homemade lemon cake that is divine.

SECOND is a, dare I say it, equally as amazing doctored cake-mix version. Ghasp! It’s not completely from scratch! I wont lie to you, I love a good doctored-up cake mix recipe when baking cakes. Pair it with an amazing homemade frosting recipe and no one would guess it’s not from scratch 🙂

Tips for Beautiful Cakes:

  • Make ahead of time:  Baking the cake rounds ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Frozen cakes are easier to frost, and the cake will come together very quickly the day of or day or two before serving. See recipe notes for freezing cake.
  • Homemade frosting.  A cake is only as good as the frosting it’s paired with. This homemade lemon buttercream frosting is easy and really makes the cake shine.
  • Add final touches.  It’s so quick and easy to take a normal cake, add a few finishing touches, and make it next-level beautiful.  For example, with this lemon cake, I love to add a tiny bit of grated lemon to the top or thin slices of fresh lemon. You could also use frosting decorating tips to put a simple edge around the top.

How to Make Lemon Cake:

1. Prep baking pans. Line the bottom of two 9” round baking pans with a piece of parchment paper and lightly spray all over the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Mix dry ingredients:  Sift all-purpose flour and cake flour into a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine.

3. Mix wet ingredients: In a separate mixing bowl add the butter, sugar and lemon zest and mix with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the whole eggs and mix well. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each. Stir in the vanilla.

Two process photos for mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately in mixing bowls for Lemon Cake.

4. Combine.  Alternately add in a little bit of the flour mixture and then the buttermilk, stirring between each addition. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared round cake pans.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 24-29 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool several minutes in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Before and after photos of lemon cake batter in a round baking pan, then baked.

For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

1. Cream the butter. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with electric mixers for 1 minute.

2. Add remaining ingredients: Add 4 cups of powdered sugar, half of the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Beat well until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, and the remaining lemon juice until you reach your desired frosting consistency.

3. Frost once the cake is completely cool.

A two-tier round Lemon Cake frosted with lemon buttercream frosting and fresh lemon slices placed on top.

Freezing Instructions:

To freeze unfrosted cake: Bake the cake and allow it time to cool completely.  Wrap each cake round in a layer of plastic wrap and place in a gallon ziplock bag or wrap in aluminum foil. Freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze frosting in a separate air-tight container. Thaw at room temperature.

To freeze frosted cake: Frost the entire cake and place it, uncovered, in the freezer to “flash freeze.”  Once the frosting has hardened slightly, cover the cake as best as you can with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for 1-2 weeks (or longer if you can keep it well protected and covered). Allow to thaw for about 2 hours before serving. 

Consider trying these popular desserts:

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Recipe

A slice of Lemon Cake standing up on a plate.
Prep 25 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 55 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

1. Lemon Cake (FROM SCRATCH):

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest from about 4 medium lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

2. Lemon Cake (CAKE MIX version):

  • 1 box lemon cake mix I use the betty crocker brand
  • 1 small package lemon instant pudding
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 4 large eggs

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅓ - 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions
 

Lemon Cake (FROM SCRATCH):

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9'' round baking pans with a piece of parchment paper and lightly spray all over the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Sift all-purpose flour and cake flour into a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine.
  • In a separate mixing bowl add the butter, sugar and lemon zest and mix with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  •  Add the whole eggs and mix well. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each. Stir in the vanilla.
  • Alternately add in a little bit of the flour mixture and then the buttermilk stirring between each addition. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared round cake pans. 
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of the cakes comes out clean, about 24-29 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool several minutes in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Cake (CAKE MIX version):

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9'' round baking pans with a piece of parchment paper and lightly spray all over the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Add the cake mix and pudding mix to a large bowl and stir to combine. 
  • Add Greek yogurt, water, oil, and eggs and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. 
  • Pour evenly into prepared round pans. Bake in preheated oven for 24-29 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Don’t over-bake or the cake will be dry!

For the frosting:

  • Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with electric mixers for 1 minute. 
  • Add 4 cups of powdered sugar, half of the lemon juice and the lemon zest. 
  • Beat well until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, and the remaining lemon juice until you reach your desired frosting consistency. 
  • Frost cake once the cake is completely cool.

Video

Notes

To freeze unfrosted cake: Bake the cake and allow it time to cool completely.  Wrap each cake round in a layer of plastic wrap and place in a gallon ziplock bag or wrap in aluminum foil. Freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze frosting in a separate air-tight container. Thaw at room temperature.
To freeze frosted cake: Frost the entire cake and place it, uncovered, in the freezer to "flash freeze."  Once the frosting has hardened slightly, cover the cake as best as you can with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for 1-2 weeks (or longer if you can keep it well protected and covered). Allow to thaw for about 2 hours before serving. 

Nutrition

Calories: 558kcalCarbohydrates: 83gProtein: 5gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 225mgPotassium: 127mgFiber: 1gSugar: 64gVitamin A: 755IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Nutritional label is for homemade version, frosted.

I originally shared this recipe July 2016. Updated July 2020 with process photos and improved instructions.

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

THE BEST homemade Lemon Cake with light lemon buttercream frosting! Everyone RAVES about this recipe! - Tastes Better From Scratch

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. This is thee most requested cake in my house, from my 10 year old and husband. I’ve only made the box cake version, and everyone thinks I’m some fancy baker. I go on the very low end of the sugar for the frosting, and it’s perfect. The secret is the lemon in the frosting.

  2. I put the cake in the freezer for an hour after removing the cake from the pan. Good temp for frosting the cake I have found.

  3. I haven’t baked the from scratch lemon cake yet, but I have all the ingredients ready to go in the morning. My question is – I have a Kitchen Aid, can I use it instead of a hand mixer? Looking forward to other recipes.

    1. Yes, that’s fine, just be sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup so you don’t add too much flour.

  4. I made the cake mix version. It looked beautiful in the oven, light and fluffy. Almost immediately when I took it out of the oven, it began to shrink from the sides of pan and eventually all over. It became half the height and very dense. It tasted good but I don’t know what happened. Do you think maybe 3/4 cup of oil is too much?

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