Cakes/ Fruit Desserts

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

September 23, 2020

A light and tender lemon cake made with olive oil, this simple cake is full of complex flavors. Make this lemon olive oil cake for a sweet snack or a breakfast that’s worth waking up for.

Besides chocolate, citrus is my favorite type of cake to snack on. Any day can be brightened by a burst of sweet juicy citrus with a cup of coffee. This lemon olive oil cake does that, and more, bringing superior moisture and flavor from quality extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil isn’t just for savory cooking. It’s fruity flavor pairs wonderfully with zesty citrus, and it also lends extra moisture from its high fat content.

There’s also the addition of butter to this lemon olive oil cake recipe. The nutty flavor of butter, paired with the fruity olive oil and lemony citrus, is a trio of complementing flavors. This cake is perfect on its own, or topped with a simple lemon glaze for decoration.

Why I Use Olive Oil

Olive oil doesn’t make the cake healthy, but it does lend a tenderness to the cake that is unparalleled by other fats. Since olive oil is liquid at room temperature, it makes cakes incredibly moist, in fact they only improve with time.

It took me a while to develop this lemon olive oil cake recipe. I first tried using olive oil in cakes a few years ago, but the flavor was too strong and I put the idea aside. I decided to try again, this time using citrus to balance out the flavor, and ended up with this winning lemon cake recipe. The olive oil flavor is subtle, and it works to bring out the brightness of the citrus.

It’s important to use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. Since olive oil is a prominent ingredient, you’ll want to use an oil that you would dip bread in or use in dressings.

How To Make Lemon Olive Oil Cake

The first thing you’ll want to do is preheat your oven to 350ºF/180ºC and grease a 9-inch round pan. Be sure to grease it well, as this cake is very moist and can easily stick to the pan. You can also line it with parchment paper after greasing. This cake isn’t tall, so if you want it taller you can bake it in an 8-inch pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients and set them aside while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Mix together the lemon zest and sugar, releasing the oils from the zest into the sugar. You will know this has happened once you start smelling a strong fragrance of lemon. Add the eggs and whisk until combined, followed by the olive oil and melted butter. Whisk in the lemon juice and buttermilk.

Once everything is smooth and lump-free, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Be very careful not to overmix the batter. This lemon olive oil cake is delicate, and overmixing the batter can result in a dense, and not tender, cake.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. You will need to let it cool completely, at least an hour, on a wire rack before serving. Since it is so moist, letting it cool helps the cake set and makes it a lot easier to cut into slices.

I like to serve this cake with a dusting of powdered sugar or a simple lemon glaze that I also use for my lemon loaf cake. The cake is great on the first day, but gets even more moist as it ages. It will keep well for several days, but it’s never lasted that long in my family of sweet tooths!

Other Lemon Recipes:

4.86 from 14 votes
Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick/55g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar , for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Grease well a 9-inch round pan (3-inch deep).

  2. In a large bowl Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl toss together sugar and lemon zest until combined. Add eggs and whisk well until combined. Whisk in olive oil and butter. Add lemon juice and buttermilk and whisk until combined. Add mixture to the flour mixture, and fold with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth. Once all is added, be careful not to overmix the batter.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. Dust cake lightly with powdered sugar before serving.
  5. Store cake at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    September 27, 2020 at 2:15 am

    Like the name of this page, this lemon olive cake true pretty, simple, and sweet. This is a good recommendation for a good morning, in like the flavor of lemon and light sweet of this cake. It’s convenient because can prepare first and serve many times. Thanks for the nice recipe!

    • Reply
      October 4, 2020 at 2:48 am

      Thank you so much, Christian!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 5:36 am

    Hi- do you think that a cream cheese frosting will go well with this? I don’t want to use more lemon (with lemon glaze) on top.

    • Reply
      October 12, 2020 at 5:38 am

      BTW, the cake came out really well and looks great too. But my olive oil has a bit of taste which I think can be masked with the cream cheese frosting? That’s why the question above 🙂

      • Reply
        October 30, 2020 at 6:44 pm

        Tastes so delicious but had major spill over in the oven using a 9 inch round 🙁 anyone else have this issue?

        • Reply
          April 2, 2021 at 4:55 pm

          Yes I did. I barely got it in the oven before I smelled something burning and it was already spilling over.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2020 at 10:59 am

    THE DREAM! Just made this, super moist yet fluffy with a very pleasant tanginess from the olive oil. I felt instantly transferred to a mediterranean café… Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Tasted delicious but I had a major spill over in the oven using a 9 inch round 🙁 anyone else have this issue?

    • Reply
      Rina Yoo
      March 25, 2021 at 8:07 pm

      No but the batter was way too much for my pan so I divided them into a regular size pan & smaller pan. Otherwise it would’ve spelled over.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    This looks so delicious! I’d like to make it for my husband’s birthday. Have you ever substituted DIY buttermilk with a Greek yogurt/water combination?

  • Reply
    December 6, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    any help for high altitude adjustments needed? thank you!

  • Reply
    Natalie Johnston
    February 22, 2021 at 12:16 am

    I’ve made this a few times now, and it’s become a hands-down favorite of a friend of mine. It’s pretty popular at work too. Once people get past how weird olive oil cake sounds and try it, everyone says how good it is.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Delicious, moist and has a balance of flavors! This cake is the best!

  • Reply
    krista gerdon
    April 3, 2021 at 9:54 am

    delicious and easy and perfect!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Hi there, can you use a ceramic pan to bake this cake?

    • Reply
      April 20, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Nancy, yes that shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    I made this cake today, followed the recipe exact and it came out Amazing!! Not too sweet, all of the flavors work together so well! I am bringing it to a brunch tomorrow!

  • Reply
    Annette Giovia
    May 3, 2021 at 7:44 am

    I cannot wait to make this cake! I will be adding 2 tablespoons of poppyseeds to kick this up a notch.
    Thanks for an easy recipe.

  • Reply
    Georg Mierau
    June 5, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve baked this cake yesterday using whole-wheat flour and it turned out quite good. Moist and not too sweet.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Made this cake this morning and it is fabulous! I added basil to mine (pulsed sugar, basil and lemon zest in food processor) and I wanted more height so I merengued my egg whites and folded it in last.

  • Reply
    Brenda Carroll
    July 11, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    Do you have the Calorie/Nutritional Breakdown for the Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      July 16, 2021 at 3:46 am

      Hi Brenda, I don’t add nutrition facts to my recipes but there are plenty of nutrition calculators on Google that can help you determine these values 🙂

  • Reply
    Belinda Finch
    July 25, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    Is it possible to freeze this cake?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      July 26, 2021 at 10:27 am

      Hi Belinda, yes this cake freezes very well! Just make sure to wrap it up well in plastic wrap, preferably double wrapped, to keep it from getting freezer burned 🙂

  • Reply
    Kimberly Giroux
    August 21, 2021 at 10:20 am

    made this today! it is lucky for me I use 10 in cake rounds! added poppy seeds as I read another baker did. Used this glorious cake for STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE !!! 5 stars

  • Reply
    September 5, 2021 at 2:03 am

    Hi I bakes the cake but it rose too high and it started to crack on top. What caused this? I followed instructions and same time and temperature as well.

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      September 7, 2021 at 7:35 am

      Hi Bea, it is difficult to say exactly what happened, because there are so many factors to consider. However, over rising/cracking can be caused by over mixing, too much baking soda/baking powder, or an oven that’s too hot. Everyone’s oven is different and it’s possible your oven runs a bit on the hotter side. To determine the exact temperate, you can get an oven thermometer to gauge what the exact temperature is. Good luck! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 23, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    My parents raved about this cake! I made two small cakes with the recipe. My mom said it was so good that she didn’t want dinner. Just cake!

    It felt great to bring such happiness to them.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2021 at 6:27 am

    Hi! This cake is delicious!
    Is it normal to have quite a few lumps in the batter after folding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula? I ended up mixing it with a whisk to reduce the lumps…

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      December 15, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Kate, this can happen sometimes. A whisk is a great way to break them up, or you can also sift the dry ingredients before combining them to ensure the smoothest texture.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Duffy
    January 10, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    I thought sugar was a dry ingredient

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      January 12, 2022 at 6:15 am

      Hi Kenneth! Sugar is sometimes considered a dry ingredient, but a lot of time it is mixed with fat first and then the rest of the dry ingredients are added – it’s just a way to help all the ingredients emulsify better. Also, when you heat sugar, it turns into caramel – so it’s somewhere between a wet and dry ingredients 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura Lewis Mantell
    January 16, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    Can I omit the butter and add 3 more TBS of olive oil?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      January 17, 2022 at 9:45 am

      Hi Laura, you can substitute olive oil for the butter in this cake. Just make sure it’s the same amount, 55g (1/4 cup).

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 8:47 pm

    Can this be done in muffin tins? If so, what temp and cook time?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      January 31, 2022 at 3:29 am

      Hi Kika, I don’t see why you couldn’t bake this in muffin tins. I personally haven’t tried it, but I recommend keeping the oven temperature the same and checking them after 12 minutes to see if they are done (they probably won’t be yet). Check every 3-5 minutes afterwards so they don’t overbake 🙂 good luck!

  • Reply
    Kate Smith
    February 27, 2022 at 3:18 am

    Worked out well, I used a bundt cake tin and the size was perfect.
    Not my favourite recipe for a lemon cake, found it lacking in lemon flavour and could use more juice/zest in it.
    Knocked the sugar down to 175g and it was still sweet enough.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2022 at 10:42 am

    I made this cake for Hannukah this year and it was a hit! Question: do you think I could add blueberries to the mix without it changing the recipe much? Or would a compote be a safer bet?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      May 4, 2022 at 2:22 am

      Hi Madeline, blueberries would be a great addition!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    Is this cake like a sponge cake?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      June 2, 2022 at 1:44 am

      Hi Liz, this is not a sponge cake because the eggs are not whipped 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating