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Lemon Velvet Cake

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This lemon velvet cake is luscious and easy to make. The crumb is tender and moist. A homemade cake does not have to be hard!

First slice of lemon velvet cake with lemon buttercream being lifted off serving platter.

Layers of soft lemon cake wrapped in a luscious lemon frosting, this citrus twist on a velvet cake is a must make.  The best part is that this recipe is super simple to make. 

There’s no butter to soften or crazy ingredients to get.  You’ll have the cake in the oven in no time, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars after the first bite!

I originally shared this recipe back in 2017.  It was fabulous then, but I didn’t really like the way the cake was decorated.

It was such a good cake the first time around, I knew it was worth a revisit.  It’s not terrible having an excuse to go back and remake some of our favorite cakes after all!

I found the recipe on the Tumbleweed Contessa way back when. Her fluffy lemon velvet cake caught my eye, and I knew I had to make it.

You know I love a good homemade cake, but spare time for complicated baking is always hard to come by. Luckily, there are some great, simple homemade cake recipes out there.

This one instantly caught my eye as something quick and approachable. For whatever reason, it sort of reminded me of my devilishly good chocolate cake.

Of course, besides the fact they both contain flour and sugar, they really aren’t that similar. But I was drawn to it anyway.

I have been craving bright flavors.  This winter has been dragging on, and I will take any hint of sunshine I can get, even if that is just in the form of lemons.

In the heat of the summer, the tang of citrus is also welcome, but it can’t be all orange creamsicle cheesecake all of the time. So this lemon cake is perfect for summer gatherings as well!

I couldn’t wait to whip this up and share it at family dinner. It came together as quickly as I had imagined. If the idea of homemade cake is scary to you, I hope you’ll make the leap and give it a try.

There are so many recipes that are really almost as easy as the box mixes. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself!

This delicious cake was really well received. It had a really nice crumb, and it served like a dream.

It looks great with a batch of frosting spread over it. But I made a little extra  lemon sweetened condensed milk frosting to pipe a side design on top to jazz it up.

What Makes it a Velvet Cake?

Velvet cakes are typically very soft and delicious with an airy texture. The most popular and likely original version is the red velvet cake.

The vinegar and buttermilk in the batter help give the cocoa powder a reddish tint.  Of course, a ton of red food coloring helps to enhance it!

In this lemon version, of course, we didn’t add any cocoa powder.  Also, lemon juice replaces the vinegar.

You still get the benefits of the acid, but with the flavor of lemon!  Another thing that makes velvet cakes stand out from others is that most of them use oil instead of creamed butter as the base.

This makes them even more affordable and quick and easy to make.  You don’t have to wait for the butter to soften. Just grab the oil and go!

round lemon velvet cake with slice missing

While you would traditionally use buttermilk in a velvet cake, most people don’t always have buttermilk on hand.  Instead, you can put a teaspoon of lemon juice into a cup of milk before I gather the rest of the ingredients.

By the time you are ready to use it, the acid has had a chance to work its magic on the milk.  It does the job quite nicely without having to use any special ingredients.

Though my brother and sister-in-law keep powdered buttermilk on hand for things like this and pancakes.  I should pick up a can sometime and see what I think!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I tier this cake?

I wouldn’t stack these velvet cakes any higher than two layers tall. The crumb is really light and airy. The weight of stacking too many layers will compress the bottom layers and change the texture.

If you decide to give it a try, be sure to use plenty of support. With enough cake dowels, you could probably make it work.

Can I bake this in a 9×13 pan?

Yes! Just add a few minutes to the bake time and go for it!

How do I keep the cake tender?

Don’t overbake the cake. Velvet cakes have a tendency to dry out quickly if you bake them too long.

To get the most tender airy cake, take it out as soon as it bounces back when lightly touched with a finger. If you prefer the toothpick test, go ahead and take it out when a crumb or two comes out on the toothpick. The cake will continue to cook a bit after you pull it from the oven.

Can I bake the cake ahead of time?

Yes, cakes freeze well. Allow it to cool slightly on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool enough to handle, wrap them in plastic wrap. (Be careful, the cakes are fragile when warm.) Once they are really wrapped well, put them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

You can frost them frozen or defrost them before putting on the buttercream. Either way works, it is a matter of preference.

Slice of lemon velvet cake on dessert plate with remaining cake in the background.

More Great Cake Recipes

For another great lemon cake, try making a homemade lemon Bundt cake. It is delicious and baked in a pretty tube pan, making it easy to decorate.

Or try whipping up a pink velvet cake. It is a lovely pink color and has a mild vanilla flavor with all of the velvety texture you love.

Do you have a favorite variety of homemade cake?  Have you tried any velvet cakes besides red velvet? 

I am always ready to talk cake.  Tell me all about your favorites in the comments or on social media.

For more tasty inspiration, check out my collection of cake recipes.

Lifting the first slice of lemon velvet cake off the cake plate showing the two layers of pale yellow cake with plenty of yellow lemon buttercream.

Lemon Velvet Cake

Servings: 16 Servings
Author: Carlee
This velvety lemon cake is super easy to make. Because it is made with oil instead of butter, there is no waiting for ingredients to come to room temperature. Plus the resulting texture is light and airy with a moist crumb. It is perfect with lemon buttercream or lemon cream cheese frosting.
4.68 from 61 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • cups granulated sugar
  • cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk soured with 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • optional: yellow food coloring
Makes: 9inch round


  • Preheat oven to 350° F and grease two 9 inch cake pans
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder until completely combined and free of clumps.
    2½ cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • In a large bowl, beat together oil, eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
    1½ cups vegetable oil, 3 large eggs, 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • Add buttermilk, lemon extract, vanilla and lemon juice, whipping until combined.
    1 cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon lemon extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed and then spoon cake batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back after being lightly touched with a finger.
  • Cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.


Lemon sweetened condensed milk buttercream compliments this cake perfectly! 1 batch is plenty to coat it, but I like making 1½ batches so that I have plenty to play with. 
You can use canola oil, avocado oil or another neutral flavored oil in place of the vegetable oil.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 346kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 4gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 206mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 28th of January 2023

What type frosting are we to use for Lemon Velvet


Saturday 28th of January 2023

I used lemon condensed milk buttercream. However, if you want to use a frosting more traditional to red velvet cake, ermine frosting or a stiff cream cheese frosting would be good too.

Jean Lambert

Monday 5th of December 2022

I’ve made several lemon velvet cakes from various sites using shortening or butter! I have not liked the result… how does this particular cake fare the next day using oil?


Monday 5th of December 2022

It stays soft and moist for several days and it is so easy to make. I hope you give it a try.


Thursday 29th of July 2021

Looks delicious. What would be the standard-size cupcake baking directions?


Friday 30th of July 2021

@Carlee, Thanks!


Thursday 29th of July 2021

I have not baked this batter as cupcakes, though that is a great idea. I would start checking them between 20-25 minutes and keep an eye on them. Please let me know how it goes!


Tuesday 6th of July 2021

Amazing recipe! Super moist and the flavor is out of this world. My new go to lemon cake recipe, and it stacks well. Thank you for sharing.


Wednesday 7th of July 2021

YAY! I am so glad you liked it!

Colleen Shields

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Enjoy your recipe you can email me more recipes


Tuesday 29th of June 2021

I am so glad you liked it! You can subscribe to my weekly email newsletter to get all the new recipes to your inbox.