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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!

lifting first slice of layered lemon velvet cake out of the whole dessert.

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 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.

slice of lemon velvet cake served in front of remaining cake.

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!

If you don’t believe me, check out the YouTube video of me making this cake.  You will see it really is quick and simple.

This delicious cake was really well received. It had a really nice crumb and it served like a dream. The last time I made it, I tried to get fancy and candy some lemon for garnish.

Things were going really well but all of the sudden it started caramelizing on me. So they ended up darker than I had envisioned, but they smelled wonderful and were actually still quite tasty.

I told myself I’d have to make this cake again so I could conquer the lemons! It would be a sacrifice, but I was willing to eat more cake…  err, I mean perfect the culinary technique!

slice of lemon velvet cake lying down on dessert plate.

Of course when I got around to making the cake again I skipped the candied lemon altogether. Instead I piped on a few  little swirls of lemon sweetened condensed milk frosting and some fun sprinkles to jazz it up.

Now I have to make it again sometime so I can conquer those lemons for once and for all!

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 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!

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.

round lemon velvet cake with slice missing

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!

Handy Items to Have on Hand for Baking Homemade Cakes:

  • You can definitely use a stand mixer for whipping up the batter, but I tend to use a hand mixer for this batter.  It easily whips up the oil and everything goes right in the dishwasher! 
  • Two 9″ cake pans are perfect for this recipe.  I am sure you can bake it in a 9×13″ pan.  I would start checking on it at about 35-40 minutes.  It is done when the center springs back after you touch it lightly with your finger. 
  • You can use moistened cake strips when you bake cakes.  Without them, the outside of the cake bakes quicker than the middle and you are more likely to have a hump.  The moist strips help the cakes to bake with a flatter top.

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.

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.

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.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

lifting first slice of layered lemon velvet cake out of the whole dessert.

Lemon Velvet Cake

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.
4.66 from 58 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 Servings
Calories 346 kcal


  • 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 I didn’t use any but you could for a more vibrant yellow color
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!
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
Tried this recipe?Mention @carleecooks or tag #cookingwcarlee!

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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.