Looking for a quick and delicious lemon cake recipe? Look no further! Learn how to make a lemon cake from scratch using fresh lemon juice and zest. This lemon cake is a great way to celebrate the flavors of summer. Baked in a 9 inch square pan, this cake makes about 8 to 10 servings. Perfect for a weekend brunch or weekday dessert!
Treat your family to something light and refreshing with this tasty lemon cake recipe! This is one of my favorite cakes to make. It’s a great way to use up those lemons on the bottom of my fridge and it can be served as is or dressed up with some fresh raspberries or blueberries for color. What makes this cake so amazing is the fresh lemon flavor infused in both the cake and the frosting, so don’t skip the fresh lemons! The bright, tart refreshing lemons will bring a smile to your face and your kitchen will smell amazing after this cake is done baking.

Easy Lemon Cake Recipe

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
Step 1: To start, preheat your oven to 350. Spray a 9 inch square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
mixing lemon cake dry ingredients
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set it aside for later.
mixing butter, sugar and lemon zest
Step 3: In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
creaming lemon cake mixture
Creaming the butter and the sugar is a crucial step in baking a cake. The purpose is to create tiny air bubbles that can catch gas being released by the leavener (in this case, baking soda and baking powder). This ultimately creates a fine, light crumb texture in your cake. Also be sure to zest your lemons before you juice them. Lemons are near impossible to zest once they’ve been squeezed and squeezing them is much easier after you’ve zested them. So win-win all around!
mixing eggs into lemon cake mixture
Step 4: Once your sugar and butter mixture has been creamed together, it’s time to add the eggs. Add them, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to make sure everything is getting incorporated evenly. Once all the eggs have been added, beat in the fresh lemon juice and vanilla. ​
adding flour to lemon cake mixture
Step 5: Now we’ll add our dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Be sure not to overmix the batter at this stage. This could increase gluten development in the flour, and we don’t want a chewy cake!
adding sour cream to lemon cake mixture
Sour cream is added to not only enhance the flavor, but make the cake light and moist. The acid in sour cream acts to tenderize the gluten in the flour and helps create a light cake crumb.
pouring batter into a pan
Step 6: Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it into a smooth layer.
check doneness of cake
Bake your cake for about 38 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Overbaking this cake can dry it out, so be sure to keep an eye on your bake time.
cake resting on cooking grid
Once it’s done (and your kitchen smells amazing), cool your cake in the pan on a cooling grid for 10 minutes. Remove the cake and cool completely on a cooling grid before icing.

Lemon Frosting Recipe

  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
beating icing
Step 1: To prepare your frosting, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth. We’re using all butter and no shortening in this frosting because we’re just going to spread it over the cake. No piping skills necessary! Also the full, velvety butter flavor of this frosting pairs perfectly with the tart lemon.
beating icing and sugar
Step 2: Add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. Continue beating the frosting until it’s smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. It may look dry once all the sugar has been added, but that’s okay…we’re going to fix that next!
finishing lemon icing
Step 3: Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until your frosting is light and fluffy. If you find your frosting is still too dry, add another teaspoon of lemon juice until the consistency is spreadable. If your frosting is too soft, add more confectioners’ sugar.
spreading lemon icing on cake

Decorating Your Lemon Cake

Once your cake has completely cooled, use a spatula or knife to spread the frosting onto your cake. You could even use the back of a spoon to give it a nice wavy texture.
As for toppings, you can add a little fresh lemon zest on top, or top each slice with a fresh lemon slice or peel. You could also tint the frosting a light shade of yellow using yellow icing color.
top cake with lemon zest
For a fun pop of color, try adding fresh blueberries or raspberries. But don’t feel pressured to decorate. This cake is just as good on its own! If a lighter topping is more your taste, you can make a quick and delicious glaze instead of the frosting. For a glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 5 teaspoons lemon juice and ½ teaspoon lemon zest. Whisk this together and then drizzle over the cake. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more lemon juice. If it’s too thin, add some more sugar.

How to Store Lemon Cake

If there are any pieces left, this cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for several days.
lemon cake cut into squares

If you want something that’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, make this delicious and simple lemon cake recipe from scratch! Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Moist Lemon Cake from Scratch with Lemon Frosting

Use this easy recipe to make a moist lemon cake with lemon frosting from scratch using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 10 servings


For Cake

  • cups All-Purpose Flour
  • teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 ⅓ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Butter 1 Stick, Softened
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Zest from 2 large lemons
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Sour Cream

For Frosting

  • ¾ cup Butter 1 1/2 Sticks, Softened
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar (Confectioners' Sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest


Lemon Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 in. square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  • In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
  • Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl and beat in lemon juice and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Do not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake 38-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling grid 10 minutes, then remove cake to cooling grid, or cool completely in pan on cooling grid.

Lemon Frosting

  • Beat butter with mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar at a time and beat until smooth. Frosting will appear dry.
  • Add lemon juice and zest; beat until light and fluffy. Spread onto cooled cake.


Storing the cake:  Will keep at room temperature for several days if loosely covered away from direct sunlight.
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