This vegan lemon cake with lemon glaze icing is unbelievably soft, moist, and flavorful, yet oil-free, gluten-free, low-fat, low-sugar (optionally sugar-free), and plant-based. A perfect vegan lemon dessert for spring, summer, and special occasions!
Moist, Vibrant Vegan Lemon Cake
If you’re looking for a vegan lemon cake recipe that not only hits the spot flavor-wise but also texturally and health-wise, too, then you’ve found it! This gluten-free lemon cake left me in awe when I first perfected the recipe. It’s so soft, moist, and bursting with citrus flavor, yet 100% oil-free, low fat, and even low sugar, and you can’t tell. Consider me speechless!
It just proves that you don’t need heaps of butter, eggs, wheat flour, and sugar to create a delicious lemon coconut cake the entire family will love. I’d go as far as to say that this lemon sheet cake (following the recipe as written) is healthy enough to enjoy even at breakfast. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy to make, too!
You likely have most of the pantry-friendly ingredients needed to prepare this vegan lemon dessert already in your kitchen. That makes it the perfect cake to whip up for a mid-week meal, potlucks, or special occasions, like Mother’s Day, Easter, and birthdays. Guests will love this bright and vibrant gluten-free vegan lemon cake!
You can even prepare and freeze the cake for later. Plus, keep reading for plenty of ways to adapt the recipe with optional add-ins. Whether you want a vegan lemon blueberry cake, a cream cheese frosting, and more!
Want to enjoy more delicious vegan lemon dessert recipes? Check out my lemon cheesecake bars, lemon cheesecake tart, and lemon coconut energy balls.
This gluten-free vegan lemon cake recipe is made primarily from simple pantry ingredients and easy-to-find ingredients.
The Dry Ingredients
- Rice flour: I use white rice flour, though regular flour should also work.
- Oat flour: Or use rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary) and grind them into a floury consistency in a food processor/ blender or spice grinder. Making oat flour takes just some seconds and will help save money in the long run!
- Leavening agents: This gluten-free vegan lemon cake recipe relies on baking powder and baking soda to provide texture and lift.
- Salt: To enhance the various flavors in the lemon dessert. I recommend using sea salt/ kosher salt rather than table salt.
- Turmeric powder: While technically optional, this powder will help to make a pretty vegan yellow cake.
The Wet Ingredients
- Coconut milk: Use full-fat canned coconut milk for its richness and fat content, which will take the place of oil in the recipe to make a wonderfully moist gluten-free lemon dessert. If you use another plant-based milk, add at least 2 Tbsp of neutral oil (vegetable oil, coconut oil, canola oil).
- Liquid sweetener: I use maple syrup, but any liquid sweetener will work. i.e., brown rice syrup, agave, Yukon syrup, etc. Alternatively, use a sugar-free syrup.
- Lemon: I recommend using unwaxed organic lemons for the juice and lemon zest.
- Aquafaba: This is the liquid from a can of chickpeas (or from cooking your own chickpeas) and takes the place of egg in this eggless lemon cake.
- Powdered sugar: I used powdered Erythritol (sugar-free AND zero calorie), which I prefer to regular sugar. However, use regular icing sugar if preferred.
- Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
- Plant-based milk: Any will work.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
Optional Add-ins and Recipe Variations
While this vegan lemon coconut cake alone is a delicious treat, there are a surprising amount of add-ins and ingredients to play around with to adapt this recipe further.
- Blueberries: Make a delicious vegan lemon blueberry cake with the addition of up to a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Raspberries also work.
- Poppy seeds: Add 2-3 tablespoons to make vegan lemon poppy seed cake.
- Vanilla extract: Add a splash of vanilla to the batter for a subtle flavor depth.
- Ginger: Finely chopped candied ginger adds heat and robust flavor.
- Lavender: Food-grade dried lavender or lavender extract (just 1-2 tsp) will add a subtle flavor without overwhelming the lemon sheet cake.
- Vegan orange cake: Effortlessly adapt this cake by swapping the lemon for orange.
- Alternative frosting: Instead of a lemon glaze, you could use lemon buttercream or lemon cream cheese frosting (replace the milk in the glaze with vegan cream cheese), or even strawberry or raspberry frosting/ glaze for a pretty color and flavor combination.
- Candied lemon peel
- Vegan white chocolate shavings
- Fresh raspberries or blueberries
- Shredded coconut or coconut flakes
How to Make Vegan Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze Icing
- First, preheat the oven to 350F/180C, and line a baking pan or sheet pan (mine is 9×6-inches/23x15cm) with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on two sides for easier removal.
- Then, add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix.
- Add the wet ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (a few crumbs are fine).
- Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon glaze icing by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well.
If it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add more lemon juice or milk. You’ll need less milk if you use regular powdered sugar!
- Once the cake is cool, pour the icing over it and transfer it to the fridge for it to set for 20-30 minutes.
- Finally, remove the cake from the pan, slice it into squares, and enjoy!
Make ahead: You can prepare the dairy-free lemon cake batter, minus the leavening agents, a day in advance and store it covered in the fridge. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the leavening agents and continuing with the recipe.
Store: Cover and store the gluten-free lemon cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freeze: It’s best to freeze the cake without the icing for less mess. Spread slices on a tray (not touching) and freeze until solid, then wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a large Ziplock to store for 3 months.
Allow a slice to thaw in the fridge or on the counter (for 30 minutes) before serving.
Could I replace the aquafaba?
Applesauce or dairy-free yogurt could work as a substitute. Alternatively, you could try using a flax or chia egg (combine 1 tbsp ground seeds with 3 tbsp warm water, mix, and leave to thicken for 5 minutes).
Could I use other flours?
You may be able to experiment with making this vegan lemon cake recipe with regular flour (if you aren’t gluten-free) or try a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix.
Can I use this batter to make vegan lemon loaf cake or cupcakes?
I haven’t tried this personally, though it should work, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. I.e., for cupcakes, check on them at 15 minutes. A loaf cake will require 40+ minutes. Use a toothpick or skewer into the thickest part of the bake. It’s ready when it comes out clean or with a few crumbs (but not wet).
Can I use lemon extract?
I find lemon extract leaves an artificial aftertaste in the eggless lemon cake. However, if you want to boost the lemon flavor slightly, feel free to add a few drops to the batter.
- Using a scale is preferable: So you don’t accidentally add too much flour and end up with a dense cake. To accurately measure flour using cup measurements, fluff it up in the bag with a fork. Then, use a spoon to scoop it into your cup before leveling it with the back of a knife.
- Adjust lemon flavor: Depending on if you prefer a subtle or more tart, robust lemon cake.
- To make a layered cake: Double the batter and split it between two cake pans (7 or 8-inch tins would work best) to bake. Monitor them as the baking time may vary. I like to use vegan lemon curd and/or cream cheese frosting between the cake layers.
Other Vegan Cake Recipes
- No-Bake Carrot Cake
- Vegan chocolate mug cake
- Gluten-free Peanut butter chocolate cake
- Vegan strawberry custard sheet cake
- Gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake
- Vegan gingerbread cake
- Pineapple upside down cake
- Vegan coconut cake
If you try this healthy vegan lemon cake recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan—I love seeing them.
Vegan Lemon Cake
Dry Cake Ingredients
- 1 cup (160 g) rice flour (see notes)
- 1 cup (90 g) oat flour (see notes)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1/8-1/4 tsp turmeric (for color)
Wet Cake Ingredients
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) canned coconut milk (see notes)
- 1/3 cup (110 g) maple syrup (see notes)
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
- 3 tbsp (40 g) aquafaba (see notes)
- Zest of one lemon (about a heaped tsp)
- 3/4 heaped cup powdered (100 g) Erythritol or powdered sugar (see notes)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp plant-based milk
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.I recommend using a kitchen scale for this recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a baking pan (or sheet pan) with parchment paper with an overhang for easy removal. My pan measures 9"x6" resp. 23x15 cm (see pictures above in the blog post).
- Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
- Add the wet ingredients and mix with a whisk until combined (don't over mix).
- Pour the batter into the lined pan. Bake for about 25 minutes in the oven, or until a toothpick (inserted in the center) comes out clean. It took 24 minutes in my gas oven.
- Let cool completely. Meanwhile, make the icing/glaze.
- Simply add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix with a whisk. The icing should be runny but not too thin. If it's too thin, add more powdered Erythritol/powdered sugar (you'll need less milk if you use regular powdered sugar!). If it's too thick, add a little more lemon juice or plant-based milk.
- Pour the icing onto the cooled lemon cake and transfer the cake to the fridge for about 20-30. The icing will firm up pretty quickly when you use Erythritol (what I did).
- Cut into squares and enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Check the recipe notes below.
- Rice flour: You can use regular all-purpose flour if you aren't gluten-free.
- Oat flour: To make your own oat flour, simply process oats (regular or gluten-free) in a blender or electric coffee/spice grinder.
- Milk: Since the recipe is oil-free, I used canned coconut milk, which is higher in fat than any other plant-based milk. If you don't like coconut, you can use your favorite plant-based milk and add at least 2 Tbsp of oil in addition.
- Sweetener: You can use any other liquid sweetener (e.g. agave syrup, rice malt syrup, etc.) instead of maple syrup.
- Aquafaba (also known as chickpea brine) is the liquid of a can of chickpeas.
- I used Erythritol which I processed in an electric coffee/spice grinder. You can use powdered sugar instead.
- Nutrition facts are for one piece when you cut the cake into 6 squares (1/6 of the recipe).
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
If you are using Pinterest, feel free to pin the following photo:
So…. mine didn’t look as good but oh boy it was delicious , thank you for another yummy recipe
My pleasure, Fernanda! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe. 🙂
Delicious! My family really enjoyed this cake, the texture was perfect and it was so simple to make. Thanks for sharing!
You are very welcome, Anasha! I am glad you all liked the recipe. 🙂
Hi. My cake was very very dry, couldn’t eat it. I followed the recipe and I don’t know where I made a mistake.
I am sorry it didn’t turn out good for you. Did you maybe leave it too long in the oven? Did you use canned coconut milk and the exact same flour mixture?
Yes, I used everything as it is in the recipe and baked it 25min. The mixture was dry even before baking. I’ll try bake it again and see if this time will turn out good. Thank you.
Hello 🙂 It shouldn’t be dry before baking. Did you measure all ingredients in grams?
This recipe is exactly as described, moist, delicious and easy to make. Our new favourite. Had to make it gain the next day! Thanks Ela! Keep the recipes coming!
Yay, I am so glad you liked the recipe, Maja. 🙂
How big was your pan???
It’s mentioned in the recipe instructions!
“My pan measures 9″x6″ resp. 23×15 cm (see pictures above in the blog post).”
Thank you for the recipe! My batter was not as liquidy and didn’t fill the whole pan (idk why). I used coconut nectar for sweetener which turned the color of the cake more orangey. I used a whole lemon (pitted of course) instead of zest and juice with really good results. For the icing is there some other powder I’d be able to use instead of all sweetener? It was too sweet for me.
You can mix the sweetener for the topping with vegan cream cheese to make it less sweet. Hope this helps. 🙂
This turned out really well, very fluffy and just the right amount of moisture! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
Fantastic! I am so glad you liked the recipe, Jessica. Thanks for your great feedback. 🙂
Does aquafaba still work after it’s been frozen and defrosted?
Good question, Rachel, but unfortunately I don’t know the answer, sorry.
Yes, it does!
I have frozen aquafaba and had it still whip up for meringue cookies. And I was thinking of thawing some just now for this recipe….
That’s great! Thanks for the information. 🙂
I freeze mine in ice trays. It worked just fine. I thawed it on the microwave for about 30 seconds
I don’t have a scale, will it still turn out ok if I just measure with cups?
Yes, it should turn out fine! 🙂
This is the best lemon cake I have ever tasted !! Thank you for sharing the recipe
I will definitely make this cake again!!??
Aww, I am so glad you liked the recipe, Hila! 🙂
This is my first Elavegan recipe I have done and the first vegan cake that is soft and fluffy in the middle, not dense and chewy – it’s delicious!
I am glad you liked the recipe, Cassy. 🙂
Can I use regular flour instead of gluten free and have it turn out the same?
Maybe! You will need to experiment. 🙂 Since I mainly use gluten-free flours, I haven’t tried it out. 🙂
It works with spelt flour though.
OMG!!! This lemon sheet cake is CRAZY GOOD! I think I could eat it all myself.!! Thank you for this yummy recipe!!
So happy you loved the recipe, Faye! 🙂
What can I use instead of aquafaba or applesauce. I am in low fodmap diet. Aquafaba and applesauce affect me in a negative way.
You could probably use a chia egg (1 tbsp ground chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp hot water) or a flax egg.
Looks very yummy ?. What Erythritol Brand do you use ? I been trying to find a good one . Because I read that most of the Erythritol Is GMO made from fermented GMO corn.
Hi Chana, it’s actually linked in the ingredient list. 🙂 This is the one I use and it’s non-GMO: https://amzn.to/2ww8tU7
Vegan Lemon cake is one of my favorite cakes too ? I also love adding blueberries in the batter or making muffins and cupcakes from the recipe.
Sounds great! I have yet to try making vegan lemon muffins, a lemon loaf cake or a lemon bundt cake. 🙂
So quick an easy „thrown“ together and it was delicious! Thank you ☺️
Yay! Glad you liked these vegan lemon bars, Natalie! Thanks for your great feedback. 🙂
Hello! I’m not sure, but isn’t aquafaba can’t be using like an egg in baking? I tried it, but it works another way…
Not sure if I understand your question, Vita. Aquafaba works really well in this recipe. You might also use applesauce instead, but I haven’t tried it out. 🙂
Bake at what temperature.?
Elizabeth, did you not check the instructions? It’s already mentioned there: “Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius)”
This looks great. Would it work with almond
Flour or coconut flour to also make it
Almond flour could work, buckwheat flour as well. I would definitely NOT recommend coconut flour. 🙂
Thank you. I’ll give almond flour a try!
Great, I hope it turns out delicious! 🙂
Hola, el aquafaba lo bates antes hasta quedar en punto nieve o agregas el liquido del aquafaba sin batir? Saludos desde Lima/Perú. Genial receta!! Gracias ?????
Sin batir. You can see it in the video. 🙂
What I could I use instead of rice flour?
A gluten-free flour blend might work but I haven’t tried it out yet, so I can’t really answer your question. 🙂
Dieses Rezept kommt mir gerade passend!!! Bin schon seit Tagen auf der Suche nach einem gesunden, veganen Rezept für einen Zirtonenkuchen!!! Ich werde den so schnell wie möglich backen!!
Danke Eva! Das deutsche Rezept ist hier: https://elavegan.com/de/zitronenkuchen-vom-blech-vegan/ 🙂
Ich hoffe, der Kuchen schmeckt dir. LG, Ela
What is Aquafaba?
Chickpea brine, and it’s actually mentioned and explained in the recipe notes! 😉