This vegan lemon drizzle cake is fluffy, light and zesty! It's easy to prepare and uses only 8 common ingredients. The cake gets its moisture from a simple lemon drizzle or syrup.
What to expect from this cake
This delightful vegan lemon drizzle cake consists of an:
- Easy one-bowl vegan lemon loaf which is fluffy and soft. It has a lighter texture than pound cake but is slightly denser than regular vegan cake.
- Two-ingredient lemon syrup
- Simple lemon icing
I don't recommend skipping the syrup as the lemon cake will be dry without it. If you don't want to make the syrup, I'd recommend making my vegan lemon olive oil cake which is moist without any syrup.
Ingredients you'll need
Notes about the ingredients
Granulated sugar for the fluffiest vegan lemon cake. For a refined sugar-free cake, you may use coconut sugar, however, your cake will be brown in color and it will taste like caramel lemon.
If you'd like to reduce the amount of refined sugar, in the lemon syrup, you can use a liquid sweetener instead of granulated sugar. I wouldn't recommend reducing the sugar in the cake itself.
Lemon juice and zest from fresh lemons for the best flavor. You may use bottled lemon juice and omit the zest, but your cake won't be as flavorful.
Vegetable oil of choice. If you'd like a beautiful yellow hue, I'd recommend using a light-flavored olive oil.
Even though this is an eggless lemon cake, it's not crumbly and you don't need any egg replacers!
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to make the vegan lemon cake
The lemon cake comes together in one bowl! Simply add all the dry ingredients to a medium or large bowl then mix until there are no lumps.
Add all the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Be careful to not overmix the batter as it'll make it denser. A few lumps in the batter are fine, as long as they aren't lumps of flour!
Pour the batter into a loaf pan that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Then your cake is ready to bake in your preheated oven.
Preparing the lemon syrup
While the vegan lemon loaf is baking, you can prepare the two-ingredient syrup.
Simply add the sugar and lemon juice to a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. You don't need to add any water or need to do anything special! The lemon juice and heat of the stove will dissolve the sugar.
Your syrup is ready when it's translucent and you can feel or see any granules of sugar.
While the cake is still warm, use a long skewer or sharp knife to poke lots of holes in your cake. Be generous as the holes will allow the syrup to reach all corners of the cake.
Then pour your warm syrup on your cake! As the cake is still in the loaf pan, your syrup won't run away.
How to make vegan lemon icing
I'd strongly recommend making the lemon icing! It adds a kick of lemon flavor, moisture and sweetness.
The icing is made from just powdered sugar and lemon juice.
You can adjust the consistency of your icing by adding more sugar (for a thicker icing) or juice/milk (for a thinner icing). If making adjustments, try to add the sugar or liquid in SMALL amounts. A little goes a long way!
When icing the vegan lemon drizzle cake, it should be at room temperature or chilled. The warmer the cake is, the quicker your icing will 'run' down the sides of the cake.
How to serve lemon drizzle cake
The cake is delicious at room temperature with just the icing. However, you can also top your cake with:
- Fresh berries - make sure you arrange the fruit just before serving as the berry juices may leak onto your icing.
- Extra lemon zest
- Edible flowers
As the cake is packed with lemon flavor, you may want to serve it with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream.
Expert tips and customizations
Yes, this recipe will work well as muffins, without any modifications.
Alternatively, check out my vegan lemon poppy seed muffin recipe which includes tips on achieving those bakery-style muffin tops.
This should work! However orange juice is less acidic than lemon juice (imagine drinking a spoon of orange juice versus a spoon of lemon juice). I'd recommend substituting some of the milk for additional orange juice.
Alternatively, check out my vegan whole orange cake recipe.
I haven't tried this myself so can't vouch for results. If you try this, let me know how you go!
I haven't tried this myself but substituting the flour will result is a heavier and denser lemon cake.
More vegan lemon desserts
Easy Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake
Vegan Lemon Cake
- 2 ½ cups (315g) all-purpose plain flour, (note 1)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Pinch of any good quality salt, (optional)
- 1 cup (250g) dairy-free milk
- ⅓ cup (85g) light-tasting vegetable oil
- ¼ cup (60g) lemon juice, from approx 1-2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F). Grease or line an 8 inch (20 cm) loaf pan.
To make the vegan lemon cake:
- Add all the dry cake ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and salt) to a bowl. Mix til there are big lumps. Add all the wet ingredients (milk, oil, lemon juice and vanilla) and mix until combined. Some lumps are fine!
- Pour the lemon cake batter into your loaf pan.
- Bake the cake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until you can insert a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean. Keep the cake in the loaf pan.
Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup:
- Add the sugar and lemon juice to a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Mix the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved. This should take 1-2 minutes.
- While the lemon cake is still warm, use a long skewer or knife to generosly poke holes in the cake.
- Pour the lemon syrup over the warm cake. Allow the cake to cool in the loaf pan.
To make the icing:
- Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Add more lemon juice for a thinner icing or more sugar for a thicker icing.
- Remove the lemon cake from the loaf pan.
- Drizzle the icing over your cooled cake, allowing the icing to drip down the sides.
Serving the cake:
- Optional: Just before serving, top the cake with fresh berries and lemon zest.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or in the fridge for up to 3 days. The cake can be stored without the icing in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- For a richer cake, you can replace 1⁄2 cup (65g) of the all-purpose flour with 2⁄3 cup (65g) almond flour. In addition, to make this vegan lemon cake gluten-free, substitute the all-purpose flour for 1 2⁄3 cups (165g) almond flour and 1 cup (160g) gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Alternatively, you can use 3 tablespoons of your liquid sweetener of choice. Instead of cooking the mixture on the stovetop, you can simply mix the sweetener with lemon juice in a small bowl.
This post and recipe was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2022 with more informative pictures and an improved recipe.
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