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Lemon Olive Oil Cake

This Lemon Olive Oil Cake is a moist, delicious lemon-flavored cake made with olive oil. This Italian cake is lightly crusted, and the inside is tender, moist and bursting with zesty, bright lemon flavors.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake is simple and straight-forward cake to make, perfect for beginner bakers! It is also incredibly delicious, addictive and it’s hard to stop at just one slice.

Cutting out a slice of lemon olive oil cake using a cake cutter

Italian Olive Oil Cake

The lemon olive oil cake is unique because olive oil is used to cake this cake instead of butter or vegetable oil, which most American cakes are made of.

If you are wondering…why use olive oil in cake? It’s because olive oil gives this cake a soft, light and fluffy texture that will just melt in your mouth. Trust me when I say this cake tastes as light as a feather!

This is a simple, one-layer cake. You’ll want to use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat the cake batter to give it that light and fluffy texture, and then when it is done we top the cake off by dusting it with powdered sugar.

Lemon olive oil cake is one of those not-overly heavy, not crazy sweet, but an elegant, light cake that is infused with bright and big lemon flavors in every bite. It won’t weight you down and make you feel like you overdosed on dessert.

Another awesome thing about using olive oil in cakes is that it’s actually healthier than a lot of cakes…or as healthy as cake gets! Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which is much better for you compared to butter.

LIfting out a triangular slice of Italian olive oil cake that is sitting on a cake stand.

If you like Italian Olive Oil Cake, don’t forget to also check out Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, one of my favorite cheesecakes ever!


Here are the ingredients you will need to make this olive oil cake:

  • Olive oil – I recommend using high quality extra virgin olive oil for this cake. However, if you don’t want any hint of olive oil flavor in the cake at all, opt for light olive oil instead.
  • Limoncello – an Italian lemon liquor that adds a lovely punch of lemon flavor to the cake. It truly transforms the lemon olive oil cake, so do not skip this! If you can’t find Limoncello, you can use Grand Marnier which is a French orange-flavored liquor.
  • Lemon – you will need both the zest, which is the outermost layer of the lemon, and lemon juice. Lemon zest is full of flavor, brings a lot of lemon flavors and must not be missed!
  • Milk – I used whole milk for this recipe
  • Flour – all-purpose flour works perfectly well for this recipe.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – both are needed to achieve the best texture and leavening in your finished cake.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt – salt enhances flavor, even in a sweet dessert! No one wants a bland lemon cake.
  • Eggs – let your eggs reach room temperature before using them. This helps them to whip to a fuller consistency and hold its shape for a longer amount of time.
  • Powdered sugar – used to dust the tops of the lemon olive oil cake when it is baked and cool completely.

How to make it

Here are the step-by-step instructions to make an Italian lemon olive oil cake:

Step 1: Grease pan

First, generously (and I mean real generous!) grease the bottom and sides of your 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil.

This is highly important so that your lemon olive oil cake doesn’t stick to the pan after baking. Olive oil cakes do stick to pan easily, so if you want to be super cautious, you can line the bottom with parchment paper and then grease it.

Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl, add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.

Flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl

Step 3: Combine Wet Ingredients

In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer), combine granulated sugar, eggs, and lemon zest. Then mix on high for 5 minutes – this is an important step to help our cake batter be light and fluffy.

Slowly add olive oil into the batter, then mix for another 2 minutes. Yes! We are getting this batter super airy and fluffy!

light and fluffy olive oil cake batter wet mixture

Reduce mixer to low speed, then add milk, lemon juice, and Limoncello (or Grand Marnier). Mix until everything is combine, and avoid overmixing.

Step 4: Bring together wet and dry mixture

Add flour mixture (dry ingredients) from Step 2 to wet mixture. Fold to combine – also do not overmix.

Lemon olive oil cake Batter in a large mixing bowl

Bring lemon olive oil cake batter into the greased 9″ round cake pan.

Unbaked lemon olive oil cake batter in a round cake pan.

Step 5: Bake

Send lemon olive oil cake into the oven and bake at 375℉ for 45-48 minutes. Check at the 45 minute mark by removing the cake from the oven and inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake.

If toothpick comes out clean, cake is done. If not, bake for a few more minutes and retest doneness.

Lemon olive oil cake straight from the oven still in the cake pan.

Step 6: Cool and serve

It is equally important to properly cool this lemon olive oil cake so that the cake sets properly, and also it helps with easy removal of the cake from the cake pan.

After removing cake from the oven, leave cake in the round cake pan and place the cake pan on a cooling rack. Let it cool for 20 minutes.

Run a knife along the outer edge of the cake to help release the cake from the pan. Then gently invert lemon olive oil cake onto a cake stand or plate to remove the pan.

The tops of the cake will now be at the bottom. Let it stand and cool for a few more minutes until the tops of the cake are no longer warm to the touch.

Sprinkle the tops of your lemon olive oil cake with powdered sugar to serve – for loveliness sake and for that extra touch of sweetness! 💛

Whole lemon olive oil round cake on a cake stand topped with powdered sugar, with lemon slices on the side.

Tips and Tricks

  • Different olive oils: Different types of olive oil will bring different tastes to the cake. I do recommend a high quality extra-virgin olive oil for best taste and texture. However, extra virgin olive oil does have a stronger olive oil scent. Most of it will be dissolved after baking, but there might be still a lingering smell. I personally do not mind, but if you do, you may want to try using light olive oil.
  • Use fresh lemons: For the best flavor, use fresh lemon zest and juice. Pre-packaged citrus juice and pre-grated citrus zest are often less flavorful. You can’t beat real, fresh fruit.
  • Don’t skip the Limoncello: I’ve made the recipe without limoncello and the flavor just isn’t as bold and flavorful. It truly takes the lemon olive oil cake to the next level! If you cannot find Limoncello, use Grand Manier.
  • Proper mixing is crucial: Beat the sugar and eggs until they turn into a pale yellow. This beating process traps air which helps the cake get a light structure. Be sure not to overmix after adding the flour.
  • Test for Doneness: Every oven is slightly different, and oven temperatures can vary. Start testing your cake for doneness using a toothpick at the 45-minute mark.
  • Cooling is key: Ensure your cake is completely cooled before adding powdered sugar, otherwise powdered sugar will melt.
Removing a slice of olive oil cake

Storage Instructions

Best way to store: Store lemon olive oil cake covered at room temperature and it should stay fresh for up to 5 days. Refrigeration is not necessary.

Freezing Instruction: this cake freezes well. Carefully wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil before freezing. It can last in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t find Limoncello. What can I use instead?

Grand Manier, an orange flavored liqueur, is a great substitute.

Can I substitute olive oil with other types of oil?

While you can substitute olive oil with canola or vegetable oil, it’s not recommended for this recipe. The olive oil adds a distinctive rich flavor and bring about a soft and tender texture that other oils can’t replicate.

The edges of my cake are browning too quickly. What should I do?

If the edges of your cake are browning too fast, you can cover the cake loosely with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent it from browning further.

I had a hard time removing the cake even after greasing it. What happened?

You really want to be very generous with olive oil when greasing the pan. Using a good quality cake pan does make a different too – this is my favorite and enable for easy removal (you still have to grease your pan generously!). To play it safe, I sometimes also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and then grease it.

Why do I have to cool the cake for so long?

Before slicing the cake or sprinkle it with powdered sugar, it’s important to let it cool completely. Powdered sugar will melt if the cake is hot, and cutting a hot cake can cause it to fall apart or crumble.

Picking up a slice of olive oil cake from the cake stand

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Lifting out a triangular slice of round lemon olive oil cake

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Olive Oil Cake is an Italian cake made with olive oil. It is a simple one-layer cake that is lightly crusted on the outside, and is tender, moist and bursting with zesty, bright lemon flavors.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 565kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Limoncello or Grand Marnier
  • cups whole milk
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 375℉. Generously grease a 9-inch round cake pan using olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (can also use a hand mixer), combine sugar, eggs, and lemon zest. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until mixture turns pale yellow.
  • Slowly add olive oil. Mix for another 2 minutes.
  • Reduce mixer to low speed. Add milk, lemon juice, and Limoncello (or Grand Marnier). Mix until everything is combined. Do not overmix.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture. Fold to combined. Avoid overmixing.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45-48 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Leave cake in the cake pan and place cake pan on a cooling rack. Let it cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the outer edge of the cake to help release the cake from the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand and gently lift and remove the pan. Let cake rest and cool completely.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the cake with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 417mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 152IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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