A vegan lemon cake loaf cut into slices

Vegan lemon cake

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(102 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 30 mins Plus cooling


Serves 12

Try baking a vegan version of lemon cake. Light and zingy, it also works well if you replace the flour and baking powder with gluten-free alternatives

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Dairy-free
  • Egg-free
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal276
  • fat9g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs47g
  • sugars29g
  • fibre1g
  • protein2g
  • salt0.3g
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  • 100ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 1 lemon, zested, ½ juiced



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

For the icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • ½ lemon, juiced



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Oil a 1lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice and 170ml cold water, then mix until smooth.

  2. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove and transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool fully.

  3. For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in just enough lemon juice to make an icing thick enough to pour over the loaf (if you make the icing too thin, it will just run off the cake).

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Comments, questions and tips

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17th Jul, 2019
My cake sank in the middle and has a weird gummy texture, with a crispy outside. I baked it for about 42 mins as suggested, but it had sunk after 30 mins (I didn't open the door). Not quite sure what happened as I exclusively bake vegan and gluten-free and this has never actually happened to me before.
Chloe's picture
12th Jul, 2019
Love this vegan lemon cake - my gran baked it for my birthday and it was delicious. I've since made it with pink grapefruit instead of lemon for a bake sale and it was so good people have been asking me for the recipe ever since!
missrosewilde's picture
29th Jun, 2019
Love this recipe! So simple and the cake is delicious. The first time I made this cake I used one lemon as the recipe says, was nice and lemony, second time I used two lemons and it was even better! If you’re using the juice of a whole lemon for the mixture you might want to add a little less water. I baked this in a fan oven (which I recommend) but I extended the cooking time to around 50 minutes.
Kara Wright's picture
Kara Wright
20th Jun, 2019
I thought this cake was crumbly and lacked substance. It really needs eggs (either actual eggs or linseed) to help bind the ingredients and give it more density
17th Jun, 2019
Just delicious, I've made this cake at least 10 times!
7th Jun, 2019
I loved this cake! I made it in a silicone loaf 'tin' and the cooking times were spot on. My colleagues loved it. You would not know this cake did not contain eggs or butter unless someone told you. Beautifully light and fluffy, I can't wait to make it again.
Angela Hennel's picture
Angela Hennel
19th May, 2019
I was looking for both egg-free and vegan baking recipes to feed a crowd that includes mostly non-vegans. This one is lovely - I made 12 large cupcakes from the recipe, I have no idea how long I left them in the oven for but they turned light brown on top before I took them out of the oven.They are light, lemony, and delicious.The bonus is it's a quick and easy recipe that requires no special ingredients.
Jen Gray
5th May, 2019
I’ve just made this, but with orange rather than lemon (didn’t have a lemon!). I’m not a regular baker, but this was easy and tastes great. Could probably have used a bit more orange juice & zest, but it rose, is moist, and tastes lovely.
20th Mar, 2019
This is one of my favourite cakes to make! My whole family, where the majority aren't vegan, love it too! I always cook for a little longer than the recommended 30 minutes. I tend to leave it in the oven for the full 30 then cover in foil (so the inside continues to cook without the outside burning) and stick it back in for another 15 minutes or so. I also use a full lemon for the cake mixture and add some lemon juice too to make it extra lemon-y! I've also found that after numerous times of baking, rapeseed oil tends to help the cake bake and taste better.
17th Mar, 2019
A really lovely, light lemony cake. I doubled the ingredients and made two. They rose beautifully in the oven, although I did cook them for longer than the recommended time. Both cakes were eaten as soon as they were cool. I would definitely make again.


19th Mar, 2018
Do you think this recipe would work using yoghurt instead of oil? If so, how much would you use (the same weight for weight substitution - i.e. 100g for 100ml?) - I'm curious! Thanks for your help :)
goodfoodteam's picture
19th Mar, 2018
Thanks for your question. Fats such as oil and butter help to create and maintain the lightness in a cake's texture. Yogurt as a substitute unfortunately will not work in this way.
11th Feb, 2018
I made this gluten free (for vegan and gluten intolerant colleagues) as per the suggestion in the magazine, by using Dove farm gluten free flour. My problem was that the oil and water seemed to separate during the baking and the cake turned out in two layers, a yellow layer on top and a white layer underneath. The top layer was ok, but the lower layer was dense and hard. Was this a problem caused by lack of gluten?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Feb, 2018
We're sorry to hear the cake didn't work out for you. The lack of gluten should not have affected it in this way so we're wondering if perhaps the cake mixture wasn't thoroughly combined?
Kerry Kirby's picture
Kerry Kirby
6th Jan, 2018
Lovely recipe! Would I be able to substitute any of the lemon to make it a more vanilla Madeira cake? I love the Nigella traditional one but haven’t been able to find anything close vegan.
Asha Shasha's picture
Asha Shasha
22nd Dec, 2017
Can i substitute loaf tin to 22 cm square pan ?
Deeba Ashraf's picture
Deeba Ashraf
21st Dec, 2017
I have tried this recipe once before and it was great. Does it work well if you substitute limes for lemons?
Angela Henderson's picture
Angela Henderson
16th Dec, 2017
can I use sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil
17th Sep, 2018
I used Sunflower rather than vegetable as it's (slightly) healthier. And it worked a treat!!
14th Sep, 2017
If you use coconut oil, what volume ( once it is liquid - or do you use it non liquid) thanks.


missrosewilde's picture
29th Jun, 2019
1. The cake tastes even better if you use two lemons instead of one. Add the zest of two lemons and the juice of one lemon to the mixture, then save the juice of the other lemon for the icing. 2. The ingredients list doesn’t list 170ml of water, but it’s in the method. You will definitely need to add water to the batter or it will be way too dry. You could also use a plant milk of your choice instead of water. 3. The batter should thick and smooth, not too sticky or doughy. It should be thick enough to fold air into but it should be liquid and pourable. When you pick up a lot of the batter with a wooden spoon it should slowly drop off. If it’s too thick or doughy you’ve either added a bit too much flour or you need to add more moisture. You can try adding a little vegetable oil, margarine, or water to solve this. 4. I recommend baking this in a fan oven for around 45 - 50 minutes. 5. After it’s baked, make sure you allow the cake to fully cool before removing it from the tin or it might rip or stick to the baking parchment. I recommend waiting 15 or even 20 minutes for the cake to cool. 6. Before adding the icing, take a fork and prod holes all over the top of the cake. This allows some of the lemony icing to sink in adding even more flavour to the cake. I recommend using a slightly thinner icing, but if you prefer to use thick icing, pour a little lemon juice over the top of the cake so it sinks into the holes before putting on the icing. 7. For best results use 25 cm 10“ loaf tin
Montana Rose's picture
Montana Rose
3rd Dec, 2018
I added more lemon juice to the icing than suggested to make the icing more gooey
Elaine Gear's picture
Elaine Gear
26th Nov, 2018
These are my tips after my experience of this recipe. - Elaine A. The 170ml of water required is not on the ingredient list, someone said it was a bit dry when mixing so i guess they missed that. Its quite a liquidy batter when mixed. B. Add more lemon, as its not very lemony. More of a sweet taste then tang. C. Use a 2lb loaf tin, as i have just finished baking with a 1lb one as the recipe states and now i am going to have to spend the rest of the night cleaning my oven floor from spewed out cake mix. D. I used gluten free flour instead of regular so it makes it gluten friendly too.
28th Jan, 2018
Really yummy cake, it's worth adding the zest of 2-3 lemons and the juice of 1-2 for a more flavoursome cake, then making a drizzle with the juice of a lemon and 200g of icing sugar to keep the cake moist.
Paula Millard's picture
Paula Millard
20th Jan, 2018
Really easy recipe enjoyed by non vegans. Added lemon drizzle topping instead.
andy rich
3rd Oct, 2017
I used soda water and swapped the topping for lemon drizzle. The lemon drizzle was 110g sugar and three lemons.
Gracie's Mum
9th Feb, 2017
Zest of 2 lemons & i used coconut oil after reading an earlier comment & it was lovely. And so easy
Gracie's Mum
9th Feb, 2017
19th Jan, 2018
Got the cake in the oven as I type. The tin size in the recipe is wrong - should be a 2lb loaf tin. Fortunately the baking paper seems to be holding the cake as it rises high above a 1lb tin.
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