This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

A moist, tender Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe that will leave you amazed! This easy cake stays moist for a week and is flavored with lemon zest and lemon juice and is mixed in one bowl with a whisk!

close up of lemon olive oil cake on gold fork.

This lemon olive oil cake is delightfully easy and makes the moistest, most tender olive oil cake you’ll ever have. In the restaurants where I was the Executive pastry chef, any dessert with this cake was guaranteed to sell out! When we opened Peasant, I couldn’t physically make enough of this olive oil cake, this flourless chocolate torte or the gelatos that went with them.

Olive oil cake is fantastic on its own or dusted with powdered sugar, but I love serving it with fresh berries and my easy lemon curd or lemon curd whipped cream. You can even make it into a layer cake like I did with this fig cake using mascarpone whipped cream, or top it with a simple lemon glaze.

Why This is the Best Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • Dependable, professional recipe for lemon olive oil cake. I have baked this cake in every pan from full sheet pans to individual 3-inch ring molds. It is moist, flavorful and soft texture every time!
  • Stays soft & moist for a week at room temperature or longer frozen. The olive oil and combination of ingredients keep this cake moist for over a week at room temperature, or you can cool, wrap and freeze for several months, while a cake baked with butter will lose moisture after 1-2 days!.
  • Lemon flavor improves over time. The lemon zest will continue to add flavor, so this cake actual tastes even better on day 2!
lemon olive oil cake plated on white plates with lemon curd.
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake Stunning Crumb
FREE! My Best Fall Dessert Recipes!
Subscribe for a pastry chef’s best Fall recipes straight to your inbox!

Professional Tips for Making Olive Oil Cake

  • Add the lemon zest to the sugar and allow it to sit. I massage the lemon zest into the sugar and let it sit while I measure the other ingredients. You can actually mix them up to a week in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Bake the cake fully. Due to the large amount of liquids in this cake batter, it needs to bake fully or the center will sink. Be sure that the top has browned, the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center springs back when touched lightly. A cake tester should come out totally clean.
  • Don’t test too soon. If this cake (or any cake) falls before it is fully baked, it will not rise again. I leave the oven door closed and do not rotate it until after 30 minutes (in a 9-inch round cake pan).

Ingredients & Substitutions

lemon olive oil cake ingredients
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is one of the flavors of this cake, as you would imagine. You should use an extra virgin olive oil you love. If it is bitter, that flavor will be imparted on the cake.  To be honest, Kosterina makes an excellent everyday olive oil that is perfect in cake.  
  • Large Eggs
  • Lemons (zest & juice): Fresh lemons are best in this recipe not only because you will have the added flavor of the zest but because fresh lemon juice is brighter and has a slight floral note that bottled lemon juice lacks. This is the same as with all my other lemon cake recipes like this lemon pound cake, these lemon cupcakes, or my lemon coconut cupcakes.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Whole Milk: I use whole milk in this recipe because of its added fat content. It makes the most tender, soft olive oil cake that will stay moist for a week!
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: A combination of baking soda and baking powder allow for a tall, consistent rise both when reacting with the lemon juice and also in the oven.
  • Kosher Salt
  • All-Purpose Flour: I use all-purpose flour because it has enough gluten to create a strong enough structure for all the liquids in this recipe including the olive oil! I have also made it several times with gluten free all-purpose flour though I reduce the milk to ½ cup.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Possible Variations

  • Use a different pan: Bake this same recipe in a small jelly roll pan, a 9-inch square pan, or bake a thinner cake in a 9×13 inch rectangular pan.  
  • Make it gluten free: This recipe works very well with gluten free all-purpose flour. In the professional kitchen I use cup for cup, so that is what I use at home also. If you are making it gluten free reduce the milk to ½ cup.
  • Use a different citrus:  Use orange zest and juice instead of the lemon or omit the lemon zest and lemon juice and use 2/3 +1/4 cup milk. It also is delightful with grapefruit, lime or bergamot (if you can get it)!
side of a slice of lemon olive oil cake on white plate.

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

Use these instructions to make the best lemon olive oil cake! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F convection (with the fan) or 375°F conventional. I do find it bakes best using the convection setting, but if your oven doesn’t have that, don’t despair. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and line a round 9-inch cake pan with a parchment paper circle. I trace an outline of my cake pan on the parchment paper and then cut out a circle inside my sharpie marks.

drawing circle on parchment for lining cake pans.
round cake pan lined with parchment.

Step 2: Zest the lemon into sugar, rub it in gently to begin releasing the oils, and allow to sit while scaling remaining ingredients.

You can do this up to a week in advance and store it in the refrigerator.

Step 3: In a medium bowl whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt and all-purpose flour; set aside.

Step 4: In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, eggs, sugar with the zest, lemon juice and milk.

Step 5: Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until very few lumps remain. The batter is loose, so I find a whisk to be the best tool.

wet ingredients for olive oil cake in white mixing bowl.
perfectly smooth batter.

Step 6: Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven, 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and the center springs back when pressed lightly. It is essential that it is fully baked or it will fall in the center.

This cake is so moist that it is a bit delicate before the crumb sets while baking, so I do not open the oven door for the first 30 minutes.

Step 7: Allow to cool 10 minutes before turning out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack. I just cool mine upside down but you can flip it using a second wire cooling rack. I do not recommend trying to move the cake while hot.
Step 8: Serve warm or room temperature.

baked olive oil cake.
pealing parchment circle from bottom of cooling cake.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

The cake you see baked for 45 minutes. If yours sinks a little in the middle, don’t stress. It is only the very top of the cake crumb that wasn’t set, so it is still safe to eat and will be delicious. A little dusting of powdered sugar, dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla bean ice cream will fix it!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store lemon olive oil cake?

Store olive oil cake well wrapped at room temperature for a week or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can store it in the refrigerator for a week but it will dry out after that.

How do you reheat olive oil cake?

Reheat olive oil cake in a covered dish in a warm oven or in the microwave at 30 second intervals.

How to serve olive oil cake?

Olive oil cake can be served warm or room temperature. It is delightful with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, a spoonful of crème anglaise, lemon curd or topped simply with whipped cream. Fresh berries or sliced peaches, nectarines or cherries in the Summer, and orange slices in the winter are fantastic simple accompaniments. You could also spread it with a lemon buttercream or this light, fluffy ermine frosting, if you wanted a frosted cake.

powdered sugar on slice of olive oil cake on white plate with lemon curd.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

olive oil cake sliced on fork.
5 from 1 ratings

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

A moist, tender Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe that will leave you amazed! This easy cake is flavored with lemon zest and lemon juice and is mixed in one bowl with a whisk!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F convection (with the fan) or 375°F conventional. I do find it bakes best using the convection setting, but if your oven doesn’t have that, don’t despair. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and line a 9-inch round cake pan with a parchment paper circle. I trace an outline of my cake pan on the parchment paper and then cut out a circle inside my sharpie marks.
  • Zest the lemon into sugar, rub it in gently to begin releasing the oils, and allow to sit while scaling remaining ingredients. You can do this up to a week in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt and all-purpose flour; set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, eggs, sugar with the zest, lemon juice and milk.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until very few lumps remain. The batter is loose, so I find a whisk to be the best tool.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven, 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and the center springs back when pressed lightly. It is essential that it is fully baked or it will fall in the center. This cake is so moist that it is a bit delicate before the crumb sets while baking, so I do not open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. A toothpick, bamboo skewer or metal cake tester should come out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes before turning out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack. I just cool mine upside down but you can flip it using a second wire cooling rack. I do not recommend trying to move the cake while hot.
  • Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

Yield – 1, 9-inch round cake
Presentation – Be sure to bake it fully or it will sink in the middle. If it is 95% baked, this isn’t catastrophic, it just won’t look as perfect. It is only the very top part of the center that bakes last.
Flavor Tips – Zest the lemon into the sugar ahead of time for the best flavor.
Variations – Use orange zest and juice instead or omit the lemon zest and use 2/3 +1/4 cup milk in place of the milk and lemon juice.
Storage – Store olive oil cake well wrapped at room temperature for a week or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can store it in the refrigerator for a week but it will dry out after that.

Nutrition

Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 62IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 276
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out more lemon dessert recipes, or all of our cake recipes!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Lemon olive oil cake is one of my all time favorites, and so when Lauren sent me this recipe I knew I had to give it a try immediately! I must say: I was not disappointed! This might be the very best one I’ve ever had!