An easy recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake that also happens to be vegan and full of whole, unprocessed ingredients. Use whole wheat pastry flour for a tender cake with a nutritious boost!

I love talking about food with foodies.

I had a conversation with my friend Alisha, and she told me about an Olive Oil Cake that was so good, it “haunted her dreams.” Would I be up for the challenge of creating a similar cake?

I immediately agreed, knowing my baking would be restrained by Alisha’s vegan diet. She also mentioned that a cake made with as many whole, unprocessed ingredients as possible would be preferred. And, if I could have it done in time for spring, all the better.

Lemon olive oil cake on a cooling rack.

Pin Now To Save!PIN IT

Can you use Olive Oil to bake a cake?

When you bake with oil instead of butter in a cake recipe, you don’t have to wait for butter to soften. You can immediately, easily, cream oil and sugar together.

Extra virgin olive oil has a stronger flavor than other olive oils, so choose an oil with a mild taste when you’re baking.

Lemon olive oil cake on a cooling rack.

How to Make Vegan Buttermilk

Whisk together unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as unsweetened almond milk, with lemon juice and let it set aside to curdle.

In this recipe, I also added lemon zest to the buttermilk for an extra lemony boost.

Lemon olive oil cake slices on two plates.

Baking with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

I used 100% whole wheat pastry flour in my recipe for the most nutrition and a nutty flavor. You could also use 50% whole wheat pastry flour and 50% all-purpose flour.

However, whole wheat flour is NOT the same as whole wheat pastry flour. All of your baked goods will be heavier and denser if you use regular whole wheat flour.

White glaze being drizzled over a lemon olive oil cake.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar, also known as “sugar in the raw,” is an unprocessed form of sugar. You can substitute 1 cup of regular granulated sugar for the 1 cup of Turbinado in this recipe.

Lemon olive oil cake.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake (Vegan)

This easy recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake is the ultimate spring and summer dessert! This loaf cake also happens to be a vegan dessert, making it a thoughtful addition to a potluck or picnic menu.
4.93 from 27 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 321


For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  • To make vegan buttermilk, in a small bowl whisk together almond milk, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Set aside to blend for 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and olive oil in a large bowl until creamy. Whisk in buttermilk mixture.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold into buttermilk mixture and stir until just incorporated.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs attached, about 45 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven and cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and cool completely.

To make the glaze:

  • Whisk together remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over cooled cake, allowing excess to drip off the cake onto the baking sheet beneath.


  1. Unsweetened almond milk: This works one-for-one as a substitute for regular cow's milk in this and nearly any baking recipe. Here, I combine the plant-based milk with lemon juice to create a vegan buttermilk replacement. (In case you missed it, here's my non-vegan buttermilk swap!)
  2. Olive oil: No need to splurge on the super-fancy and flavorful olive-green finishing oils. Mild-flavored, light olive oil is ideal for baking.
  3. Turbinado sugar: This sweetener is less processed than regular granulated sugar. The latter may or may not be vegan, depending on the brand and how its processed, so I formulated this olive oil cake recipe to use partially-refined turbinado. Some of the molasses from the sugarcane remains in the mix for turbinado sugar, so it has a subtle caramel flavor that plays nicely in this vegan dessert recipe.


Calories: 321kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 325mgPotassium: 120mgFiber: 3gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like


Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. This cake was very good! It had a good rise and texture. The glaze made the cade. I poked holes in the cake so the glaze would seep into itl.5 stars

  2. I’ve made this 3 times now and I think this one is the best! Doubled the recipe and baked in a bundt pan for 40 min. Used half sprouted whole wheat flour and equal parts of “00” italian flour and bread flour. For the oil I used half meyer lemon EVOO and half avocado oil. Total of 1 cup cane sugar and almost doubled the lemon zest. SOOO tender and mildly sweet but the glaze makes up for any lack (use almond extract in the glaze). This is definitely a keeper!!5 stars

  3. I have this cake in the oven right now and it smells amazing!! I added in some fresh blueberries and almond extract, curious to see what it will taste like 🥰 Very excited to try my first olive oil cake after years of seeing them on my timeline!! Thanks for the recipe 💗

  4. Hi there, I have had my eye on this recipe for months. I am hosting a bridal shower for my sister in law, and have been tasked with making muffins and cupcakes. Do you think I could make this recipe in a muffin tin? Or as mini Bundt cakes? Thank you in advanced for your help with this!

    1. Hi Jessica, yes you absolutely can. The baking time needs to be adjusted, though, and off the top of my head I don’t know what it would be. If you are a confident baker, you could just check them as you go (start with 10 minutes or something, check them every 2 minutes after that, or something like that). When is your event? We could try to figure it out before you need to know, if we have enough time. Please write me at or reply to this comment and let me know your timeline. Thank you! :) -Meggan

View all comments