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.

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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)

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!
4.91 from 22 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.


Calories: 321kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 325mgPotassium: 120mgFiber: 3gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg
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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.

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  1. This was my first vegan cake. A total success. However, next time I think I will double the lemon juice and diminish the almond milk. That way the cake will have a more lemony flavor.  Hope this will work. Thanks again for the wonderful recipe.  4 stars

    1. Sounds like a good plan Charo! More lemon is always better. I should probably retest this myself and try to boost the lemony flavor so more. Thanks for the suggestion and take care!

    2. Can you substitute water for almond milk? Also, what kind of olive oil? Can it be full flavor extra virgin or does it need to be a lighter flavor?5 stars

  2. I made this. I was in a hurry so I used a cake pan, to shorten the cooking time. Served it at a picnic. My friends loved it. One friend requested that I make it again for his birthday. I think that was probably the first time he’s ever knowingly had a vegan cake, so to request it again was really good. It is dense, so it would be better as a loaf (vs. cake pan) but it was still very nice, and a surprisingly nice golden color. It went over well. My other friend noticed how moist it was, and was surprised that it only had a third a cup of oil total.5 stars

    1. This is so great! Thank you! Reminds me that I need to make it again, too. It’s a pretty good cake for being vegan/whole food ingredients. I appreciate your thoughtful comment and I’m glad your friends enjoyed it too! Take care and thanks again.

  3. Vegan buttermilk, genius! I love this healthified cake. I could use a little more health in my life in the coming year. :)5 stars

    1. We could all use a little more health, ha ha! Thanks Lizzy! I am sure your cake will automatically taste better than mine because… well… you’re SugarHero!

  4. I sure could use a slice of this right about now :) I really want to try an olive oil cake – this one will be it!5 stars

  5. Oh gosh this would be perfect with a nice coffee. I love citrus cakes of any type and although i am not vegan i love giving new recipes a try.5 stars

    1. You should definitely try this Mariana, vegan or not! It’s surprisingly good. And since it’s vegan that means you can eat twice as much right?? LOL

  6. Very impressively healthy, Meggan … perfect for the post-Christmas health-drive, of course, but also for any other time of year. Merry Christmas and hope you and family are well! :-)5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Helen, perfect for after the holidays and all year long! I miss you! XO

  7. I love the combination of lemon and olive on cooked veggies, but never thought to use it in a cake! This sounds like it’s wonderfully moist and flavorful!5 stars

    1. Thanks Kathleen, I am sure you will love this recipe! Take care and talk to you soon. :D

  8. You’ve done a great job “veganizing” this cake Meggan! Looks beautiful and I’m sure it is delicious! Love the use of whole wheat and the vegan buttermilk! These recipes take time to develop, but once done it is totally worth it!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Mira! Totally worth it. Plus making it for a friend made it so enjoyable. I do well with positive constraints like that. :D Thank you again and take care my dear!

  9. I love using whole wheat flour, but never thought of using it in a cake, love this idea. This cake looks so moist and yummy, I want to eat it all. With a big pot of tea.5 stars

    1. Obviously all the tea! It’s so moist and tender despite whole wheat anything, ha ha. Thank you Janette and take care!