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Lemon olive oil cake on a cooling rack.

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.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Calories 321kcal


For the cake:

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

For the glaze:


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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Yield: My Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe makes eight generous slices.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  6. Freezer: The cooled loaf (frosted or unfrosted) can be wrapped in a double-layer of freezer plastic, dated, labeled, and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg