Josie, my older sister. Yes, Josie, like Josie and the Pussycats. She was actually named after Josee Chouinard the figure skater as my mother had a deep love of the sport but that story is for another time. Back to my sister. She’s not quite 18 months older than me so we grew up being not just sisters, but friends.

Don’t get me wrong, we still fought over the hair straightener and who would marry which Backstreet Boy, but all in all we got along pretty darn well. Every relationship has its ups and downs (read: I went through a major jerk phase) but Josie stuck by my side and supported me through it all. I couldn’t ask for a better big sister. And to celebrate her birthday I whipped up this super easy and super delicious dairy-free lemon cake using a doctored cake mix.

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Dairy-Free Lemon Cake Mix Cake

When Ed and I moved back into the town I grew up in, we bought a house that was only 3 doors down from Josie and her husband. Our daughters, my youngest and her oldest, were born only 6 weeks apart from each other while in that exact neighborhood. I can vividly recall being oh so incredibly pregnant and she would come over, even though heavily pregnant herself, and play with my oldest two girls while I snuck away for a quiet hour to buy groceries without the burden of lugging around a baby and toddler.

Now, as a mother of 3 herself, I hope she realizes how incredibly beautiful and giving that small act of kindness was to me. Some of my favorite afternoons are spent on her back deck, kids running and crawling wildly around outside, while we drink a cup of hot tea, play cards, and chat life. I see her raising 3 amazing little children, ever so kind and patient, and I am in awe. She has grown into this beautiful godly woman who I am so incredibly proud to have as a big sister.

Easy Doctored Cake Mix Lemon Cake

Just like my Key Lime Pie cake, this cake is created on the fly using a lemon cake mix that is deliciously doctored up with a few extra ingredients to create fluffy and moist lemon cake layers. To take this cake from “yum” to “oh holy mackerel amazing” I’ve added a silky smooth lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream.

Josie requested this cake for her birthday this year and specifically asked for extra curd. I doubled the lemon curd recipe below and jarred it up for a special birthday gift to her. If you’re a lemon curd lover as well, I highly suggest doubling up and keeping a jar in your fridge for those breakfast waffles or afternoon biscuits.

Fruit Flavored Baking Recipes

Fresh and fruity get the attention of your tastebuds? Make sure to check out these other recipes:

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Dairy-Free Lemon Cake (Doctored Mix)

  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 14 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Low Lactose


A fluffy dairy-free lemon cake recipe using an easy doctored cake mix. Filled with bright and zesty homemade lemon curd and covered in a whipped lemon buttercream frosting. The perfect cake for a spring or summer party.



Lemon Cake

  • 1 box (461 grams) lemon cake mix

  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt

  • ¾ cup dairy-free milk, room temperature

  • ⅔ cup dairy-free yogurt, room temperature

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract *optional

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Curd

  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • ¼ cup dairy-free salted butter, room temperature

lemon Buttercream

  • 1 cup dairy-free salted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup all-vegetable shortening

  • 6 cups icing sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon extract

  • optional: yellow gel food color *I used ChefMaster


Lemon Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF degrees and prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer give the cake mix and salt a quick whisk to break up any clumps.

  3. Add in all the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Be careful not to overmix.

  4. Divide batter between pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

  5. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then invert on a cooling rack to fully cool.

Lemon Curd

  1. In a medium pot combine the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, and lemon.

  2. Cook mixture on medium-low heat constantly stirring with a whisk until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.

  3. Add in the salt and butter and mix until fully melted and incorporated.

  4. Strain curd into a dish to remove any cooked egg bits and immediately cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Let cool completely before filling the cake.

Lemon Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and shortening on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 10 minutes.

  2. Add the icing sugar, salt, and lemon extract and mix on low until combined.

  3. Turn the mixer up to high and let mix for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.

  4. Add a drop of yellow gel food coloring if so desired and mix until combined.

Cake Assembly

  1. Place one leveled layer of lemon cake on a cake board or plate. Top with approximately 2 cups of buttercream.

  2. Pipe a border of buttercream around the edge and fill with approximately ½ cup lemon curd. Repeat with the remaining layers and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

  3. Cover the cake with another layer of buttercream and smooth sides.

  4. Decorate as you please. I left the top edge raw and unfinished for a rustic aesthetic and used fresh lemon slices and garden-picked flowers to decorate the top. Enjoy.

  • Prep Time: 2 Hours
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 717
  • Sugar: 72 Grams
  • Sodium: 676 Miligrams
  • Fat: 40 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 19 Grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 16 Grams
  • Trans Fat: 2 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 87 Grams
  • Fiber: 0 Grams
  • Protein: 4 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 96 Miligrams

Keywords: dairy-free lemeon cake, dairy free lemon cake, dairy free doctored lemon cake mix, doctored lemon cake, dairy free lemon cake recipe