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A gluten-free and vegan lemon cake covered in bright white cream cheese frosting, fresh lemon curd filling, and topped with white apple blossoms and lemon slices.

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake (Vegan)

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  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 27 Minutes
  • Yield: 14 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Lusciously lemon, this easy gluten-free and vegan lemon cake is perfectly sweet and tart. Tender layers of lemon cake filled with lemon curd and covered in whipped cream cheese buttercream frosting.



Lemon Cake

  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ⅔ cup (157 ml) applesauce, room temperature
  • ½ cup (118ml) vegan milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup (118ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (480g) gluten-free flour 1:1 baking blend
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Lemon Curd

  • ½ cup (118ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup (59ml) vegan milk
  • ⅛ cup (25g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • optional: yellow food color

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 1 cup (227g) vegan salted butter, cold
  • 1 package (200g) vegan cream cheese, cold
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 6 cups (720g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


Lemon Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with electric beaters combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix on high for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the lemon juice, applesauce, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the wet ingredients and mix on low until just incorporated.
  5. Divide the cake batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for approximately 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then invert to fully cool.

Lemon Curd

  1. In a small heavy-bottomed pot, combine the lemon juice, milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt and whisk together until smooth.
  2. Begin to cook over medium-high heat. Continue to whisk as the curd begins to thicken. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and add in the butter and food color (if using) and mix until fully melted and combined.
  4. Pour into a shallow dish and immediately cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Allow it to come to room temperature before using it in the cake. It will thicken even more as it cools.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with electric beaters cream together the butter, cream cheese, and lemon zest on high speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. This should take approximately 5-10 minutes.

  2. Add the icing sugar and salt 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. Place it in the fridge until ready to stack and frost the cake.

Cake Assembly

  1. Level each fully cooled lemon cake layer with a cake leveler or knife if needed. *The layers should bake flat though.

  2. Place one leveled layer of cake on a cake board, plate, and/or cake turntable and top with approximately 2 cups of cream cheese buttercream.

  3. Pipe a buttercream border around the edge and fill with the lemon curd.
  4. Top with the remaining cake layer and very gently apply a thin coat of buttercream to all of the cake. Chill the cake for 20 minutes. *If the cake feels unstable or the buttercream becomes too soft at any point while stacking, stop and chill the cake and frosting for 15 minutes.
  5. Cover the cake with a final layer of buttercream and very roughly smooth the sides with a cake smoother and/or offset spatula.

  6. Decorate the cake as you please. I placed apple blossom flowers on top with a few fresh lemon slices. Enjoy!
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • Prep Time: 60 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 27 Minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American