This lemon sheet cake is easy to make and served right out of the pan. Topped with a from-scratch buttercream frosting with plenty of lemon zest and juice.
Table of contents
❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe
- We all love lemon, and we all love cake. But so many lemon cakes are fancy, layered affairs. Not this one. It’s a simple treat that’s easy to make and easy to serve. You’ll love that there’s plenty of lemon flavor without the need for extracts, gelatin, or anything like that. Just fresh zest and fresh juice.
- It’s perfect to serve at any casual get-together. (You’ll love pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting if it’s not lemon season, by the way!)
- It’s totally from scratch but still simple. This method uses hot milk and butter for an extra moist cake with great texture. If you’ve never tried it before, you’ll love this technique.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.
You’ll need the following
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- vegetable oil
- lemon zest
- lemon juice
- yellow food coloring (optional)
- powdered sugar
- stand mixer or hand mixer
- large mixing bowl
- rimmed jelly-roll pan
Step One: make the batter
So if you’ve never made a cake with this method, it’s going to seem a little weird. The method seems strange and it even looks weird pulling it out of the oven. But do not worry! The texture is tender and fluffy and stays moist.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a jelly roll pan with baking spray. (I used an 10 x 15 pan)
We’re going to start by mixing the dry ingredients and setting them aside.
Then beat the eggs and sugar, yes just the eggs and sugar, in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. Turn it up to medium-high and beat until they are fluffy. Lift up the whisk and look for the batter to fall off in thick ribbons.
Next, add those dry ingredients.
And finally comes the weird part. We have to heat milk, just to a simmer. Then remove it from the heat and mix in the butter and vegetable oil, stirring until they are melted and combined.
Finally, add the lemon juice and zest, scraping down the bowl to make sure everything is totally incorporated.
Step Two: bake and frost
Pour all the batter into the prepared baking sheet, and bake! The cake will take anywhere from 35-45 minutes. It’s ready when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let it cool completely, right in the pan. To make the frosting, just dump everything in your mixer bowl and blend. Start slow so you don’t get covered in powdered sugar. Add a bit more sugar or cream until it’s the consistency you like. No need to over-complicate things.
Make sure the cake is cool, spread on the frosting, and you’re done! Cut it up and serve. You could place slices on a serving tray, or be lazy like me and serve it right out of the pan. Isn’t that the point of a sheet cake anyway?
By the way, in the cakes pictures here I used yellow food coloring, but without it, your cake will just look like a classic yellow cake. Still beautiful!
🥫 Storage instructions
Store the cake in an airtight container and pop it in the fridge. For the best flavor and texture, eat the cake within a few days of baking. But it will still be delicious for up to a week.
You can freeze this recipe and it will still be delicious! Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before freezing.
Yes, the full recipe will make 2 standard loaves 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5. You’ll need to bake for about 40 minutes and spray your loaf pans very well.
Yes, but the cake won’t be as moist and won’t keep as well.
Yes! Sweetened whipped cream is delicious on top.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- Don’t overmix the batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients, or it will become tough.
- Use fresh lemons for the best flavor.
📘 Related Recipes
- Frosted strawberry lemon cookies are soft, delicious, and sweet-tart. Perfect for spring!
- Lemon lovers will enjoy this Bundt cake with lemon and coconut.
- And there’s nothing wrong with a cupcake filled with lemon curd!
🍽 Serve it with
Need more pretty, fresh recipes? Try these:
📖 Here’s the recipe
Lemon Sheet Cake With Fresh Lemon Buttercream
- stand mixer or hand mixer
- Large mixing bowl
- rimmed jelly-roll pan
- 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter room temperature, cut into tablespoon pieces
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
- ¾ tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 drops lemon food coloring optional
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (1.5 sticks)
- 3 ⅓ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
- pinch salt
Make the Cake
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a baking rack in the center. Prepare a rimmed jelly roll pan with non-stick spray.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl, set aside. Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides if needed.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just beginning to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the vegetable oil and butter. Stir until the butter melts. Pour the warm milk mixture into the batter. Beat until combined. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest (and food coloring if using) and stir by hand with a spatula.
- Pour batter into rimmed pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan before frosting.
Make the Lemon Frosting
- Beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream using an electric stand mixer. If needed, add the additional 1/2 tablespoon of cream (or more) until frosting is the desired consistency.
- Frost the cake and serve directly out of the pan. Refrigerate any leftovers.