Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Buttercream

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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.

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.

square cake with slice of lemon

Lemon Sheet Cake With Fresh Lemon Buttercream

A from-scratch sheet cake that's moist and fluffy, topped with a classic buttercream with the irresistible taste of fresh lemon.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
cooling 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Serving Size 16 pieces

Equipment

  • stand mixer or hand mixer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • saucepan
  • rimmed jelly-roll pan

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 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

Lemon Buttercream

  • 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
  • additional lemon for garnish

Instructions 

Make the Cake

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a baking rack in the center. Prepare a rimmed jelly roll pan with non-stick spray.
  • Combine eggs and sugar with dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and sugar (yes, just the eggs and sugar!) on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides if needed.
  • Add milk butter, and lemon. 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.
    heating milk and pouring into cake batter.
  • Bake. Pour batter into rimmed pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake will look a little weird and spongy. That's normal. Allow to cool completely in the pan before frosting.
    baked cake in jelly roll pan

Make the Lemon Frosting

  • Make the 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.
  • Assemble. Frost the cake and serve directly out of the pan. Top with thin lemon slices or lemon zest curls. Refrigerate any leftovers.
    finished cake.

Notes

A 10 x 15 pan is ideal but a larger one will work too, just stick to the shorter baking time.
Try layering fresh berries on top of the cake just before serving.
 

You’ll need the following

  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • eggs
  • sugar
  •  milk
  • butter 
  • vegetable oil
  • lemon zest
  • lemon juice
  • yellow food coloring (optional)
  • powdered sugar
  • cream
butter, lemons, milk, baking powder, flour, eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil on marble
  • stand mixer or hand mixer
  • large mixing bowl
  • saucepan
  • rimmed jelly-roll pan

🥫 Storage instructions

squares of cake with fresh lemon on top

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.

👩🏻‍🍳 tips

  • Don’t overmix the batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients, or it will become tough.
  • 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.
  • Use fresh lemons for the best flavor.
  • Sweetened whipped cream is delicious on top if you want a lighter frosting.

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

Need more pretty, fresh recipes? Try these:

squares of lemon sheet cake.
Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Buttercream
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have tried several lemon cake recipes and none were even close to this one. This one will be a new go to recipe. I have already shared it with a friend.

    1. I’m so happy you tried it Margaret! It’s never been one of my more popular recipes but I wish people would make it more. Thank you for letting me know! 🙂