Lemon Olive Oil Cake

taking a slice of lemon olive oil cake, topped with sugar

Lemon olive oil cake is a deliciously moist and tender Mediterranean style lemon cake perfect with a cup of coffee or tea!

removing a slice of lemon olive oil cake

what is an olive oil cake? (ciambellone)

Olive oil cakes are made with olive oil instead of butter or other vegetable oil as the primary fat ~ they have been a special part of celebrating the olive harvest across the Mediterranean. Olive oil adds a subtle fruity flavor to cake, as well as plenty of moisture ~ olive oil cakes stay moist for days!

does this cake taste like olive oil?

  • That’s going to depend on the kind of olive oil you use, but generally speaking this recipe won’t produce a cake that tastes strongly of olive oil.
  • ‘Pure’ or ‘regular’ olive oil is what I used and could only barely discern it in the background, which was perfect with the lemon.
  • If you want a stronger taste, you can use ‘extra virgin’ olive oil, which is unrefined and has a bold olive flavor.
  • If you don’t want any hint of olive oil flavor, you can use one of the ‘light’ olive oils on the market now, or any other kind of neutral cooking oil you like.
  • The combination of the lemon, vanilla, and a hint of olive oil makes for a simple but complexly flavored cake.
slice of lemon cake on a plate

this cake does not disappoint on the lemon front, either!

If you’re a lemon lover like me, you’ve probably made some lemon cakes or desserts in the past that just didn’t deliver on the lemon flavor. It can be a challenge, and I’m always striving to make my lemon recipes sing with that tart lemony flavor you and I love. Sometimes I use lemon extract to achieve that result, but here I’ve used three whole lemons and their zest for an unmistakable citrusy punch, no additional flavoring necessary.

a piece of lemon olive oil cake on a plate with bite taken

tips for baking a great lemon olive oil cake

  • Grease your springform pan well, and make sure it’s in good condition. This batter is on the liquid-y side, so you may want to place a large baking sheet underneath your pan to catch any drips. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan tightly with foil to prevent leaks.
  • Don’t skimp on the lemon zest, make sure you zest the whole lemon and that you get at least 1/2 cup of juice from your 3 lemons.
  • Don’t over-mix your batter once you’ve added the flour or you will get a gummy texture.
  • Allow the cake to cool partially in the pan before attempting to release it. Run a thin butter knife around the edges if it seems like it’s a bit stuck.
a lemon olive oil cake on parchment paper

why this is the best lemon olive oil cake ever

I set out to make the perfect version of a classic lemon olive oil cake here, and I think I succeeded! Here’s why:

  • The amount of oil is perfect, just enough to ensure a super moist texture, but not so much that you get an oily cake.
  • I’ve also packed it with plenty of lemon flavor, complimented by aromatic vanilla extract which pairs beautifully with that hint of olive oil in the background

we can’t get enough lemon cakes

taking a slice of lemon olive oil cake, topped with sugar
5 from 28 votes

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

My lemon olive oil cake is a moist and tender cake with a surprisingly bright lemon flavor.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 12 servings
Calories 369kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 9" springform pan


  • 1 cup olive oil see notes in the post about choosing an olive oil for this recipe)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling the top
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • powdered sugar for dusting, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9" springform pan by greasing the bottom and the sides well, and lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Wrap the outside with foil to prevent leaks.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, and sugar.
  • Add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk briefly to combine.
  • Sift together the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Alternating with the milk, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in a couple of batches. Try not to over-mix at this stage, you just want to combine everything until no streaks of dry flour remain.
  • Pour the batter into the springform pan. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of granulated sugar evenly over the top.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes. The cake should be risen and starting to turn a bit golden brown on the top.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Then gently remove the cake from the springform pan and allow to cool completely on a baking rack.
  • When cool, dust the top with powdered sugar, if desired.


Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 109IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2022 at 2:27 am

    Hi Sue,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe. Do you think it would work to bake with slices of lemon on top?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 25, 2022 at 4:48 am

      The batter is thin so not sure it would support the lemons without them sinking. You might try a layer of very thin slices.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    Do you suppose this cake could be frosted with buttercream? : ) My bf wants a vanilla lemon cake with chocolate frosting for his birthday, so I was going to try it if you think it’s a good idea.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 21, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Well, I have to be honest and say I don’t think this cake would be good frosted, sorry! Of course you could give it a try, but the olive oil presence in the cake makes me think frosting wouldn’t taste very good with it.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    5 stars
    Yum!! Delicious and moist cake that melts in your mouth with a really good crunch on the top from the sugar. I used light olive oil because there are some olive oil haters in the family- it had a very very subtle taste, not really noticeable. I added a little bit of lemon extract into the mix to give it more flavor and also sprinkled some lemon zest on top after baking! I did not have a springform pan so I used my regular 8″ cake pan (greased) and baked at 350 for about 40 minutes! (I split the mixture in 2 by the way because my pan was smaller) I’m gonna try to make a lemon-blueberry curd to put on top for the second cake!

    • Reply
      June 21, 2022 at 7:09 am

      Just do it! What`s the worst that can happen?He will love it!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2022 at 10:16 am


    This recipe looks delicious! Would this work for a 2 layer cake or should I change the ratios?

  • Reply
    May 8, 2022 at 8:42 am

    5 stars
    Suppose I don’t have a springform pan. BRW haven’t found anything less than 5 stars even if I haven’t made the recipe yet! Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 8, 2022 at 9:09 am

      Haha ~ thanks Donnamarie, and Happy Mother’s Day to you 🙂 You can make this is a regular cake pan, but I’m not sure about whether you’d be able to turn it out of the pan. I would line with a circle of parchment and use a good non stick pan.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Sue, thanks for the recipe! If I make this cake a day ahead of time, is it best stored at room temp or in the fridge?

  • Reply
    April 19, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    5 stars
    I think your calories/nutrition is off a bit. Should be 20 grams of fat, not 2. I made this for Easter last Sunday. I’m one of those – I subbed half the flour with chickpea flour (for nutritional reasons) and used Swerve instead of sugar (diabetic family member). It was so good! Really lemony and moist. Even with the chickpea flour it wasn’t overly dense. I would make it again, the same way.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2022 at 11:30 am

    5 stars
    This cake is fabulous! I say so and all the friends I have served it to agree. It is so moist, and it’s lemony enough that it will make you pucker a bit. I will make it again and again.

    One thing, Sue: When I mixed together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and vanilla–the result was really thick and gooey, unlike any cake batter I’ve ever seen before, and I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. Nope! So you might want to mention that in the recipe. For which I thank you–it’s a keeper!

  • Reply
    Roger Kocher
    March 28, 2022 at 9:50 am

    It would be great to also have metric weights. I find it so much easier to use my scale.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 28, 2022 at 11:30 am

      They’re in there now, Roger.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    5 stars
    I made this cake tonight. I baked it 55 min, but don’t think that was long enough. I know not all ovens are created equal. Next time I’ll bake it for 1 hour, or a little more. I’d like for it to have a bit more lemon punch. If I were to add lemon extract, would 1/2 tsp. be the right amount?
    I really liked the crumb & taste, just as far as my oven goes, it needs to bake a little longer. Love the crisp top.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 26, 2022 at 5:07 am

      Lemon extract is pretty strong so I would recommend 1 tsp.

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