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Easy Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe

A classic lemon cake recipe made gluten free for the most irresistible cake you’ll ever have. It’s filled with lemon curd and frosted with a simple cream cheese frosting.

Finished Gluten Free Lemon Cake recipe decorated with white and yellow frosting on a white cake stand

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This gluten free lemon cake recipe was a popular request in the Gluten Free Baking Club and I can’t wait for you to try it! It’s bursting with fresh lemon flavor thanks to four sources of lemon. Yes, FOUR!

The cake itself is an easy lemon cake recipe. You just need a couple bowls, a whisk, and a spoon to stir up the batter.

The decorating part is slightly more involved but don’t worry, it isn’t bad at all! The two-toned frosting is totally optional, feel free to just frost it with cream cheese frosting if that’s easier for you.

No stress!

I highly, highly recommend filling the cake with lemon curd though. The lemon curd is one of the main lemon flavors and it adds amazing texture to the cake as well.

Cool, creamy lemon curd layered between moist lemon cake and cream cheese frosting is what makes this cake a true show stopper. It makes it look and taste like it’s straight out of a bakery, but better!

I can’t wait for you guys to try this cake and let me know what you think of it! Be sure to read through the post below with all the tips and tricks you need to make a homemade bakery-style layer cake. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe ready to serve

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Key Ingredients for Gluten Free Lemon Cake

  • Fresh Lemon – I use lemon zest and fresh lemon juice in this cake recipe. DO NOT use bottled lemon juice, it won’t work.
  • Lemon Extract – a little Lemon Extract boosts the lemon flavor without making it taste artificial. The combination of lemon extract, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest makes the perfect balance of lemon flavor in baked goods.
  • Oil – I use avocado oil when baking but any neutral oil will be fine.
  • Whole Milk – Fat balances the acidity in the cake making a lighter and fluffier cake. It also helps keep the cake texture from getting gummy because acid enhances the xanthan gum and Arrowroot (if you’re using my flour blend)
  • Gluten Free Flour – I use my Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend in this recipe. The amount of xanthan gum is specific to my flour blend. My blend contains Arrowroot which reacts with acid more than other starches. Because of the reaction, I use a little less xanthan gum when baking with fresh lemons than most recipes would call for.
    • For best results, use my flour blend when baking this cake.
  • Food Coloring – totally optional but for that little bit of yellow color, I used 3 drops of AmeriColor Lemon Yellow. I also used it to tint some of the frosting yellow for the watercolor look and two-toned piping on top of the cake.

Equipment Needed to Make a Lemon Cake Recipe From Scratch

  • Cake Pans – I use 2 6-Inch Round Cake Pans for this recipe. Once the cakes are baked, I slice the cakes in half, horizontally, to make 4 layers.
  • Microplane/Zester – I use a Microplane for zesting my lemons. It’s one of my favorite kitchen tools!
  • Kitchen Scale – A kitchen scale is the most accurate way to measure your dry ingredients. This OXO Digital Kitchen Scale is the one I use and love.
  • Parchment Paper – Always line the bottom of your cake pans with Parchment Paper rounds. It’ll eliminate any sticking issues.

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


Can I make a dairy free lemon cake?

Yes! This lemon cake recipe can be made dairy free. For best results, use Silk Dairy Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative in place of the whole milk. The whipping cream alternative has a higher fat content than unsweetened coconut milk beverage and the fat helps balance the acid better creating a lighter, fluffier cake texture.

For store-bought lemon curd, I use Chivers Lemon Curd which is dairy free. For homemade lemon curd, make my Paleo Lemon Curd recipe.

To make the frosting dairy free, follow the dairy free version listed in the notes of my Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


How to Make the Best Lemon Cake Recipe

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 6-inch round cake pans with non stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

Step 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and sugar then set aside.

Step 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, milk, oil, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and food coloring (if using). Then whisk in the lemon juice.

Step 4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to the two prepared cake pans, dividing the batter evenly between the two.

Step 5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done. When done, a cake tester will come out with a few moist crumbs attached, the center of the cake will spring back when gently pressed, and the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Step 6. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 7. When the cakes are cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. To do this evenly, cut 1.5 inches into the cake around the entire cake before slicing all the way through. At this point, wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze flat on a sheet pan at least 1 hour or until ready to assemble.

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


How to Assemble and Decorate the Cake

Step 1. Make 1 1/2 batches of cream cheese frosting and tint 1/4 cup of the frosting yellow for decorating.

Step 2. Frost 3 of the cake layers with a thin layer of frosting to crumb coat. Add about 1 cup of the frosting to a piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag (with about a 1/2 inch opening) and pipe a dam (a frosting ring) around the outside edge of the 3 frosted cake layers. Freeze for 10-15 minutes to solidify.

Step 3. When the frosting has solidified, place 1 of the layers on a cake stand. Add a heaping 1/4 cup lemon curd to the center of the cake and use a spoon to spread the lemon curd evenly inside the frosting dam.

Step 4. Place a second layer on top of the base layer and gently press to adhere. Fill the second layer with 1/4 cup lemon curd and spread evenly to the edge of the frosting dam. Repeat with the 3rd layer.

Step 5. Place the remaining cake layer on top of the cake and gently press to stack, making sure each layer is stacked straight and the cake isn’t leaning. Frost the cake with a thin layer of frosting to crumb coat and fill in the gaps between the layers. Refrigerate the crumb-coated cake for 20-30 minutes to set.

Step 6. When the crumb coat is set, frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. To make the watercolor effect, use an offset spatula to paint a few spots of yellow around the bottom half of the cake. Use an offset spatula or the flat side of an Icing Comb to smooth the yellow into the white frosting. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth, just blended.

Step 7. Use an Ateco #829 Open Star Tip to pipe the detail on top of the cake. I smeared a small amount of yellow frosting streaks on the inside of the tip and piping bag to make the two-toned frosting. Hold the piping tip pointing straight down and pipe a dollop onto the cake and pull straight up as you stop squeezing.

Step 8. Let the cake defrost (if still frozen) and keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve. Bring the cake to room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


Tips for Making Homemade Lemon Cake

  • Don’t over-measure your xanthan gum. Too much xanthan gum will make your cake gummy and chewy instead of soft and tender.
  • Use fresh lemon juice – bottled lemon juice won’t work. It’s too concentrated and more acidic and it will turn your cake into a rubbery mess.
  • Don’t reduce the oil in this recipe. You need the fat in the oil and the milk to get the perfect texture.
  • Don’t use reduced fat or skim milk in this recipe for the same reason listed above.
  • Don’t over-measure your flour. Too much flour will make your cake dense and dry. Get my free guide to measuring flour here.
  • For easier stacking, freeze your cake layers overnight before assembling. Wrap the layers in a double layer or plastic wrap and freeze flat on a sheet pan. Freezing your cake layers will give you a sturdier base when layering with the lemon curd.
    • Be sure to slice your cakes horizontally to make 4 layers before freezing!
    • Let the cake defrost fully before serving. Mine defrosted in less than 3 hours after it was fully assembled. 

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


Lemon Cake Frosting Ideas


Other Gluten Free Lemon Recipes To Try

This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.


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This simple Gluten Free Lemon Cake is one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever had! Moist, tender cake layered with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and you’d never know it was gluten free! This recipe makes 2 6-inch cake layers that are sliced and turned into a 4 layer cake. You can double the recipe and bake it as a 9 inch cake or 8 inch cake. This lemon cake recipe is perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday cakes.

Easy Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe

Yield: Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

A classic lemon cake recipe made gluten free for the most irresistible cake you’ll ever have. It’s filled with lemon curd and frosted with a simple cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) gluten free flour blend (see notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend contains it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7g) aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (202g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (or neutral oil of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 drops lemon food coloring, optional
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

To Assemble

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 6-inch round cake pans with non stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and sugar then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, milk, oil, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and food coloring (if using). Then whisk in the lemon juice.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to the two prepared cake pans, dividing the batter evenly between the two.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done. When done, a cake tester will come out with a few moist crumbs attached, the center of the cake will spring back when gently pressed, and the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. When the cakes are cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. To do this evenly, cut 1.5 inches into the cake around the entire cake before slicing all the way through. At this point, wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze flat on a sheet pan at least 1 hour or until ready to assemble.
  8. When ready to assemble, make the cream cheese frosting and tint 1/4 cup of the frosting yellow for decorating.
  9. Frost 3 of the cake layers with a thin layer of frosting to crumb coat. Add about 1 cup of the frosting to a piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag (with about a 1/2 inch opening) and pipe a dam (a frosting ring) around the outside edge of the 3 frosted cake layers. Freeze for 10-15 minutes to solidify.
  10. When the frosting has solidified, place 1 of the layers on a cake stand. Add a heaping 1/4 cup lemon curd to the center of the cake and use a spoon to spread the lemon curd evenly inside the frosting dam.
  11. Place a second layer on top of the base layer and gently press to adhere. Fill the second layer with 1/4 cup lemon curd and spread evenly to the edge of the frosting dam. Repeat with the 3rd layer.
  12. Place the remaining cake layer on top of the cake and gently press to stack, making sure each layer is stacked straight and the cake isn't leaning. Frost the cake with a thin layer of frosting to crumb coat and fill in the gaps between the layers. Refrigerate the crumb-coated cake for 20-30 minutes to set.
  13. When the crumb coat is set, frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. To make the watercolor effect, use an offset spatula to paint a few spots of yellow around the bottom half of the cake. Use an offset spatula or the flat side of an Icing Comb to smooth the yellow into the white frosting. It doesn't have to be completely smooth, just blended.
  14. I used an Ateco #829 Open Star Tip to pipe the detail on top of the cake. I smeared a small amount of yellow frosting streaks on the inside of the tip and piping bag to make the two-toned frosting. Hold the piping tip pointing straight down and pipe a dollop onto the cake and pull straight up as you stop squeezing.
  15. Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve and bring to room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Notes

  1. I use my Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend in this recipe. 1 1/2 cups of my blend weighs 210 grams but weight will vary by brand.
  2. If your flour blend contains xanthan gum, omit the amount called for in the recipe.
  3. For dairy free milk, use a higher fat dairy free beverage such as Silk Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative.
  4. I used AmeriColor Lemon Yellow food coloring.
  5. Use either store-bought or homemade lemon curd. For store-bought, I prefer Chivers brand.
  6. Prep time does not include making the frosting and decorating the cake. For best results, freeze the cake layers before assembling.
  7. To keep leftover cake from drying out in the refrigerator, press a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap right up against the cut cake and use the frosting to help seal it. Then wrap the rest of the cake in plastic wrap.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 269

Nutrition Facts are estimated and aren't always accurate. Please consult a doctor or nutritionist if you have special dietary needs. Calories based on 10 servings and does not include the frosting.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a star rating and let me know in the comments! You can also leave a photo/comment on this pin for others to see.

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Susan Cole

Sunday 13th of December 2020

Hi! I am going to make this cake this week and am needing to make it in 8" pans. Is there a way to convert this recipe into 8" pans? I have 6" pans, but am needing to make a bigger cake. Thanks!

Shay

Monday 14th of December 2020

You can double the recipe and bake it in 3 8-inch pans.

Tracey Vieira

Monday 28th of September 2020

Hi Shay just wondering if Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 baking flour will work with this recipe, I’m in Australia and finding it difficult to buy the Tapioca starch off the shelf. I’ve used the 1:1 before in your chocolate cake and it’s everyone’s favourite! Thanks so much for all you’re amazing GF recipes.

Priya

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Hello! I’ve just finished making a mini version of this, and though I may have put a bit too much lemon curd, it’s delicious! Thank you so much!

I’m just want to know-I have a second mini cake that I’ve made and frosted for a friend, but need to keep it in the fridge overnight. Should I put it into an airtight container/cover with cling film if at all possible? Not sure if the icing will get “crusty” if left uncovered in the fridge.

Thanks so much!

Shay

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And IMO, there's no such thing as a bit too much lemon curd ;) I answered your cling-wrap question in the previous comment :)

Priya

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Hi there. Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve just finished icing the cake and want to keep it refrigerated until tomorrow. Should I wrap it in clingwrap or place in an airtight container? Or is it fine left as is? Thank you!

Wish I could send you a picture! I made 2 mini cakes and they look so cute. My kids are currently waiting to taste test 🤣

Shay

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Hi Priya! Once the frosting hardens in the refrigerator, you can wrap it in plastic wrap. Feel free to share a pic on Instagram or Facebook and tag me in it so I can see it there :)

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