This Gluten Free Lemon Cake is made with layers of soft, tender lemon cake paired with a creamy citrus frosting! A healthy lemon cake recipe that is easy to make with almond flour and a dairy-free cream cheese frosting that can easily be made paleo.
Updated April 2023
Easy Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe
Summer is here, and that means it’s time for all the citrus dessert recipes! This Gluten Free Lemon Cake is definitely a keeper – it’s a bright and fun treat that will lift your spirits any time of year. Every lemon lover needs this tangy dessert in their life. It’s perfection and the perfect healthy dessert for spring and summer!
And there’s no better time than now to try it! This cake has all the flavor of a lemon square in the form of a layered, frosting-covered masterpiece. It’s a great option for people who love lemon but don’t necessarily like the texture of lemon bars. It uses a combination of lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract to give you the most amazing lemon flavor in every bite!
Is this a Healthy Dessert?
As far as cakes go, this one’s pretty healthy. You can check out the nutrition information in the recipe, but to know for sure, I always recommend doing the calculations yourself, as it can differ based on the brands you’re using or the substitutions you’ve made.
The recipe includes natural sweeteners and the cake uses coconut oil instead of butter. In addition to being gluten-free and paleo, this dessert is dairy-free, grain-free, and can be made low-carb and keto with a few substitutions. If want to treat yourself to a homemade cake while staying healthy, this recipe is among the best options!
Why we love this easy lemon cake
If you are a lemon lover like me, this healthier lemon cake is for you! It’s bursting with bright lemon flavors and has all those amazing flavors we love in a classic lemon cake.
It’s the perfect healthy dessert for Mother’s Day, Father’s day, spring and summer birthdays, barbecues and picnics.
Plus, it’s made with simple pantry ingredients that you most likely already have,
The cake recipe comes together easily with simple ingredients and nobody will be able to tell that it’s gluten-free, grain-free and can easily be made dairy-free and paleo with the substitutions I’ve included below.
Not only is this the best tasting paleo lemon cake we’ve made, but it’s it’s the perfect simple but elegant dessert.
What You’ll Need
Let’s get into the simple list of ingredients that make this delightful cake happen. Here’s what you should have on hand:
For the Lemon Cake
- Superfine Blanched Almond Flour:: This low-carb, high-nutrient flour alternative is a favorite of mine. Be sure to use superfine blanched almond flour and not almond meal. Measure properly using the spoon and level method.
- Coconut flour: This gluten-free flour provides structure to the cake and absorbs moisture so be sure to measure properly. When combined with almond flour, it balances out the flavor of gluten free cakes to mimic classic flour cakes.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: leavening powders that work together to help the cake rise. You’ll need one teaspoon of each.
- Sea Salt: Fine, not coarse.
- Vinegar: This will work with the leavening agents to help your cake rise beautifully. And you won’t be able to taste it in the cake!
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: Or your preferred milk substitute, room temperature.
- Large Eggs: Room temperature. Help to give the cake structure and bind everything together.
- Granulated maple sugar: Maple sugar is just the granulated version of maple syrup and lighter and finer than coconut sugar. It works great for lighter color cakes like vanilla and lemon. If you don’t have maple sugar you can swap with coconut sugar but the color will be much darker. Use granulated monk fruit sweetener or another granulated sweetener of choice for low-carb/keto.
- Refined Coconut Oil: Melted and cooled. Feel free to use a neutral flavored oil, if preferred.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: This sets the stage for the lemon to shine through!
- Lemon Extract: Make sure it’s labeled as pure for the most natural-tasting result.
- Lemon Juice & Zest: You can use fresh or bottled juice, as long as it’s pure.
For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Unsalted Butter: Softened.
- Cream Cheese: Softened. Use dairy-free cream cheese if needed.
- Powdered Maple Sugar: Use powdered monk fruit sweetener or another powdered sweetener for keto/low-carb.
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Pure Lemon Extract
- Lemon Zest
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: Or another milk of choice.
How to Make Gluten Free Lemon Cake
This is going to be the easiest layer cake you’ve ever made! You’ll need three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch cake pans.
Make the Cake Layers
- Prep for Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat the cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper rounds. Set aside.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
- Combine Almond Milk & Vinegar: In a measuring cup, measure out the almond milk and add the vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit and curdle for about 5 minutes while you mix the other ingredients.
- Finish Combining Wet Ingredients: In another separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, golden monk fruit, coconut oil, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour in the curdled milk and mix until combined.
- Combine Wet & Dry Ingredients: Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined.
- Bake: Evenly divide the batter between the baking pans and smooth out the tops with a spatula. Bake for 19-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let Cool: Allow the cakes to cool in the cake pans for at least 30 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans. Transfer the cake layers to wire racks to cool them to room temperature before frosting.
Make the Frosting
- Beat Butter: Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the softened butter and beat it on high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add Cream Cheese: Add the cream cheese and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes, until combined
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Slowly add in the powdered sweetener, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon zest and almond milk. Beat for 2-3 minutes, until creamy and smooth.
- Chill: Cover and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
Assemble the Cake
- Frost First Layer: Once the cake layers are completely cool, invert the bottom cake layer onto a cake stand or cake platter and add a layer of frosting, smoothing with a spatula.
- Finish Layering: Add a layer of cake on top of the layer of frosting, then spread more frosting over that layer. Repeat if you have 3 layers.
- Frost & Chill: Frost the sides of the cake, if desired, with the remaining frosting. Decorate with lemon slices and chill in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing.
Vegan frosting alternative
To make a dairy free cream cheese frosting:
Beat together coconut butter (coconut manna) and Kite Hill dairy free plain cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sweetener and vanilla extract until smooth. Add a little bit of coconut milk to reach desired consistency.
Tips for Success
In order to ensure your lemon layer cake comes out perfect, check out these quick tips and tricks.
- Don’t Use Almond Meal: Almond meal and almond flour are not the same thing. Almond meal is coarser and won’t work well in this recipe – be sure to use superfine blanched almond flour.
- Let Cake Cool Completely Before Frosting: Don’t try to assemble your cake if the layers are warmer than room temperature. This could cause the frosting to melt into the cake.
- Beat Butter Well: When making your lemon frosting, don’t stop beating your butter until it becomes light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Chill Cake: Once assembled, this cake should be stored in the fridge for at least an hour before it’s cut and served. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get clean slices. I also think this particular dessert tastes better when it’s cold!
How to Store Homemade Cake
To store lemon cake leftovers, store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or cover with plastic wrap and store in a resealable freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Cream cheese frosting can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours. After 8 hours, stored cream cheese frosting in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days or 3 months in the freezer.
Can I Freeze Extras?
Yes, this cake is freezer friendly! Wrap the entire cake or individual slices tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before enjoying.
Other gluten free cake recipes you might like:
Healthy Pumpkin Cake
More healthy lemon desserts we love:
Easy Lemon Mug Cake
This Gluten Free Lemon Cake is moist, soft and full of bright lemon flavors. This recipe is easy to make with almond flour and a dairy-free cream cheese frosting that can easily be made paleo is the perfect healthy dessert for spring and summer!
- 2 cups superfine blanched almond flour
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk , room temperature (can also use any milk of your choice)
- 4 large eggs , room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated maple sugar , if you don't have maple sugar, you can sub with coconut sugar but the color will be much darker
- 2/3 cup melted and cooled refined coconut oil or neutral flavored oil (sub with melted butter if not dairy-free)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 3 tablespoons pure lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup unsalted grass-fed butter , softened (OR softened coconut butter / manna for dairy free) (can also sub with vegan butter)
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened (sub with dairy free cream cheese)
- 2 - 2.5 cups powdered pure maple sugar , or other confectioners' low carb / paleo sweetener of your choice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons almond milk or any other milk of your choice
- Lemon slices
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly coat three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper rounds. Set-aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
- In a measuring cup, measure out the almond milk and add the vinegar. Allow to sit and curdle for about 5 minutes while you mix the other ingredients.
In another separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour in the curdled milk and mix until combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined.
- Evenly divide the batter between the baking pans and smooth out the tops with a spatula. Bake for 19-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in the cake pans for at least 30 minutes, then carefully remove from cake pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely to room temp before frosting.
- Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the softened butter and beat on high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes until combined. Slowly add the powdered sweetener, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest and almond milk and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to frost.
Once the cake layers are completely cool, invert the bottom cake layer onto a cake stand or cake platter and add a layer of frosting, smoothing with a spatula. Repeat with remaining layers (and sides of the cake, if desired with remaining frosting).
Decorate with lemon slices and chill in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing.
Store any cake leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days or cover with plastic wrap and store in a resealable freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.