Skip to Content

We Wrote a Cookbook!

Learn More

Joanna’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • Calories: 358
Lemon Olive Oil Cake with whipped cream and berries on a plate

A generous pour of olive oil means this (dairy-free!) lemon cake recipe is moist and tender, while both lemon zest and lemon juice make it sing with juicy, sunny goodness.

The Hands-Down, Game-Over Best Lemon Cake Recipe Ever.

This lemon olive oil cake recipe is positively the best. We can say that without it seeming like we’re bragging because the lemon cake recipe comes from a friend! So maybe we’re bragging a little bit, but not about how great we are, but instead about how great our friends are. Which is better, right? Joanna from Portland’s Small Baking Co. created this recipe and was kind enough to share it with us (after we begged and begged and begged). Moist and tender, it tastes like the Italian riviera of our most sun-soaked dreams. The olive oil flavor comes through in a subtle way—just a hint of something savory that gives this otherwise simple lemon cake recipe a sophisticated flavor that belies how easy it is to throw together. If you ever get a hankering for something that’s just SO lemony, or find yourself in the glorious predicament of wondering “what can I do with lots of lemons?” (we hear this is a thing that happens to people who live in the sunbelt—you lucky ducks!), look no further than this olive oil-kissed, super lemony lemon pound cake recipe.

orange, lemon, zest, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, olive oil, eggs, salt and baking powder
sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl
eggs, olive oil and lemon zest in a bowl
lemon olive oil cake batter in a bowl

3 Reasons We Love to Use Olive Oil Instead of Butter in Cakes!

The question isn’t “can I use oil instead of butter in pound cake?” the question is “why is oil so much better than butter in a cake like this?”. Because it really is! In addition to the fact that we like the flavor that olive oil gives to this cake—this lemon olive oil cake has a distinctly Mediterranean coastline vibe that we just adore—we also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Moisture. How do you make a lemon pound cake moist? Oil! Oil is 100% fat, whereas butter is about 80% fat and 20% other stuff (mostly water). Fat = moisture, and so therefore oil is a better choice! Making the cake with oil instead of butter also will help it stay tender and moist longer, so you can snack on this lemon cake for a few days and it’ll still be yummy.

  2. Health. This lemon olive oil cake still has quite a lot of sugar and white flour in it, so we’re not exactly calling it a healthy lemon cake. But it’s certainly healthier than classic lemon pound cake, which often includes quite a lot of butter. Olive oil is much healthier—it’s an unsaturated fat that’s actually good for your heart!

  3. Dietary accessibility! Making this cake with olive oil instead of butter means that this is a completely dairy-free lemon cake recipe! That means that people who have dairy intolerances can enjoy this cake, which is a major bonus as far as we’re concerned.

lemon olive oil pound cake batter in a cake pan
lemon olive oil pound cake baked in a loaf pan

What’s In Lemon Olive Oil Cake?

So, you may have been a bit tipped off by the title of this recipe to a couple of the ingredients in this cake—it does indeed have lemons and olive oil in it. Well, actually—brace yourself—you could use a mix of citrus fruits, if you’d like to! We’ve successfully subbed clementine zest and juice for some of the lemon and the cake comes out just as lovely and delicious as it does when we use all lemon juice. So feel free to mix it up a bit! You could even use all orange juice and orange zest to make an orange olive oil cake instead. Just be sure you don’t mess with the proportions. As for the olive oil, it doesn’t have to be extra virgin. If you want the olive oil flavor to be more pronounced, use an extra virgin olive oil. If you just want the moisture that the oil brings, feel free to use olive oil that’s not extra virgin—that’ll be more budget-friendly, too. Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need to make this lemon olive oil cake:

  • All-purpose flour

  • Baking powder

  • Salt

  • White sugar

  • Brown sugar

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice (or clementine juice or orange juice)

  • Eggs

  • Lemon zest

lemon olive oil pound cake with fresh berries and whipped cream,
lemon olive oil pound cake with fresh berries and whipped cream,

How to Make Lemon Olive Oil Cake from Scratch

Aside from being a cheery, brilliant yellow and tasting like pure, zingy sunshine, this lemon olive oil cake is also as easy as can be! You don’t need a stand mixer or electric beater or anything. All you need is a mixing bowl—yep, one bowl—and some measuring cups and you’re good to go. Here’s how to make Joanna’s beautiful lemon cake recipe:

  1. Dry ingredients! Dump them into a bowl and give them a whisk until they’re evenly mixed.

  2. Wet ingredients! Pour in the wet ingredients, including the citrus zest.

  3. Stir! Using olive oil instead of butter means that this cake is harder to over-mix than a traditional, butter-enriched pound or loaf cake recipe (meaning it’s not as prone to toughness) but it’s still good to go easy on the mixing. When the wet and dry ingredients are smoothly mixed, stop!

  4. Grease the heck out of your loaf pan. No really. Use butter or a spray to really get every nook and cranny of your loaf pan before you pour in the lemon cake batter. Sticking is such a disappointment!

  5. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes. But keep an eye on the cake and when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the lemon olive oil cake is done!

lemon olive oil pound cake with fresh berries and whipped cream,

Tools You’ll Need:

All Lemon Everything: Four Lemon Recipes for All Our Fellow Lemon Lovers

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with whipped cream and berries on a plate
lemon olive oil pound cake with fresh berries and whipped cream,

Snack, Dessert, Breakfast, All of the Above? This Lemon Olive Oil Cake Is One Heck of a Multitasker

We think anytime the craving hits is the right time for this easy lemon loaf recipe. Few cake recipes can boast readiness in just about an hour, but this one can! And it keeps beautifully, so you’ll be feasting on lemon cake for days—the only barrier to its longevity is your own will power. Thank goodness Joanna from Small Baking is a nice person and shared her lovely recipe with us all! Try her recipe, and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Joanna’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake


  • 1 cup (5 oz) All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup (2.33 oz) Sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2.66 oz) Brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Lemon juice or orange juice or a combo of both
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 tbsp Lemon zest or orange zest, or a combo of both


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and brown sugar until combined.
  3. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, eggs and zest and whisk until just combined taking care to not over mix.
  4. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 358
  • Protein 4 g
  • Carbohydrates 35 g
  • Total Fat 26 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0 g
  • Cholesterol 55 mg
  • sodium 123 mg
  • Total Sugars 19 g

Joanna’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Kasey paige

    Can I use extra light olive oil

    You can!

    Well, how was it?

    Tried this recipe once or twice (or many, many more times than that)? Click the Write a Review button above and let us know how it went!