Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

PinSaveJUMP to RECIPE

This post may contain affiliate links.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Easiest From-Scratch Lemon Buttermilk Cake

My daughter loves lemon desserts and I had a ton of lemons and some buttermilk to use. Lucky for her, I made a buttermilk lemon sour cream cake. And lucky for me too because in the past couple years, lemon desserts have really been growing on me.

If you’re a lemon lover, you’ll love the perfectly tart yet just sweet enough big pop of lemon flavor this soft and fluffy buttermilk cake has. I used my favorite, foolproof, no mixer, buttermilk cake recipe and worked in lemon three ways: lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.

If I’m eating a lemon dessert, I want to know it’s there. Hint-of-lemon isn’t really my style. Go big or go home.

I love this cake base because it’s fast and easy to make, and the cake always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.

The lemon glaze really helps boost the overall lemon profile of the cake. It’s zingy, tangy-yet-sweet, and after pouring the glaze over the warm cake, it seeps into the cake, and makes it even moister, softer, and more lemony.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

What’s in Lemon Buttermilk Cake? 

To make the lemon buttermilk cake itself, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Lemon zest
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • Lemon juice
  • Canola oil
  • Lemon extract

And to make the lemon glaze for the cake, you’ll need:

  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Lemon juice and zest

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

How to Make Lemon Buttermilk Cake

This truly is such a simple lemon buttermilk cake recipe! Here’s how you’ll make the scratch lemon cake and the lemon cake glaze: 

  1. Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another.
  2. Then, combine the two and turn the batter into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan. 
  3. The lemon buttermilk cake needs to bake until the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Once the homemade lemon cake comes out of the oven, set it aside to cool while you make the lemon glaze. 
  5. The lemon glaze for the cake is whisked together in under a minute and is poured over the still-warm (but not piping hot) cake.
  6. The lemon buttermilk cake then needs to rest on your countertop for at least an hour before slicing and serving. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use? 

No, this lemon buttermilk cake must be made with real buttermilk. You can use powdered buttermilk instead and prepare it as instructed on the package, but that’s the only “substitute” that’ll work. 

Can the Lemon Extract Be Substituted? 

You could technically substitute the lemon extract with vanilla extract, but I don’t recommend doing so as that would seriously diminish the lemony flavor of this cake. 

Also, do NOT substitute lemon oil for the lemon extract. They’re two different products and can’t be used in place of each other. 

Can I Double This Lemon Cake Recipe? 

Yes, you can double this lemon cake recipe from scratch and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan instead. Note that the baking time may need to be increased. 

Can I Use Cake Flour Instead of All-Purpose? 

Possibly, but I’ve only made this lemon buttermilk cake recipe as instructed so I can’t speak to whether cake flour would deliver the same results. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Tips for Making Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must when making this homemade lemon cake. The pre-bottled stuff just doesn’t taste the same! 

When making the lemon glaze for the cake, you may need to add a little extra lemon juice or powdered sugar to get it to the right consistency. The glaze should be on the thicker side, but easily pourable. 

Note that it’s fine to pour the lemon glaze onto the still-warm cake. You don’t want the cake to be super hot, but warm is fine. 

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 9

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!! This is the easiest from-scratch lemon cake EVER!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (vanilla extract may be substituted)

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, or to taste

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

    For the Cake:

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt.
    2. Whisk in zemon zest; set aside.
    3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract.
    4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth.
    5. Turn batter out into prepared pan and bake for about 28 to 31 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
    6. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.

    For the Glaze:

    1. In a medium bowl, add 2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. As necessary, add additional lemon juice (or sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency. I used slightly over 1/3 cup lemon juice. Glaze should be easily pourable.
    2. Evenly pour glaze over cake (doesn’t have to be fully cooled), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
    3. Allow cake to cool in pan uncovered for at least 1 hour (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up.

Notes

  • Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 1gSugar: 42gProtein: 3g

More Easy Lemon Desserts: 

Lemon Lemonies — Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

Lemon Lemonies 

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies — Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They’re soft, chewy and not at all cakey!!

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies 

The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best classic lemon bars! 

The Best Lemon Bars

Strawberry Lemonade Bars — Imagine crossing lemon bars with a strawberry pie. These easy bars taste like strawberry lemonade! Sooo good!

Strawberry Lemonade Bars 

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze — The cake is packed with sweet, juicy blueberries and while there’s lemon in the batter, it’s the lemon glaze that really brings out the tartly-sweet lemon flavor that complements the blueberries so well.

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze 

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) – Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

Lemon Olive Oil Cake – My new FAVORITE lemon dessert of all time!! Lemon zest, juice, extract, and Limoncello add so much AMAZING lemon flavor to this EASY, ridiculously moist no-mixer cake that’s unique and INCREDIBLE!!

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Coconut White Chocolate Gooey Bars — The lemon base is soft and chewy, there’s coconut and white chocolate chips for extra texture, and sweetened condensed milk peeks through the top.

Lemon Coconut White Chocolate Gooey Bars

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

Get the latest recipes via email!

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Excellent! This cake is very tasty and moist! I waited about 30 minutes before pouring the glaze on top. I used less  than  1/3 c. of lemon juice in the glaze – – closer to 1/4 c. The directions didn’t indicate when to add the zest, so I just added it  a few minutes after pouring on the glaze.  I took this dessert to a dinner party and it was a big hit!! 

    Rating: 5
  2. This cake is really good & so easy, although yours is much prettier than mine!  The glaze (which is delicious) dripped down the sides of the cake, so there was not much left on top. 
    Please  tell me how you lined the foil? And, is it’s purpose to keep the glaze on top of the cake?
    Thanks for another great recipe. 

    1. No it’s just for easier cleanup but it is not mandatory.

      The photos I take and the presentation come with years of practice and very steady hands. Don’t worry if yours doesn’t look exactly like mine!

  3. Very moist and lots of flavor for this cake, we loved it! I cut down the sugar but had the glaze and it all combined perfectly. Will do this one again, thank you!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that the cake was great even with reduced sugar!

    1. Not sure I have only made the recipe as written. Do a Google search on volumes of both pans and then decide if you need to double the volume or not.

  4. Hi Averie, am looking for a recipe for buttermilk lemon cake and glad to find this recipe of yours. I have powdered buttermilk, so will appreciate your advice on the quantity i should use for powdered buttermilk. would it also be 1/2 cup of powdered buttermilk?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. They all differ a bit. I would follow the box instructions to get yourself 1/2 cup liquid buttermilk, add how much ever water + powder is called for.

  5. Hello, I’m so excited to try this one! Thanks for sharing. By the way, around how many lemons are needed for this, given the need for the cake and glaze? :)

    1. I would say at least 3 to be safe. It really depends on how big they are, how ripe, how juicy, etc.

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it over the weekend and it was everything! The perfect amount of lemon flavour and sweetness! I’m sure I’ll be making this frequently, as it was such a great hit!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad you will make this cake again and that it was great for you!

  7. Hello Averie,

    I normally don’t leave reviews but I just gotta say… I love love love your recipes! I’ve tried the yellow cake recipe and this lemon buttermilk one and they’re both absolutely delicious. My parents were recently diagnosed with diabetes so I decided to tweak this recipe by using white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose as well as truvia instead of regular sugar and it still turned up very moist and delicious! Thank you! Will definitely be turning to your website for more inspirational recipes :)

    1. I’m glad you are loving my recipes and that you’ve made lots of cakes already and will be trying more!

  8. Hi Averie,

    I love your easy recipes and I am truly looking forward to trying this cake as like your daughter I love everything lemon too! You mentioned that this is your usual buttermilk cake recipe however I noticed that you used 1 1/4 cups of a.p. flour in this lemon buttermilk cake recipe and in the funfetti cake recipe you used 1 cup a.p, flour. Would you please clarify if I have to use 1 or 1 1/4 cup.

    Thank you so much and have a wonderful summer

    1. All recipes vary slightly in the exact amounts of flour, sugar, etc. used. Use the amount listed for this recipe. And use the other amount for the other recipe.

    1. You are welcome to enter the measurements into a converter tool but that is not a service I provide.

  9. Hi! I am a big fan of lemon desserts and I cant wait to bake this cake. I have two questions though. As I find glazes way too sweet, I want to make this as an 8 or 9 inch round cake with lemon or orange mousse. Is this cake appropriate for a mousse cake? Like, this recipe as a base, put it in a round pan and adding a generous amount of mousse? I love lemon mousse but ive only made it on a chocolate or vanilla base. Thanks in advance♡
    Monica

    1. I honestly would just bake the cake once as written, see what you think for yourself, and then start tweaking and experimenting. Enjoy!

  10. OK…just made it!….I’m a total lemon head ?‼️ Instead of a sugary glaze, I made a nice lemon sauce, that’s similar to a lemon curd.  Can’t wait to try it, it’s hard…I’m drooling…lol  ?  If it’s lemon I love it.  Hmmmmm… I wonder if poppy seeds would be good, or blueberries?  I love to experiment with recipes.  Thanks for the recipe‼️

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and glad it came out great for you!

      Others have used poppyseeds and while I haven’t baked blueberries into this cake, I adapted the recipe from an old lemon blueberry cake of mine which we loved.

    1. Ok me too. My cake was not fluffy. It was moist & very good. But I’m trying to figure out how high it is supposed to be. I think mine may have reached a 1/2 inch. I added whipped cream on top. Again, very good.  But trying to figure out if I left something out. Don’t think so. My baking soda is new too. 

  11. Averie, I would like to thank you for the Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe. I made it last week and it was delicious – a real hit. I’m also glad it freezes really well: I’m always on the lookout for things that freeze well. It will be going into my favourite recipes file. Thanks again! :)

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And glad it works out well for you with freezing it and that it’s going into your favourite recipes file!

  12. Averi thank you for the Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe.Baked them this avo it was beautiful, moist & tangy.Once again thank you.

  13. Oh wait, I just noticed, I HAVE made this before AND I commented on it. Oops. I swear, my brain is disengaged from my body … so much for trying a new recipe.

    1. I have REMADE my old recipes thinking oh wow this is going to be sooo good. Only to realize after the fact, I already had this idea. Like 3 yrs ago :) Glad they cake was great the 2nd time around!

  14. Finally got around to making one of your lemon recipes, and this hit the spot. I was in the mood for something citrus-ey. Yum! One down, several more to go …

    1. I think you just asked this question on another recipe and my answer is the same on anything I haven’t personally tried….Probably but I haven’t tried so cannot speak with certainty.

      Have fun experimenting!

  15. Hi Averie! I signed up to bring a lemon “something” to my work dessert feast next week and planned on making this cake. Then, I saw your Best Lemon Bars recipe. Oh, no! What to do?! They both look SO yummy…would you recommend one over the other?

    1. It kind of depends what you want…this cake is light, fluffy, and like a lemon cake would be. The lemon bars are a classic lemon bar, but pretty intensely lemon. And then there’s Lemon Lemonies. I would say they’re actually my favorite because they’re ‘fudgy’ in terms of texture like a brownie, very lemony, love the glaze but I will always personally choose the mouth-feel of a fudgy thing over a cake-like thing….LMK what you end up making!
      https://www.averiecooks.com/2014/06/lemon-lemonies.html

  16. Averie, this is a fantastic recipe! I told my daughter we would make orange cake based on a picture of a recipe and then when I looked at the recipe and saw 1 cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar, I knew that was going to be a candy bar rather than a cake!

    So I modified this recipe – didn’t have any sour cream, lemon/orange extract or buttermilk. I substituted yogurt and yogurt + vanilla extract and almond extract and did the rest as directed.

    It came out fantastic! You’ve definitely got your ratios down in this one and i’ll probably never buy another box of cake mix.

    Unfortunately, you’ve made it too easy to have cake any time!

    Thanks!

    1. The fact that you’ll probably never buy a box of cake mix after trying this cake is amazing praise and thanks for trying it AND thanks for being so resourceful given you didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk but had yogurt…perfect! And vanilla + almond extracts are great. If you go through the related recipes in the post, many of those cakes are this same cake base, just with different twists, i.e. cream cheese, fruit of all types, glazes, no glazes, etc. SUPER versatile, love this base and glad you do too!

  17. Love this Averie! Jorge really enjoys lemon desserts. Sometimes he makes lemon bars. Sometimes lemon tart. I’ll definitely pass this recipe along to him :)

  18. Made this last night cuz I was in the mood for tart-sweet, not sweet-sweet, and we needed (well, maybe “need” isn’t QUITE the right word … ) a dessert. Yum! The glaze makes the cake.

    1. One can always ‘need’ something sweet, or sweet-ish :) And glad you loved the glaze too! I know, I could drink that stuff!

  19. My brother must love lemon desserts as much as your daughter. Whenever I post one, it’s the only time he ever leaves a comment on my blog! ;) And it’s so true about lemon desserts this time of year. I’m almost (but not quite — that’d be impossible) getting a tiny bit tired of pumpkin, so its bright flavor is perfect to balance out all the spice!

    1. I get pumpkin’ed out too. I mean for like a day. Then I’m ready to see more of it. LOL But yea I totally understand and that’s too funny about your bro and the comments!

  20. This recipe is awesome! Growing up, I was ALWAYS the lemon head. I never went for chocolate anything, but give me lemon sorbet or lemon cake or yogurt any day of the week. Simeon, who seems to take after me in every way, is the same way. So, we made this tonight. He absolutely loved it and has asked for “3 or so pieces” to be put in his lunch tomorrow. LOL. Also, seriously, we made your pumpkin french toast this morning for breakfast. The boys both thought it was delicious. And tomorrow, we are going to whip up one of your donut desserts! Not sure which one yet, but thinking about this baby:
    https://www.averiecooks.com/2011/11/baked-vanilla-donuts-with-vanilla-glaze.html
    Your recipes are so fun to make with my kids. Thanks, Averie! Also, Simeon has dogeared a bunch of pages in the pumpkin cookbook! :-D

    1. Wow you have been busy in the kitchen and leave it to you to make a cake the same day I posted it and glad it was a hit so that 3 or so pieces were requested to be put into the lunchbox! Love that!

      And this is on the heels of pumpkin french toast for breakfast, while contemplating donuts…sounds about perfect to me! And happy donut making! Those are classic vanilla donuts and I think you guys will love them!

  21. Juice, zest and extract?! I am in!! this cake looks right up my lemon lovin alley :)

  22. a buttermilk cake alone is amazing let alone the addition of the zesty fresh sweet lemon flavor! YUM!

  23. Love lemony cake, and I am imagining some of that glaze soaking right into the warm cake- luscious!

  24. I was just telling myself it’s been too long since I made lemon. This is fabulous and your pics are gorgeous!

    1. Thanks, Dorothy, and for pinning too. And I know you love lemon stuff! And if nothing else, at least with light-colored cakes like this, it buys me one or two stops on my ISO settings. I’ll take a lemon cake over brownies just for that reason alone. lol

  25. Let me know if your adopting because that is one lucky daughter!!! I love lemon desserts too..I think because they are usually lighter and tart…I love the combination of sweet and tart just as much as sweet and salty…another great recipe.

  26. Yes, as much as I like apples and pumpkins, I love the idea of mixing it up a bit with a lemony cake! I’m also a huge fan of recipe bases that can be used for multiple cakes, dishes, and meals – genius!

    1. I love a versatile base…for cakes, brownies, cookies. I have a few for each category and keep on relaying and parlaying them!

  27. I’m a take-it-or-leave-it person when it comes to cakes, but yours have always been good, and since I love lemon, this sounds like a winner.

  28. I’m a lemon lover. These are right up my alley! And that blueberry lemon cake? Yeah I need that.

  29. You know I’m not a cake person, but if I am going to eat cake, lemon is my preference.

    True story: my older sister’s wedding cake was mis-made and the bottom (AKA biggest) layer was supposed to be chocolate but was lemon poppy seed. I was in college at the time, and brought back at least 1/3 of it (probably the equivalent of 2-3 normal two- layer cakes made in 8 in circle pans). My roomates and I sat on the floor with forks and just DEVOURED it in one night. It was EPIC. And SO good!

    1. I love stories like that :) Those are lifetime memories. I have memories of those with ‘nachos’ made in the microwave :) Devouring mass amounts and loving every second!

      I cannot believe that about her cake being made wrong. How do they get from chocolate to lemon poppyseed???! OMG she had to have been ticked! I hope they gave her the cake on the house after all that!

  30. I rarely bake with lemon – I don’t even know why?! These look delicious, especially that lemony icing. Yum!

  31. This cake looks so gorgeous, Averie! The lighting works so well in these pictures! :) I’ve never heard of a lemon buttermilk cake before, so I’m intrigued! I love how moist and delicious this looks!

    1. Cakes with buttermilk are almost always moister than cakes without (unless there’s bananas or pumpkin involved, usually they can compensate for lack of buttermilk) but in a lighter cake like this, the buttermilk adds awesome moisture!

  32. Total lemon lover right here. Now that I’ve seen this delicious lemon cake and all of your other lemon recipes, I’m craving something lemony for breakfast! LOVE this cake, Averie!

  33. This looks like a classic! I wasn’t a fan of anything with even a hint of sour/tart when I was Skylar’s age–and I think it’s just been in the past decade that I’ve started liking lemon desserts. I love citrus zest though–it gives the essence without too much sourness. Lovely recipe and a good choice for something a little different right now!

    1. Thanks, Paula, about it being a good choice. I’m the queen of pumpkin :) but even I needed a breath of fresh air and this cake was zingy and zippy and hit the spot. And I’m with you on citrus desserts being a recent thing!

  34. Lemon desserts are sneaky. They’re not as hyped as chocolate-based treats, but just as addictive.
    And I can tell this one is bursting with lemon flavor! It’s got such great texture!

    1. They’re not as hyped as chocolate-based treats, correct, but I’ve found with blogging that the people who love lemon desserts are die-hard, crazy-over-the-top will do anything for them. More so than your average chocolate fan. Haha!

  35. Like your daughter, I loooooove lemon desserts! And I like them majorly lemony. Love this!