Glazed Lemon Buttermilk Cake (Extra Lemony!)
Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk 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.
What’s in Lemon Buttermilk Cake?
To make the lemon buttermilk cake itself, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Lemon zest
- 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
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:
- Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another.
- Then, combine the two and turn the batter into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan.
- The lemon buttermilk cake needs to bake until the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Once the homemade lemon cake comes out of the oven, set it aside to cool while you make the lemon glaze.
- 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.
- The lemon buttermilk cake then needs to rest on your countertop for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use?
This lemon buttermilk cake should be made with real buttermilk for the best results.
I suppose potentially you could sour regular milk with 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup of 2% or whole milk, let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes, and then use it in the recipe.
You can use powdered buttermilk instead and prepare it as instructed on the package.
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 and if you’d have to alter other things in the recipe.
Tips for Making Lemon Buttermilk Cake
Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must when making this homemade lemon cake. The pre-bottled stuff just doesn’t taste the same and since this is a lemon cake you really should use real lemon juice for best results and flabor.
Glaze – 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.
Don’t Need to Wait – 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. It’ll actually cause the glaze to penetrate into the cake a bit more.
1 hour 45 minutes
- 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)
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt.
- Whisk in zemon zest; set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk*, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
For the Cake:
For the Glaze:
*This lemon buttermilk cake should be made with real buttermilk for the best results.
You could sour regular milk with 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup of 2% or whole milk, let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes, and then use it in the recipe.
You can use powdered buttermilk instead and prepare it as instructed on the package.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 297Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 1gSugar: 42gProtein: 3g
More Easy Lemon Desserts:
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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!
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!!
The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best classic lemon bars!
Strawberry Lemonade Bars — Imagine crossing lemon bars with a strawberry pie. These easy bars taste like strawberry lemonade! Sooo good!
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.
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!!
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 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.
Originally published October 14, 2014 and republished March 17, 2023 with updated text.