Vegan lemon drizzle cake

Vegan lemon drizzle cake

vegan lemon drizzle cake cross section

In the last week and a half I transitioned from the Siberian cold that I’ve had to endure during my holiday in Poland, to an almost spring aura over here. I mean there is a bit of a chill in the air still, but the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and it almost feels like Madam Spring herself has finally moved in. I love that transition when everything (people included) wakes up from the sluggishness of winter.

I went running again for the first time in about 3 weeks (an illness and my holidays, which ended up lasting longer than planned, have derailed my training a bit) and even though I was totally out of breath by the end, I loved it! By way of motivating myself to be a bit more consistent with my running, I have (perhaps stupidly) signed up for a 10 km race in mid-May so I’ve got a goal to help keep me focused.

Right now, I’m only at about 4-5 km and I haven’t got heaps of time to reach 10 km comfortably, but I think it’s doable if I put the work in. As I am training, I am being a bit more careful about what I eat and I’m trying to stay off sugar as much as possible. I did have a slice of this cake, but the old me would have had way more than that. I’m trying to catch myself when I do mindless eating, which happens when I’m stressed, frustrated or bored, as it brings me no joy or nutrition.

The key, I found, is to get rid of the offending item as soon as possible. The moment I finished my photoshoot I ran over to my neighbour with a few slices of cake on a plate and packed the rest up for Duncan to take to work tomorrow. That way I get to enjoy feeding other people and I still get to eat one slice (in the name of testing, of course) and not gorge myself silly and feel disgusted with my lack of will power the moment I finish.

Anyways, ‘cos it’s almost spring, I’ve decided to make a cake that for some reason reminds me of spring – a classic lemon drizzle cake. I’m not sure why as it’s not like lemons grow in the UK anyway. Perhaps it’s the colour, like the colour of daffodils, which wink at me from all corners of our garden. The cake is light and moist, tangy yet sweet at the same time. Perfect with a cup of afternoon tea in the Spring sunshine.

vegan lemon drizzle cake icing

vegan lemon drizzle cake

vegan lemon drizzle cake sliced

vegan lemon drizzle cake end piece

vegan lemon drizzle cake sliced side

2 lb / 1 kg
20 min
50 min
2 lb / 1 kg
20 min
50 min

  • 100 g / ½ cup neutral oil (for example mild coconut oil)
  • 125 g / ½ cup + 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 180 ml / ¾ cup thin & lukewarm (not from the fridge) plant milk (I used almond)
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)


  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 180 g / 1½ cups all purpose white flour or GF cake flour mix, sifted
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100 g / 1 cup almond meal or finely ground almonds*


  • 70 g / 1/3 cup caster sugar (fine sugar)
  • juice of 1½ lemons (about 90 ml / 6 tbsp juice)
  • 1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

ICING (optional)

  • 50-100 g / ½-1 cup icing sugar*
  • juice of ½-1 lemon


  1. Heat up the oven to 180° C (or 160° C fan forced) / 355° F (320° F fan forced). Line a 1 kg / 2 lb tin with a wide strip of baking paper to be able to remove your cake easily.
  2. Melt the coconut oil gently over a low heat.
  3. Whisk the coconut oil and sugar together with an electric whisk. Add in the plant milk, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  4. Place a sieve over the bowl with the wet ingredients and sift through all the dry ingredients, except for the almond meal. Fold them in gently, until just combined.
  5. Next, gently fold in the almond meal.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking tin.
  7. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is nicely browned.
  8. Once baked, remove the cake from the tin. Pierce the top with a toothpick in several places to allow the syrup to infuse the cake better. Brush the surface of the hot cake (that’s important as otherwise the syrup will stay on the surface) with syrup several times allowing the syrup to soak into the cake between each go.
  9. Once cool, drizzle with icing starting from the middle so that it drips down to the sides creating pretty drizzle marks.


  1. Place the sugar and lemon juice in a small pot over a low heat. Add sprigs of rosemary if you wish.
  2. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves completely. Set aside.


  1. Whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice in a medium size bowl until fully combined. Add the lemon juice gradually to avoid lumps in your icing. Alternatively, you could also sift your icing sugar before combining it with the lemon juice.

*NUT-FREE OPTION: if you cannot tolerate nuts, try this vegan lemon cake recipe instead. It’s a nut-free vegan lemon cake that I created based on this recipe.

*Given that the cake is already covered in sugar syrup, I recommend making a smaller amount of icing (50 g / ½ cup icing sugar and juice from ½ lemon) and drizzling the cake with it for decoration. The larger quantity given above allows you to cover the cake in icing completely.

I used a 2 lb / 900 g cake tin of the following dimensions: 18.5cm x 8cm x 6cm (like this). It holds 8 cups / 2000 ml liquid (to the brim), but the batter should fill no more than 2/3 – 3/4 of the 2lb cake tin or else the cake may not raise.

25 g
15 g
9 g
4 g
42 g
*per serving
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50 reviews, 124 comments
hi , can I use vegetable oil instead of coconut? looking forward to making this for my work colleagues .
    Yes, absolutely! It works just as well! Hope it will go down well! Ania
Hey Ania,
I very much love this recipe and I am so thankful for you creating it. Now, I’ve made this a couple of times and my family doesn’t like the coconut taste - is there anything I can swap the coconut oil out for?
Much love to you 💕
    Hi Tanita! Thank you, I am so pleased to hear that you enjoy it. As for coconut flavour, yes - you can use odourless coconut (I liked to it from the recipe), which has been steamed to remove the flavour and fragrance of coconut. You could also use vegan butter (the one that comes in a block). I don't know where you live, but here in the UK common brands are: Violife, Naturli and Flora. Hope it helps! Ania
So looking forward to trying this, though I am not a baker. Yet! Two questions please. I don't have an electric mixer, so can I use a hand mixer?
Also not keen on the taste of almonds, though could cope with a small amount. Is there anything else I could add instead as a cup of them sounds rather strong. ?
    Hi Lorraine,
    You could mix vigorously with a hand mixer, it shouldn't be a problem. As for the almonds, you could substitue them with regular flour, but I haven't tested this exact recipe with 100% flour so I can only guess the amount. I think 1/2 cup of flour (65 g) of flour should do the trick, but baking time may differ as a result of this change. Hope this helps! Ania
I love this recipe and have used it so many times, it’s always perfect!
    Thanks so much, Ali! I'm delighted to hear that and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know. x Ania
Would that be OK to make 1 1/2 the recipe in order to have a taller loaf? :)
    Hi Gaby, sure, but make sure that raw batter doesn't reach higher than approximately 2/3 of your baking tin's height as the cake will not rise. Also, you will most likely need to extend the baking time a little. Hope this helps! Ania
I’ve been using this recipe for years and anyone who tries the cake goes absolutely nuts for how good it is and the fact that it’s vegan! Thanks so much for an excellent and easy recipe!
    Thank you so much, Suzan! I am so happy to hear that this recipe has served you so well over the years and that it goes down so well with you loved ones, even the non-vegan ones. Thank you for baking vegan and for coming back to review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
My 6 yr old wanted me to leave this review after making these. She said they are really really good.
    Aw, that's so adorable of your little girl - what a thoughtful little person! Thank you, I am delighted that she and you (I hope) enjoyed it so much and thank you for the review - reviews really help my work be seen so I appreciate you taking the time! x Ania
Hi Ania! First time here! Your blog is amazing, can I use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose? I am afraid that I will have a dense texture.
Thanks! :)
    Hi Paulina,
    Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I would not recommend a whole wheat flour in this sort of cake although feel free to override me. This cake has a delicate crumb and I feel like whole meal flour will make it dense and much less pleasant to eat. I think it is better suited to a carrot or zucchini cake, for example. Hope this helps! Ania
This looks wonderful, thanks! How long will it keep and should it be refrigerated please?
    Thanks Jilly, it will keep for a few days (3-4), but it is the nicest the day after it's been made. It can be kept in an air-tight box out of the fridge in a cool place and away from direct heat. Hope this helps! Ania
I’m not even joking, this recipe is so good that my friends have specifically asked that I bring this cake to gatherings every party since they first tried it! 😂👍
    Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Rose! I am absolutely delighted to hear that my cake has been such a favourite amongst your friends and thank you for taking the time to write this lovely review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
Yoga with Kate:
Love, love, love this lemon drizzle cake. I made 3 last weekend for a yoga retreat and they all disappeared - no one could believe it was vegan because the sponge is so moist and yummy. Totally delicious - no need to be vegan to enjoy this cake, and its packed with vitamin C too !
    Thanks so much for your kind words, Kate! I am delighted to hear that it went down so well with your fellow yogis and that no one was any wiser that it is in fact a vegan cake - what a bonus :) x Ania
I have made quite a few of your recipes which have received praise from vegan and non vegans alike. Please keep your blog going. It’s been a life line for me. My question is about this lemon drizzle cake. I have to make it gluten free but I have read in other recipes to add xantham gum if using gluten free flour to help stabilise the mixture. Should I add it to this recipe? Thank you once again for your lovely blog
    Aw, thanks so much for your lovely words, Meg! That's sooo nice to hear - it's certainly very motivating to remember on days when I feel like giving up! I would say that if you GF flour mix does not contain it, I would be inclined to add it. It doesn't do any harm. x Ania
Helen Mitchell:
Hi, I'm going to try this recipe as it looks so tasty. But can I use self raising flour as I don't have any baking soda? Helen x
    Hi Helen,
    Self-raising flour doesn't contain baking soda as far as I know, only just baking powder so yes, it should work but you may not get as much of a rise from it. Hope this helps! x Ania
Thank you, this recipe looks delicious - can’t wait to try it! Do you think it would still work if I substituted oranges for lemons in a one to one swap?
    Hi Perla,
    Sure it will, but as oranges are generally sweeter, you may not need as much sugar. Also, you won't get that lovely tang and contrast between sweet and sour, which is what makes this cake special. Hope this helps! x Ania
Loved this recipe! I baked it with my partner, who has never baked before, over Zoom and ours both came out beautifully! Great for first time vegan bakers and the coconut oil can be substituted with any flavourless vegetable oil with similar results i've found! The sponge is light and fluffy but moist where the drizzle soaks in. I used a chopstick for the holes and had to cover the dents with lemon zest for photos afterwards so I recommend following the advice of a toothpick or cocktail stick for small barely visible holes. I can't get enough of the rosemary either - such a beautifully paired flavour :))
    Thank you for your kind words, Elenia! I'm delighted to hear that both yours and your partner's cake came out so well despite you buying new to baking without eggs and what a fun thing to do together over Zoom. Thank you for taking the time to leave this review - I really appreciate it! x Ania
Can you make this into a cake if so what size pans please
    Hi Sharon,
    According to my research 8" / 20 cm dia pan should be fine, but it will not require as long a baking time, that's for sure. Ania
oh wow...can't believe that!! it has definitely helped me, so keep up the good work and ignore the bad comments hahah
    That's great to hear, thank you! Yes, I will do. x Ania
Thank you so much for this recipe, I've made it a couple of weeks ago and it was delicious!!
Also I wanted to say a special thank for including details like measuring the coconut oil unmelted, or fan/not fan oven etc, really appreciated having all those details, as I'm never sure with other recipes.
    Thank you, Beatrice! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. Funny you should say that all this detail has been helpful as I received quite a nasty message recently from someone who claimed that my recipes include too much detail!! It's nice to know that there are readers out there who appreciate my attention to detail and the fact that I really want them to be happy with the outcome. x Ania
I’m not even a fan of lemon drizzle cake and this was absolutely delicious. I think I have been converted. 😋
    I'm delighted to hear that, Mary! Thank you! x Ania
Alfie Thain:
amazing recipe!
is there a different oil i could use instead of the coconut oil ? thanks !
    Thank you, Alfie. Sure, any oil with neutral flavour should work - sunflower oil, light olive oil, etc. Hope this helps! Ania
One if the best lemon cakes!!! Thank you Aniu!
    Thank you so much - so lovely to hear that you enjoyed it. And thank you for taking the time to let me know. Pozdrawiam serdecznie! Ania
I am hoping to make this cake but will need to make a day in advance. Do you recommend waiting to ice it until Serving ? Should I also wait to use the syrup ? Any advise on whether to keep it in a cooler or not would also be appreciated ! We are going camping and it will be a surprise for my partners bday :) thanks so much !
    Hi Marty,
    It will be okay at room temperature for a day provided it is out of direct sunshine/heat and ideally it should sit under a cloche (or an upside down glass bowl). You can infuse it with syrup while the cake is hot (and the syrup is cool) or once it's cool (the syrup needs to be hot then) - it's up to you - either way works fine. The icing might break up a little during transportation so perhaps it's a good idea to bring icing sugar in a jar and squeeze a small amount of lemon juice into it just before icing - it does need an hour or so to solidify depending on how thick it is. Hope this helps and that the cake goes down well with your partner. Ania
I have made this recipe twice, once gluten-free and once with standard flour. Both times it was delicious. I think the texture was ever so slightly denser than I would want and I'm trying to figure out if it's because of the sugar I'm using. I only have powdered sugar and granulated sugar available here, it seems caster sugar is somewhat in the middle of those two. I have been using 50:50 of each by weight, but maybe one or the other would work better? Would really appreciate any thoughts you have.
    Hi Shannon,
    I'm glad to hear that you've enjoyed this cake. In terms of sugar, I must admit that I have never used either of the two sugars for baking as caster sugar is easily available here and it is the best type of sugar for baking so that's what I tend to stick to when using refined sugar. I am therefore not sure whether it's the sugar that's making the cake dense. Two possible issues that spring to mind is overmixing, which causes too much of an air loss in the batter and can lead to denser cakes. Also I don't know if you use scales or cups, but if the latter is it possible that you are being a bit too generous with your flour? I always recommend using scales when baking as it is a very exact science and using cups to measure out dry ingredients is inherently imprecise. I'm not sure what else could be the issue here as thanks to the addition of almonds meal this cake is designed to be on the light and airy side. Happy to help you troubleshoot if you have any more ideas. Ania
Hi Ania,
Thank you for this fantastic recpie. I've made it numerous times and even put my own spin on it by doubling the cake recipe which makes two lemon rosemary sponge cakes and then I iced it with lemon buttercream. So good! I just noticed the cake crumbles quite a bit, as do a lot of vegan cakes. Do you have any ideas on how to make it hold together a little better? Thanks!
    Hi Nora,
    Thanks for your kind words, I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed it enough to make it again and again. I must say I personally have not noticed this tendency in vegan baked goods as a whole, although sure some recipes are better than others. The trick is to use the correct ratio of liquid to dry ingredients and not to skimp on fat too much (I always try to get away with as little as possible) and then not to overbake it as even a few extra minutesin the oven tend to dry the cake out too much. And then to let it get cold before slicing. Other than these small morsels of 'wisdom' ;) , which I am sure you are well aware of anyway, I have no more suggestions, I'm afraid. Ania PS: Oh and maybe adding a flax or chia egg (or another binder) might help in some situations, but I don't feel that they are needed in this particular case.
kanika bhargava:
Hi ,
Loved the recipe ..looks great will try it tomorrow . Can u pls tell me what can i use for the glaze as i dont have icing sugar ...can it be replaced with any other type of sugar.. may be crystal sugar powdered ??? Pls advice i really want to bake one soon.
    Hi Kanika,
    You could grind regular sugar in a coffee grinder and use that instead, but there is no icing sugar alternative as far as I know. I hope you'll enjoy it. Ania
This is so delicious! I made it for my book club because one of us is vegan. I make another dessert as well, but this was the definite favorite. Several members asked for the recipe. Since then I have made it many times and it is always a hit. Thanks
    Aw, thanks so much, Laura! I am delighted to hear that and thanks for taking the time to review the recipe. Much appreciated. Ania
Rachel Taylor:
Absolutely delicious! This was a hit! I grounded the almonds myself so they came out a bit chunky and therefore the cake was a little crumbly and stodgy in places. Before serving I sliced it then added it to a warm pan to gently caramelise. Absolutely yummy, thank you for sharing x
    Aw, thanks so much, Rachel. I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed it and thanks for taking the time to let me know! x Ania
Hi Ania,
Thank you for posting this recipe.
This was my first time baking a vegan cake. It tastes lovely and is very fluffy.
However, although I left the cake in the oven (160 C fun-assisted) for 50 minutes and the toothpick came out clean, it felt very heavy and fragile after coming out of the tin. When I sliced it it was too moist inside - not sure if this was because of the syrup or because I didn't bake it long enough. I put it back in the oven just now - hopefully it will be okay.
I will definitely try baking it again - maybe leave it in the oven for longer next time.
Thank you,
    Hi Ana,
    It's hard to say but I suspect that it may have needed a bit more time in the oven. The trick is to get it to the point when it's not too wet, firm yet not dried out - although if you dry it out by accident the syrup really does help. Also, never judge a cake while it's still warm - it does settle a lot during the cooling process. I myself made a mistake of despairing over some test cook as I judged it way too early, only to discover that it was on point once I gave up on it and allowed it to cool down completely. Hope it's going to be spot on next time you make it! Ania
Your recipe sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it. Unfortunately I don’t have plant/almond on me and stepping out isn’t an option at the moment. Can I use normal milk instead? And If so, would the quantity be the same?
    As I am vegan, I obviously have not tried using cow's milk, but I imagine any liquid with some fat content will be fine. Hope that helps and that it comes out well. Ania
This was absolutely delicious! I am dairy and egg intolerant which often means I can’t eat cake often so I have been dying to try this recipe. It was so moist, tangy and delicious. My boyfriend absolutely loved it too. It was so moist that it was a bit more pudding like and I used a spoon. I didn’t use the icing and next time I make it, I’ll do less syrup as it was probably a bit too much sugar but seriously good!! Definitely recommend
    Great to hear, Alice! I'm so pleased to hear that you were able to enjoy it despite your allergy/intolerance. x Ania
What substitute flour could you use and what quantities? to be as paleo as possible.
    Hi Pete,
    I am not sure and I have never tried making this cake with any other flours than specified so you may need to experiment yourself. Ania
Great recipe! I made this cake today and I love it. I made only small modifications, such as reducing the amount of sugar and using sunflower oil instead of coconut oil. I only had whole almonds at hand and I finely ground them. I believe that made the cake a bit more crumbly and easy to fall apart. I doesn't seem as dense as the one on your pictures is. BUT, it is really light and soft, perfectly baked and that lemon kick that you get at the end from the lemon syrup is just fantastic!
    Great to hear, Vesna! And thank you for taking the time to let me know that it was a success! x Ania
Hi. I wonder what you mean with "not from the fridge" does this mean the longlife carton type milk?
    Hi Maraika,
    I simply mean 'not chilled' / 'at room temperature'. Hope that helps! Ania
Hi Ania
125g sugar and 1/2 cup don’t seem to be the same? 125g is working out at 1 cup for me.
    Hi Sarah,
    Depends on the sugar, I guess, but 125 g of caster sugar is 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp, which is what I specified in the recipe. 1 cup of sugar is 200 g. I am using US cups here. Hope that helps! Ania
Hello Ania, you suggested in one of the comments above that a neutral oil could be used instead of the coconut oil - how much neutral oil would you use?
(For the solid coconut oil the measurement is 100g)
Thank you
    Hi Van,
    I would go with 135 ml / ½ cup + 1 tbsp of liquid oil here. Hope that helps! Ania
I just tried this cake and it's absolutely delicious! I added some almond extract, which really kicked up the almond flavor. I am thinking of trying to make a lower calorie version of this cake - do you think it would be possible to sub half of the coconut oil for applesauce (this is something I sometimes do with banana bread to cut calories/fat down), and perhaps omit some of the ground almonds in favor of almond extract?
    Hi Alexa,
    I am really pleased to hear that you enjoyed this cake. Yes, I am pretty confident that swapping half of the oil for apple sauce or vegan yogurt should give you a nice, moist cake. I am not sure about getting rid of almond flour, I think it will make a denser cake if you were to sub it with flour. Good luck! x Ania
Thank you, Ania. To be honest, this would be my first time freezing a cake. So, I bake it normally, freeze it and to unfreeze re-bake another 10
minutes with the original temperature? Would be a pity to waste this amazing cake due to a wrong unfreezing method ;)
Best regards
    Hi Caroline,
    I've never frozen any cakes, but my gut feeling would be to freeze it and then allow it to thaw naturally without baking it again, I might be wrong though - if that's a method you successfully used on other cakes in the past, just ignore me. x Ania
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