This Italian lemon olive oil cake uses everyday ingredients, but is packed full of delicious fruity flavor. Made with fresh lemon juice and zest, this cake is both light and tender.
This post was originally published in January 2022 and has been updated for content.
Adding olive oil to sweets is very typical in Italian baking. It adds a rich fruity flavor and makes a super moist cake that you just can't get from butter alone.
Traditional Italian olive oil cake is served dusted in powdered sugar, with fresh berries and is the perfect cake for any time of year.
Serve this simple cake for Sunday dinner or a special occasion alongside braciole, risotto or Italian wedding soup!
🍋 Ingredient notes
- Olive Oil - Instead of butter or vegetable oil, this cake uses olive oil for the fat. The light fruity flavor of the olive oil pairs perfectly with the citrus flavor of the lemon. For the best tasting cake, use a good quality olive oil that is mildly flavored.
- Berries - I love serving this cake sprinkled lightly in powdered sugar with fresh berries. They compliment the lemon flavor and olive oil in the cake and make for a fresh and light dessert. Any type of fresh berries can be used or they can be omitted if you like.
📋 Substitutions and variations
- Whipped Cream - For an extra special touch, serve this cake with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
- Orange - Try an orange flavored version of this cake by substituting the lemon juice and zest with orange juice and zest.
- Nuts - Add ½ cup of chopped pistachios or almonds to the batter for added crunch.
🥣 Step by step instructions
First, grease a 9 inch cake pan with butter and sprinkle it with flour so that the whole pan is coated. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and beat with a hand mixer until the eggs are pale yellow and shiny.
With the mixer on low, drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla extract and then mix in the lemon zest and juice.
In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining all purpose flour with the baking powder and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix with the wet ingredients until they are just combined.
Transfer batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The top of the cake should be golden brown and a toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the middle.
Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle the top with the powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries.
If you ever don't recognize a tool or skill that I mention, be sure to look it up in the Glossary of Cooking Terms and Definitions for more information.
⭐ Expert tips
- Make sure to grease the pan thoroughly and also coat the entire bottom and sides lightly with flour. This will help to ensure the cake doesn't stick to the pan after baking. You can also use a parchment paper circle to help make sure it doesn't stick.
- Make sure to beat the eggs and sugar for at least 1-2 minutes until they are pale yellow and shiny. This helps to aerate the batter to make the cake light and provides the best texture.
- Only mix the flour into the batter until it is just combined. If you over mix the batter once the flour is added, the cake will become dense and tough.
- The cake is done when it is light golden brown. To prevent over baking, check the middle of the cake with a toothpick towards the end of the cooking time. When it comes out clean, the cake is done.
⏲️ Make ahead and storage instructions
This olive oil cake can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Cool the cake completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. At serving time, unwrap the cake, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries.
The easy recipe can also be baked, cooled and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in a ziptop bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw the cake at room temperature and serve with powdered sugar and fresh berries
Leftover cake will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days. For best results, store fresh berries separately from the cake.
For a quick overview of this recipe, check out my web story for this Italian olive cake with lemon.
🧁 More dessert recipes
If you loved this lemon olive oil cake recipe, check out these other desserts that I know you will love too!
- Tiramisu Brownies
- Homemade Black Cherry Ice Cream
- Grilled Peaches with Honey Mascarpone
- Raspberry Cannoli Cupcakes
Italian Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- unsalted butter for greasing pan
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour plus extra for pan
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice approximately 1-2 lemons
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest approximately 1-2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar for garnish
- fresh berries for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ and grease a 9 inch round cake pan with butter and sprinkle flour around the pan to coat it completely.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and eggs. Mix on medium speed with a hand mixer for 1-2 minutes until pale yellow and shiny.
- With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and the vanilla extract.
- Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Pour batter in the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes and then top with powdered sugar and berries and serve.
- Use a good quality olive oil with a mild flavor for the best end results.
- Make sure to grease and flour the pan thoroughly to prevent sticking.
- Beat the eggs and sugar for the full time to make sure the batter is aerated. This makes the cake light and provides the best texture.
- Don't over mix the cake once the dry ingredients are added or it will become dense.
- To prevent over baking, check the middle of the cake with a toothpick towards the end of the cooking time. When it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Substitutions and Variations
- Berries - Any type of fresh berries can be added to the top of this cake.
- Whipped Cream - Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream to the slices.
- Orange - Substitute the lemon juice and zest with orange juice and zest.
- Nuts - Add ½ cup of chopped pistachios or almonds.
I’m going make this for a dinner party. Can I bake it in individual bundt cakes? I’m not sure since I haven’t used this recipe!??
Hey Rena! I haven't measured the actual batter before, but about 8 cups of batter fits in a 9" pan. I'm not sure how big the individual bundt cake pan is that you have, but I would try and not fill it more than 2/3 full. It won't rise a ton, but you'll want to leave a little bit of room. They will definitely cook faster, so I would check after 10-15 minutes and then go from there.
This cake looks amazing! Planning to serve for dessert after a nice Italian dinner tomorrow evening.
In place of the powdered sugar I made a glaze with Limoncello and drizzled it over the top! Oh sweet anticipation!
That limoncello glaze sounds amazing! I will have to try that sometime. Enjoy!
It is FANTASTIC! Thank you for the recipe! It’s a keeper!
Woohoo! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for trying the recipe!
Just checking that there is no baking soda in the recipe. Just made it and it’s about 1/2 inch thick?
I do not use baking soda in my recipe. It is a thinner cake, but should be thicker than 1/2 inch in a 9-inch cake pan.
I've never made an olive oil cake but have ALWAYS wanted to. I even may be able to convert this one to gluten-free so thank you, love! Beautiful as always!!
Sounds great! Let me know how it goes!
What a beautiful cake. It's the perfect cake for the upcoming Easter. I will save it and bake it for my family. Thanks!
Thanks Natalie! Can't wait to hear how it turns out for you.
What an amazing cake!
This cake is stunning! So yummy!
Thanks Addie, enjoy!
Loved this cake. It turned out light and delicious!
Glad you enjoyed it, thank you for trying the recipe!
I love using olive oil when baking, this lemon cake looks so good with the addition of fruits as toppings.
Thank you so much!
This cake is incredible! Simple ingredients but bags of flavour and everyone loved it! Thanks so much for all your delicious recipes.
Thank you Megan!
This cake exceeded my expectation. It was gobbled up by all my guests, thank you for the recipe.
Absolutely! Thank you for trying the recipe.
Such a delicious cake and an easy to follow recipe! The lemon flavor really stands out in this olive oil cake!
Thank you Jill!
This italian lemon olive oil cake was so delicious and so moist! I loved all the flavors!
I'm so glad you enjoyed them!