This gluten free lemon cake is layered with sinfully delicious lemon curd and topped with a fresh cream cheese frosting. It is not only our very favorite birthday cake, but it is the perfect cake for any special occasion. It just takes one bite, and you will be hooked on this easy gluten free lemon cake recipe!
If you have been following along with me for a while, you know we have a crazy productive lemon tree in our backyard. I love creating fresh gluten free desserts with lemons from our tree.
I use lemons in many gluten-free recipes because we always have so much fresh lemon juice. This is a recipe for lemon lovers of all kinds!
This is by far the best gluten free lemon cake recipe ever! It has a moist crumb everyone will love. You may also want to try these Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes!!
If you love lemon desserts as much as we do, you will want to check out all of the gluten free lemon desserts on the blog. It may be hard to decide which to make first!
Why This Gluten Free Lemon Cake Is Great:
- This decadent cake is light and fluffy and has layers of homemade cream cheese frosting and lemon curd.
- This versatile cake recipe can be made into this layer cake, a sheet cake, a bundt cake, or cupcakes!
- You can fancy up this cake as a Gluten Free Wedding Cake, make it for birthdays or Mother's Day, or turn it into cupcakes for a bake sale!
- You can make the cake layers and freeze them until you need them.
- You can use my DIY Gluten Free All Purpose Flour to make this cake. It is a gum-free blend and has no xanthan or guar gum.
This is the first gluten free cake I made after my celiac diagnosis. It was wonderful and I’ve made it several times since. It’s a shock being diagnosed, especially when you’re 40! But this recipe helped me feel like I could do this. Thank you!!"Brianna H.
- Gluten free flour blend - I have tested this recipe with Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 GF Blend and King Arthur Measure for Measure GF Blend. If your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain Xanthan Gum, please add one teaspoon.
- Almond flour - not only does it keep my baked treats moist, but using almond flour in the recipe adds protein to balance out some of the sugar :-). If you do have almond flour, omit it and add an additional ½ cup of your gluten free flour mix.
- Baking soda - Be sure to use this instead of baking powder. Baking soda is best with acidic ingredients like lemon juice.
- Pure vanilla extract - you can use extract or vanilla bean paste but do not use imitation vanilla.
- Butter - you can substitute vegan butter to make this dairy-free!
- Eggs - Use large eggs.
- Lemon juice - fresh lemon or bottled will work great.
- Almond milk - if you need this to be nut-free, you can substitute different milk. Always double-check to be sure your almond milk is gluten free!
- Lemon curd - store-bought or homemade. I love Trader Joe's lemon curd.
If you are new to cake baking, here is a good write-up of my favorite Kitchen Tools For Baking Cakes.
Recipe Step-By-Step Directions:
Step 1: Add the dry gluten free cake ingredients to a large
To measure your gluten free flour, I recommend using either the spoon method or leveling method.
Spoon Method: You can also use a spoon to fill the measuring cup. Use a knife to level along the top to remove the extra flour.
Leveling Method: Put the measuring scoop into the flour and fill. Do not pack the flour. Use a knife to scrape along the top to remove the extra flour.
Step 2: Add the wet ingredients to a bowl and wire whisk to blend.
Step 3: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix gently.
Don't overmix the cake batter, or your cake will be denser. Note: Do not use a standing or electric mixer for best results. These tend to overmix your batter because they remove the air bubbles.
Step 4: Pour batter into the greased round cake pans. You can also prepare your pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper. This will ensure your cake comes out of the pan easily. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the batter out, even in the pans.
Step 5: Bake the cake layers at 350º F for 20 minutes. If you use a larger round cake pan, you must adjust your bake time! (The layer pans I used are pretty thin so the cakes bake quickly.)
Use the toothpick test to see if your cake is baked. Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes back clean, your cake is done baking. If there are crumbs or batter on your toothpick, bake it longer.
Carefully remove the hot cake from the cake pans and place them onto a wire rack for cooling. Do not frost the cake until your layers of cake are fully cooled.
Step 6: While the cake cools, mix up the frosting! Add the softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice to a standing mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix the ingredients on low speed, gradually increasing the speed until the frosting looks fluffy.
You can make the cream cheese frosting in the recipe or make this gluten free frosting recipe. My gluten free frosting recipe has lots of cake decorating ideas.
I used these cute layer pans, I found at Michaels. I have never made a gluten free layer cake with this many layers, and these pans made it look so easy. I have made lots of different gluten free lemon desserts...it is time to get fancy! Add the frosting to a piping bag with a medium star tip to make rosettes on top of the cake.
I layered Trader Joe's Lemon Curd between the layers. I spread on the lemon curd, then add frosting on top, then add another layer of cake. It is so foolproof. You can also make homemade lemon curd with this easy Lemon Curd recipe. I added lemon zest to the top of the cake.
You may also love this easy Gluten Free Hummingbird Cake recipe.
If you are making the lemon cake ahead for a later date, wrap the cooled cake layers separately in plastic wrap. Then gently place the wrapped cake layers into a zipper bag. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or store them in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To thaw, let the cakes sit on the counter so they can warm up to room temperature. Do not frost frozen cakes. Let them thaw first so the frosting can stick to the cake properly.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ:
The secret to this moist lemon cake is almond flour. (*Note you want to use almond flour, not almond meal. Almond meal is ground thicker and doesn't bake with a smooth texture as almond flour does.)
If you can't have almond flour, you can definitely make this lemon cake recipe nut-free. Substitute an additional ½ cup gluten free flour blend instead of almond flour.
Each lemon cake layer is the same size, light, and fluffy! This gluten free lemon cake recipe will feed 6 people. Make 12 cupcakes or one gluten free lemon sheet cake.
Or, it can feed two hungry teenage boys :-). I don't know how teens do it, but it is almost like they have an extra dessert stomach!
If you don't have fresh lemons, you can definitely use store-bought lemon juice for this recipe.
You can use any size cake pan, depending on how many people you serve.
Reader Nikki commented below that flax eggs work as a good egg replacer in this lemon cake recipe.
Note this post was updated from an old March 2018 post with better directions and tips.
Check out this gluten free lemon cake web story too!
Can you use a store-bought lemon cake mix?
You can definitely use a gluten free lemon cake mix if you prefer. There are not many gluten free lemon cake mixes on the market, so you can use a gluten free vanilla cake mix and add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice to make it lemon flavored.
Reader adaptations and reviews:
I doubled the salt (kosher), used Bob 1:1, still added an extra ¼tsp xanthan, subbed whole buttermilk for the almond milk and I split the extract ½ teaspoon vanilla and ½tsp lemon extract. We frosted with lemon buttercream instead of cream cheese. Because when you are 101 years old and want a lemon birthday cake with buttercream that's what you get! Made 2 perfect 6 inch round cakes which we created 5 layers with. Everyone raved young and old."A Pinterest user, Hello Lovely,
This was a great recipe that I will be saving! I didn’t have almond flour so used your recommended sub of the gf flour. I made 2 batches since I have 9” pans, so I had one batch in each pan. Added lemon zest into the batter to give more lemony flavor, and since I have one kiddo who cannot have eggs, I used flax “eggs” instead.Nikki, blog reader
More Gluten Free Cake Recipes to Try:
- Gluten Free Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- Homemade Gluten Free Lemon Bundt Cake
There are so many delicious gluten free cake recipes on this blog to explore.
Gluten Free Lemon Layer Cake
- 1 cup gluten free flour blend * see note
- ¾ cup almond flour * see note
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract * see note
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup raw organic sugar
- ½ cup almond milk
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- Jar of lemon curd * See note
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Spray coconut oil in your cake pans to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl, add your dry ingredients and whisk to blend.
- In a mixing bowl, add all wet ingredients and mix. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is just barely mixed.
- Pour batter into the baking pans, so each pan is ¾ full.
- Put the batter filled pans on a baking sheet and bake.
- Bake for 20 minutes. (*See note)
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add all frosting ingredients to a mixer and mix on high speed.
- Remove first cake from the pan onto a plate.
- Spread lemon curd on the cake.
- Add a layer of frosting.
- Continue to stack until you have used all layers of cake.
- Spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Optional top with fresh lemon zest.
- I have tested Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Blend and King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Blends in this recipe.
- If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
- I highly suggest using almond flour and not almond meal. Almond meal is more coarse and will make your donuts grainy.
- You can use store-bought lemon curd or homemade.
- You can make this recipe dairy-free use vegan butter.
- To make this cake nut-free, omit the almond flour and add an extra ½ cup of gluten free flour blend.
- Note, baking time will vary depending on what you bake this cake in. If you bake in the mini layer pans, you would bake for 20 minutes. A regular cake pan bake for 30 minutes. Cupcakes take 25 minutes.
- Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cake. If the toothpick comes back clean, the cupcakes are finished baking. If you see crumbs or batter on the toothpick, it needs to bake longer.
- This cake will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer.
Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn't test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.
Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.
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Michelle, I used canola oil and it came out fabulously. Delicious.
I added a little lemon zest since I was not going to frost or glaze it and felt that it could still use more zest or lemon juice! Other than that - 5 stars. It was so good. I will definitely make this again!
I am so glad you loved it! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know!
What size cake pans did you use?
I link the exact mini cake pans I used in the post. You can find this in the Recipe Step by Step Directions via the table of contents. They are by Wilton and they are mini multiple-layer pans. The recipe can be used in regular cake pans, but you will need to double the recipe for multiple layers.
Did you put the lemon curd in the cake mix or on top of the baked layer?
Hi Tina, I spread lemon curd between each layer with some frosting.
This was a great recipe that I will be saving! I didn’t have almond flour so used your recommended sub of the gf flour. I made 2 batches since I have 9” pans, so I had one batch in each pan. Added lemon zest into the batter to give more lemony flavor, and since I have one kiddo who cannot have eggs, I used flax “eggs” instead. My son, whose birthday this was made for, requested some strawberries in the frosting, so I made cream cheese frosting and added in some crushed freeze dried strawberries. The cake was super light and fluffy and delicious!
I love hearing this recipe worked with flax eggs. Thank you so much, I know that info will help other readers.