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Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon juice and zest in the cake batter and the glaze makes this tart and tangy lemon yogurt cake a lemon-lovers dream.

Lemony Yogurt Cake with a glaze on slices cut.
Lori Rice

A burst of bright lemon flavor is at the heart of this tender yogurt Bundt cake. With a sweet-tart glaze and ultra-moist crumb, it's a sunny treat on even the gloomiest of days.

Serve a thick slice of cake with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy! Making it in a Bundt pan means it’s well-suited for spring celebrations and gatherings, such as Easter and Mother’s Day—though it’s equally fit for a casual brunch.

Get to Know Yogurt Cake

If you haven’t had the pleasure of baking a yogurt cake before, allow me to introduce you.

Yogurt cake is a humble, pantry-style cake that has origins in France. It’s a simple mix of plain yogurt, olive oil, eggs, flour, vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt that results in a tender, delicately sweet cake liken to pound cake but lighter and fluffier in texture.

At its core it is such a basic cake and can be easily adapted with extra flavors and add-ins. This lemon version is one of the most popular, and for good reason: Tangy yogurt and tart lemons are a natural pair.

Overhead view of a Fresh Lemon Yogurt Cake with lemon slices on the side of the platter.
Lori Rice

The Secret to the Best Lemon Cake

There are lots of ways to add lemon flavor to a cake, including squeezing lemon juice into the batter or adding a splash of lemon extract. My favorite way, however, is to use lemon zest. Freshly grated lemon zest is bright and bold and bitter in all the best ways. It’s the true essence of lemon flavor.

While you can simply stir it into the batter and achieve solid results, take it one step further by making lemon sugar with the zest first and you won’t be disappointed.

Rubbing the sugar and zest together causes the zest to release its fragrant oils into the sugar, so you can get every bit of lemon flavor, resulting in the brightest, most lemony cake possible.

Yogurt Cake Swaps and Substitutions

Make this yogurt lemon cake your own by making any of the changes below:

  • A neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola oil won’t lend any flavor to the cake, while olive oil will provide a mild savory flavor that’s both buttery and peppery. Choose whichever oil you have on hand or prefer.
  • Try any other citrus in place of the lemon, such as lime, grapefruit, or orange.
  • Use regular or Greek yogurt—just be sure it’s plain and not sweetened. You’ll have the best, moistest results with full fat, whole-milk yogurt, though low-fat yogurt will work, if you prefer.
  • This cake can be halved and baked in a 9x5-inch, a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan or a 9-inch round cake pan.
  • If using an alternative cake pan, it will take about the same amount of time to bake, but you should start checking the cake for doneness at 40 minutes.
Two plates with Lemony Yogurt Cake and the remaining cake on a platter behind it.
Lori Rice

 What to Serve with Lemon Yogurt Cake

This Bundt cake features a light, lemony glaze and can be garnished with additional fresh lemon zest to really make it a show-stopper. That means it really doesn’t need much else alongside it when served. However, if you’d like, pairing slices with a side of fresh berries, Vanilla Roasted Strawberries or even citrus segments, would be lovely.

How to Store

Yogurt cakes have a reputation for staying fresh for days, and this one is no exception. The glaze will soften a bit, but otherwise the cake will stay moist and fresh for up to 5 days at room temperature if well wrapped.

You can also freeze the cake, unglazed, and add the glaze after defrosting. Let the cake defrost overnight on the counter before glazing and serving.

Side view of a slice of Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake with the rest of the cake set behind it.
Lori Rice

More Tart Lemony Cake Recipes

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 12 to 16 servings

Ingredients

  • For the cake
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, canola oil, or olive oil, plus more for coating the pan
  • 3 cups (384 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (from about 4 medium lemons)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (452 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (optional)

Method

  1. Arrange oven rack, preheat the oven, prepare Bundt pan:

    Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Generously coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with olive oil. Dust with 2 tablespoons of the flour and tap out any excess; set aside.

    An oil and floured bundt pan for a Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake.
    Lori Rice
  2. Mix sugar and lemon zest together:

    Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    Mixing lemon zest with sugar in a glass bowl for Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake.
    Lori Rice
    Lemon sugar in a glass bowl to make a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe.
    Lori Rice
  3. Add wet ingredients to the sugar:

    Crack the eggs into the bowl with the sugar and lemon zest and whisk vigorously until pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla extract.

    Whisking wet ingredients in a glass bowl to make a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe.
    Lori Rice
    All the wet ingredients for a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe in a glass bowl.
    Lori Rice
  4. Add the dry ingredients:

    To the bowl with the wet ingredients, whisk in the baking powder and kosher salt. Add the flour and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined and all the flour is incorporated. (A few small lumps in the batter are fine, be sure to not overmix.)

    Batter in a glass bowl to make a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe.
    Lori Rice
  5. Transfer to prepared pan and bake:

    Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs, about 45 minutes.

    Batter in a bundt pan to make a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe.
    Lori Rice
  6. Cool the cake and release from Bundt pan:

    Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully flip it out of the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely before glazing.

    Baked Fresh Lemon Yogurt Cake cooling in the bundt pan on a metal rack.
    Lori Rice
    Fresh Lemon Yogurt Cake cooling on a wire rack.
    Lori Rice
  7. Make the glaze, drizzle and serve:

    Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the top with lemon zest, if desired.

    Let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow the glaze to set before slicing and serving.

    A spoon with glaze dripping back in the bowl for a Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe.
    Lori Rice
    Lemony Yogurt Cake coated in glaze and set on a platter.
    Lori Rice