This Lemon Sheet Cake is super soft, fluffy, and filled with fresh lemon flavor. It's also topped with a smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting and extra lemon zest.
This recipe was originally published in January of 2021, but was updated on April 17, 2023 with newer content and fresh pictures.
This lemon cake recipe is a perfect cake to make for large gatherings. It's baked in a 9x13 sheet pan, so it's extremely easy to make and decorate. You can even serve it in the pan!
Lemon lovers are going to absolutely love this lemony cake. It's a moist cake that has a tender crumb and so much real lemon flavor!
Looking for more lemon desserts? Then check out these: lemon curd cookies, mini lemon cheesecakes, and lemon bars.
Why You'll Love This Cake
- It has bright lemon flavor.
- Both fresh lemon juice and zest are used.
- Each bite is soft, buttery, and perfectly sweet.
- It's baked in a sheet pan.
- It's an easy recipe to serve at birthday parties or special occasions!
This is such a fluffy cake and so fun to decorate!
All I did was spread the frosting over the top and then sprinkled on some fresh lemon zest. Because of that, it's similar to a lemon buttercream frosting.
Expert Baking Tips
- Baking Pan: This cake is baked in a 9x13 inch sheet pan. You can use either a glass or metal pan. Be sure to line your pan with parchment paper and nonstick spray.
- Measuring Flour: To help ensure you don’t add extra flour, follow these three simple steps: 1) Fluff up the flour using a fork. 2) Spoon the flour into your measuring cup. 3) Scrape a knife across the top of the measuring cup to level out the flour.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Any ingredient that needs to be at room temperature should be taken out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you want to bake. Do not skip this step! It's super important so that the ingredients can incorporate properly.
Here are some notes on the ingredients we'll be using. For the full list of ingredients, look at the recipe card below.
- Flour: I used all purpose flour.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter.
- Eggs: A total of 3 large eggs are needed.
- Yogurt: Use plain or vanilla yogurt. If you don't have yogurt, you could substitute it with sour cream.
- Lemons: You'll need about 3 lemons. Be sure to use both the zest and juice. I don't recommend using lemon extract.
- Cream Cheese: Always use the block-style cream cheese for baking.
Here are the step by step instructions on how to make this lemon sheet cake recipe.
Step 1: Dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Step 2: Creamed butter. In the large bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
Step 3: Wet ingredients. On medium speed add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Then mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until combined.
Step 4: Combine the ingredients. Reduce the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour (flour, milk, flour) and mixing just until combined.
Step 5: Bake. Use a rubber spatula to fold in any loose flour and pour into the prepared pan (the cake batter will be a little lumpy). Bake for 25- 30 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on the counter.
Step 6: Make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth in a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until combined.
Then beat on high for an additional 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
Decorate The Cake
Sheet cake recipes are some of the easiest cakes to decorate!
Spoon the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly.
Then add on the lemon zest, slice, and serve!
Keep any leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
The biggest difference is the type of pan it's baked in. A regular cake is usally baked in two or three round cake pans, whereas a sheet pan is baked in a glass or metal baking dish.
Yes you can! Use plastic wrap to cover the top of the baking sheet once the cake has cooled completely and then make the frosting and decorate the next day.
You could add some lemon slices to the top of the cake for decoration or even more lemon zest.
If you made this recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below. I love hearing from you! Also, please tag me on Instagram and check out my Pinterest for even more recipe ideas.
It brings me so much joy to see you make my recipes. 🙂
More Cake Recipes
Lemon Sheet Cake
- 9x13-Inch Glass or Metal Baking Pan
- Electric Stand Mixer
- Mixing Bowl
- Rubber Spatula
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup yogurt (plain or vanilla), room temperature
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk, room temperature
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces block-style cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and non-stick spray.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on med-high speed until fully combined and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until combined (the mixture will look like it has separated and that's okay!).
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour (flour, milk, flour) and mixing just until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in any loose ingredients with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared 9x13-inch pan and smooth it out into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the paddle attachent, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and creamy (1-2 minutes). Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until combined.
- Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting until smooth and creamy (1-2 minutes).
- Once the cake has completely cooled spread on the cream cheese frosting using an offset spatula. Then sprinkle on some extra lemon zest (optional).
- You can keep the cake in the pan or remove it before frosting. Slice into 18 pieces and serve.
- Keep any leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
What is Lemon Zest?
Lemon zest is the outer skin on a lemon. Use a lemon zester to easily grate it off. It adds a strong lemon flavor to this cake.