This Lemon Sheet Cake has a bright lemony flavor that's topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. Baked in a 9x13-inch pan, this cake is both easy to make and serves well at any gathering, birthday, or church potluck!
Although I love citrus flavors all year long, lemons start to call my name as soon as January rolls around again.
I've been on a roll with the lemon recipes as of late and have already shared my Lemon Bars and Lemon Raspberry Poppy Seed Muffins with you all. But now I have this amazingly delicious lemon sheet cake to introduce you to!
Can you say lemon overload?!
Now, why a sheet cake? Why not a layered cake? In my opinion, sheet cakes are:
- Easier to make.
- Easier to decorate.
- And can feed a lot of people if need be.
Plus, I think they look beautiful! If you haven't made many sheet cakes in your baking life, you must consider making this lemon cake. You will not be disappointed!
Why You'll LOVE This Cake:
- Both the lemon juice and lemon zest make the cake very flavorful.
- The cream cheese frosting goes perfectly with the lemon cake.
- It's baked in a 9x13-inch pan.
- It's easy to bake, decorate, and serve.
- Each bite just melts in your mouth!
Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe:
Nobody likes a dry or dense cake. It's very unappealing. This cake, however, is far from dense!
Not only is this lemon cake soft, tender, and crumbly, but it has a moist interior. This is achieved by the types of ingredients we use and how we use those specific ingredients.
I like to use yogurt in a lot of my baked goods (like muffins) because it helps to give more moisture.
In this recipe, we beat our butter and sugar together, which incorporates more air into the cake batter. That results in a lighter and fluffier cake (not dense).
When combining the dry and wet ingredients we alternate between adding flour and milk. So we'll start with adding some of the flour, then the milk, and lastly, the rest of the flour. This helps the cake to not bake up dry.
Glass Or Metal Baking Pan?
Before attempting to create this sheet cake recipe I was confused on which type of baking pan I needed to use: glass or metal?
I heavily researched this topic and really couln't find an answer, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and test out each pan.
What I came up with is both a glass and metal 9x13-inch pan works great for sheet cakes. There was only one major difference: the metal pan baked 3 minutes faster than the glass pan.
I personally liked using both pans, but I think I'd choose the glass pan just because you can see how the cake looks while it's baking.
Baking Tips Before Starting:
- Baking Pan: This recipe uses a 9x13-inch pan. You can use either a glass or metal baking pan. If using glass, spray the pan with non-stick spray, line with parchment paper, and then more non-stick spray. If using metal, line with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray (may be done a few minutes early).
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure both the butter and eggs are at room temperature before baking. I'd recommend pulling these ingredients out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you want to bake.
- 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.
- Leftover Cake: To help keep the cake from drying out in the refrigerator, individually wrap each cake slice in plastic wrap.
Ingredients In Lemon Sheet Cake:
- All-Purpose Flour: Adds structure and stability.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Both help the cake to rise.
- Salt: Enhances all of the other flavors.
- Unsalted Butter: Adds texture, flavor, and creates a crumbly cake.
- Sugar: Used for sweetness and to balance out the tart lemon flavor.
- Eggs: 3 large eggs are used to create structure within the cake batter.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor.
- Yogurt: You can use either plain or vanilla yogurt. This ingredient helps with creating moisture inside of the cake.
- Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: Both are used to create a delicious lemon flavor.
- Milk: Adds texture and helps to create a beautiful outer crust on the cake.
How To Make Lemon Cake:
- Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Wet Ingredients: Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Then add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Combine Ingredients: Add half of the dry ingredients and the milk and beat until just combined. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to not overmix the batter.
- Bake: Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Depending on how big you cut the cake slices, this sheet cake produces anywhere from 15-20 pieces.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
I absolutely love cream cheese frosting! Not only is it extremely easy to make, but it is so delicious with this lemon sheet cake.
Here's how you make it:
- Beat together the cream cheese and butter on high speed until combined and creamy (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Frost the cooled cake (you can either do this in the pan or remove the cake first), slice, and serve.
Storing Leftover Cake:
Wrap each individual cake piece in plastic wrap, making sure each part of the cake is securely sealed. Then place into the refrigerator.
Using plastic wrap to store your cake pieces will help them to remain moist and soft instead of drying up once placed into the refrigerator.
Keep them covered and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recommend Baking Tools:
- 9x13-inch pan (metal or glass)
- Mixing bowls
- Electric or handheld mixer
- Icing spatula (used to easily ice the cake)
Quick Tip: To cut the cake into clean pieces, use a non-serrated knife and wipe it clean after each cut.
I am so excited for you to try this cake! As a fellow home baker, I'm really starting to like sheet cakes because they truly are so easy to make!
More Cake Recipes:
- One Layer Banana Cake
- Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Cake
- Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake
- Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Lemon Sheet Cake
- 9x13-Inch Glass or Metal Baking Pan
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup yogurt, plain or vanilla
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 3/4 cup milk
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounce block-style cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Lemon Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and non-stick spray (see note below).
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Use a handheld or electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Beat in the eggs on medium speed, one at a time, until combined. Then add the vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl again. On low speed, mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest just until combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture and all of the milk and beat on low speed just until combined (about 5 seconds). Then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Be careful not to overmix! Remove the bowl from the stand and use a silicone spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick and lumpy.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared 9x13-inch pan and smooth it out into an even layer using a silicone spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on the counter before icing.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or a handheld) using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until combined and creamy (about 2 minutes). Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Frost the cooled cake (you can either do this in the pan or remove the cake first), slice, and serve. Wrap any leftover cake slices in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.