Social Media

Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe

Experience the tangy and sweet symphony of flavors with this Lemon Sheet Cake. This light and airy cake is perfect for any occasion, balancing the tartness of lemon with the sweetness of powdered sugar glaze. Each bite bursts with refreshing citrus notes making it a delightful dessert.

Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe

Photos of Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe

While most of the ingredients for this recipe are everyday pantry staples, there are a couple which you might need to pick up from the supermarket. Fresh lemons are crucial to this recipe for the zest and juice they provide. Sour cream is another ingredient that lends moisture and a subtle tang to the cake, enhancing the overall flavor profile. If it's not a regular in your fridge, remember to add it to your shopping list.

Essential Ingredients for Lemon Sheet Cake

all-purpose flour: The base ingredient of the cake, providing structure.

cornstarch: Helps in creating a tender and lighter texture.

baking powder and baking soda: Leavening agents that make the cake rise.

salt: Balances the sweetness of the cake.

granulated sugar: Adds sweetness to the cake.

lemon zest: Provides intense lemon flavor.

unsalted butter: Adds richness and moisture to the cake.

eggs: Acts as a binding agent and contributes to the cake's structure.

vanilla extract: Adds flavor complexity.

buttermilk: Adds a tender crumb and slight tang to the cake.

sour cream: Lends moisture and subtle tang to the cake.

fresh lemon juice: Enhances the overall lemon flavor in the cake.

powdered sugar: Used to make the sweet glaze that tops the cake.

fresh strawberries: Add a fresh and fruity garnish.

lemons: For additional garnish and flavor.

mint leaves: Provides a refreshing garnish and pairs well with the lemon flavor.

One reader, Fionna Gainey says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This lemon sheet cake recipe is a game-changer! The cake turned out moist and bursting with zesty lemon flavor. The glaze was the perfect finishing touch. It was a hit with my family and friends. I'll definitely be making this again!

Fionna Gainey

Key Techniques for Making Lemon Sheet Cake

How to prepare the baking sheet: Butter a rimmed 18x13-inch baking sheet, dust with flour, then shake out the excess.

How to mix the dry ingredients: Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 20 seconds in a mixing bowl, then set aside.

How to mix the sugar and lemon zest: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together sugar and lemon zest for 30 seconds until fragrant and slightly yellow in appearance.

How to whip the butter and sugar mixture: Add butter and whip the mixture on medium speed until very pale and fluffy.

How to mix the wet and dry ingredients: In a bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the butter mixture, mixing just until combined.

How to bake the cake: Pour and spread the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 22 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

How to make the glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

How to glaze the cake: Pour and spread the glaze over the cooled cake and chill for 20 minutes to help set the glaze.

How to garnish the cake: Top with berries, lemon slices, and mint just before serving.

How To Make Lemon Sheet Cake

Such a bright and refreshing cake that’s perfect for summer. It’s soft and tender and perfectly sweet and zesty. Then when you finish it off with a lemony glaze and fresh fruit it takes it to a whole new level of tempting!

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
Total: 45 minutes



  • 2cupsall-purpose flourscoop and level to measure
  • ¼cupcornstarch
  • ¾tspbaking powder
  • ½tspbaking soda
  • ½tspsalt
  • cupgranulated sugar
  • 2tbsplemon zest
  • ¾cupunsalted buttersoftened
  • 4largeeggs
  • 1tspvanilla extract
  • ½cupbuttermilk
  • ½cupsour cream
  • 2tbspfresh lemon juice
  • cuppowdered sugar
  • cupfresh lemon juice
  • fresh strawberriesraspberries or blueberries for topping
  • lemonssliced, for decoration (optional)
  • mint leavessliced, for decoration (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a rimmed 18×13-inch baking sheet (average size cookie sheet), dust with flour then shake out the excess.

  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together sugar and lemon zest for 30 seconds until fragrant and slightly yellow in appearance.

  4. Add butter and whip mixture on medium speed until very pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time then blend in vanilla extract.

  5. In a bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until combined then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until combined.

  6. Repeat once more with flour and buttermilk then end by mixing in the last 1/3 of the flour mixture just until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and fold batter several times to ensure it’s evenly incorporated.

  7. Pour and spread batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet (it will seem thin but it should bake up nearly to the top). Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

  8. In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth (If needed you can add a little more powdered sugar to thicken or more lemon juice to thin).

  9. Pour and spread glaze over cooled cake. Chill for 20 minutes to help set glaze (it won’t set fully but to get cleaner cuts you’ll need it to set slightly). Top with berries, lemon slices and mint just before serving.


  • Calories: 276.59kcal
  • Fat: 9.18g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.40g
  • Trans Fat: 0.28g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2.47g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.55g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.54g
  • Fiber: 0.43g
  • Sugar: 34.77g
  • Protein: 2.97g
  • Cholesterol: 58.74mg
  • Sodium: 133.74mg
  • Calcium: 37.23mg
  • Potassium: 54.36mg
  • Iron: 0.83mg
  • Vitamin A: 85.22µg
  • Vitamin C: 3.05mg

Crucial Technique Tip for a Flawless Lemon Sheet Cake

When zesting the lemons, make sure to only remove the bright yellow outer layer. The white pith underneath is bitter and can affect the overall taste of your lemon sheet cake. Using a microplane or a fine grater can help you achieve this. Also, to get the most juice out of your lemons, roll them on the countertop before cutting and squeezing. This breaks down some of the fibers inside the fruit, making it easier to extract the juice.

Time-Saving Tips for Baking Lemon Sheet Cake

Plan ahead: Prepare all your ingredients and equipment before you start baking to streamline the process and avoid any last-minute rushes.

Multi-task: While the cake is baking, you can prepare the glaze and gather the toppings to save time and be more efficient in the kitchen.

Use quality tools: Investing in good quality kitchen tools and equipment can make the baking process smoother and more efficient, saving you time and effort.

Follow the recipe: Stick to the recipe measurements and instructions to avoid any mistakes or mishaps that could waste time in the kitchen.

Clean as you go: Wash and put away utensils and bowls as you progress through the recipe to keep your workspace organized and save time on cleanup later.

Pre-cut toppings: Pre-cut the strawberries and lemons in advance, so they are ready to use when it's time to decorate the cake, saving you valuable time during the final steps of the recipe.

Substitute Ingredients For Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe

  • all-purpose flour - Substitute with cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content, resulting in a lighter and more tender texture in the cake.

  • cornstarch - Substitute with arrowroot powder: Arrowroot powder can be used as a thickening agent similar to cornstarch and provides a smooth texture to the cake.

  • baking powder - Substitute with baking soda: If using baking soda, it should be combined with an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice to activate its leavening properties.

  • baking soda - Substitute with baking powder: Baking powder can be used as a substitute for baking soda, but it may affect the overall rise and texture of the cake.

  • unsalted butter - Substitute with vegetable oil: Vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for butter to create a moist and tender crumb in the cake.

  • buttermilk - Substitute with milk + lemon juice: Combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes to create a buttermilk substitute.

  • sour cream - Substitute with Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt can provide a similar tangy flavor and moisture to the cake as sour cream.

  • fresh lemon juice - Substitute with fresh lime juice: Lime juice can provide a similar citrusy flavor and acidity to the cake.

  • powdered sugar - Substitute with granulated sugar: Granulated sugar can be processed in a food processor to create a powdered sugar substitute if needed.

  • fresh strawberries - Substitute with raspberries: Raspberries can provide a similar tartness and sweetness to complement the cake.

  • lemons - Substitute with limes: Limes can be used as a substitute for lemons to provide a similar citrus flavor to the cake.

  • mint leaves - Substitute with basil leaves: Basil leaves can provide a fresh and aromatic element to garnish the cake.

Presentation Ideas for a Delightful Lemon Sheet Cake

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the lemon sheet cake, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing display. Use clean lines and precise placement of the components to showcase the beauty of the cake.

  2. Incorporate vibrant colors: Introduce a pop of color to the presentation by incorporating fresh strawberries and vibrant lemon slices. These elements not only add visual appeal but also complement the citrus flavors of the cake.

  3. Utilize negative space: Embrace the concept of negative space on the plate to allow the cake to be the focal point. By strategically leaving areas of the plate bare, you can draw attention to the exquisite details of the dessert.

  4. Garnish with fresh mint: Add a touch of freshness and contrast to the presentation by garnishing the plate with delicate mint leaves. The aromatic fragrance and bright green color will enhance the overall visual appeal.

  5. Emphasize precision: Pay attention to the precision of each component's placement on the plate. Every detail, from the arrangement of the berries to the drizzling of the glaze, should reflect a high level of craftsmanship.

  6. Create a balanced composition: Aim for a harmonious balance in the presentation by considering the placement of each element. Strive for a visually balanced composition that is both aesthetically pleasing and inviting.

  7. Highlight the glaze: Showcase the glossy glaze by applying it with finesse. The glaze should be skillfully poured and spread to create a lustrous finish that adds a touch of sophistication to the dessert.

  8. Consider plate selection: Choose a plate that complements the colors of the dessert and allows the cake to stand out. The right plate can enhance the overall presentation and elevate the dining experience for the judges.

Storing and Freezing Lemon Sheet Cake: A Guide

  • Let the lemon sheet cake cool completely on a wire rack before storing or freezing.
  • To store the cake, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the lemon sheet cake:
    • Cut the cake into individual portions or leave it whole, depending on your preference.
    • Wrap each portion or the entire cake tightly in plastic wrap, making sure no air pockets remain.
    • Follow up with a layer of aluminum foil for extra protection against freezer burn.
    • Label the wrapped cake with the date and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw the frozen lemon sheet cake, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight.
    • If you've frozen individual portions, you can thaw them at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Once thawed, remove the wrapping and let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
    • If desired, you can refresh the glaze by whisking together some powdered sugar and lemon juice and drizzling it over the thawed cake.
  • Garnish the lemon sheet cake with fresh strawberries, lemon slices, and mint leaves just before serving for a beautiful and flavorful presentation.

How To Reheat Leftover Lemon Sheet Cake

  • To reheat leftover lemon sheet cake, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Cover the cake loosely with another piece of foil to prevent it from drying out. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cake is heated through and the glaze is melted and glistening.

  • Another option is to use the microwave. Place a single slice of lemon sheet cake on a microwave-safe plate. Heat it on high power for 15-20 seconds, or until it's warm and the glaze is melted. Be careful not to overheat the cake, as it can become rubbery or dry.

  • For a crispy exterior and a soft, moist interior, try reheating the lemon sheet cake in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C). Place a slice of cake in the basket and heat for 2-3 minutes, or until it's warmed through and the edges are slightly crispy.

  • If you want to maintain the texture and flavor of the lemon sheet cake without reheating it, simply let it come to room temperature before serving. This method works best if you have stored the cake properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • For a quick and easy dessert, crumble leftover lemon sheet cake into a parfait glass. Layer it with whipped cream, lemon curd, and fresh berries for a delightful treat that requires no reheating at all.

Interesting Trivia About Lemon Sheet Cake

The lemon sheet cake recipe is a delightful dessert that combines the zesty flavor of lemon with the sweetness of the cake. It's a perfect treat for any occasion, and the addition of fresh strawberries and mint leaves adds a burst of color and freshness to the dish.

Is Making Lemon Sheet Cake at Home Cost-Effective?

This lemon sheet cake recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The main ingredients, such as flour, sugar, eggs, and lemons, are commonly found in most kitchens. The addition of buttermilk and sour cream may require a small investment, but these ingredients can be used in various other recipes. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10-$15, making it an affordable dessert option. Overall, I would rate this recipe a solid 8 for its simplicity, flavor, and cost-effectiveness.

Is Lemon Sheet Cake Healthy or Unhealthy?

The lemon sheet cake recipe, while undeniably delicious, is not particularly healthy. The cake is high in sugar, with 1½ cups of granulated sugar and 3¼ cups of powdered sugar in the glaze. It also contains a significant amount of butter and eggs, which contribute to its high calorie and fat content. The use of all-purpose flour and cornstarch means the cake is made with refined carbohydrates, lacking in fiber and nutrients.

However, there are some redeeming qualities to the recipe. The inclusion of fresh lemon juice and zest provides a burst of vitamin C and natural flavor. The cake is topped with fresh strawberries, which add more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the dessert. The recipe also uses buttermilk and sour cream, which can contribute some calcium and protein.

To make this lemon sheet cake healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar in both the cake and the glaze. You can experiment with using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup in place of some of the granulated sugar.
  • Replace some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour or almond flour to increase the fiber and nutrient content.
  • Use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream for a protein boost and to reduce the fat content.
  • Increase the amount of fresh fruit used for topping the cake. You can add a variety of berries, sliced peaches, or even a fruit compote to make the dessert more nutritious and visually appealing.
  • Cut the cake into smaller portions to encourage mindful indulgence and to keep serving sizes in check.

Editor's Opinion on This Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe

The lemon sheet cake recipe is a delightful combination of tangy lemon flavor and moist, tender cake. The use of buttermilk and sour cream adds richness and depth to the batter, resulting in a perfectly balanced texture. The glaze provides a sweet and zesty finish, complementing the cake beautifully. The addition of fresh strawberries, lemons, and mint leaves adds a refreshing and visually appealing touch. Overall, this recipe is a wonderful choice for a light and flavorful dessert, perfect for any occasion.

Enhance Your Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a hint of roasted garlic, perfect for balancing out the tangy lemon flavor of the sheet cake.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Butter: Tender asparagus grilled to perfection and drizzled with a zesty lemon butter sauce, a refreshing and light side to accompany the lemon sheet cake.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with honey, adding a touch of natural sweetness to complement the citrusy notes of the sheet cake.
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Crispy Brussels sprouts roasted with balsamic vinegar for a tangy and savory side dish that contrasts the sweetness of the lemon sheet cake.
Berry Spinach Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing: A refreshing and vibrant salad with a tangy lemon poppy seed dressing, providing a burst of fruity and citrusy flavors to pair with the sheet cake.

Delightful Alternatives to Lemon Sheet Cake

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: This creamy tomato basil soup is the perfect comfort food for a chilly evening. The combination of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and cream creates a rich and flavorful soup that will warm you up from the inside out.
Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad: This grilled peach and prosciutto salad is a delightful combination of sweet and savory flavors. The juicy grilled peaches pair perfectly with the salty prosciutto, and the addition of fresh arugula and a tangy vinaigrette brings it all together for a light and refreshing salad.
Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts: These garlic parmesan roasted Brussels sprouts are a delicious and healthy side dish that will have even the pickiest eaters coming back for more. The Brussels sprouts are roasted to perfection with garlic, parmesan, and a touch of olive oil, creating a crispy and flavorful dish.

Appetizer and Main Course Ideas to Complement Lemon Sheet Cake

Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory and indulgent stuffed mushrooms. The combination of earthy mushrooms, creamy cheese, and flavorful herbs will leave everyone wanting more.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: This creamy and cheesy dip is the perfect way to start off any meal. The rich flavors of spinach and artichoke pair perfectly with crispy bread or crunchy tortilla chips.
Main Courses:
Chicken Alfredo: Indulge in a creamy and savory pasta dish that combines tender chicken with rich Alfredo sauce, all served over a bed of perfectly cooked fettuccine. This classic Italian favorite is sure to satisfy your cravings for a comforting and satisfying meal.
Beef Stir Fry: Experience the bold and vibrant flavors of a beef stir fry, featuring tender strips of beef cooked with an assortment of fresh vegetables and aromatic seasonings. This quick and easy dish is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner, offering a healthy and delicious option for your dining pleasure.

Why trust this Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe:

This recipe guarantees a delightful and moist lemon sheet cake that's bursting with zesty flavor. The combination of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice ensures a bright and refreshing taste. The use of buttermilk and sour cream adds richness and tenderness to the cake. The glaze made with powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice provides a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. With carefully selected ingredients and precise instructions, this recipe promises a delectable dessert that will surely impress your taste buds.

Have you tried this Lemon Sheet Cake Recipe? Share your experience and discuss any tweaks or variations in the Baking and Desserts forum!
Can I use regular milk instead of buttermilk?
Yes, you can use regular milk as a substitute for buttermilk. Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using it in the recipe.
Can I make the sheet cake in advance and freeze it?
Yes, you can make the sheet cake in advance and freeze it. Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator before serving.
Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice for the glaze?
While fresh lemon juice is recommended for the glaze to achieve the best flavor, you can use bottled lemon juice as a substitute if needed. Just be aware that bottled lemon juice may have a slightly different flavor compared to fresh lemon juice.
Can I omit the lemon zest from the cake batter?
The lemon zest adds a bright, citrusy flavor to the cake, so it's best not to omit it. However, if you don't have lemon zest on hand, you can substitute with a small amount of lemon extract, though the flavor may not be as vibrant.
Can I use a different size baking pan if I don't have an 18x13-inch sheet pan?
If you don't have an 18x13-inch sheet pan, you can use a 9x13-inch baking pan. Keep in mind that the baking time may need to be adjusted, so keep an eye on the cake and use a toothpick to check for doneness.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!