Moist Lemon Buttermilk Cake Recipe

This lemon buttermilk cake recipe is tangy and sweet, moist and just pure perfection. I love making this cake for when I am entertaining. Its always a crowd pleaser. This delicious cake is sweet but the tanginess of the lemons really balances it out.

What Does Buttermilk Do To a Cake?

I didn’t really bake with buttermilk much.  But then I decided to try incorporating it into this lemon cake recipe to see what would happen.

Boy am I glad that I did! My cake turned out super light, moist and tender. I was truly impressed with the texture of the cake. I no longer shy away from buttermilk in my desserts.

How to Make Lemon Cake Without Buttermilk

I was always turned off by cake recipes that used buttermilk because I never had any on hand and didn’t like having to rush to the store to buy it just so it can sit in my fridge.

So I found a simple buttermilk substitute with ingredients I have in my kitchen already – milk and lemon juice. Now I don’t have to worry about not having special ingredients for this cake!

Check out some of our other cake recipes:

The Best Orange Cake Recipe

Homemade Chocolate Cannoli Cake

How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute

Pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the 1 cup with milk. Stir and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes until you see it start to curdle.

Lemon cake on a cake tray with some pieces cut out

How Do I Make My Cake More Moist and Fluffy?

Well, I’ve already gone on about the use of buttermilk so we know that helps! But there are a couple of other things you can do.

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In fact I go into greater detail about it in my recipe for Light and Fluffy Baked Donuts. Basically other tips are:

1. Use cake flour instead of regular all-purpose flour – cake flour is made from a soft wheat which helps create an airy batter and gives the cake that fluffy texture.

2. Its best if the eggs, butter and milk are at room temperature

3. Take time to properly cream the butter and sugar together until it looks light and fluffy

Take a look at this beautiful, modern cake stand!

Moist Lemon Buttermilk Cake Recipe

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Creamy Lemon Frosting on a cake plate

Lemon buttermilk cake with a creamy lemon frosting

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour (sifted) or use 2 ¾ cups of cake flour and omit the corn starch below
  • ¼ cup corn starch (omit if you are using cake flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 ¼ cup of buttermilk - see notes for how to make a substitute

Lemon Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups powdered sugar


Instruction for the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray with cooking spray 2 9”
    round cake pans.
  2. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer cream butter and
    sugar until light and fluffy (5 minutes or more)
  3. In another bowl sift together the flour, corn starch (if not
    using cake flour), baking powder, baking soda, and add salt. Mix well with fork.
  4. Once butter/sugar mixture is creamed well, lower the mixer
    speed and add eggs one at a time, oil, lemon zest, vanilla and lemon extract.
  5. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bowl with a rubber
    spatula, turn the mixer back on low and start adding the flower mixer and buttermilk alternating between the two until well combined.
  6. Pour the cake batter equally between the 2, 9” pans and bake
    on the middle rack for 35 minutes or until a toothpick insert comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then carefully flip them out on a cooling rack.

Instruction for the Lemon Frosting:

1. Cream butter in a mixer for about 5 minutes until fluffy, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula and mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until nice and smooth and no clumps.


To make 1 ¼ cup of buttermilk, substitute 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon
juice and fill rest with milk to make 1 ¼ cup. Let rest for 15 minutes before incorporating it into the recipe.

8 thoughts on “Moist Lemon Buttermilk Cake Recipe”

  1. Hi Laura, you will need to reduce the bake time. The depth of the cake will be less. I would probably start checking if it’s done at least ten minutes earlier than the recipe time.

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