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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Olive Oil Cake

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There is nothing quite like this lemon vegan olive oil cake. Its sweet lemon flavor, incomparably moist texture, and delicate crumb make it a show-stopper whenever I serve it! It’s subtle and elegant, the absolute perfect dessert!

Lemon vegan olive oil cake on a cake stand, garnished with lemon slices and herbs.

I absolutely love olive oil cakes. It’s a rich, moist cake, that likely originated in the Mediterranean. Why is it called an olive oil cake? Because it uses olive oil instead of butter for the fat in your cake! I love this style of cake, because not only does the olive oil add a really subtle flavor, it makes your cake super moist – and I think sometimes works even better than butter to get that perfect tender crumb!

Typically, olive oil cakes aren’t vegan friendly, because they use eggs in the batter. So I decided to create this vegan olive oil cake recipe that tastes just as good as the authentic version!

Since it’s such a simple cake, it’s also the perfect base for you to build on with your own spin. Add extra flavor to the batter with extracts or herbs, garnish with drizzles of icing or sweet fruit, or leave it all alone and just enjoy its sweet simplicity.

All you need to make this easy recipe is a handful of everyday ingredients – you probably have most in your fridge and pantry already. It only takes a few minutes to mix the ingredients together before baking — the only hard part about this recipe is waiting for this vegan citrus cake to cool so you can dig in!

So the next time you’re looking for a cake that will have all of your guests asking for the recipe, try this easy vegan olive oil cake!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Incredible Texture: This vegan lemon cake is so moist and spongy – it’s a great alternative to other styles of cake. 
  • Versatile: Serve this eggless olive oil cake at any event, from casual cookouts to brunch, or take it to a special occasion like a baby shower or birthday party. 
  • Customizable: You can swap several of the ingredients for flavor changes or dietary preferences, and you can dress it up with a variety of different garnishes.
  • Healthy Fat: Using olive oil makes the sweet treat a little more heart-healthy.

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

It doesn’t take many ingredients to make this delicate and delicious cake! Here’s what you need:

Ingredients for vegan olive oil cake recipe on a white background.
  • All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour gives this olive oil vegan cake with lemon its structure and texture.
  • Baking Powder: This leavening agent helps the cake rise.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar works well for this vegan dessert, dissolving quickly when mixed with wet ingredients. I like using organic cane sugar, to ensure it’s 100% vegan friendly.
  • Almond Milk: This plant-based milk contributes a subtle nuttiness.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A good quality olive oil helps to create a delicate texture and a moist crumb.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla rounds out the flavors of this egg free olive oil cake, and creates a warm fragrance.
  • Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: Just a little bit of lemon juice and zest helps to make the cake bright and citrusy.
  • Powdered Sugar: Optional, for topping this vegan lemon olive oil cake!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Citrus: Instead of lemon juice and zest, use orange juice and orange zest. You can also try lime or grapefruit, too.
  • Sugar: You can try brown sugar or coconut sugar if you don’t have regular granulated sugar, but it may change the texture and color of your cake slightly.
  • Milk: Use any non-dairy milk — oat milk, coconut milk, and soy milk will all work well in this plant based lemon olive oil cake.
  • Extract: Replace some or all of the vanilla extract with almond extract for nutty flavor.

🔪 How To Make Vegan Olive Oil Cake

Here’s how to make this easy vegan olive oil cake recipe. For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card below.

Combine Dry Ingredients: Preheat your oven to 320 degrees F and line your cake pan with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, and sugar into a large bowl or combine by whisking.

Dry ingredients for cake mixed in a mixing bowl.

Combine Wet Ingredients: Add the rest of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix together.

Wet ingredients for cake mixed in a mixing bowl.

Mix The Two Together: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until the batter is smooth, being careful not to overmix.

Batter for dairy free olive oil cake in a mixing bowl.

Bake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake until it passes the toothpick test (when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean after being inserted into the center of the cake). You can make this in a loaf pan or a cake pan – I have done both!

Vegan cake batter in a baking dish lined with parchment paper.

Cool On A Wire Rack: Let your vegan olive oil lemon cake cool, then invert it onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature.

Vegan lemon olive oil loaf cooling on a wire rack.

Decorate: Using a sifter, dust the top of the cooled cake with powdered sugar before serving. Serve this olive oil dessert recipe immediately.

Easy lemon vegan olive oil cake on a cake stand with a piece cut out and served on a plate.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Pay Attention To Time: Depending on the tin you use, the cake may need more time to bake. A cake baked in a loaf tin will need about 50 minutes, while a round tin may only need 40 minutes.
  • Don’t Over-mix: To avoid a chewy texture, avoid over-mixing the batter.
  • Use Good Ingredients: For the best flavor, use high-quality olive oil.
  • Allow Time For Cooling: Ensure that your dairy free olive oil cake with lemon is completely cooled before adding powdered sugar or any other garnishes.

📖 Variations

This simple cake can be a canvas for your creativity in the kitchen. Here are some of our favorite ways to change things up:

  • Make A Chocolate Cake: Make a chocolate olive oil cake by adding cocoa powder. 
  • Make A Vegan Lemon Loaf Cake: Bake this cake in a loaf pan instead of a cake pan! The baking time may change, so you’ll need to check your cake more frequently throughout the baking process to ensure it doesn’t over bake.
  • Vegan Orange Olive Oil Cake: Use orange juice and orange zest instead of lemon in this recipe!
  • Healthy Olive Oil Cake: To make this cake healthier, use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour, and use half the amount of sugar this recipe calls for. Your cake won’t be as sweet but it will be much healthier!
  • Olive Oil Layer Cake: Make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and making two round cakes. Spread icing in between and around the sides and top of the cakes once cooled. 
  • Infuse Herbal Flavor: Try adding rosemary to the cake for a unique addition of flavor. 

🍽 Serving Suggestions

This amazing cake is incredible all on its own, but there are plenty of other ways to serve it, too!

  • Garnishes: Instead of dusting powdered sugar, drizzle a sweet lemon glaze over top of the cake. Or, place fresh berries or slices of citrus fruit on top.
  • Pairings: We love to serve this with a simple cup of tea, whether it’s black tea or a fruity herbal variety. It’s also perfect with a scoop of tofu ice cream, breakfast fruit salad, or a glass of vegan horchata

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

  • Vegan Gluten Free Olive Oil Cake: To make this cake gluten-free, substitute a 1:1 gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. You could also try a combination of gluten free flours like almond flour, tapioca flour, and oat flour – but keep in mind the texture of your cake may change.
  • Sugar-Free Option: For a sugar-free cake, use your favorite sugar alternative.

🫙 Storage Directions

  • To Store In The Fridge: Store leftover cake in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
  • To Freeze: Freeze the cake for up to 2 months. Be sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap before placing it in the freezer and allow it to thaw completely before serving.

❓Recipe FAQs

What is special about olive oil cake?

Italian lemon olive oil cake is uniquely rich, fluffy, moist and delicate. The cake was traditionally made to celebrate the harvest of olives in the Mediterranean.

Does olive oil change the taste of a cake?

Yes, olive oil can make a difference in the flavor of a cake – in a good way! Olive oil imparts a subtle fruity flavor and can enhance the flavor of the other ingredients in the cake. But mostly, it makes the texture of your cake super moist and delicious. Easy olive oil cake will not taste like olive oil – it will taste like whatever other flavors you add to your cake!

Why is my olive oil cake so dense?

Typically, your cake may be too dense because of either over mixing or over baking. It’s important to mix your ingredients gently, and bake just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Is olive oil cake healthy?

Using olive oil can be healthier for your heart than using butter. It also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and has been known to reduce cholesterol. But with all cakes, they are typically high in sugar and calories, so it’s important to enjoy them in moderation!

Lemon vegan olive oil cake on a cake stand with a piece cut out and served on a plate.

🍰 More Sweet Recipes!

Love this plant based dessert recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

https://youtu.be/lZAmV1nkA58
Lemon vegan olive oil cake on a cake stand, garnished with lemon slices and herbs.
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Vegan Olive Oil Cake

There is nothing quite like this lemon vegan olive oil cake. Its sweet lemon flavor, incomparably moist texture, and delicate crumb make it a show-stopper whenever I serve it! It's subtle and elegant, the absolute perfect dessert!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegan, vegetarian
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 226kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Cake

Optional Topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F / 160 C. Line a loaf tin or an 8 inch round cake tin with baking paper.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients.
  • Next, stir the wet ingredients through the dry and mix until smooth, making sure not to over mix the batter.
  • Fill the prepared tin with batter and bake for 40-50 minutes. Cover the cake with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes to prevent the top from burning.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Sift powdered sugar, if using, over the top of the cold cake before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Dusting with powdered sugar is completely optional. (Nutritional information doesn’t include powdered sugar.)
  • Cake can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 months.
  • Over mixing the batter will result in a chewy cake.
  • Use a good quality olive oil.
  • Substitute the all-purpose flour with gluten free flour to make this gluten free.
  • Any plant based milk will work in this recipe.
  • Test the cake to see if it is cooked by inserting a skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked, if not continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Cooking times may vary between cooking the cake in a loaf tin or a round tin. If cooking in a loaf tin you will need to cook for 50 minutes whereas a round tin may take less time so test after 40 minutes if it’s cooked.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg

10 responses to “Vegan Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Made this cake for some friends and they were all impressed it wasn’t store bought!! Definitely making this one again and again.5 stars

  2. I like the texture of this olive oil cake. I have bookmarked to make with my children next weekend! Thanks so much for sharing!5 stars

  3. Lemon is my absolute favorite flavor, this will be perfect to serve for summer get togethers and have for breakfast with coffee!!5 stars

  4. I loved trying this for the first time. It was awesome that I already had all the ingredients on hand. It was delicious. Thank you!5 stars

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