Subscribe

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Vegan Lemon Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Sugar Free and Gluten Free options)

If you are on the hunt for a quick & easy summertime dessert to bring to your next barbeque, then look no further than this deliciously sunny vegan lemon sheet cake!  The cake itself is soft and fluffy, and bursting with lemon flavor.  The topping is a tangy, velvety smooth cream cheese frosting.  The whole thing can be made in one bowl, is fully vegan, and easily made gluten free AND sugar free!

Close up of one piece of cake on a plate with a bite taken out of it

If you are reading this during the warm months, then you have stumbled upon the PERFECT super quick but impressive dessert for this time of year!  If you are reading this during cold months, then make this vegan lemon sheet cake ASAP to be mentally transported to a bright and sunny day!  This cake is so quick and simple, I promise you’ll be able to put it all together in the morning, and be eating it by lunchtime alongside your (veggie) burgers or (vegan) ribs or corn on the cob or whatever is your BBQ food of choice! 

I can’t decide what I love most about this cake – the texture, or the flavor combo. The texture is PERFECTION. It is soft, it is fluffy, it is light, it is moist. But the flavor combo?! Also perfection!! Zesty lemon brightness alongside buttery vanilla cake goodness in the cake, topped with tangy cream cheese frosting – what can be better?! (though if you’re not a cream cheese fan then I offer up some alternative frosting options below, don’t worry)

Okay but the more time you spend reading my ramblings the less time you spend eating this VEGAN LEMON SHEET CAKE. 

Looking down on the full frosted cake with lemon twists decorating the top

How To Make It:

I cannot overstate how simple this cake is.  The most time consuming parts are letting the vegan butter and non-dairy milk come to room temperature before baking (I leave mine out around 2-3 hours before starting), and letting the cake cool before frosting it.

One thing I will note – in my lemon cake recipes, I use lemon zest for the lemon flavor, not lemon juice.  You will find this in my Lemon Pound Cake and my Lemon Curd Cake as well.  I personally find that the best and most vibrant lemon flavor comes from the zest, and that the juice can alter the consistency of the batter and often leave a sour taste behind after baking. 

Okay, cake time!  In a large bowl, combine the vegan butter, neutral oil, lemon zest, and sugar.  You want to cream this together fully until it is light and fluffy.  Whether you are using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or just getting down and dirty with your hands, do not skimp on this part.  Mix it for a solid few minutes until it looks like the below.

Fluffy creamed butter, oil, and sugar
Fluffy creamed butter, oil, and sugar
All wet ingredients in a bowl
All wet ingredients in a bowl
Full batter in a bowl
Full batter in a bowl
Next up..

Add in the other wet ingredients, the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract.  At this point the mixture will look separated, sort of like a weird oil painting (see above).  This is okay and correct, and it will come back together again with the dry ingredients, which you will add in next.  Gluten free (or all-purpose) flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until fully combined, but try not to overmix or the batter will get tough.

Pour into a well-greased and/or parchment lined 9×13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I turn the pan halfway through the bake time to ensure it bakes evenly on all sides, which I recommend for you too unless you know your oven is the most perfect oven of all time and there are no warmer spots or cooler spots.  Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake and removing from the oven when the toothpick comes out with just crumbs, no wet batter.

Sheet cake batter uncooked in a pan
Sheet cake batter cooked in a pan

Place the pan directly onto a cooling rack to make sure air circulates around the bottom as well, and let cool in the pan for at least 15-20 minutes before removing it.  Even if you used parchment paper I’d recommend removing by inverting the cake out onto a large cooling rack or large pan or cutting board or anything it’ll fit onto, since if you try to lift out using the parchment paper it may break in the middle.  You want the cake to cool entirely before frosting it, and the frosting will only take a few minutes to make, so wait til you’re ready to put it together before making it fresh. 

A quick note on frosting options..

I think the flavor pairing of the zesty lemon cake with the tangy cream cheese frosting is perfection.  But if you’re not a cream cheese frosting fan, fear not!  As promised earlier, I have three other possible frosting recommendations here:

  • Mixed berry frosting – find the recipe on this other summery sheetcake page
  • Lightly whipped cream – find the recipe on this triple berry layer cake page. *note this one takes advance prep in the form of chilling cans of coconut cream overnight, so if you’re going to opt for this one, prepare in advance!
  • Vanilla buttercream frosting – find the recipe on this classic vanilla cupcake page

Combine your vegan butter and vegan cream cheese in a large bowl and mix together until soft and fluffy, I use a simple hand mixer, but of course you can use a fancier mixer if you’ve got one.  Add in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, mixing and scraping down the bowl along the way, until you get to your desired consistency.  I also like to add a little lemon juice and lemon zest to the frosting, you can do this or omit it based on your own taste.  Have fun with it!

Lastly I will say that I think the amount of frosting that this recipe makes is perfect for the cake, but feel free to double it if you want to go very heavy on the frosting.  Since it takes no advance prep you can just make more as you go if you think you need it! TIME TO EAT YOUR VEGAN LEMON SHEET CAKE!!

Close up of one piece of cake on a plate

Storage:

Store the cake in an air tight container and keep at room temperature for a day or two, or in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Lemons – I use the zest of about 3 lemons for the cake and another 1 for the frosting, plus you may want to use the juice from one lemon for the frosting as well.  Optionally you can get more lemons to decorate the top of the cake.
  • Vegan butter – I use Earth Balance sticks
  • Neutral oil – any should do, I always use grapeseed. 
  • Granulated sugar – If you want to make these sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of granulated sugar.
  • Non-dairy milk – any should do here!  I usually use soy or almond.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Salt
  • Vegan cream cheese – I am fond of the Kite Hill brand
  • Powdered sugar – for the frosting. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.

What To Bake Next:

Close up of one piece of cake on a plate with a bite taken out of it

Vegan Lemon Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Sugar Free and Gluten Free options)

If you are on the hunt for a quick & easy summertime dessert to bring to your next barbeque, then look no further than this deliciously sunny cake!  The cake itself is soft and fluffy, and bursting with lemon flavor.  The topping is a tangy, velvety smooth cream cheese frosting.  The whole thing can be made in one bowl, is fully vegan, and easily made gluten free AND sugar free!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Birthday Party, Dessert, tea party
Servings 24 pieces

Ingredients
  

Lemon Cake Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan butter softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • heaping cups granulated sugar *see notes for more specifics on”heaping”, and also if you want a sugar free option, again, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • 2 packed tbsp lemon zest this will take around 3 lemons
  • cups non-dairy milk room temperature
  • tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • ¼ cup vegan butter
  • 4oz vegan cream cheese
  • 2 – 2½ cups powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice optional to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest optional to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and/or use parchment paper to line a 9×13 sheet pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream together your vegan butter, neutral oil, lemon zest, and granulated sugar.  Whether you are using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or even your hands, make sure you mix it together for a solid few minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Then add in the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract, at which point the mixture will appear separated.  Finally add in the gluten free flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix again until combined, but do not overmix. 
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.  When the cake is done, place directly onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature before frosting.
  • Once the cake is at room temperature and ready to be put together, it’s time to make the frosting.  Add the vegan butter and vegan cream cheese to a large bowl.  Mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer until soft and fluffy, then slowly add the vanilla extract, pinch of salt, and the powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting is at your desired consistency.  Optionally add in some lemon juice and/or zest to add to the lemon flavor of the whole cake.  Spread the completed frosting on the cake.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

Confused by the phrase “heaping” cup of sugar?  Basically this means – when you scoop the sugar from the container, instead of leveling it off at the top of the measuring cup, you can leave that little pile of excess sugar on top.  
Keyword cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, lemon cake, sheet cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

NEVER MISS A POST

Just enter your email address to receive our latest posts!