The best vegan olive oil cake - lemon and pistachios make this cake so delicious! We’ll make this lemon olive oil cake vegan with olive oil and dairy free milk! Or make this vegan olive oil cake with orange! If you love this vegan olive oil cake, check out my Vegan Coconut Cake with Lime Glaze, my Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake, or my Vegan Couscous Salad with Chickpeas!
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Best Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio Recipe
I'm so excited to share this delicious cake with you! I've been working on vegan olive oil cake recipes for a while now, but this recipe is definitely a keeper! It's so moist and fluffy, and bursting with pistachio and lemon flavors. And it's topped with a pistachio-lemon glaze and more crushed pistachios!
This is an ideal vegan lemon olive oil cake for a dinner party, small get-together, or just to treat yourself! And best of all, it's dairy-free, egg-free, and delicious! Perfect for a special occasion!
Is it OK to bake a cake with olive oil?
Yes! It's no secret that I love olive oil cakes. Some of my favorite recipes on this blog are my Orange-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake and my Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Crystallized Ginger. The use of olive oil in a cake adds richness, flavor, and keeps the cake from drying out.
If you've ever had a cake that seemed dry and crumbly, chances are that cake was made with butter. Butter has a higher water content than oil, and as that water evaporates, the cake dries out a bit. Also, oil is liquid at both room temperature and when chilled, so if you store your olive oil cake in the fridge it will keep a soft, moist texture.
Why does my vegan cake fall apart?
How do you make a vegan cake more moist and keep its shape? Make it a vegan olive oil cake! Because vegan cakes are made without eggs or dairy, they sometimes lack the rich, moist consistency that we want in a cake. But this vegan olive oil cake has no such problem -- with both extra-virgin olive oil and applesauce mixed into the batter, it's got a rich, fluffy texture that you'll love.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake (Vegan)
Another reason I love this vegan olive oil cake is the addition of pistachio oil. I adjusted my orange rosemary olive oil cake recipe to replace some of the extra virgin olive oil with toasted pistachio oil, to achieve that pistachio flavor without using an extract. The result is a soft and moist crumb, a balanced nutty and lemony flavor, and a truly show-stopping olive oil cake!
Best, of all, this vegan olive oil cake is so easy to make! Because there's no butter, the ingredients can easily be mixed together with just a bowl and a whisk. And it's a single layer cake, so it's even easier! You just have to try this vegan cake!
Dairy Free Olive Oil Cake Ingredients
You can make this cake with just a few everyday ingredients, plus a few special ones!
- lemon zest & juice - the juice and zest of a large lemon brings that bright lemon flavor.
- granulated sugar - to keep this recipe vegan, we'll use organic cane sugar to give this vegan olive oil cake just the right amount of sweetness.
- extra-virgin olive oil - I used La Tourangelle Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for this vegan olive oil cake, which I love for its bright, fruity flavor. A good quality regular olive oil works as well, but doesn't provide that great flavor.
- toasted pistachio oil - I used La Tourangelle toasted pistachio oil, and the flavor was perfect!
- unsweetened applesauce - this adds a bit of density and moisture to the batter in place of eggs.
- vegan milk of your choice -- I used soy milk, but oat milk or almond milk would also work.
- pure vanilla extract - I definitely recommend using a high-quality vanilla for this vegan lemon cake. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- all-purpose flour - be sure to measure your flour by weight using a kitchen scale, or using the spoon-and-level method.
- baking powder & baking soda - our leaveners helps the cake rise, and create a light and fluffy texture despite the absence of eggs.
- salt - helps to bring out all these flavors!
For the Pistachio-Lemon Glaze:
- toasted pistachio oil - the same La Tourangelle oil as above.
- fresh lemon juice - a little more lemony goodness to top off this lemon olive oil cake recipe.
- powdered sugar - gives our glaze the sweetness and texture it needs.
- chopped roasted pistachios and lemon zest - this addition to the top of the cake finishes off the elegant look of this vegan lemon cake, and adds a nice lemony crunch to each bite!
Toasted Pistachio Oil
For this vegan lemon cake, I used toasted pistachio oil to achieve the nutty pistachio flavor while adding to the moist texture of the cake. I chose La Tourangelle pistachio oil, and I really enjoyed the flavor, but you can use whatever pistachio oil you prefer. If you can't find pistachio oil, feel free to substitute a teaspoon of pistachio extract, but then you'll need to add in another 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Vegan Olive Oil Cake - Orange Version
If you want to try this vegan olive oil cake but lemon isn't your thing, try making this vegan olive oil cake with orange instead! Just substitute orange zest and freshly-squeezed orange juice instead of lemon zest and juice, and you'll have an orange olive oil cake!
As I mentioned, this vegan olive oil cake recipe is a one bowl, one whisk situation. That means that you won't have to plug in any tools or wash out any mixing attachments. Just grab a large mixing bowl, a whisk, parchment paper, and your 8-inch cake pan or springform pan and you're ready to start baking! I also like to use a cooling rack to let the cake cool once it's baked.
Step by Step
The steps for this vegan olive oil cake couldn't be easier!
- First, press your lemon zest and sugar together in a large bowl. Rub them well with either a spatula or your fingers to release all that lemony oil.
- Add the rest of your wet ingredients, whisking between each one.
- Sift in your dry ingredients and fold them to combine. Be careful not to overmix at this point -- too much mixing can activate the gluten in the flour and keep your vegan lemon cake from getting as fluffy and light as we want it to be.
- Pour cake batter into your baking pan and bake!
Tips and F.A.Q.
This one is! Not all olive oil cakes are vegan -- some, like my Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Cake or my Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Crystallized Ginger are made with eggs and dairy milk. But many of them are, because the use of olive oil provides a great substitute for butter. You'll definitely find that to be the case for this vegan lemon cake! You'll just want to check the ingredients for the olive oil cake you're interested in to make sure it's vegan.
Olive oil gives cake a moist richness that's lighter and fruitier than cakes made with butter. And best of all, olive oil cakes are so easy to make vegan, because they're already made without butter! This vegan olive oil cake stays moist for days, and has a fruity, complex flavor that is so unique and delicious!
Olive oil adds a bit of flavor and richness, but you can also use a lighter, more neutral oil like canola or avocado oil and get great results! So is olive oil or coconut oil better for baking? It depends -- coconut oil produces a more dense texture since it's solid at room temperature, more closely mimicking the texture of butter. So if your recipe calls for that type of texture, then coconut oil would work better.
Olive oil is known as a healthy fat, high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. For that reason it's generally considered to be more healthy than butter. I'm not sure that would classify this vegan lemon cake as healthy for that reason alone -- there are still plenty of other ingredients that go into it. But it may be a better choice for those of us who are trying to avoid butter. (Nutrition Disclaimer)
This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container, or wrapped loosely in foil or plastic wrap. It also freezes well, wrapped in foil and plastic wrap, for up to 2 months.
It sure is! This dairy free olive oil cake is absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself! It's got a rich, moist texture that rivals any cake out there, vegan or not. And the flavors of the lemon and pistachio are so great together -- you've gotta give it a try!
In this vegan olive oil cake, we're using applesauce to replace the texture that we would get from eggs. Another option is to use a store-bought egg replacer, like in my Vegan Gingerbread Loaf Cake!
If you like baking cookies, try my Almond Lemon Cookies or my Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies. Or if you're looking for an easy side dish, try my Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chunks or my Frozen Sweet Potato Fries in Air Fryer are naturally vegan (just double check the label on your sweet potato fries!). And if you're planning on holiday baking, check out my list of 50 Vegan Desserts for Christmas!
If you try this recipe, I would love it if you could leave a star review rating and comment below! It’s so wonderful hearing your feedback! And don’t forget to share your creations with me by tagging @chenee_today on Instagram!
Equipment you may need
- baking spray
- 2 tablespoon (12 g) lemon zest - from about 2 medium lemons
- 1 cup (200 g) organic cane sugar
- ½ cup (118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil - (see note)
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) toasted pistachio oil
- ¼ cup (61 g) unsweetened applesauce
- ⅔ cup (158 ml) soy milk
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon (2 ml) pure vanilla extract - 2g
- 1 ¾ cups (219 g) all-purpose flour - 228g
- 1½ teaspoon (6 g) baking powder - 7g
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt - 2g
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) toasted pistachio oil
- 3 tablespoon (44 ml) lemon juice
- 1¾ cups (210 g) powdered sugar - 202g
- Chopped roasted pistachios and lemon zest - for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour; line bottom of pan with parchment paper.baking spray
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub sugar and zest together to thoroughly release oils.1 cup organic cane sugar, 2 tablespoon lemon zest
- Whisk in olive oil, pistachio oil, applesauce, soy milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, mixing between each addition.½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoon toasted pistachio oil, ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce, ⅔ cup soy milk, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and fold until just combined.1½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- Transfer batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 35 minutes. .
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, pistachio oil, and lemon juice in a bowl. Spread over cooled cake and top with chopped pistachios and lemon zest.1 tablespoon toasted pistachio oil, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 1¾ cups powdered sugar, Chopped roasted pistachios and lemon zest
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Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
Easy to make and delicious! Can’t find pistachio oil but used almond extract with crushed pistachios in the batter.
It’s my family’s favourite cake for all celebrations!
What a great idea! So glad you and the family like it.
I’ve made this cake before and love it so much! I want to make it again today but the only type of milk I have in the house in half and half.. do you think that could work in this recipe?
If you use half and half I'd cut the olive oil by a few teaspoons so that the cake isn't too oily. But otherwise it should work!
This was the first vegan cake I ever made and it is truly amazing! I made this into a 3 layer cake for my daughters wedding and also made cupcakes for the event. Everyone loved it and you would never know its vegan - its delicious!
I'm so glad it was a success! Thank you so much!
This is seriously one of the best cakes ever! Vegan or not! I have been using orange instead of lemon and it is lovely! I have made it in a 1/2 size Bundt pan (4 cups, I think) and its also lovely. I sprinkle chopped pistachios and candles orange peel on top. This has been my birthday cake since last year! Moist moist moist!
I love your substitutions! So glad you like the cake 🙂
This recipe is AMAZING! I love baking vegan desserts to prove that going vegan does not mean that you cannot enjoy a tasty treat and this recipe is definitely tasty! Very simple to make and that glaze with the roasted pistachios is definitely a crowd-pleaser! I could not get a hold of roasted pistachio oil so I blended 1/2 cup of pistachios instead however, as soon as I find this kind of oil I will definitely try this recipe again... WELL DONE!
That's a great idea! I'm so glad you liked the cake! 🙂
After a disastrous Thanksgiving with tasteless food, I was DETERMINED to make it up to my peeps with new recipes. This cake was a winner! Supper easy and the cake came out so moist and delicious. Could it be apple sauce was the trick? I didn't have pistachio oil so I used almond oil. Next time I will use pistachio oil which I'll need to order online. Thanks for saving my Thanksgiving weekend!
Thank you so much! I'm so glad that it was just what you needed for Thanksgiving weekend! Yeah the applesauce and the oils definitely make the difference in keeping the cake moist!
Wonderful cake and the toasted pistachio oil is definitely next level! I also love the size of this cake!
So glad to hear it! Thanks so much!
I made this as an early Mother’s Day treat for myself. The cake was incredibly moist. The cake by itself wasn’t super lemony but with the glaze it was perfect.
Wonderful! So glad you liked it!
This cake is to die for! I used pistachio extract instead of pistachio oil, just because that’s what I had on hand. It turned out amazing! It came together really quickly too, which is always a bonus.
Wonderful! I'm so glad it worked out for you!!
I made this with Namaste gluten free flour and it was a hit with everyone. I only used 1 cup of powdered sugar, left out a tablespoon of lemon juice and still had plenty of glaze. I also made my own pistachio oil by blending pistachios and olive oil and straining it.
Wonderful! I'm so glad it works with the gluten free flour!
Amazing! Everyone at home loved it, it’s light, moist and flavorful. I couldn’t find pistachio oil so it was mostly lemony but still really good!! Perfect with a cup of coffee 🙂
Btw, you forgot to mention to add the lemon juice to the batter in the instructions 🙂
Thank you so much for letting me know -- I'll fix that right now! So glad you enjoyed the cake, even without the pistachio oil 🙂
This cake came out amazing!!! I made it to kadu for Mother’s Day and my mum loved it! My husband who usually only eats chocolate cakes devoured 2 big slices!!! Wish I could upload a picture!
I'm so glad you all liked it!! And I'm honored that it was part of your Mother's Day celebration! 🙂 Thank you!