Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio

Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio

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Last Updated on April 5, 2021 by Chenée Lewis

I’m so excited to share this vegan lemon cake with you! I’ve been working on vegan olive oil cake recipes for a while now, with mixed results, 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 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!

How do you make a vegan cake more moist?

Make it a vegan olive oil cake! OK guys, it’s no secret that I love olive oil cakes. One of my favorite recipes on this blog is my Orange-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake. 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.

Vegan cakes are no exception — because they 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.

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!

Vegan Lemon Pistachio Olive Oil Cake Recipe | Chenée Today


  • lemon zest & juice – brings that bright lemony flavor.
  • granulated sugar – gives this vegan lemon 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.
  • 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 help to give the cake lift, 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 topping 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.


As I mentioned, this vegan lemon 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 bowl, a whisk, and your 8-inch cake pan and you’re ready to start baking! Here are a few more tools you might need:

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Step by Step

The steps for this vegan lemon 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 into your baking pan and bake!

Tips and F.A.Q.

Is olive oil cake vegan?

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.

Is olive oil cake healthier than regular cake?

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.

How can I store this vegan lemon cake?

This cake can be stored at room temperature wrapped loosely in foil or plastic wrap. It also freezes well, wrapped in foil and plastic wrap, for up to 2 months.

Is vegan cake good?

It sure is! This vegan 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!

Related Recipes

If you like this vegan olive oil cake, you’ll definitely want to try my pistachio lemon white bean dip! It’s a savory recipe, but it has a lot of the same flavors as this cake — lemon, roasted pistachio, and extra-virgin olive oil. Plus, like this lemon olive oil cake, it’s vegan!

You should also check out a recipe that has been a big hit with Chenée Today readers, my Strawberry-Banana Sorbet! It’s another vegan recipe (as long as you don’t use honey as your sweetener) and it’s so delicious and easy! It’s perfect as a summertime treat!

Vegan Lemon Pistachio Olive Oil Cake Recipe | Chenée Today

Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio

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How to make a moist vegan cake with olive oil, lemon, toasted pistachio oil, and chopped roasted pistachios. This vegan lemon cake is so easy and full of rich flavors.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine :American, Italian, Mediterranean
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 541kcal
Recipe Source: Chenée Lewis

Equipment you may need


Pistachio-Lemon Glaze


  • 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.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub sugar and zest together to thoroughly release oils.
  • Whisk in olive oil, pistachio oil, applesauce, soy milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, mixing between each addition.
  • Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and fold until just combined.
  • 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.



Olive oil:  I used California Olive Ranch Rich & Robust olive oil because I wanted a more full olive oil flavor. You can use whatever olive oil you like, as long as it has a flavor you enjoy!
Storage and freezing: Store at room temperature wrapped loosely in foil or plastic wrap. Freezes well, wrapped in foil and plastic wrap, for up to 2 months.


Serving: 1 slice | Calories: 541 kcal | Carbohydrates: 30 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 47 g | Saturated Fat: 7 g | Sodium: 2 mg | Potassium: 130 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 8 g | Calcium: 43 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
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Vegan Lemon Pistachio Olive Oil Cake Recipe | Chenée Today

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48 thoughts on “Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio”

  • 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.5 stars

  • 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 🙂5 stars

  • 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!5 stars

    • Pistachio paste in this cake sounds delicious! You may need to whisk it a bit more to get it all mixed together well, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

  • This cake is amazing!! I couldn’t find pistachio oil, so I just toasted some pistachios and cooked them in olive oil for a couple minutes and used that. Super moist and flavorful with perfectly slightly crispy edges.5 stars

  • Just to make sure you .. you have baking soda listed in in the written recipe but nothing in the ingredients listed. Is it needed? I forgot so how much? Thank you.4 stars

  • This looks amazing! I have a very random allergy to apples… do you have any recommendations for subbing out the applesauce?

    • Thanks! Some possible substitutions for the applesauce would be 1/4 cup of whipped silken tofu, or a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 2 tbsp water). I haven’t tested those, so if you try one of them let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Do you think this will work with another type of flour? Almond or coconut perhaps or a mix of those? What about whole wheat flour; do you think it will taste extremely different or pretty much the same? I’m also looking at adding grated coconut palm sugar in it instead. Any ideas on these things? I don’t want to mask the flavor of anything with the whole wheat but I was just looking at my pantry and saw those 3 flours (also semolina flour lol) but if it will mess up flavors and/or consistency too much I will just go get some regular flour. Please let me know, thank you!

    • Hi! I haven’t tried this cake with almond flour or coconut flour but I imagine it would work pretty well with a mix of those — it would definitely have a slightly different texture and may not rise as nicely with a heavier flour, but the flavors would still work. And almond flour might complement the nutty flavor of the pistachio oil! I also haven’t tried it with coconut palm sugar, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It might just add a deeper, more caramely sweetness, but otherwise it sounds great!

      If you do make these changes, please let me know how the cake turns out! Thanks so much for trying the recipe!

    • I love both lemon and pistachio so was excited to try this cake. It is delicious! The flavor is bright and lemony. The cake is moist and not too sweet. I’m so excited to have an incredible vegan dessert to make for friends when dinner parties become a thing again. The middle of it fell a bit after coming out of the oven, not sure why. Guess I’ll have to practice making it again and again until it’s perfect. 🙂5 stars

      • I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! Thank you so much for the feedback! There are a couple reasons your cake may have fallen a bit in the middle — you may have added a bit too much baking powder or baking soda, which could have made the cake rise too quickly and then fall. Or your oven temperature could be a bit off. But definitely let me know if you make it again and it falls again, and I’ll revisit the recipe. I would love an excuse to make this cake again soon! 🙂

  • Oh my goodness I cannot explain how hard I drooled while scrolling through! This cake is not only beautiful but looks super moist too!!!5 stars

  • Olive oil cake!! You’ve combined lemon-pistachio which are two of my most favorite flavors. My family raved about it all night after we ate it.5 stars

  • The pistachio oil was a game-changer for me. I loved the tenderness of this cake. We’ll be making this again!5 stars

  • I’m always looking for vegan dessert recipes so that I can share my love of baking with my vegan friends. This cake is so delicious and moist!5 stars

  • If lemon is involved, I’m aaaaallllll over it! This recipe was no exception! So moist, so delicious! I added a little extra lemon zest and it was perfection!5 stars

  • pistacchio is one of the few nuts I am not allergic to and I love them to the core. So when I saw this cake I knew I had to immediately try it. It was so good and now I have to get more ideas to use up that delicious pistacchio oil. Thank you so much for introducing me to this product.5 stars

  • I’ve always been so intrigued by olive oil cakes! I cannot wait to try this one! The recipe looks so straight-forward and easy to follow! And the photos are beautiful!!5 stars

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