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
And can I add pistachio paste instead of pistachio oil?
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.
How many cupcakes would this make?
I haven't made cupcakes from this recipe myself, but with the amount of batter, I would estimate you'd get about 12 cupcakes.
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.
What an excellent workaround! I'm so glad you enjoyed 🙂
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.
Yes! Thanks for letting me know that i accidentally left it out!! You'll need 1/2 tsp of baking soda.
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. 🙂
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! 🙂
This cake is so fluffy and easy to decorate! My sister loved it and asked me to make it for her birthday next year.
Wonderful! I hope it makes her birthday extra special 🙂
Oh my goodness I cannot explain how hard I drooled while scrolling through! This cake is not only beautiful but looks super moist too!!!
Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!
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.
Thanks! Two of my favorite flavors too!
Omg, this cake is delicious and so moist!! I can’t wait to make it again!!
I'm glad you liked it! 🙂
The pistachio oil was a game-changer for me. I loved the tenderness of this cake. We'll be making this again!
I love the pistachio oil too! It adds so much flavor!
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!
Thank you! I love olive oil cakes for that reason 🙂
We had this cake for a ladies night- and man it was a hit!! Those flavors are perfect together!
Thank you! I'm so glad you all enjoyed it!
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!
Can't go wrong with a little extra lemon!! Glad you liked it!
This cake is right up my street. Citrusy deliciousness and super moist.
Yay! So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
I made this recipe for a work function and everyone raved about the flavor. Will make again.
So glad it was a hit! Thanks!
I’m dying to try this out! Can we use gluten-free flour instead ?
I haven't tried it with gluten free flour, but I would imagine that a 1-to-1 flour with xanthan gum should work! Hope you enjoy!
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.
I'm so glad this cake worked out for you! I agree -- pistachio oil is so good!
This cake was so moist and delicious! I love pistachios and the fact that this is vegan makes it even better!
Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it!
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!!
Thank you! It's very simple to make -- hope you enjoy it!
This olive oil cake was so moist and delicious. My mother in law couldn't believe it was vegan. So happy I found this recipe.
I'm so glad you both enjoyed!! 🙂