If you have never tried olive oil cake, you have NO IDEA what you are missing. It is so light and simple yet sophisticated at the same time. The butter that is usually used in cake recipes is replaced with olive oil. And let me tell you; this lemon olive oil cake recipe is the absolute best.
Serve it with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped topping to satisfy your sweet tooth and give your heart an abundance of beneficial components.
Olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and in this moist olive oil cake, it really shines without giving an overwhelming olive oil taste.
I can’t wait for you to try this one. If you do, please leave me a comment and don’t forget to give this recipe a rating!
Note: This recipe contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What is Olive Oil Cake?
Olive oil cakes can be dated back to Arab, Jewish, and Spanish cultures. In addition, it is said that olive oil cakes are often made as a way to celebrate the olive harvesting season in the Mediterranean.
No matter where this amazing cake originated, one thing is certain. I am HOOKED! This unique, easy, and moist lemon olive oil cake recipe is going to be one you make again and again.
Is Olive Oil Cake Healthier Than Regular Cake?
Olive oil cake uses olive oil as its main fat source instead of butter, like many other desserts do. For this reason, olive oil cake is a much healthier choice than regular cakes such as chocolate cake, carrot cake, red velvet, and so on.
Olive oil is the healthiest oil in the world. It is packed with polyphenols and plant sterols which many of its health benefits come from. Of all the different types of olive oils manufactured, extra virgin olive oil has the highest amount of health-promoting substances. This is because it is extracted without heat or chemicals.
Therefore, even though this lemon olive oil cake has a high amount of total fat per serving (23 gm), the minimal amount of saturated fat per serving (3.5 gm) plus added health benefits makes this an incredibly healthy option.
Especially compared to the most popular cake choice in the world which is chocolate cake. One slice of chocolate cake without frosting can easily contain 6 gm of saturated fat per the same serving size of olive oil cake. That’s almost double the saturated fat and almost half of your saturated fat intake for the day.
You see, the American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of your total calorie intake. If following a 2,000-calorie meal plan, this allows up to 13 grams of saturated fat per day.
What Does Olive Oil Cake Taste Like?
If you are wondering if olive oil cake tastes like olive oil (which has a very distinct flavor), you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It does not at all taste like olive oil.
Depending on the type of olive oil used, which can range from light olive oil to extra virgin olive oil, the results will vary slightly. Other factors also play a part, like the type of olive used, when they are harvested, and processing techniques. For more on the types of olive oils, I recommend checking out the North American Olive Oil Association webpage.
After baking your lemon olive oil cake, one bite will tell you just how moist, delicate, and spongy the taste and texture are. In this recipe I use extra virgin olive oil. However, any good quality olive oil will work wonderfully, yielding the best tasting lemon olive oil cake you’ve ever tasted.
For a few of my personal recommendations on the best extra virgin olive oils to use, see Olive Oil Recommendations below.
I have also seen olive oil cake recipes that use orange juice and orange zest in place of the lemon. Alternatively, there are others that call for almond extract instead of vanilla. Those are both excellent flavor variations you could try.
Olive Oil Benefits
Olive oil has been intensely studied. Additionally higher olive oil consumption is one of the many differences between a Mediterranean-style diet and a typical Western diet.
Mediterranean-style diets use olive oil as a main fat source.
Some of following health benefits have been shown in both Mediterranean studies and studies involving olive oil consumption in Western society.
Olive oil contains many properties that aid in cardiovascular health. They includes:
- improving endothelial function (blood flow through vessels)
- decreasing inflammation
- decreasing LDL oxidation (making LDL “bad” cholesterol less harmful)
And while studies cannot prove cause-and-effect, they do show that people who consume more olive oil (1 1/2 to 4 tablespoons per day) have significantly lower death rates than those who consume less. In addition, high olive oil consumers have lower risk of cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke.
The same beneficial compounds may also protect against DNA damage which leads to cancer. Especially with higher intake of less refined olive oils, such as virgin and extra virgin.
Additionally, a systematic review and meta-analysis shows that those who consume higher amounts of olive oil have up to 31% lower likelihood of developing cancer (breast, gastrointestinal, aerodigestive, and urinary tract cancers).
As you can see, olive is a great healthy fat choice for adding protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer due to the phytochemicals, tocopherols, squalene, and sterols they contain. Though, there is still room for other oils in you diet, in moderation.
Cake Flour– For a more delicate crumb to your cake, use cake flour. It’s not necessary though, and you can substitute all-purpose flour if that’s all you have on hand.
Sugar– I tried not to use too much sugar here because well…added sugars should be avoided whenever possible for better heart health. Two thirds of a cup was the perfect amount to add sweetness and balance out the flavors of the lemon and olive oil.
Baking Soda and baking powder– These are both needed to help your cake rise by creating air bubbles. They do also add some sodium to the recipe however, in my opinion, doing without these ingredients in non-negotiable. If left out, you’d end up with a very flat and dense lemon olive oil cake.
Salt– A small bit of salt is used as a flavor enhancer. If you prefer to omit the salt in this recipe, this will reduce the sodium content to ~107 mg per serving compared to 222 mg with the salt added.
Eggs– Adding two eggs helps to bind and stabilize all of the ingredients. If you are vegan, you can use vegan egg substitutes (I give some examples below).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil– This is the star ingredient of this recipe. A very good quality olive oil is what I recommend. Look for one that tastes bright, fruity, peppery, and that does not leave an oily residue in your mouth when drinking it. Check out my olive oil recommendations below for more.
Greek Yogurt– I use fat free Greek yogurt in this recipe. But feel free to use full fat yogurt instead as studies show that full fat dairy may have a neutral or even positive effect on heart health.
Lemons– lemon juice and zest add such a fresh and vibrant flavor to this olive oil cake. The citrus flavor of this olive oil cake just screams summer!
Vanilla Extract– a touch of vanilla extract has its set of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not to mention that its essence can also improve mood.
To Make This Recipe Vegan
You can easily make this a vegan olive oil cake by substituting a plant-based yogurt (cashew, coconut, almond, etc.) along with a vegan egg substitute.
For an egg substitute, you can use flax egg or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (affiliate link), which is one of my favorite egg substitutes for baking.
How To Make Lemon Olive Oil Cake
This is a complete one-bowl recipe. So easy to prepare and ready to shove into your mouth in less than an hour. Check out these step-by-step instructions to make this amazing lemon olive oil cake.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray or brush a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil. Set this aside for now.
- Gather all of your cake ingredients.
- Add all of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients and start adding the wet ingredients one at a time (except lemon juice and zest).
- After adding all of the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.
- Add the lemon juice and lemon zest then stir again.
- Pour your cake batter into a prepared 9-inch round baking pan.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the top of your cake is lightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean after poking.
Now it’s time to let your lemon olive oil cake cool. Eat it plain or top with a dusting of powdered sugar, berries, and/or whipped topping.
Olive Oil Recommendations
The best quality extra virgin olive oils will have a distinct flavor and aroma. They will vary from season to season, just like grapes do in wine making. But unlike wines, olive oil does not get better with age. So freshness is a key factor. Overall, your extra virgin olive oil should be made entirely with naturally cold-pressed olives as well.
While there are some quite pricey olive oils out there, I know most of us do not want to spend $50 or more on a bottle of olive oil. Here is short list of some great budget olive oils you can try, listed in no particular order (affiliate links marked with an asterisk):
- California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
- O-Live & Co. Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
- Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
- Amazon Fresh Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
For other high-quality olive oil recommendations, the North American Olive Oil Association provides a list of olive oils certified as meeting International Olive Council (IOC) standards.
You can store this simplistic cake right on your countertop if it does not have any toppings that would spoil, such as fruit or whipped toppings. It will stay fresh in air-tight container for up to 4 days at room temp.
However, you can also keep this cake in your refrigerator for up to 4 days this way as well. Just let it come to room temp again before serving.
Expert Tip: You always want to wait for cakes to cook before storing them. Then store them under a cake cover, large bowl, or air-tight container.
More Mediterranean-Inspired Meal Ideas
- Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Soup
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
- Sardine Pizza with Spinach and Tomato
- Best Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Spinach Pesto
Olive oil cake can be kept unrefrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. However, if it has any frosting, fruit, or whipped topping, you must refrigerate it. If storing in your refrigerator, this cake is best eaten within 4 days.
Yes. If you need to freeze any leftovers or the entire cake, wrap your olive oil cake tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. This will prevent freezer burn and keep your cake fresh for up to 3 months. To defrost, place the cake on a counter at room temp for 3-4 hours.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 1¼ cup cake flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 eggs large
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup Greek yogurt fat free
- juice and zest of 2 large lemons
- Preheat your oven to 350℉ and spray a 9-inch cake pan with olive oil spray and set aside.
- Gather your ingredients and add all the dry ingredients (from the cake flour to the salt) to a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine.
- Make a small indented well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Then add your wet ingredients (from the eggs to the Greek yogurt), leaving the lemon juice and zest out for now. Stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Add your lemon juice and zest then stir again until combined.
- Pour your olive oil cake batter into your prepared 9-inch cake pan.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the top of your cake is light, golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let your cake cool at room temp then add toppings of choice and serve.
- I recommend using cake flour in this recipe which will result in a lighter, more delicate caked texture because there is a lower protein content compared to all-purpose flour. However, you can still substitute all-purpose flour if needed.
- I also highly recommend using good-quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. If it has a fruity and grassy smell in its raw form, it will work well.
- Optional toppings for your cake may include a dusting of powdered sugar, whipped topping, or fresh berries.
Share with me: I’m so excited for you to try this amazing dessert recipe. Leave me a comment and recipe rating below if you try it!
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Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.