Copycat Recipes Desserts

Ina Garten Lemon Cake

Satisfy your sweet tooth with this delicious citrus bake

Elen Rustick By Updated August 4, 2022

This Ina Garten lemon cake is a light, tender, and buttery pound cake, perfect if you like all things lemon!

Ina Garten lemon cake

To get the soft and moist texture, Ina Garten’s trick is to add the dry and wet ingredients alternately while the mixer does its work.

The barefoot contessa uses both lemon juice and lemon zest in her recipe. This gives it a really lemony taste.

She also makes a lemon and sugar syrup along with a confectioners’ sugar glaze. These toppings keep this cake really moist and delectable.

I’ve brought you a copycat version of Ina’s recipe, but with one key difference. To make it even more delicious and pack in even more lemon flavors, I’ve added a little lemon extract.

Give my recipe a go and enjoy this subtly sweet and tangy cake at afternoon tea with guests, or take it on a family picnic!

To get ahead, make this cake and keep it in your fridge for several days. It’ll even taste better the day after baking when all the lemony goodness has had a chance to seep in!

All About Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake Ingredients


Use unsalted butter for this lemon cake to better control the taste of your bake. This type of butter doesn’t have any added salt, so it allows the naturally sweet flavor of the butter to come through.

Then, you can add as much salt as you need, if you want to balance out the sweetness a little.


Granulated sugar is a common type of sugar used in many baked goods. This is highly refined and is the best option in this Ina Garten lemon cake recipe.

This type of sugar dissolves well in liquids and is easy to measure out due to its superfine crystals.


The batter for your cake requires 4 eggs. Don’t leave any out – it’ll be too dry if you do or won’t fluff up enough.

Lemon Zest

The zest of a lemon carries a lot of flavor, so only add a little to your ingredients to make a difference. This will give your cake an extra tang and enhance the other flavors of the batter.

Grate your lemon before you juice it – it’s no fun having to zest cut-up pieces of fruit!

Lemon Juice

For the best results, use freshly squeezed lemon juice. This way, you’ll know that you’re putting the fruit’s natural nutrients minus any artificial additives into your cake.

Concentrated lemon juice doesn’t have the gentle taste of fresh lemon juice and can often taste stronger (almost too sour), and it’ll have added preservatives.

Lemon Extract

To really bring out the lemon flavor of this cake, you’ll only need a teaspoon of lemon extract. The result is a citrusy, bright taste – yummy!


It’s not clear from Ina Garten lemon cake recipe what type of flour to use. So any flour you’d normally use for baking should be fine.

You can also try to use cake flour. It’s a very fine type and will help to keep the lemon cake moist and tender.

Cake flour doesn’t contain as much gluten as all-purpose, so a top tip is to use some of both types. The gluten from the all-purpose flour will help the cake to keep its structure.

Baking Essentials

To help the cake to rise, you’ll need a little baking soda and baking powder. And a little salt will also assist in enhancing the other flavors.


Buttermilk helps to improve the texture and color of your cake, making it more soft and tender.

It’s made by a similar process to yogurt. Milk is fermented with a bacteria that produces lactic acid.

This gives buttermilk its distinctive tangy taste. And this helps to add depth and flavor to your finished cake.

Vanilla Extract

To balance out the tangy, citrusy flavors, a little vanilla extract brings out the sweeter elements of this Ina Garten lemon cake.

Easy Tips For The Best Ina Garten Lemon Cake

  • Don’t overbake the cake by setting a timer. You’ll then be able to check it’s done and is still moist – you can do this by putting a toothpick in the center, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready!

  • Ensure that your ingredients are at room temperature before you start baking. Your eggs and butter will emulsify easier when making the batter, so you’ll get a more even texture to the mixture.  To do this, bring your dairy products out of the fridge about an hour or so before you start making the lemon cake.

  • Get creative! You can make this lemon cake recipe your own by adding, for example, blueberries to the mixture.

  • Or for a bit of a crunch, try mixing in some chopped walnuts or pecans. And for a tropical kick to your lemon cake, add in some coconut flakes.

Ina Garten lemon cake recipe

Ina Garten Lemon Cake Recipe

  • Prep Time30 min
  • Cook Time60 min
  • Total Time1h30 min
  • Servings2 loaves of about 8 inches
  • Yield2 loaves of about 8 inches

Level: Intermediate


For the glaze:





  1. Get Prepared

    First, make sure your oven is preheated to 350oF.

    Take your 2 loaf pans – which should be about 8.5 by 4.25 by 2.5 inches in size – and lightly grease them with butter and flour. It’s also a good idea to add some parchment paper to the bottom of the pans, which will make it even easier to remove the cakes.

  2. Make the Batter

    Attach your paddle attachment to the electric mixer. Whisk the 2 cups of sugar and butter for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

    Set your mixer to a medium speed. Then, gradually add the eggs and the lemon zest.

    Take a medium bowl and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

    And in the small bowl, combine the ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla and lemon extracts.

    Next, add the contents of these two bowls to your batter. Do this by adding ¼ of the dry mixture and ⅓ of the wet ingredients alternately, starting with the flour.

  3. Bake the Lemon Cake

    Carefully divide your cake batter evenly between the loaf pans. Use your spatula to run across the top to make sure it’s smooth.

    Now it’s time to bake your lemon cakes! This should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, but remember to set that timer and use a cake tester or toothpick to check when they’re ready.

  4. Prepare the Syrup

    You can now make your topping for when the cakes are cooked, which is a lovely lemon syrup. Mix the rest of the sugar with the ½ cup of fresh lemon juice in your saucepan.

    Use low heat on your stove. Keep mixing the ingredients until all of the sugar has dissolved.

  5. Glaze the Cake

    Let your cakes cool for at least 10 minutes still in their loaf tins. Then, you can use the parchment to carefully take them out of the pans and put them on your cooling tray or baking sheet.

    Then, take the lemon syrup and spoon it over the cakes. You can now allow them to fully cool.

    This is now the ideal time to make the lemon glaze. Combine the confectioners or powdered sugar and lemon juice. Whisk in a bowl until the mixture has a smooth consistency.

    Finally, pour the glaze over your lemon cakes, allowing it to drip down the sides. Serve and enjoy!

Ina Garten lemon cake serve

How To Store And Freeze Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake

You can keep your lemon cake at normal room temperature. If wrapped correctly, in some foil or plastic wrap, it’ll last like this for about 2 days.

To extend the life of your cake further, you can refrigerate it for up to about 1 week. Again, make sure it’s wrapped well in plastic wrap or foil.

Any cake with dairy products, eggs, buttercream, or cream frostings or fillings should be put in the fridge immediately after baking. Once it’s cooled down of course.

Alternatively, this Ina Garten lemon cake will store in the freezer for about 6 months. After this, it’ll still be safe to eat, although the quality of the bake might start to decline.

Wrap the cake tightly in foil, freezer wrap, or a strong freezer bag. Don’t add the lemon glaze before freezing.

Bring the cake out of the freezer the day before serving so it can thaw in your refrigerator overnight. Then, bring it to room temperature the next day and add the glaze.

Ina Garten Lemon Cake - Pinterest

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
  • 524Calories
  • 17.6 grams Fat
  • 87.6 grams Carbs
  • 6.5 gramsProtein
Show Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: (based on 12 servings [2 loaves of 6 servings each])
Amount per serving
Calories 524
% Daily Value*
Total Fat17.6 grams 23%
Saturated Fat10.5 grams 53%
Cholesterol121 milligrams 40%
Sodium403 milligrams 18%
Total Carbohydrate87.6 grams 32%
Dietary Fiber1.1 grams 4%
Total Sugars62.7 grams
Protein6.5 grams
Vitamin C11 micrograms 53%
Calcium46 milligrams 4%
Iron2 milligrams 10%
Potassium117 milligrams 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.