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Olive Oil Cake

This olive oil cake is so moist and tender! It melts in your mouth with a flavor so delightful, it dances between the subtle fruitiness of olive oil and the bright zest of citrus.

a slice of olive oil cake on a white plate with a bite on a fork; more cake and lemons in the background

Butter may reign supreme in the baking world, but olive oil steps into this recipe as the unsung hero, bringing unparalleled moisture and flavor. Whether you’re gathering with family, enjoying a quiet moment alone with a cup of coffee, or looking for that perfect, no-fuss yet elegant dessert for your next dinner party, this olive oil cake is the answer.

Why You’ll Love This Olive Oil Cake Recipe

  • Wonderfully moist. Thanks to the star ingredient, olive oil, this cake boasts an incredibly moist crumb that stays tender for days. Unlike butter, olive oil gives the cake a unique texture and ensures it doesn’t dry out quickly.
  • Delightfully simple. With straightforward ingredients and an easy-to-follow method, this recipe is accessible for bakers of all skill levels. It’s the perfect bake for a casual afternoon but elegant enough for special occasions.
  • Amazing texture. Olive oil not only contributes to the cake’s moistness but also its dense yet light texture. It’s a satisfying treat that pairs wonderfully with coffee, tea, or your favorite dessert wine.
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overhead view of ingredients for olive oil cake

What You’ll Need

See the recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions. Here are some notes about the ingredients for this lemon olive oil cake:

  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt – I usually bake with regular table salt. Learn more: A Home Baker’s Guide to Salt
  • Eggs – Set these out on the counter to come to room temperature before mixing. They’ll mix more easily and create a smoother texture for your cake.
  • Sugar – Just regular white sugar.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – See my note below for help choosing an olive oil.
  • Milk – Let the milk come to room temperature along with the eggs.
  • Lemon – You’ll need both lemon zest and juice. Need a refresher? See How to Zest and Juice Lemons
  • Vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Also known as powdered sugar. You can dust it over the cake before serving for a simple garnish.

What Kind of Olive Oil Should I Use?

Extra virgin olive oil is a high quality olive oil know for its rich flavor and aroma, which makes it a great choice for this cake. The flavors can range from fruity and mild to peppery and robust. For baking, especially in something like an olive oil cake where the oil is a star ingredient, you might prefer a more delicate, fruity profile that won’t overpower the other flavors in your cake. However, if you’re after a cake with a pronounced olive oil presence, you might opt for something a bit more robust. Look for tasting notes that might complement your cake, such as almond, berry, herb, or apple. These subtleties can add a wonderful depth to your cake’s flavor profile.

partially sliced olive oil cake on a white cake stand

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

  • Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. I recommend a cooking spray with flour, like Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking.
  • Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Mix the wet ingredients. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to mix until the mixture is pale and thick. Slowly mix in the olive oil, and then mix in the milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
  • Finish mixing. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  • Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Place the pan on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.
overhead view of partially sliced olive oil cake on a white cake stand

Tips for Success

  • Temperature matters. Bring the eggs and milk to room temperature before starting. This helps the batter mix more evenly, resulting in a smoother texture in the finished cake.
  • Use a good quality olive oil. The flavor is central to the cake, so choose one that will shine here. See above for some guidance for choosing the right one to suit your tastes.
  • Don’t over-mix. When adding the dry ingredients, mix just until combined. Too much mixing can lead to a dense cake.
  • Check for doneness. Check the cake for doneness a few minutes before the recipe’s stated time, as oven temperatures can vary. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
a slice of olive oil cake on a white plate with more cake on a cake stand and on a plate in the background


  • Citrus twist. While lemon is a classic choice, don’t hesitate to experiment with other citrus fruits. Orange, lime, or even grapefruit zest and juice can add a unique twist. You can even try a combination!
  • Nutty options. Fold in chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios for added texture and nuttiness. Toasting the nuts beforehand can enhance their flavor and crunch.
  • Spice it up. Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or cloves can warm up the flavor, making your cake even more comforting. Start with a teaspoon of your chosen spice (or a spice blend) and adjust to taste.
  • Chocolate lovers. Add a handful of chocolate chips to the cake batter. The chocolate pairs well with the fruitiness of the olive oil.
  • Add fruit. Fold in some fresh berries, chopped apples, or pears to add a sweet and tangy contrast to the moist, dense cake.
a slice of olive oil cake on a cake server being lifted away from the remaining cake on a cake stand

Serving Suggestions

A simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar is a great way to top this cake, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it as well. Here are a few more ideas for serving:

  • Whipped cream. Serve each slice with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. You can flavor the cream with a bit of vanilla extract or a splash of liqueur that complements the cake’s flavors.
  • Citrus glaze. Drizzle a citrus glaze made from powdered sugar and fresh lemon, orange, or grapefruit juice over the cake. It adds a lovely sheen and a burst of citrus flavor that pairs beautifully with the olive oil. (Try the lemon glaze from Mini Lemon Pound Cakes or the orange glaze from Orange Pound Cake.)
  • Fresh fruit. Top the cake or serve it with a side of fresh berries, figs, or sliced stone fruits like peaches or plums. The freshness of the fruit complements the richness of the cake.
  • Compote or jam. Serve the cake with a side of fruit compote (like blueberry or apple), jam, or preserves to add a nice sweetness and a bit of texture.
overhead view of a slice of olive oil cake on a white plate with a bite on a fork

How to Store

Place the cooled cake in an airtight container, and store at room temperature up to 3 days. If you need to keep the cake for a bit longer, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Bring it to room temperature before serving to enhance its flavor and texture.

Can this Cake Be Frozen?

Yes, this olive oil cake freezes well. Wrap individual slices or the entire cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in wrap again in aluminum foil or place in an freezer-safe container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

olive oil cake on a white cake stand

Olive Oil Cake

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

This olive oil cake is a moist, delicately flavored dessert that's as easy to make as it is delightful to eat. A testament to the beauty of minimalist ingredients coming together in perfect harmony!

a slice of olive oil cake on a white plate with a bite on a fork; more cake and lemons in the background


  • 1 & 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (177ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (177ml) whole milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale and thick, about 3 minutes.
  4. Slowly blend in the olive oil. Then mix in the milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients gradually, mixing just until combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar before serving.

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    6 Comments on “Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Vacillating here whether to be super wordy, or super simple with our take on this cake. It was exquisite. I’ve collected Olive Oil cake recipes ever since reading about them, but took the plunge only yesterday. I was scrambling for a “non-chocolate” dessert for friends, and remembered that recently I added a “Jennifer” take on this style of cake. This cake was so moist, and ultra flavorful. There were 4 of us last night, and you could hear a pin drop while we were all eating dessert. Until I learn from Jennifer that there is another Olive Oil cake to try, I would never think of doing such a thing. I want to make this Olive Oil cake for everyone I care for. This simple cake makes a huge statement of moist, light AND dense, flavor-filled amazement. Someone from Texas gave me a recipe for whipped cream that sounded super odd. I tried it last night, simply to break the envelope. It was fabulous with this cake, and while it may have taken a teeny bit longer to whip, this is what I did: 1 cup heavy cream,1/2 cup buttermilk, 3 tb. dark brown sugar, 2 tsps. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Combine, chill, and whip for serving. I guess I chose the “wordy” route for this review 🙂

    • Wordy works just fine for me, Jeff! 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! It’s one of my newfound favorites. It manages to be simple and complex all at the same time, doesn’t it? I must try that whipped cream – it sounds interesting!

  2. This cake was delicious! Fluffy and light with a hint of lemon flavor and not too sweet. We loved it!

  3. Can I substitute GF flour (equal portion) for this recipe?

    • Hi, Nancy! I’ve not tried that, so I don’t know how well it would work. If you’ve substituted gluten-free flour in other baking recipes before, then I’d expect a similar result.

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