The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake

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When life hands you lemons, make lemon bundt cake!

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake

This is the ultimate lemon bundt cake recipe, I kid you not. It has everything — superior lemon flavor, a moist crumb, buttery flavor, a delicious yet tender crust, and a tangy sweet glaze. I had so much fun baking this, and I appreciate the fact that it had my apartment smelling like lemons and sugar for hours on end :D

If you don’t own a bundt pan, I highly recommend this baby from NordicWare (the makers of the original bundt cake pan). This pan is everything — easy to clean, has great weight, it’s just the sweetest thing ever.

Anyway, making a lemon bundt cake is easy, but the hard part is capturing a good amount of lemon flavor. Most times it just bakes off, and becomes way too subtle…but this recipe fixes that. Soaking the lemon zest in pure lemon juice does something epic here that I can’t really explain..but trust me, it’s magical. The cake is actually very light and fluffy the day it’s baked, but then the next day it becomes more dense, like a typical bundt cake. It’s super buttery, not too sweet, and just pure lemony perfection. It would taste great with berries too :) I will be making another one of these for my office, because I know it’ll disappear in less than a half hour.

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
butter…and lots of it

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
I brushed my bundt cake with butter and flour

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
3 juicy lemons ready to be zested

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
like so..

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
chop the zest up to release even more lemon flavor

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
juice them

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
soak the zest in the lemon juice while you prepare the other parts of the cake, about 15 to 20min

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
dry ingredients

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest/juice

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
your 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
creamed sugar/butter

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
everybody in the pool! don’t overmix!!

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
the batter is all mixed up and ready

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
scoop it into your bundt pan

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
smooth it down so it’s even

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
bake it!

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
aint she purty?

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
beautiful crust

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
flip her over onto a cooling rack after 10min of cooling in the pan

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
closeup — I wish you could smell this

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
the first drizzle of glaze

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
this is what it looks like after an hour…all soaked in…and ready for more glaze

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
so pour it on

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
oh yum

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
she’s so ready

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake

Good lord…

The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
from Cooks Illustrated
Serves: 12-14 servings
For the Cake:
  • 3 lemons, zest grated and saved, then juiced for 3 tbsp juice (see note below)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup low-fat buttermilk (preferably)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 18 tbsp unsalted butter (2¼ sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
For the Glaze:
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (8 ounces)
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour (alternatively, brush pan with mixture of 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter). Mince lemon zest to fine paste (you should have about 2 tablespoons). Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Scrape into prepared pan.
  3. Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.
  1. While cake is baking, whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, buttermilk, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable (mixture should leave faint trail across bottom of mixing bowl when drizzled from whisk). Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.
You will need between five and six tablespoons of lemon juice for this recipe. Because the amount of juice can vary from lemon to lemon, we suggest you first measure the juice from the three lemons you have zested, then juice a fourth lemon if necessary.

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  1. says

    This is almost identical to my recipe, except I’ve never soaked my lemon zest! Also, I add a tablespoon or two of the unsalted butter to the glaze (because I’m a fatty like that), but it makes it SO rich!!

  2. Dorothy says

    I made this cake today and it is wonderful, my husband is happy, happy, happy! Follow recipe as written. I had to bake it a little longer.

  3. Caitlyn says

    I have all the ingridents for this recipie but all I have is salted land o lakes stick butter and then some country crock. Will either those work in the cake? Will it affect the flavor? Or does it have to be unsalted?

    • says

      Don’t use Country Crock — totally different ingredients (mostly oil and other stuff). You could use salted butter, just omit 1/4 teaspoon of salt from the recipe.

  4. Mari says

    Made this for Christmas, and have another baking now. I folliwed recipe exactly both times. My family loves this cake. I may add blueberries next time.

  5. Lori says

    I made this last weekend for Mother’s Day but I added in some frozen blueberries. Delish! Making another one tonight :)

  6. Joy Evans says

    I just put my cake in the oven. I know it will be delicious, because the batter is to die for. I am using the Nordic Heritage Bundt Pan. Check it out — it’s a much more beautiful cake. Lemon is my favorite flavor.

  7. says

    F.Y.I. I like the way you wrote out this recipe and directions**descriptive and organized**and with personality! My significant other and I are going to make this Lemon Bundt Cake when he gets back from the Grocery store. I too am from the ATL! I will let you know how we do!

  8. says

    The Lemon Bundt Cake tasted Wonderful!!! (good with coffee too) and came out the pan flawlessly!! Very Lemony tasty and worth it! There’s nothing like making a cake from scratch. Thank you for this recipe with pics and tips!!!

  9. Nicole says

    jesus lord this was so glorious im going to cry i love you so much omg
    i love you
    you are my saviour haha
    I’m 15 and im doing my IGCSE exams next year and im definitely going to back this for my Dessert course in my Food&Nutrition exams.
    oh and in the glaze,I used coconut milk(1.5 TBSP coconut milk & 2.5 TBSP lemon juice)instead of butter milk and magically got transported to Hawaii.You should try it.

  10. Connie says

    Oh my is this good! I made this cake for my friend’s cake bar at her wedding and it was well-loved! I have made it several times since and now plan to use orange juice and zest instead of lemons since oranges are in season here. This is the kind of recipe that becomes the go-to and gets passed down to future generations. I am making a recipe binder for my 12 year-old and this cake will definitely be included! Thank you so much for publishing this recipe!

  11. Hayley says

    I got a new KitchenAid mixer for Christmas and this was our debut recipe. It may the best cake I ever made! The texture and flavor were absolutely perfect. I used the Nordic Ware rose pan and it was just beautiful.

  12. Julie says

    Sweet Jesus this is the BEST cake EVER!!!! I love lemon anything & was looking for a lemon bundt cake recipe when I came across your delicious website. Nirvana! Blueberry & lemon buttermilk pancakeslanned for breakfast in the morning, and I’m going to feed my husband some of your Brussels Sprouts and hopefully he’ll be a convert!
    Thanks for all the fantastic recipes. They are clear and easy to understand. Most importantly, delicious!
    Now, for another piece of that cake….

  13. Paula says

    Made this for a beautiful, sunny January day today, and now everyone is happy again. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  14. Monica says

    I made this today and it is so delicious and beautiful. I’m usually a one-bowl recipe kind of girl but this one was worth the mess. Thank you for posting this!

  15. Natalie says

    Hi There! I made this cake many times and it’s always been a crowd pleaser! :) I was wondering if this recipe can also be use to make lemon cupcakes?

  16. Kim says

    Welllll, I’ve read many of the reviews and now my daughter & I are hyped about making this one. I only hope we get the same results as others who have tried this recipe. Stay tuned. … after making many cakes from Internet recipes, we’ve had no luck whatsoever.. So I’m crossing my fingers & praying our search is over. :)

  17. LeAndre Davis says

    The cake is in the oven asI write this and Lord have Mercy, it smells soooo good! Can’t wait to dive into the thing.

    I’m about to make the glaze now. Thank you for the recipe.

  18. says

    Yours was the fourth recipe I tried and…yours is my favorite! The prior recipes were flavorful, but dense. Yours is much lighter.
    I made it twice. First I made it with 1/2 cake flour, 1/2 all purpose flour AND… added a little limoncello to the glaze.
    Then I made it with all cake flour and… added some limoncello to the zest mixture as well as to the glaze.
    But… I must thank you for providing a recipe for a delicious and light cake and… a glaze recipe that actually hardens (must be the buttermilk). Thanks a lot.


  1. [...] says “I love you, Mom” like a lemon bundt cake, and this tutorial from Carnal Dish isn’t called The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake for nothing. I think my MawMaw would put down her [...]

  2. [...] says “I love you, Mom” like a lemon bundt cake, and this tutorial from Carnal Dish isn’t called The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake for nothing. I think my MawMaw would put down her [...]

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