Moist Lemon Cake Recipe

This super moist lemon cake recipe is incredibly soft, fluffy, and moist, thanks to the method of poking holes with a toothpick to absorb the lemon glaze in every bite! It’s, by far, the most moist lemon cake you’ll ever try and it’s super easy to make too since we’ll use box mix, orange juice, and lemon pudding!

lemon cake on plate with fork

This is one of those old-fashioned poke cake recipes. Why did they ever go out of style? The poking brings flavor and moisture to the cake. If you love this recipe you will also like Lemon Lime Jello Poke Cake and my Kentucky Butter Cake.

I found this lemon ice pick cake recipe in my little recipe box from our wedding that I’ve had fun sorting through. Although I didn’t have an ice pick (as the original directions suggested use), I did have a toothpick to make this lemon jello cake recipe. It’s so easy!

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Easy to Make: This moist lemon cake recipe is incredibly simple and requires basic ingredients. Just mix, pour into a pan, and bake. Even the delicious lemon glaze is super easy to make!
  • Perfectly Moist: This cake recipe is a foolproof way to get a moist lemon cake, thanks to the method of poking holes with a toothpick and pouring lemon glaze on top. It absorbs into the crumb to make it deliciously moist and tangy.
  • Family Favorite: The refreshing lemon flavor, combined with the moist cake layers, makes this a hit with all ages. It’s a dessert that’s sure to be requested time and again.
  • Versatile: While this recipe calls for an angel food cake pan, it can easily be adapted for a bundt pan or even made into delightful lemon cupcakes. This is the easiest lemon jello cake recipe!

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Key Ingredients

  • Yellow cake mix: This is your base for the cake. It saves time and helps guarantee that the cake has the perfect texture every time.
  • Vegetable Oil: This is the main source of fat that will keep your cake moist and rich in flavor.
  • Orange Juice: Adds a refreshing citrus twist to the cake, complimenting the lemon flavor.
  • Instant Lemon Pudding: This is the secret ingredient that gives the cake its intense lemon flavor and moistness.
  • Eggs: These will bind your ingredients together. Make sure they are at room temperature so they incorporate more easily into the batter.
  • Confectioner’s Sugar: This will sweeten your glaze to just the right level. Use a strainer to remove lumps from powdered sugar before mixing with butter and lemon for the lemon fglaze.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice will add the perfect fresh lemon flavor to your glaze, which will be absorbed into the cake.
  • Butter: The fat in this recipe gives the glaze a beautiful buttery flavor and the right consistency as well.

Equipment

  • Angel Food Cake Pan – You will need this specific type of pan to achieve the perfect shape for your cake. You can also use a 9×13 pan, but remember to adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • Mixing Bowl – This is where you’ll combine your cake mix, oil, orange juice, and instant pudding. It is essential to have a sufficiently large bowl to accommodate all your ingredients.
  • Toothpick – This simple tool is surprisingly essential. You’ll use it to poke holes in the cake after baking, which allows the glaze to seep in and give the cake that extra lemony goodness.
  • Strainer – The trick to getting the perfect glaze is to use a strainer when measuring the confectioner’s sugar so that it isn’t lumpy. Trust me, it makes all the difference. 

How to Make

Lemon Jello Cake Recipe Butter Angel Food Cake Pan

Preparation

First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You’ll also need to prepare your angel food cake pan by thoroughly buttering it AND dusting it with flour. This helps guarantee that the cake will be released easily once it is baked. Do not skip this step!

Moist Lemon Cake Recipe Batter
Easy Lemon Cake Recipe In Mixer

Step 1 – Mixing the Cake Batter

In a large bowl, combine your yellow cake mix, oil, orange juice, and instant pudding. Now, it is time to add the eggs. Crack them into the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition. Once your batter is well mixed, pour the mixture into your prepared angel food cake pan. Make sure to spread the batter evenly on all sides.

Lemon Jello Cake Batter In Pan

Step 2 – Baking the Cake

Place your pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. After baking, let your cake cool for 10 minutes before you remove it from the pan. This cooling time is crucial to make sure that you don’t break the cake when you take it out.

Step 3 – Preparing the Lemon Glaze

While your cake is cooling, you can prepare the lemon glaze. In a bowl, mix together confectioner’s sugar, melted butter, and fresh lemon juice. Stir until everything is well combined.

lemon cake icing glaze

Step 4 – Adding the Glaze to the Cake

Once your cake is out of the pan, it is time to add the glaze. The cake will still be warm. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake. Then, pour the glaze over the cake, making sure it seeps into the holes you’ve created. This will give your cake a moist, lemony flavor throughout.

Powdered Sugar in Strainer

Expert Tips

  • Sift your powdered sugar: To avoid lumps in your lemon glaze, strain the powdered sugar before mixing it with butter and lemon juice. This simple step helps guarantee a smoother, more appealing glaze.
  • Use a cooling rack to help with glaze: To really maximize the glaze, put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and use it to collect the extra glaze. Doing it this way, I was able to pour the glaze over the cake three times to maximize the flavor.

Variations

  • Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: If you’re a fan of cream cheese frosting, this variation is for you. Simply swap the lemon glaze with cream cheese frosting for a more creamy finish. You can also add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to your cream cheese frosting to enhance the lemon flavor.
  • Lemon Cupcakes: If you’re looking for a more portion-controlled dessert, convert this lemon cake recipe into lemon cupcakes. Just pour the batter into a cupcake pan instead of the angel food cake pan. Make sure to adjust the bake time to around 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Lemon Buttercream: For buttercream fans, try this variation. Substitute the glaze with a lemon buttercream frosting. The rich, buttery flavor compliments the tartness of the lemon cake perfectly. Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to your buttercream for a delicious twist. 
easy lemon cake on cooling wrack

What to Serve With

  • For a refreshing summer dessert, serve a slice of this moist lemon cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The creaminess of the ice cream perfectly compliments the lemon flavor.
  • If you’re hosting a brunch, serve this lemon cake alongside a cup of hot coffee or tea. The citrusy notes in the cake will brighten up your morning!
  • If you’re a fan of lemon desserts, why not pair this cake with a glass of homemade lemonade? The tartness of the lemonade will accentuate the lemon flavor in the cake.
  • For an elegant presentation, garnish each slice with fresh lemon slices, edible flowers, and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar. It is a simple touch that adds a lot of visual appeal.
  • This moist lemon cake also makes a great base for a trifle dessert. Layer pieces of the cake with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh berries for a delicious treat.

FAQs

How long do you cool the cake before removing it from the pan?

Once the cake is baked, let it cool on a cooling rack. I leave my cake in the pan for about 10-15 minutes and then remove it carefully. You want it to cool enough that the cake starts to separate from the pan, but not too long or the cake will start to become soggy.

Can I use a bundt pan instead of an angel food cake pan?

Yes, you can use a bundt pan for this recipe. Just make sure to butter and flour the pan properly to prevent the cake from sticking.

Can I make cupcakes with this batter?

Absolutely! This batter can be used to make delicious lemon cupcakes. Just adjust the baking time accordingly since cupcakes will bake faster than a full cake.

Can I add lemon zest to the batter for more lemon flavor?

Yes, adding lemon zest to the batter will give your cake an extra lemon flavor. Just be sure to finely grate the zest to guarantee that it blends well into the batter. You can even a few drops of lemon extract or lemon syrup.

lemon cake recipe sliced on plate with fork

Storing and Reheating

  • Refrigerate: Once your lemon cake has completely cooled on a rack, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to a week. For the best lemon flavor, bring it to room temperature before serving.
  • Freeze: Unfortunately, due to the moist nature of this lemon cake recipe, I don’t recommend storing it in the freezer. The high moisture content can cause the cake to become soggy when thawed.
  • Reheat Instructions: If you’ve stored your cake in the refrigerator, you can reheat individual slices in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Be sure not to overheat as it can make the cake dry.

Serving Size

  • What to Expect: This moist lemon cake recipe will yield a delicious dessert that serves up to 8 people.
  • How to Scale: If you’re planning a larger gathering and need to serve more than 12 people, you can easily double this lemon cake recipe. Just make sure to use a larger pan or two angel food cake pans.  Follow the rest of the instructions as directed, but keep an eye on the baking time as it may vary with a larger quantity of batter. 
easy lemon cake on cooling wrack
Created by: Lynette Rice

Moist Lemon Cake Recipe


Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling Time 2 Hours
Servings 8
8
Moist lemon cake mix made with yellow box mix, orange juice and lemon pudding.  Poked with a toothpick and drowned in a lemon glaze.

Equipment

  • tube pan

Ingredients
  

Lemon Cake

  • 15.25 oz Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 3.4 oz Instant Lemon Pudding
  • 3 large Eggs

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 1/2 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Butter and flour a tube cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix together yellow cake mix, oil, orange juice and instant pudding.  Add 3 eggs one at a time, beating after each egg.  Spread batter in angel food cake pan making sure that the batter is even on all sides.
  • Bake in 350˚ F oven for 50 minutes.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.
  • To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioner's sugar, melted butter and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  • While the cake is still warm, poke holes in cake with a toothpick and add glaze. Let cake fully cool before storing.

Video

Notes

Expert Tip: Sift your powdered sugar. To avoid lumps in your lemon glaze, strain the powdered sugar before mixing it with butter and lemon juice. This simple step helps guarantee a smoother, more appealing glaze.
Use a cooling rack to help with glaze: To really maximize the glaze, put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and use it to collect the extra glaze. Doing it this way, I was able to pour the glaze over the cake three times to maximize the flavor.
Refrigerate: Once your lemon cake has completely cooled on a rack, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to a week. For the best lemon flavor, bring it to room temperature before serving.
Freeze: Unfortunately, due to the moist nature of this lemon cake recipe, I don’t recommend storing it in the freezer. The high moisture content can cause the cake to become soggy when thawed.
Reheat Instructions: If you’ve stored your cake in the refrigerator, you can reheat individual slices in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Be sure not to overheat as it can make the cake dry

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice of cake | Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 504mg | Potassium: 125mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 251IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating




108 Comments

  1. This is the best lemon cake that I’ve made. My husband loves it!

  2. will a bunt cake pan work just as well.

    1. 5 stars
      Mine may not have came out as thick, but I used a Bundt Pan and it worked great. I just had to reduce the cooking time about 10 minutes or so.

  3. This recipe looks fun what size instant pudding would I use

    1. Thanks found out what size I needed I will make this soon and thank you for the recipe

  4. Hi going to make this today but don’t see anywhere that says what size pudding mix? My store carries 2 sizes 5.1 oz or 3.4 oz. I got 2 of the smaller sizes but if you could let me know which size that would be great. Thank you

    1. Hi! You’ll need (1) 3.4 oz package of lemon instant pudding. Enjoy!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this for Easter – it was simple to make and was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made! Fantastic!

    1. Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it! It’s perfect for Easter dessert!

  6. Hi – Just wondering if I want it more “lemon-y” can I add a little lemon extract?

    1. Sure! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

  7. 4 stars
    Just wondering why you need butter in the glaze. Would it work to substitute the butter with more lemon juice?

    1. The butter gives it a creaminess and a depth of flavor. Most frosting or glazes are made with butter. However, you can always adapt a recipe as you like. 🙂

      1. Lisa Hirschey says:

        Would cook and serve lemon pudding mix work?

  8. Recipe sounds great but I got so frustrated reading through it with all the pop up ads. The car one actually came up 8 times.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I should not have any popup ads. (I agree, they are annoying.) I will check into it. Thanks!

      1. Hello can you use Lemon Supreme box cake instead?

  9. Sofia fernandes says:

    Hi dear wht is lemon pudding u hv used I lok ur recipe thank u❤

    1. I used the lemon pudding you’ll find in the baking section of most grocery stores. Not all carry it but I highly recommend the Jello brand for flavor.

    2. hello i want in french if possible

  10. Lora Beaumont says:

    5 stars
    Very moist and flavorful! I will make this cake again.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Lora!

      1. Connie E. says:

        Hi. I will be making this delicious looking cake very soon. Can it be baked in a bundt pan?

        1. It’s a super moist cake so using a bundt cake might be a bit of a challenge. It’s not as dense as a pound cake. That being said, I’ve never tried it, so if you do and have success, please let me know!

          1. I made in a Bundt pan and it was great!
            Always get rave reviews with this recipe!

            1. Awesome! I am so glad you enjoyed this cake. It stays so moist!

            2. 5 stars
              I needed this answered as well. Thank you! Did you have to adjust the cooking time?