Lemon Sheet Cake

5 from 1 vote

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This lemon sheet cake recipe is a lemon lover’s dream! The citrusy cake is moist and tender, and the lemon buttercream frosting adds the perfect amount of sweetness. Vibrant and refreshing, it’s the perfect springtime dessert.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

I absolutely adore the silky texture and subtle tang of lemon cream cheese frosting. It pairs wonderfully with my vibrant lemon sheet cake! 

  • Texture – This sheet cake is incredibly moist, and the super smooth frosting complements it perfectly. 
  • Flavor – Bright lemon flavor is infused throughout the cake batter and frosting, for a rich dessert that’s sweet and refreshing.  
  • Large Batch – This recipe makes enough for 24 servings, meaning it’s perfect for feeding a crowd. 

This recipe for lemon sheet cake is my go-to for Easter celebrations and warm weather festivities like cookouts and bridal showers. 

Lemon sheet cake with lemon cream cheese frosting sliced into squares.

Key Ingredient Notes:

For Lemon Cake

  • All-purpose flour – This forms the base of the cake batter. For the most accurate results, I prefer to weigh the flour with a kitchen scale. However, you can also use the spoon and level method if you don’t have a scale. 
  • Baking powder – This leavening agent gives the cake a perfect rise and helps to create the signature light, fluffy texture we want. Make sure it’s fresh, or your cake won’t rise! 
  • Table salt – No need for fancy salt here! Just use your table salt to enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Unsalted butter – Butter provides a light, tender crumb and a rich flavor.
  • Granulated sugar is added for sweetness and contributes to the light, fluffy texture. 
  • Large eggs add moisture and richness and help give the cake structure.
  • Lemon juice and zest – This creates a bright, lemony bite! Be sure to zest the yellow part of the lemon peel and not the pith. The white pith is bitter.
  • Milk combines the ingredients, preventing the batter from becoming dry and crumbly. Whole milk will produce the richest taste and texture, but 2% will also work. 
Ingredients to make lemon sheet cake.

Use room temperature ingredients

Allow your ingredients to come to room temperature before you begin. This allows for easy mixing and prevents overworking the batter, which can cause your cake to become dense and dry! 

For Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • Cream cheese – Full-fat cream cheese forms the base of the frosting, adding a tangy taste. Brick-style varieties are key, spreadable cream cheese from a tub won’t create the thick texture we need! 
  • Unsalted butter makes this frosting even smoother and more luscious. If salted butter is all you have, just omit the additional salt in the frosting. 
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, this melts into the frosting, creating a smooth consistency. This recipe calls for a fraction of the sugar than other varieties, meaning your cake won’t be overly sweet! 
  • Fresh lemon juice and zest incorporate bright lemon flavor into the frosting, tying the flavor in with the lemon sheet cake.

For Garnish

  • Lemon slices or peel – Technically optional, I highly recommend adding a few lemon slices or lemon peel curls to finish your cake. It provides a bakery-worthy appearance with hardly any extra work! 

How to make lemon sheet cake with cream cheese frosting:

Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350°F, and line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper. 

1. Make the cake

  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Then, set it aside. 
Dry ingredients for lemon sheet cake being whisked in a bowl.
  • Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in a second bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and zest to the bowl of wet ingredients. Beat again on medium-high for 2 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
The process of creaming butter and beating eggs for cake batter.

Scrape the sides

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl halfway through beating. This ensures all the ingredients are well combined and incorporate into the batter evenly. 

  • Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients, and mix just until combined. 
  • Stir in the milk followed by the remaining flour mixture. Once all the flour is incorporated, mix the batter on high speed for 30 seconds. Be careful not to overmix! 
Four images showing the process of combining wet and dry ingredients for lemon sheet cake.
Lemon sheet cake batter in a stand mixer.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. 
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool the cake completely in the pan. 
Unbaked lemon sheet cake on the left and baked lemon sheet cake on the right.

2. Prepare the frosting:

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl on medium-high until fluffy, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed for a minute. Then, increase the speed to medium-high. Continue to beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. 
  • Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. 
  • Whip again until incorporated. 
A liquid measuring cup full of lemon cream cheese frosting with flakes of lemon zest.

3. Assemble the lemon sheet cake

  • Spread the lemon cream cheese frosting all over the cooled cake. 
  • Garnish with lemon slices or lemon peel. 
  • Enjoy! 
A lemon sheet cake being frosted with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Tips for success:

If you’ve never made homemade frosting, be sure to review my notes on how to make cream cheese frosting before you begin!  

  • Use room temperature ingredients. I mentioned it once, but it’s worth mentioning again. Allowing your refrigerated ingredients to warm up a bit helps them mix quickly and evenly, preventing lumps in the cake batter and frosting. 
  • Allow the cake to cool completely. Frosting will slide right off if your cake is warm, leaving you with a mess to clean up. So, allow the cake to cool completely before transferring it from the pan. 
  • Avoid the white pith when zesting your lemon. Lemon zest adds incredible flavor to this recipe, but the pith, or white part, is bitter and can create an unpleasant taste. 
A lemon cream cheese cake topped with lemon cream cheese frosting and lemon zest.

Make-Ahead Tips

  • Prepare the lemon cream cheese frosting up to 3 days in advance, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to use, leave the frosting on the counter for at least 30 minutes. Then, give it a good stir.
  • Lemon sheet cake is freezer-friendly! You can prepare the cake, let it cool, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it thaw on the counter. Then, frost and serve. 

Storing Tips

  • Cream cheese frosting will spoil if not refrigerated. So, the cake should be stored in the fridge. 
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • You can freeze leftover cake! Place slices on a sheet pan, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Then, transfer the frozen cake to a container or bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. 
A slice of frosted lemon sheet cake on a plate with a fork holding a bite.

Lemon Sheet Cake FAQs: 

What is a sheet cake?

A sheet cake, also known as a slab cake, is a regular cake that bakes in a large, flat, rectangular pan instead of a round cake pan. 

How do you increase the flavor of a lemon cake? 

If you want to add even more lemony flavor, experiment with adding more lemon juice or lemon zest to suit your preferences. Just be careful not to add too much, or your cake will taste sour! 

Why did my lemon cake turn brown?

If your cake starts looking brown, it’s likely because it was overcooked or the oven was too hot. Be sure to keep a close eye on it, and remove it from the oven as soon as the batter is set! 

A slice of lemon sheet cake topped with lemon cream cheese icing.
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Sheet Cake

Make this lemon sheet cake recipe with lemon cream cheese frosting for an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert perfect for spring!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Cool Time: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Yields: 1 sheet cake, 24 slices


For lemon cake:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (170 g) unsalted butter at room temperature, Note 1
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon Note 2
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) milk at room temperature, Note 3

For frosting:

  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • teaspoon kosher salt

For garnish:

  • Lemon slices or peel for garnish, optional


  • 1 (9×13) Baking sheet
  • 1 stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
  • 1 Electric hand mixer


To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 9×13 baking sheet with a parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon table salt
  • In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest. Beat on medium high speed for 2 minutes, or until nice and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway.
    3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, Zest of 1 lemon
  • Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Then stir in the milk, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Once all the flour is incorporated, mix the batter on high speed for 30 seconds. Don’t overmix!
    ¾ cup milk
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake completely in the pan before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  • Using an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
    8 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    2 cups powdered sugar
  • Stir in lemon juice, zest, and salt. Whip again until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

To assemble:

  • Spread the lemon cream cheese frosting all over the cooled cake. Garnish with lemon slices, or lemon peel and enjoy!
    Lemon slices


Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 258kcal
Carbohydrates: 36g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 12g
Sugar: 23g
Sodium: 200mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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