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Lemon Layer Cake

This citrusy cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting will garner plenty of applause. The flavor, a duet of sweet and tangy notes, really sings. —Summer Goddard, Springfield, Virginia
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    12 servings


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • SYRUP:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: Lemon slices or edible flowers


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 2 greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease parchment.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon zest and juice. In a small bowl, mix sour cream and milk. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture.
  • Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 24-28 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove parchment. Cool slightly.
  • For syrup, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half. Cool completely.
  • For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth; beat in confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and salt until blended.
  • Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Brush layers with warm syrup; cool completely.
  • Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting. If desired, top with lemon slices or edible flowers. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 841 calories, 48g fat (30g saturated fat), 219mg cholesterol, 656mg sodium, 96g carbohydrate (72g sugars, 1g fiber), 8g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • Lou
    Sep 1, 2020

    Let me tell you about this beautiful cake. I've bee n baking since I was a young girl. Not often do cake recipes get my attention!! This cake is dense, but melts in your mouth. This fantastic lemon syrup is the secret that puts this cake in another level! This cake is a must try!!

  • Susan
    Aug 9, 2020

    Too much work for a mediocre cake. Very light lemon flavor. Best part was the frosting...but I have been making a similar frosting for years. Very disappointing results for the time spent.

  • Julie
    Apr 19, 2020

    Excellent cake! The only thing I used different was 1% milk instead of 2%. I also used 4 squeezed lemons and just had enough for cake and icing. Everyone raves about this cake!

  • PageRD
    Apr 14, 2020

    The syrup is the key to how flavorful this cake is. It is a dense cake. I overbaked it a bit but that was user error. I also noticed the contradiction in the recipe but just went with what worked for me time-wise. You would definitely want the syrup to cool before putting the frosting on. The frosting is delicious!!! This was my first cake from scratch and my first layer cake, so I knew it wouldn't look like the picture, but my frosting was much fluffier than the photo.

  • Melissa
    Apr 14, 2020

    A lot if work for a mediocre recipe. It was just "too"...too sweet, too tart

  • Sandy
    Apr 12, 2020

    This cake didn’t rise properly, was way too sweet and didn’t have enough lemon flavor. I followed the instructions carefully including the hints offered by Alissa. So disappointed!

  • Shani
    Apr 11, 2020

    Comments to you began in February so our dilemma may not have existed then, however, I just received this email. Either way, I wonder if anyone, anymore, considers the cost and ease of a recipe. This is loaded with lots of eggs, lots of butter and lots of sugar. I have not been able to purchase any of these items for three weeks and have found no flour. Can you pull out some ideas for people with empty pantries and a family to cook for? Now sure isn't the time for a $20 cake

  • Lucinda
    Feb 27, 2020

    I am consistently disappointed in Taste of Home recipes. This will be my last.

  • Bonnie s
    Feb 26, 2020

    you use the syrup to put on the cake layers before frosting the cake

  • Debra
    Feb 25, 2020

    Okay, I need to know what the syrup is used for......