Lemon Sheet Cake (VIDEO)
This no-fuss Lemon Sheet Cake is super moist and makes a wonderful spring or summer dessert that easily feeds a crowd. It may not be a fancy cake, but each slice is pure lemon bliss!
It’s no secret we are big fans of lemon recipes. Easy Lemon Pound Cake, Lemonade Pie, and Lemon Cool Whip Cookies are a few of our favorites you must try!
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Why We Love Lemon Sheet Cake
Nothing says Spring and Summer like a lemon dessert! Just the smell of lemon adds a spring to my step and puts me in a good mood.
A while back I shared the wonderful Meyer Lemon Pie I
devoured made for my family. Today I’m sharing a no-frills, no-fuss lemon sheet cake that is perfectly lemony. This lemon sheet cake is truly something special and it has nothing to do with the fact it starts with a box cake mix.
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What Is a Sheet Cake
Some bakers consider sheet cakes to be a lazy cake. Sure there are no fancy layers or decorations, but what’s wrong with simple? And, a sheet cake is perfect for feeding a crowd at pot-lucks, birthday parties, office parties or basically anywhere you need dessert for a crowd of any size.
A sheet cake requires an 18×13 inch half sheet pan. If you don’t already have a rimmed half sheet pan, you’ll want to get one or two. I use mine for baking cookies, oven-baked buffalo ranch chicken, roasting vegetables and more! You’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.
Ingredients for a Lemon Sheet Cake
(full printable recipe at the end of this post)
This is not a “whoa, HELLO lemon” kind of cake. The cake itself is not super lemony, thanks to the French vanilla cake mix. But the lemon pudding in the mix definitely makes it a “hey, it’s lemon!” kind of cake.
The dreamy lemon spiked cream cheese makes the frosting a little zippy. If you want more punch of lemon, you can use a lemon cake mix instead of vanilla. It will kick that lemon flavor up several notches.
I like to call this a happy yellow sunshine cake 😉
- French Vanilla Cake Mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
+eggs, water, and oil as directed on cake mix package
- Lemon Instant Pudding Mix
For the Lemon Frosting
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- lemon Jell-O gelatin
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice
- lemon zest
- heavy whipping cream (or milk)
How To Make This Easy Lemon Sheet Cake
There is just enough frosting to get the creamy tangy sweetness in every bite, but not too much to take away from the moist cake underneath. All 24-36 pieces have the perfect cake to frosting ratio and are a slice of pure lemon bliss!
- PREPARE: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 18″ x 13″ rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan).
- MIX: Using an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients for the cake and beat for one minute on low. Continue beating another minute on medium-high. (do not over mix)
- BAKE: Pour the cake batter into the prepared sheet pan and bake the cake in the center of the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- FROSTING: While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Using an electric mixer to cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Then remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
- SERVE: Frost cake, garnish with berries and lemon slices if desired. Serve from pan and enjoy.
Variations For Lemon Sheet Cake
Meyer Lemons: They are in season from December to May. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less tart than a regular lemon and would make a wonderful substitution in this Lemon Sheet Cake recipe.
Lemon, Lime, or Orange: You could easily make this a Lemon-Lime Sheet Cake or an Orange Sheet Cake by substituting limes (or key limes) or oranges for the jello and or zest and juice.
Yogurt: You could use 1 cup of greek yogurt or sour cream in place of 1 cup of buttermilk.
Candied Lemon Garnish: Simply poach lemon slices in a pan of simple syrup (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar) then lay out on a parchment sheet lined pan and place in a 200° F oven for about 1 hour (flipping occasionally)- or just let them sit out overnight on the counter to dry. Use the candied lemons to garnish your lemon sheet cake or cupcakes.
9×13 pan or Cupcakes: You could certainly use a 9×13-inch cake pan (bake about 35-40 minutes) or cupcakes (bake for 20 minutes).
So if you’re looking for the perfect spring or summer dessert to serve a crowd (or just yourself, what’s better than leftover cake!), you definitely need this Lemon Sheet Cake recipe.
It didn’t stand a chance in our home and it won’t last long in yours either. Enjoy!
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Storing & Freezing Sheet Cake
How long will lemon sheet cake stay fresh?
Lemon Sheet Cake unfrosted and wrapped in plastic wrap will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days. Frosted cake needs to be refrigerated after no more than 2 hours at room temperature. Cover the sheet cake with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 1 week. I enjoy lemon cake cold, but if you’d rather, you can let your cake sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Can I freeze lemon sheet cake?
Yep! This cake freezes wonderfully! Tightly wrap your cake in the pan with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, remove plastic wrap and foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.
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Lemon Sheet Cake
It may not be a fancy cake, but each slice is pure lemon bliss!
- 1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
- eggs, water, and oil as directed on cake mix package
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 box (4 1/2 cup serving size) Lemon Instant Pudding Mix
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon Jell-O gelatin
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoon lemon juice
- zest of 1 large lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (or milk)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 18" x 13" rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan).
- In a large mixing bowl add cake mix, eggs, water, oil, buttermilk, and pudding mix. Using an electric mixer, beat one minute on low. Continue beating another minute on medium-high, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. (do not over mix)
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack.
- While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Using an electric mixer cream butter and cream cheese until well combined and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, gelatin powder, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of cream or milk. Beat until smooth. Add more cream/milk if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.
- Frost cake, garnish with berries and lemon slices if desired. Serve from the pan and enjoy.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 0gSugar: 26gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.
More Sheet Cake Recipes
- Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Apple Sheet Cake with Maple Glaze
- Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake
- Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake
- Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Caramel Frosting
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This lemon sheet cake looks amazing and I can’t wait to bake it! Thanks,Cheryl!
Sounds yummy!! Is the lemon gelatin prepared or just the powdered out of the box? Was not clear on that.
it’s just the mix — it would say “prepared” if you needed to prepare it 😉
Cake is delicious! But my frosting is gritty from the gelatin. Is this normal?
My family loved this cake! I’ve already made a second cake at the request of my boys! Thanks for sharing!
Oh, Cheryl, this cake is calling my name!
I’m going to run home from this dreary day at the office and bake it! xo
I love lemon! So summery. This cake looks wonderful!
Lemon cakes are perfect for the summer! Thank you for this lazy recipe 🙂
Does the frosting become gritty?
nope, not at all
I made this cake for my 4th of July celebration. It was absolutely DELICIOUS and everyone just raved about it. I’m not much of a lemon dessert fan but this cake changed that. I’d say my biggest challenges were finding the lemon pudding and jello, the cake was a breeze to make. A keeper for sure!
yay!! so glad you enjoyed it as much as we do!!
Can you omit the lemon zest?
That sounds great!! Thanks for sharing!
Cooling on my counter and smells amazing! Does it need to be refrigerated?
Does the cake need to refrigerated?
I do 🙂
Have you ever tried freezing this cake? Can you freeze it with the frosting on? I am trying to bake ahead for a family gathering.
I have made this previously by the way and we LOVE it! Now it’s what everyone has requested every time I’m in charge of dessert!