Lemon Layer Cake

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4.87 from 15 votes
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This lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling and a delicious lemon marshmallow frosting is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

If you are looking for an easy lemon layer cake recipe, you have come to the right place.

Like my lemon cake mix cookies and lemon bars, this fluffy lemon curd layer cake is a light and refreshing Spring dessert bursting with fresh lemon flavor.

Slice of lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling and marshmallow frosting.

This ultra-light and fluffy lemon cake is so easy to make, perfectly lemony and moist, and no one will ever know it started with a box cake mix.

The lemon marshmallow frosting is light, but rich, and comes together in just a couple of minutes.

Lemon cake on cake stand with slice removed to show lemon curd filling.

This is truly a show-stopping cake that anyone can make!

For a yummy twist on this cake’s classic lemon flavor try my lemon raspberry cake recipe.

Ingredients for Lemon Cake

This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for Lemon Layer Cake with Marshmallow Frosting and Lemon Curd Filling
  • Eggs— You need 5 eggs total, use will use 5 egg whites and two egg yolks. Whipping the whites and folding them into the cake batter will create a lovely cake that’s as light as air! 
  • French vanilla cake mix— I use and recommend Betty Crocker Super Moist French Cake Mix. It creates the perfect base for this lemon cake.
  • Milk—Use whole milk if possible, although 2% or 1% will do in a pinch.
  • Lemonade— Use a high-quality lemonade for the best flavor. We used Simply Lemonade.
  • Vegetable oil— Adds moisture to the lemon cake.
  • Lemons– Lemon zest combines with the lemonade to give the cake and frosting their lemon flavor.
  • Lemon curd— Store-bought or homemade lemon curd acts as the filling between the layers of cake. Lemon curd can be found with the jams and jellies at your grocery store. 
  • Marshmallow fluff— A large jar (12-16 ounces) jar of Marshmallow fluff or Marshmallow Creme serves as the base for the lemon marshmallow buttercream frosting. I used a 13 ounce jar but the frosting recipe is very forgiving so any large-size jar will work just fine.
  • Confectioners sugar— Adds sweetness to the lemon frosting.
  • Butter— Salted butter adds rich butter flavor and creaminess.

Supplies

Although this lemon layered cake recipe is easy to make, having the right tools is really key to making the perfect lemon cake.

  • You will need a trusty lemon zester or microplane for zesting your lemons.
  • I use and highly recommend these 9 inch round cake pans. They have a “quick release coating” that cakes literally slide right out of. They are amazing!
  • Make sure that you should have a flat cake stand or serving platter to assemble your cake. You don’t want to be trying to build your cake on an angled surface.
  • An offset spatula will make frosting your lemon layer cake as easy as possible.

How to Make a Lemon Layer Cake

This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below. 

Beat the egg white: In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form.

Egg whites before and after being beaten to stiff peaks.

The egg whites will be at stiff peaks when they become very glossy, and the peaks will not flop forward when you turn the beater upside down. 

Egg whites beaten to stiff peaks.

Make the batter: In a second large bowl, combine the remaining cake ingredients with a hand mixer on medium, mixing for 2 minutes. Take a third of the egg whites and gently fold them into the batter with a silicone spatula until just combined. Fold in the remaining egg whites, be sure to fold gently, do not stir as it will deflate the egg whites. It’s ok if a few lumps of egg white are visible. 

Lemon cake ingredients being mixed in large glass mixing bowl.

Bake and cool: Divide the batter evenly between two prepared 9″ pans. Bake as directed in the recipe card below. Once fully baked, allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove cakes from pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate on a flat surface until completely cold, about 1-2 hours. (Wrapping the hot cakes in plastic wrap will keep them moist!)

Round lemon cake before and after being baked.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, add marshmallow fluff and lemon zest and beat on medium-low until just combined. Alternate adding ½ cup confectioners sugar and a splash of lemonade, mixing on low speed, until the frosting is the consistency of canned frosting. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with any large tip, or a gallon zip-top bag with the corner snipped off.

Steps of making marshmallow creme frosting.

Assemble the cake: Unwrap the lemon cakes and place one cake, parchment paper side down, on a plate or cake stand. Take a large serrated knife and level the cake by trimming the “dome” off the top. This gives the next layer a flat base to rest on. Pipe a ¾” high bead of frosting around the outer edge of the bottom cake. Fill the well with lemon curd and smooth out with a spoon. Place the second cake on top and press firmly. Pipe remaining frosting generously on top of the cake, and sides if desired, and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a large knife. Decorate with lemon slices and/or edible flowers, if desired. Chill the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

How to layer a cake with lemon curd.
Lemon cake decorated with dehydrated lemon slices and edible flowers.

Storage

Tightly cover the cake and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips for the Best Lemon Cake

  • This recipe was developed using straight-sided, light-colored cake pans. Using dark coated pans will cause excess browning. I do not recommend using dark or glass pans.
  • The extra egg whites will make the finished cake much more pale than other cakes you may have baked in the past. Start checking on the cake when it just begins to brown, appears dry on top, and does not jiggle. Do not overbake!
  • You can cool the cakes at room temperature without wrapping them, but this will result in a drier cake. You can use this trick to other cakes moist as well.
  • Homemade lemon curd is best, and it’s very easy to make with my easy lemon curd recipe.
Slice of lemon curd cake being removed from cake with a cake server.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Add up to 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter for an extra pop of lemon flavor.
  • Not big on lemon curd? Simply add lemon marshmallow frosting between the two layers instead. Don’t worry, the frosting recipe will make plenty to allow for that.

Recipe FAQ

How do you make the dehydrated lemons you used to decorate the cake?

To make the dehydrated lemon wheel garnish: Slice one or two lemons into ¼” thick wheels. Place slices on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Bake at 175℉ for 4 to 5 hours, or until the wheels are no longer sticky, and feel somewhat brittle. 

How do you zest a lemon?

To zest a lemon, use a microplane or citrus zester to remove just the outer yellow surface of the lemon. Do not grate the white pith beneath the zest, this is very bitter.

Lemon layered cake with lemon curd filling and lemon frosting.

More easy lemon desserts

Recipe
Slice of lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling and marshmallow frosting.
Recipe
4.87 from 15 votes

Lemon Layer Cake

Author: Jaclyn
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 24 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 44 minutes
A light and fluffy lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling and a delicious lemon marshmallow frosting.

Ingredients
 

For the cake

  • 5 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 15.25 ounce French vanilla cake mix (1 box)
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup good quality lemonade such as Simply Lemonade
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 extra large lemon

Filling

  • ¾ cup lemon curd homemade or store bought

Marshmallow frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 jar 12-16 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • Zest of 1 extra large lemon
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoonas lemonade

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350℉ and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom of two 9” round cake pans with parchment paper, spray the sides of pans with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form. The egg whites will be at stiff peaks when they become very glossy, and the peaks of egg whites will not flop forward when you turn the beater upside down. 
  • In a second large bowl, combine the remaining cake ingredients with a hand mixer on medium, mixing for 2 minutes. Take a third of the egg whites and gently fold them into the batter with a silicone spatula until just combined. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, do not stir as it will deflate them. It’s ok if a few lumps of egg white are visible. 
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake for about 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Begin checking the cakes after about 18 minutes. Once fully baked, remove them from oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate on a flat surface until completely cold, about 1-2 hours.
  • Make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, add marshmallow fluff and lemon zest and beat on medium-low until just combined. Alternate adding ½ cup confectioners sugar and a splash of lemonade, mixing on low speed, until the frosting is the consistency of canned frosting. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with any large tip, or a gallon zip-top bag with the corner snipped off.
  • Unwrap the cakes and place one cake, parchment paper side down, on a plate or cake stand. Take a large serrated knife and level the cake by trimming the “dome” off the cake. Pipe a ¾” high bead of frosting around the outer edge of the bottom cake. Fill the well with lemon curd and smooth out with a spoon. Place the second cake on top and press firmly. Pipe remaining frosting generously on top of the cake, and sides if desired, and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a large knife. Decorate with lemon slices and edible flowers, if desired. Chill the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes

Store cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Add up to 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the cake for an extra pop of lemon flavor.
You can skip the lemon curd and add extra marshmallow frosting between the two layers instead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 662kcal
Slice of lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling and marshmallow frosting.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Lemon layer cake with marshmallow curd.

This recipe was originally published on 3/10/2019 and then updated with a new and improved recipe and photos on 4/11/2022.

4.87 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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8 Comments

  1. THAT LEMON CAKE LOOKS SO GOOD, I AM GOING TO MAKE IT. I WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT.

  2. Love that your last name is lemmon!!!! The 2 Tbsp of baking powder is correct. So sorry to hear that the cake didn’t turn out how you wanted it to. I am glad that everyone enjoyed it though 🙂

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