This easy vegan olive oil cake is perfectly moist and tender with the most delicious sweet and slightly savoury flavour and is ready to enjoy in 1 hour.

A slice of vegan olive oil cake topped with powdered sugar glaze held on a spatula over the whole cake below it.


The olive oil gives this delicious cake a slightly savory, herbal and fruity flavor with a light, delicate crumb and golden crust. The texture of this cake is somewhere between a pound cake and sponge cake.

It works for breakfast, brunch or a snack, and goes great with coffee or tea. It’s also perfect for holidays like Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day or any other special occasion.

This Vegan Lemon Loaf, Vegan Apple Cake and Vegan Carrot Cake are all lovely for special occasions as well. For brunch get-togethers, this Vegan Monkey Bread and French Toast Casserole are also always a hit.

You’ll love how easy this cake is to make. You’ll need just 1 bowl and less than an hour to prepare it. Serve this beautiful cake at your next get-together and it’s sure to be a huge hit!

Recipe Highlights

  • Light and fluffy.
  • Interested sweet and herbal flavor.
  • Remains moist after storing.
  • Vegan (no dairy, no eggs).
  • Easy to make with simple steps.
  • Basic ingredients.
  • One bowl recipe.
  • Enjoy in under 1 hour.

What is olive oil cake?

Olive oil cake is a rich, moist cake that uses olive oil for the fat in the recipe. Extra virgin olive oil adds a unique savoury, herbed and slightly peppery flavour to the cake.

The cake is a typical dessert in the Mediterranean area but its exact origins are unknown. Olive oil cakes can be found in Arab, Italian, Spanish and Jewish cuisine.

Because olive oil is liquid at room temperature, olive oil cake tends to maintain its moistness even after it’s stored for a few days.

Ingredient Notes

The ingredients for a vegan olive oil cake recipe gathered in bowls and labelled with text. The complete ingredient list for this recipe can be found on the corresponding blog page.
  • Flour: The recipe calls for all-purpose flour and has not been tested with other flour.
  • Sugar: You can use cane sugar, organic sugar or table sugar. I haven’t tested the recipe with brown sugar.
  • Applesauce: The recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce. Since there’s already 3/4 cup sugar in the recipe, I would recommend sticking to unsweetened applesauce. That being said, you can use sweetened applesauce, just note that the cake will be higher in sugar and come out sweeter. Homemade applesauce is suitable as long as it’s smooth.
  • Olive Oil: Use a good quality, extra virgin olive oil. The better tasting/better quality olive oil used, the better the flavour of the baked cake.
  • Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extract if you can, otherwise artificial vanilla is ok.
  • Baking Powder: Note it’s baking powder, not baking soda.
  • Salt: A good quality sea salt or coarse sea salt is best here (rather than table salt).
  • Powdered Sugar: If you’re making the glaze, you’ll need powdered sugar (icing sugar).
  • Lemon: The glaze calls for lemon juice. You can also use a bit of lemon zest in the glaze and/or the cake if you like. Orange juice and orange zest would be a suitable substitute.

For the full list of ingredients with amounts, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom.

Variations & Additions

  • Berry Olive Oil Cake: Add up to 1 cup of fresh berries to the batter before baking. I wouldn’t recommend using frozen berries as they’ll add too much moisture. Raspberries are a great choice!
  • Vegan Orange Olive Oil Cake: The lemon juice and optional lemon zest in the glaze can be substituted with orange juice and orange zest but you can also try 2 tsp orange zest in the cake batter for more orange flavor.
  • Lemon Rosemary: Add 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary and 1 tsp lemon zest to the cake batter.
  • Blueberry or Strawberry Compote: Instead of making the glaze, heat 1 lb of strawberries or raspberries in a small pot with 3 T sugar and a squeeze of lemon. Cook for 10-15 minutes until thickened and juicy.
  • If you don’t want to make the glaze, I’d suggest dusting your cake with sifted powdered sugar after it cools briefly.
  • If you’re not icing the cake, try serving your cake with whipped cream, fresh fruit or ice cream.
  • Poppy seeds work well in the cake. Gently mix in up to 1/2 cup to the cake batter before baking.
  • Chopped pistachios can be sprinkled over the glaze for a pretty effect and complementary flavor.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prepare: Before you start, preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper.

Step 1: Cream Oil & Sugar

Oil and sugar creamed together in a large glass mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil and sugar to a large bowl and cream with a hand mixer until fully combined and a little fluffy. This step helps make the cake delicate and fluffy.

If you don’t have a hand mixing you can use an electric mixer or vigorously mix with a fork or metal whisk.

Step 2: Add Other Wet Ingredients

Vanilla and applesauce with creamed oil and sugar in a large glass mixing bowl on a marble countertop.

Once you’ve creamed the sugar and oil, add the applesauce and vanilla and whisk to mix them in.

Step 3: Add Dry Ingredients

Flour, salt and baking powder over a creamed oil and sugar mixture in a large mixing bowl.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder and gently fold everything together until there are no dry clumps remaining. Once the flour has been incorporated, stop mixing to avoid overmixing the batter.

Step 4: Bake the Cake

Raw olive oil cake batter in a round cake tin.

Add the cake batter to the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean if inserted in the center of the cake. If the toothpick has wet batter on it, bake the cake for a few more minutes and test it again.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes then carefully invert it onto your hand or a wire rack and remove the parchment paper. Flip the cake back over and place it on a serving platter or cake stand.

A baked olive oil cake in a round cake pan.

Step 5: Prepare the Glaze

A creamy lemon powdered sugar glaze mixed together in a glass mixing bowl.

The lemon glaze is optional but if you’d like to make it, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. For a more lemony flavour, you can add up to 1 tbsp lemon zest as well.

Step 6: Ice the Cake

Overhead view of an olive oil cake topped with a powdered sugar icing on a cake stand. There's a slice of lemon decorating the middle of the cake.

Spoon the glaze over the cake, rotating the cake from side to side to help spread the glaze around, if needed.

If you’re not doing the glaze, consider using a fine mesh sieve to dust the cake with powdered sugar. Otherwise, the cake is really nice served plain too!

Recipe FAQs

What’s the best pan to use?

A springform pan is recommended for easy removal but any 9-inch cake pan works. I think a bundt pan would also work for a pretty presentation! If you don’t have a round cake pan, a 8 or 9-inch square pan also works.

Can I use another oil for this cake?

You can but olive oil really shines here and works well with the other flavours. This is, after all, an olive oil cake!

How do you store olive oil cake?

Let the cake cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Can I freeze olive oil cake?

You can freeze the cake but it’s not recommended because the texture will change after thawing.

Baking Tips

  1. Use room temperature ingredients. If you have time, letting the ingredients come to room temperature helps with mixing.
  2. Use a Scale. Use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients for accuracy. This is the best way to ensure success when baking! Plus, you don’t need measuring cups this way, just measure your ingredients directly into the mixing bowl.
  3. Avoid over-mixing the batter. As with any recipe that uses gluten, overmixing the batter can make the cake heavy, dense and gummy. As soon as the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated, stop mixing.
  4. Avoid opening the oven door. Allowing the heat to escape and a temperature change during baking can cause the cake to fall.
  5. Line the pan. Use parchment paper to line the pan to avoid sticking. Rub the pan with oil or lightly spritz with non-stick cooking spray before adding the parchment to help it stick to the pan.
  6. Zest: If you’re adding lemon zest or orange zest to the cake or glaze, be sure to only use the outermost peel and avoid the white pith, which is bitter.
A vegan olive oil cake topped with a powdered sugar glaze and a slice of lemon on a cake stand. There are some bottles in the background.

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A slice of vegan olive oil cake topped with powdered sugar glaze held on a spatula over the whole cake below it.

Vegan Olive Oil Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
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A light, moist and tender vegan olive oil cake that’s perfect for everyday and special occasions. Serve with the lemon glaze, a dusting of powdered sugar or plain topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.


For the Olive Oil Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose (white) flour (260 g)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce (118 g)
  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar (150 g)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (118 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt 

For the Glaze (Optional)

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (287 g)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (59 g)


  1. Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or spray the bottom of a 9-inch can pan with non-stick cooking spray then line with parchment paper. You can also use a springform pan or if you don’t have a round pan, an 8 or 9-inch square pan.
  2. Cream Oil & Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the sugar and olive oil until homogenous and fluffy. If you don’t have a hand-mixer, you can use a fork or metal whisk to vigorously mix to combine.
  3. Add Applesauce & Vanilla: Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla until the ingredients are fully incorporated into the sugar mixture.
  4. Add Dry Ingredients: Gently fold in the flour, salt, and baking powder until there are no dry clumps of flour remaining in the batter. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, stop mixing the batter.
  5. Add Batter to Pan: Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick can be cleanly removed from the center of the cake. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan then invert the cake into your hand or onto a wire cooling rack, and remove the parchment paper. When you’re ready, transfer the cake to a serving platter or stand.
  6. Prepare Glaze: Prepare the lemon glaze by whisking together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth and runny.
  7. Ice Cake: Spoon the glaze over the cake, serve, and enjoy!


  • You can store this cake in the fridge or on the counter in an airtight for up to one week. After that, it will become a bit too dry. I do not recommend storing this cake in the freezer as it will change the cake’s texture after it thaws in the fridge.
  • For extra lemony flavour, you can add up to 1 tbsp of lemon zest. You can also add 1-2 tsp lemon zest or orange zest to the cake batter. If using zest, be sure to only use the outermost peel and avoid the bitter white pith.
  • The lemon glaze is optional. As an alternative, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar or serve plain with fresh berries or other fruit, whipped cream or ice cream.
  • Nutrition facts include the glaze. Without the glaze, each slice of cake is 317 calories per slice with 14g F/45g C/3g P.


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 406
  • Sugar: 42 g
  • Sodium: 295 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 68 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g