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Sweet, simple, and delicious, Lemon Coconut Vanilla Sheet Cake. Light and fluffy lemony vanilla cake swirled with a lemon coconut topping. Then generously frosted with creamy whipped vanilla buttercream. Make it pretty for spring and summer by swirling in freeze-dried berry powders or berry jams to create ombre shades of pink and purple. It’s a simple sheet cake that’s lemony, sweet, light, fluffy…and pretty too!

overhead photo of lemon cake cute into square pieces

Happy Friday, happy almost Easter Sunday! Hoping today’s sweet cake brings a little spring pep and cheer into your weekend! I’m currently looking at a photo of this cake with its light colors and dainty little chamomile flowers. Thankfully, it’s cheering me up on this cold and snowy day.

Which if being honest is the reason I made this cake. Ever since I returned from my almost 2-weeks of travel, it’s been windy, cold, and snowing almost every day. I’ve really needed to physically brighten my days and this cake did just that for me.

The bonus, of course, is that it’s delicious. But I made it because I wanted to create something light and colorful for spring. So happy that it turned out even better than I’d envisioned!

process photo of lemon cake batter in mixing bowl

Here are the details

When it comes to vanilla cake I like to keep my recipes pretty straightforward. I always go heavy on the vanilla, but I wanted this to have awesome lemon flavor too. So I used a mix of lemon juice and zest, which is key.

Mix the coconut oil with sour cream, eggs, sugar, all the lemon, and then that vanilla. Next add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and a nice pinch of salt. Stream in a little milk and that’s it. Keep it simple.

Now pour the batter into a rectangle baker and pop it in the oven. You’ll smell the lemon as the cake bakes, it’s wonderful.

While the cake is baking, make the quick coconut topping. This is a mix of lemon juice, honey, and toasted coconut.

It’s boiled together on the stove until the lemon and honey form a glaze, then simply stir in the coconut. Just three ingredients, but wow so good. Spread the topping over the cake when it comes out of the oven, then let everything cool.

process photo of ombre colored frosting

The frosting

Cream cheese, butter, sugar, and a splash of vanilla. Beat that all together and you’ll have one of my favorite cake frostings.

No one ever knows there’s cream cheese in the frosting. But it’s what makes this frosting extra special and leaves everyone wanting more. It’s my go-to for cakes.

For decorating, I envisioned the cake to be light shades of pink and purple, but I didn’t want to use food coloring. I ended up using a combination of freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries to create different shades of pink.

close up overhead photo of lemon cake with square slices cut

For the purple shade, I used blueberry jam, but you can’t see it as much. So I wouldn’t recommend this as highly as the freeze-dried berries. I didn’t try them, but I’m sure you could also use freeze-dried blueberries for that purple shade.

To blend the dried berries into a fine powder use a food processor or blender. Then stir the powders into separate bowls of frosting to create an ombre look. Super cute and easy!

What I love most about this sheet cake is how just pretty it turns out with minimal effort. The beauty of a sheet cake is that you don’t have to cut or layer anything. Just bake, frost, and enjoy!

This will be so fun for Easter this weekend!

photo of lemon cake with slices cut

Looking for other sweet cake recipes? Here are some favorites:

Swirled Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cake

Double Strawberry Cupcakes

Retro-Style Chocolate Sheet Cake

Swirled Blackberry Lavender Sheet Cake

Lastly, if you make this Lemon Coconut Vanilla Sheet Cake, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Lemon Coconut Vanilla Sheet Cake

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories Per Serving: 432 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Coconut Lemon Topping

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, beat together the coconut oil, sour cream, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined, then slowly beat in the milk until fully combined 
    3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool.
    4. To make the topping. In a small saucepan bring the lemon juice and honey to a boil over high heat. Boil 1-2 minutes, until just slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut. Evenly spoon the syrup over the cake, then let cool.
    5. To make the frosting: In a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese until whipped. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Frost the cake all over (decorating directions in notes).

Notes

Decorating:  If desired, you can pulse the freeze-dried berries into a fine powder, then divide the frosting between 2-3 bowls and stir in the dried berries to create lighter and darker shades of pink. Frost the cake all over with both shades, or spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I use a 1M Wilton tip), then frost.
  • You can also use blueberry jam to make a purple shade, just use 1-2 teaspoons of jam.
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lemon cake with slices cut

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Comments

  1. So yummy! Cake is moist and flavors are light and bright. Not too sweet. The only problem was that some of the frosting would sometimes fall off the cake when cutting and moving it to a plate. I think it’s due to the coconut topping in between. However, the flavors and textures are all worth it.

    1. Hey Teri,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback! I am so glad it was enjoyed. Have a great week! 🌺xxT

  2. 5 stars
    Such a lovely cake! The lemon and coconut combination is so delicious. I made the cake as directed, and had no issues with it being too dense. I added a bit more lemon juice to the coconut glaze layer, which made it easier to spread over the cooled cake. For the frosting, I used 2 cups powdered sugar (my family likes frosting not quite as sweet) and added a triple berry jam I had on hand… SO GOOD! This is such a great Spring recipe and a big hit in my house. Thank you Tieghan! 💛

    1. Hey Jen,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback! I am so glad it was enjoyed. Have a great week! 🌺xxT

  3. 5 stars
    I made these into cupcakes, absolutely delicious! The lemon and the strawberry frosting compliment each other so well! Probably my favorite cake/cupcake recipe yet!

    1. Hey Amanda,
      Happy Sunday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for giving it a go! xx

  4. This cake was so good I made a couple of changes. I left the cake in the 9×13 Pyrex dish and I put blueberry jam in the icing and spread on top and instead of putting the toasted coconut in the syrup I spread it on top of the cake.

    1. Hey April,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks a lot for making it! Thanks for sharing what worked well for you. Have the best weekend:) xTieghan

  5. 3 stars
    Flavor of the cake was good, like the other comments said, it’s dense. I don’t love the coconut “syrup” layer in the middle. It made the cake taste drier and the frosting fall off. Maybe it would have been better had the frosting gone on top of the cake and then the coconut.

    1. Hi Molly,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try and sharing your feedback. Sorry to hear the cake was not enjoyed! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    Definitely more of a tea cake / coffee cake situation here. I mixed a jam into my frosting and because i don’t like cream cheese I used a vanilla bean crème fraiche in the frosting.

    I also halved the recipe. This is a perfect little breakfast treat for the week. If I make again I’ll make more syrup to soak into the tea cake. I underplayed the sauce and could’ve stood to make more.

    1. Hey Shelby,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks a lot for making it! Have the best weekend:) xTieghan

    1. Hey Bridget,
      This recipe is made in a 9×13 dish, but I called it a sheet cake:) I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan

  7. 4 stars
    Overall good cake, despite the fact I forgot to add the vanilla! LOL

    I found it to be better on the second day. Also, the topping… in the recipe it says to “spoon syrup over the cake”… this is NOT EVEN CLOSE to a syrup after the coconut is added, and definitely NOT “spoon-able”.

    I did not attempt to use a cake decorating tube…. tried to spread the frosting all over the cake–the topping made it difficult because it didn’t stick to the cake…kept sticking to the frosting… had to work quickly as the author mentioned somewhere.

    I agree with another post that the frosting should have some lemon base in it. As for the coconut oil, it is the same whether measured solid and melted or measured after melting.

  8. 5 stars
    Perfect springtime flavors! Some of my family wasn’t crazy about the coconut, but I thought it was delightful! I split the batter up into two round cake pans to make a two tiered cake and my only reflection is that I should have kept a better eye on the time because I think I cooked it a smidge too long! The recipe was easy to follow and I absolutely LOVED the frosting!! I used freeze dried strawberries and freeze dried mixed berries and they mixed into the frosting great. Just add a bit at a time 🙂 If you omit the freeze dried berries, the frosting will still taste amazing – you just won’t get that blend of lemony-vanilla, coconut, and berrylicious flavor (which is amazing in my opinion). Thanks Tieghan! I haven’t done much baking in the past couple years, but your ideas and recipes have really inspired me to get creative and adventurous with my flavors and desserts 🙂

    1. Hey Megan,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for trying this recipe out, I am so glad to hear that it was a winner! Thanks for sharing what worked well for you! xxT

  9. 4 stars
    Made this as a last minute addition to Easter yesterday. I did not use all of the glaze as I felt it would be too “soggy”. Family thought it was delicious. Was not a fluffy cake, more dense but I thought it was very tasty. Thanks

  10. 2 stars
    I was so excited to make this. The frosting was amazing. The cake itself was so dry we ate a few pieces and had to throw the rest away.

    1. Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try, sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. Please let me know if there is any way that I can help! xx

  11. Milk is listed in the ingredients section but is never mentioned in the recipe description so I completely overlooked the milk and the moisture of the cake suffered because of that. I recommend adding the milk in the description because everything else is mentioned except for that. Frosting was delicious though!

    1. Hey Stephanie,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try, so sorry about the milk, it is added in step 2. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xx

  12. 3 stars
    Recipe was easy, flavor was okay. The lemon and coconut was an interesting combo. The cake itself was not bad, but not my favorite – this is a really great base of a recipe and I would prefer to swap out the coconut for another flavor and cut the lemon down a bit.

    I also don’t think buttercream was the best icing to pair. The sweetness of the buttercream took it to an odd/contradictory level with the lemon. A simple glaze might have been a better compliment or taking some of the lemon out of the cake and putting it in the icing (maybe a lemon/cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream).

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try and sharing your feedback, sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. xTieghan

  13. 3 stars
    This was delicious for Easter! My family was so impressed!! It did turn out a little dense but still sooo good.

    1. Hey Liz,
      Thanks so much for giving this recipe a go, I am thrilled to hear that it was a winner! Sorry to hear it was dense. Have the best week!🌸 xT