Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Cake

Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Cake

A gluten free lemon blueberry cake with lemon buttercream filling, topped with a rich lemon glaze, and all the freshest ingredients.

Gluten free lemon blueberry cake closeup on cake plate.

Bright lemon flavor from fresh juice and zest

Fresh lemons are available year round, even where I live in New York. But if I ever move far away from here, please please let me live somewhere that I can grow fresh citrus in my backyard ??…

Whatever you do, let it be freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the bottled kind (even that kind that people say tastes fresh!). If you’re baking with lemon juice more than once in a short time period, you can of course juice all of your lemons at once and store the juice for a day or so in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Meyer lemons are lovely

In the late winter, I can usually find Meyer lemons in my grocery store, which are thought to be a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges. They have a thinner skin, more juice, and a less sour flavor than traditional lemons.

You can use them in this recipe, or in any other recipe that calls for lemon juice or zest. Since the skin is thinner, it can be harder to zest a Meyer lemon.

Try zesting them when they’re cold from the refrigerator, when the lemon is firmer and less likely to be damaged by zesting. Always zest first, juice after.

A gluten free lemon blueberry cake with lemon buttercream filling, topped with a rich lemon glaze, and all the freshest ingredients.

For the lemon filling and icing

The lemon buttercream filling in the center with a rich lemon glaze on top pair perfectly with the lightly sweet, tender lemon cake. If you’d rather not make a lemon buttercream filling and a separate rich lemon glaze for the top, just double up on the buttercream.

The cake itself has a fair amount of lemon juice, along with sour cream for extra tangy flavor plus tenderness in the crumb. It also has plenty of lemon zest, so the lemon flavor is prominent.

You can only use so much lemon juice in the lemon buttercream filling and icing, since you can’t have too much moisture. But with lemon in all parts of the cake, the flavor is perfect.

If you’d still like extra lemon flavor, you can add a bit of pure lemon extract. Or even try adding some “True Lemon” brand crystallized lemon.

Gluten free lemon blueberry cake raw in pan

Fresh blueberries are best

I don’t usually buy blueberries when they’re not in season, since they’re super expensive and they taste terrible. But if I’m dying to make a blueberry muffin or this gluten free lemon blueberry cake outside the season, there are usually two options.

Typically, organic blueberries are even more expensive than conventional berries, but they tend to taste fresher and have a better consistency. Look for a container with larger berries, which are less likely to be tart or have a chewy consistency.

You can use frozen berries but they will bleed a bit. To minimize bleeding of the color of the berries into the cake, don’t defrost the berries.

Instead, rinse them with cold water before tossing them in cornstarch. That will help minimize the color transfer.

Above all else, resist the temptation to pack the cake with more blueberries than the recipe calls for! They’ll make for a too-wet cake that rises and then sinks, leaving you with an overly wet, dense cake.

Gluten free lemon blueberry cake layers baked and unfrosted.

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy: In place of the butter in the cake and in the rich lemon glaze, try a vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen brand or Melt brand. I don’t recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks because of the high salt and moisture content.

In place of the sour cream in the cake, if you have a favorite dairy free sour cream, try using that. Otherwise, buy plain dairy free yogurt and strain it of liquid until it’s the consistency of Greek-style yogurt and use that.

In the frosting, try using butter-flavored Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening in place of butter. You can also try vegan butter, but I prefer Spectrum shortening for dairy free buttercream.

Eggs: This cake calls for 3 whole eggs, which is more than I feel confident you could replace successfully. If you need an egg-free lemon cake, try our recipe for gluten free vanilla crazy cake and replace 1/4 cup of the water with freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

Corn: The cornstarch in the cake can easily be replaced with arrowroot or even potato starch. If you can’t have corn, be sure you’re using a corn-free confectioners’ sugar, as most brands contain cornstarch.

Gluten free lemon blueberry cake slice from behind, showing the glaze and fresh blueberries.

Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry CakeA gluten free lemon blueberry cake with lemon buttercream filling, topped with a rich lemon glaze, and all the freshest ingredients.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch layer cake


For the cake
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated

1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar

12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 medium-size lemons)

3/4 cup (180 g) sour cream, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups (150 g) fresh blueberries, tossed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch (plus a few more for decoration, optional)

For the lemon buttercream filling
16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 to 4 cups (400 to 460 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 medium-size lemons)

For the rich lemon glaze
2 to 2 1/2 cups (230 to 290 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


  • First, make the cake. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 9-inch square (or round) cake pans and set them aside. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the lemon zest, and whisk into the dry ingredients to ensure that the lemon zest isn’t clumped. Add the brown sugar and whisk again, working out any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, eggs, lemon juice, and sour cream, mixing to combine after each addition, and mixing until smooth after the final addition. The batter will be thick. Add the blueberries tossed in cornstarch, and fold carefully into the batter until they’re evenly distributed throughout. Divide the cake batter evenly among the two prepared pans and spread into an even layer. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes), rotating once during baking. Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream filling. Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer) and beat on medium speed until the butter is light and fluffy. Add 3 1/2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the salt, and mix on low speed until the sugar is absorbed into the butter. Increase the speed to medium-high, add the salt and lemon juice, and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add more confectioners’ sugar by the tablespoon as necessary to bring the frosting to a thickly spreadable consistency.

  • Assemble the cake. Place one of the cooled cakes onto a cake stand or other serving platter, and spread about 2/3 of of the buttercream filling into one thick, even layer on top. Place the second cake on top of the frosting and press down evenly on top. Place the remaining buttercream on top of the layer cake and spread across the top and around the sides of the cake in a thin layer to seal in crumbs. Try adding a few lovely fresh blueberries, face out, on the filling layer for decoration.

  • Make the lemon glaze. In a medium-size bowl, place 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the lemon juice and the butter, and mix to combine. Add more confectioners’ sugar as necessary to create a very thickly pourable glaze. Pour the glaze on top of the layer cake and spread into an even layer on top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set either at room temperature or in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe method adjusted slightly; photos and video new.


Comments are closed.

  • Maria Mascaro
    July 23, 2020 at 11:44 PM

    This was SO yummy! I followed the cake recipe (except for 1/2 teaspoon extra of baking powder because the last gluten free recipe I made was too dense). It was delicious! I left out the buttercream icing in favor of a blueberry compote I made with a light amount of sugar because I am cutting back, and I thinned out the top glaze for the same reason. It was amazing.

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 24, 2020 at 8:31 AM

      Hi, Maria, I’m really glad you enjoyed the cake. You don’t need to add more chemical leaveners to a properly balanced gluten free recipe like this one. Gluten free recipes are not, by their nature, heavier or more dense.

  • Tawana Spence
    July 18, 2020 at 3:21 AM

    This is delicious without the buttercream and glaze! Family loves it! Thank you! I made a few subs due to ingredients on hand. Switched the butter for coconut oil, sugar for coconut sugar, and sour cream for coconut yogurt. Love the moist cake texture ? Hard to believe it’s gluten free. I used my favorite gluten free all purpose flour; Premium Gold ancient grains & flax ?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 18, 2020 at 8:17 AM

      Wow, that’s a ton of substitutions, Tawana. Glad you’re happy with your results!

  • Hana
    April 24, 2020 at 7:02 AM

    I’ve made this as a cake and it’s a big hit. Do you think it would be ok as cupcakes?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 24, 2020 at 9:35 AM

      I’m afraid not all cake recipes make proper cupcakes (or vice versa), so I really couldn’t promise success, Hana.

  • Beth Erwin
    April 22, 2020 at 12:50 PM

    Do you think the blueberries could be exchanged for strawberries or left out entirely?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 22, 2020 at 2:45 PM

      Hi, Beth, I’m afraid you can’t leave the blueberries out entirely, no. I don’t think that strawberries would be a good match for all that lemon flavor, and I’m honestly not sure if they would release too much moisture or not. I think maybe another cake recipe might suit you better? Maybe try my very best vanilla cake recipe.

  • Tara
    March 24, 2020 at 7:29 PM

    Are you suppose to let cake batter sit a few minutes after you put it in the cake pan?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 25, 2020 at 11:16 AM

      I don’t know why that would be necessary with a cake batter, Tara. In fact, the baking soda is activated as soon as it’s mixed with liquid, so you don’t want the batter sitting around before going in the oven.

  • Erin
    March 24, 2020 at 2:05 PM

    Yum! Do you have an alternate buttercream recipe that doesn’t utilize so much confectioners sugar? I love the taste of coconut, granulated sugar, etc. better but I know it’s probably 1/4 of the amount at least.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 24, 2020 at 3:24 PM

      In fact, I do, Erin. I have a recipe for ermine frosting, a cooked flour frosting that uses granulated sugar—and less in general. It’s a family favorite.

  • Laura
    March 19, 2020 at 7:39 AM

    Hello! My husband can’t have potato starch or potato flour – what would you recommend as the best replacement in the flour blends? Thank you!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 19, 2020 at 2:51 PM

      There is no substitute for potato flour, Laura. Perhaps you’d prefer my mock Cup4Cup blend. You can usually replace potato starch with cornstarch or arrowroot, but I haven’t tried it in a flour blend so you’ll have to experiment.

  • Jenn
    March 18, 2020 at 7:40 AM

    I made this over the weekend and it was a huge success! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 18, 2020 at 9:24 AM

      I’m so happy to hear, Jenn. Thanks for the kind note!!

  • Judy Vendramini
    March 17, 2020 at 2:00 PM

    I have had great results with every recipe that you put out, Nicole (except the dinner rolls with yeast). I will definitely try this.

  • GF Mum
    March 16, 2020 at 3:28 PM

    This was absolutely delicious! Lovely, bright and very lemony.

  • Ronne Cosel
    March 16, 2020 at 8:55 AM

    Please can you offer suggestions for dairy free sour cream substitutes

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 16, 2020 at 9:47 AM

      Please see the Ingredients and substitutions section, Ronne, for full and complete information.

    March 15, 2020 at 11:15 AM

    This looks great. If I use a Bundt pan instead of the 2 cake pans, do I need to adjust the temperature or just bake for longer?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 15, 2020 at 11:27 AM

      I’m afraid I don’t feel confident that you can make it in a bundt pan, Andrea, without additional modifications that would require experimentation! Not every quickbread recipe can be a cake, muffins, a bundt cake. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! I wish I had a more positive response for you.

  • GF Mum
    March 15, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    This cake is absolutely delicious! Bright and very lemony. The perfect antidote to the stresses of these days. (I may have had a slice for breakfast this morning… ?)

  • Renee Norris
    March 12, 2020 at 8:38 AM

    This cake looks amazing! I want a slice right now! But, I have a question. I was making a couple batches of the gluten free vanilla cake mix and afterwards realized I had used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour but I accidentally added the xanthan gum. Will that be detrimental? Do I need to throw those away and start over??

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 12, 2020 at 2:39 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t use or recommend any of Bob’s Red Mill’s flour blends, with or without xanthan gum. Generally, you don’t want to add more xanthan gum to a blend that already contains it, but Bob’s blends are unbalanced and gritty in general. Sorry!

  • Melanie Kepper
    March 11, 2020 at 9:06 PM

    This looks delicious. Is there a way to use less sugar?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 11, 2020 at 10:11 PM

      I’m afraid you can’t use less sugar in a recipe for cake like this, no, Melanie. If you’re looking for low sugar gluten free recipes, perhaps a keto recipe blog like All Day I Dream About Food would better suit your needs?

  • Mel C.
    June 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Made this last night, haven’t made a gfree cake in the three years’ that I discovered I can’t have gluten. This was so much fun, came out beautifully and tasted amazing! Served to my family of skepticals, and they loved tool thank you for this great recipe!!

  • Mare Masterson
    June 18, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Ohhhhhh… love lemon and blueberries together!

  • Chris Stephan
    June 18, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Your timing is amazing. I was going to go pick blueberries in a day or so and wanted to make a gluten-free lemon blueberry recipe for my great-nephew’s graduation celebration on Saturday. Just found my recipe!

  • Carole
    June 18, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    This cake is the combo we love. Thank You many times over !!!!!

  • Diane Hyde
    June 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    My husband said, “cherry lemonade cake?” He is allergic to blueberries. Any thoughts?

    • Donia Robinson
      June 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Sounds delicious to me! Or raspberries!

  • Pamela F
    June 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    I was looking for a gluten free option to make to serve at my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary open house next weekend. I think I may have just found it!!

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