This lemon mug cake is made in the microwave! It's fluffy, tangy, and delicious just like a traditional lemon cake.
When I was in college, I lived in a dorm and didn't have an oven. How was I supposed to bake? Enter the mug cake.
Mug cakes have the same texture as oven baked cakes except they're baked in the microwave! They're perfect for college students and people living in small studio apartments. Instead of baking a cake in the oven for 45 minutes, this one is ready to eat in just 90 seconds!
This single-serve lemon mug cake is full of zippy, bright lemon flavor. It's super tender- the perfect lemon dessert to make for yourself in the Spring or Summer.
Why This Recipe Works
- Microwave cake- The key to making the best mug cake is making sure the gluten in the flour sets at the same time that the leavening agent (baking power or baking soda) forms air bubbles to make the batter rise. I tested this recipe to make sure this happens perfectly!
- Lemon flavor- This cake has a tart and sweet lemon flavor due to the lemon juice and lemon zest in the batter.
- Easy to make- It only takes a couple minutes to make! Perfect for when you have a sudden cake craving.
- Soft and tender- The texture of this microwave cake perfectly mimics the light and fluffy texture of an oven baked cake.
Here are some notes about a few of the ingredients used. For the full ingredient list, please see the recipe card below!
- All purpose flour- This is the best flour to use to insure that the mug cake has enough structure.
- Lemon zest and lemon juice- Make sure your lemon zest and juice is fresh for the best flavor.
- Oil- I used avocado oil instead of butter when I was testing this recipe, but any mild oil will do. I suggest grapeseed oil or canola oil.
- Almond milk- If you don't have almond milk on hand, you can use any kind of plant-based milk.
Step by Step Instructions
STEP 1: Mix the dry ingredients. First, add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a microwave safe mug that holds at least 10 ounces. Then, mix the ingredients together with a fork.
STEP 2: Mix in the wet ingredients. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla extract into the mug. Then, mix the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until well combined.
STEP 3: Microwave. Put the mug in the microwave. Then, microwave on high for 90 seconds, watching the cake batter to make sure it doesn't overflow.
STEP 4: Let cool and enjoy. Once the cake has cooled slightly, top with coconut cream, powdered sugar, and lemon zest. Enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Flour- Make sure the flour is spooned and leveled. If you stick the measuring spoon directly into the flour, this will compact it and cause a dry cake.
- Overflowing- Watch the mug cake while it is in the microwave to make sure it doesn't overflow. If it starts to, stop the microwave and let the cake go down. To prevent overflowing, use a mug that holds 10 ounces of liquid or more.
- To check if your cake is done, lightly press down on the center of the cake. If it's done, the cake will slowly spring back when you apply pressure. If it is still wet and goopy in the center, microwave it for 15 seconds at a time, checking in between until it is done.
- Coconut sugar can be substituted for the granulated cane sugar. If you do this, the cake will have more of a brown sugar taste.
- Dairy milk can be substituted for plant-based milk if you don't have any on hand.
Additions and Variations
- Toppings- This mug cake would be delicious topped with buttercream, powdered sugar, or ice cream! You could also make a lemon glaze by mixing a little lemon juice and powdered sugar together.
- You can make an orange mug cake by substituting the lemon juice and zest for orange juice and orange zest! Any citrus can be used, like lime, grapefruit, or blood orange.
Storage and Freezing
Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 day. You can keep the cake in the mug if you cover it with plastic wrap.
Freeze the cake covered in plastic wrap for up to 1 month. Let it thaw for a couple hours on the counter or microwave it for 30 seconds or so before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can eat it straight out of the mug! If you want to remove the cake, try spraying the inside of the mug with some oil before adding the batter.
Nope! Any microwave safe bowl will do if you don't have any mugs.
It won't brown on top. Browning usually happens at a temperature of 320 degrees. The microwave will only reach 212 degrees.
No, you unfortunately can't. This recipe needs the structure provided by the gluten in the all purpose flour.
Yes, you theoretically can. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake in an oven safe mug for 20-30 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. However, I have NOT tested this method. A convection oven will have results more similar to the microwave method.
More Cake and Pie Recipes to Try
Lemon Mug Cake
- 1 mug
- Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a microwave safe mug that holds at least 10 ounces. Mix the ingredients together with a fork.4 tablespoon all purpose flour, 2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 teaspoon lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 1 pinch sea salt
- Pour the almond milk, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla extract into the mug. Mix everything together with a fork until well combined.3 tablespoon almond milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the mug in the microwave. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, watching to make sure the mug does not overflow.
- Remove the mug from the microwave. The mug will be hot so be careful! Let the cake cool slightly. Add toppings like coconut cream or powdered sugar and enjoy.