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Microwave Lemon Cake

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I was never big on lemon-flavored desserts.
(Hmmm, might it have something to do with the fact that lemon doesn’t exactly pair well with chocolate?)

But, after reading the Single Lady Cupcake post, a few commenters asked about a lemon version of the single-serving cake. Enter Meg L. to save the day! On Sunday, she left me a comment about a lemon-olive-oil cake that, I had to admit, sounded good even to this lemon-shunning chica. I wanted to try it!


The results were fantastic: lemony, cakey, and so moist. One of the best aspects of the blogging community is that someone (in this case, me) might come up with a basic idea, but then others expand upon the idea, taking it to much yummier levels than the first person could have dreamed up. So thank you, Meg, for taking the time to share your recipe variation.




Single Lady Lemon Cake
(Or muffin, loaf, cupcake, whatever)

Based off of Meg‘s idea

  • 3 tbsp flour (30g) (spelt, ww pastry, Bob’s gluten-free, or all-purpose flour)
  • heaping 1/16th tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sub 1/2 with applesauce (or use all applesauce for an added-fat-free version, but it won’t be as buttery!)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp liquid (milk of choice or water)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract or lemon juice
  • pinch lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Sweetener (I hate giving specific amounts, since tastebuds are so different. For normal tastebuds, 1 to 1 and 1/2 tbsp of sugar, or 1 to 1 1/2 packets of stevia should be about right. If you use liquid sweetener, cut back a tiny bit on the other liquid.)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 330 degrees. Mix the ingredients and pour into an oiled (or sprayed) muffin pan. Smooth top of batter. Cook for 12-15ish minutes. Alternatively, you can cook in the microwave, in a greased mug or ramekin. (Microwave times will vary, depending on the flour you use and the strength of your microwave.)

View Nutrition Information





This cupcake (muffin, loaf, cake, whatever) would be lovely with some lemon glaze.


Easiest-Ever Lemon Glaze

  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 1 part sugar or coconut sugar
  • optional: a few drops lemon extract

Microwave for 30 seconds, or warm in a saucepan on low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. I used to be just like you: I hated citrus in my desserts! But this year I have begun to enjoy lemony desserts :)!

  2. Valerie says:

    I do love the photos! Thanks for showing some restraint and not gobbling the cupcake right away. 😉
    (Although I would have!)

  3. Sarahishealthy says:

    Lemon merengue pie = yuck! It looks all creamy and delicious, but the cream isn’t even cream! I’m with you: give me chocolate :).

    1. Christina says:

      Lol, that’s because the “cream” is meringue (whipped, baked egg whites and sugar), not cream!

    2. Anonymous says:

      oh-no! Lemon meringue is so, so yummy! Chocolate it’s not, but still…I’d love to see a ccKatie version (hint hint)

  4. Sarah P says:

    I am DEFINITELY a lemon dessert person. I’m a chocoholic, but citrus desserts still beat chocolate for me almost every time.

  5. Lisa C. says:

    I’m not big on lemon desserts either, but there is this one bakery near my house that makes the most AMAZING lemon bars you would ever want to try. They would make even you a lemon convert, I’m betting. So soft and chewy, with powdered sugar on top. Mmm I’m craving one now!

  6. I used to hate lemon desserts as a kid, but I’ve grown to love them, especially well made lemon bars. Mmmmmmm.

  7. Kiersten says:

    I am not big on lemony desserts, but I am still loving your ideas for single lady cakes. I wish there was more recipes around for single-serving desserts. Sometimes I just want something sweet but don’t feel like making 1-2 dozen of something, ya know?

    1. Valerie says:

      I agree. The world needs more single-serving desserts. Because, how many of us have twelve friends over every time we bake? It’s either: eat all of it yourself, which isn’t always the healthiest thing (and you get sick of them) or throw some out (which I hate doing). 😕

  8. mmm that looks great! i’d love to see a raw vegan lemon bar (i’m thinking cashews would be a great crust

  9. eatandrun says:

    I don’t like lemon desserts, but I do love a squirt of lemon in my tea :).

  10. abby says:

    i actually DO love lemon desserts! i’ve made your raw cheesecake before and added lemon extract even above the lemon juice it calls for. so this recipe is another one right up my alley. but really, katie, what recipe of yours isn’t up my alley? 😉

  11. Inspired says:

    I guess, for me, it depends on what the lemon dessert is. I love lemon cakey type things, such as poppyseed muffins. But I could do without the lemon pudding.

  12. Caitlin says:

    I love lemon cake! Seriously, like true love! I’ll have to try this one :). I’m already a big fan of the pumpkin single-lady cupcakes, so I’m excited for another flavor :). I’ll let you know how it goes :).

  13. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE LEMON! I’ve gotta see about this doughnut!

  14. Yummy! I’ve always loved lemon desserts. I’m definitely going to try this with the lemon glaze!!

  15. Emily says:

    Thanks Katie, this sounds perfect!
    I might even use just a pinch of sugar and try them as savory muffins. Maybe even with some rosemary?

  16. Sounds lemonlicious and easy enough to make. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lemonlicious? LOL I love your new word!!

  17. Emily says:

    Although, the lemon glaze sounds good too. Might just have to try both ways ;).

  18. Wow, this cake looks awesome! I have made microwave chocolate or vanilla cakes, but have never thought to do a lemon version. I guess I don’t think of lemon desserts all to often, either, but thanks for the great idea!

  19. tangy says:

    I love lemon desserts but they have to be really lemon-y. I like a strong lemon taste, and I feel the same way about my lime desserts.

  20. Sarah says:

    It’s so funny your writing about this. Growing up I couldn’t stand any lemon flavoured dessert! Every dessert or sweet had to include chocolate. My mom and grandma would love lemon squares and vanilla this or that, and I could not understand it! Until, that is, I, AGED! Now I’m in my late thirties and think lemon and vanilla dessert are great! Was there a sense of panic when I made this discovery? YES, sheer panic to think I am joining the aged group of people who enjoy lemon and vanilla! Then, calm, cause they taste good, and aging ain’t so bad…
    So be sure to track back to this idea in another 10-15 years. I’d love to know if it’s an acquired taste that comes with age ! Thanks for writing about it! :)

    1. Valerie says:

      I love seeing how my tastes have changed over the years! And it helps me with my kids too. Like, I know not to worry that my little one doesn’t like ANYthing red, be it peppers or tomatoes. Because who knows? Maybe twenty years from now, she will! And if not, that’s ok too.

  21. Aghhhhh! I have to say Katie, that although I BELIEVE you that the lemon cake turned out to be good.. I have to agree with you – I’m not a lemon-y dessert person either … Enough that I can’t even try this lol. I’ll just take your word for it – I’ll stick with my chocolate or coconut!m Though… I don’t really like lemon anything, so oh delish cupcake, please don’t take the spurning personally! :)

  22. Jess says:

    I’m not big on lemon either, but I think it’s mainly because I don’t like meringue. But maybe I’d like this!

    1. Valerie says:

      Ick, meringue. Me either! Who invented that stuff? 😉

  23. susan says:

    Lemon is one of those flavors I don’t usually go for but I do get the occasional lemon poppyseed craving!

  24. I used to love those lemon bars, but they are WAAAAAY too sweet!

  25. Marissa says:

    LOL whenever I think of lemon desserts I think of kitchen cleaners :(. So obvi, I don’t like lemony desserts lol!

  26. These would be great with poppyseeds and a nice glaze on top!

  27. Kim says:

    Love, Love, LOVE lemony things. I’ll add lemon to just about anything and my most favourite dessert in the world has to be the lemon square…provided it has way more lemon flavouring than was called for;)

    As for lemon and chocolate, I went through a phase in my teens where my favourite treat was a dish of chocolate ice cream with a few drops of fresh-squeezed lemon on top! The juice would freeze and I’d get these little crunchy bites of lemon crystals along with my chocolate.

    1. You caught my interest! I’m going to have to try it! :)

  28. bloomingbuzz says:

    hmm..I am definitely a chocolate girl too! i may try this lemon version, though I don’t know that I’d save it for a “dessert.” Maybe an afternoon snack or even breakfast item, that way I can still satisfy my sweet tooth with something chocolatey later on! :)

  29. Meg says:

    Mmm this is perfect! I love lemony things! They’re the perfect balance of tart and sweet 😀

  30. Namaste Gurl says:

    You and me both– coconut, chocolate, pumpkin, and nut butters dominate lemon any day! :) Sounds interesting and probably delicious, despite– i do like olive and lemon and a simple dressing for salads, so this might be good. I won’t be quick to judge :)

    Maybe lemon and coconut butter? Mmmm…

  31. Stefanie says:

    I once made blueberry scones and topped them with a lemon glaze. They were really good. Blue berries and lemon are the perfect pair. It depends on my mood whether I want something chocolate or lemon.

  32. I absolutely LOVE lemon desserts! I’m usually torn right down the middle when it comes to picking a chocolate or lemon dessert…

    But when I make a lemon dessert at home, I know I get it all to myself because my husband prefers chocolate! LOL 😉

    1. Valerie says:

      Oh that would be a good enough reason for me to even give up chocolate completely! (Sorry Katie ;).) But sadly, my hubby likes both ;).

  33. I’d rather have chocolate too! But the RIGHT lemon recipe can be great. Like a perfect piece of lemon meringue pie is great. I actually would take key lime pie over lemon but small difference..but yeah, chocolate rules my world too :)

    This recipe looks stellar!

    And I think any 20something that zests anything gets major props, even if it’s with a knife not a zester :)

    1. Agreed Averie – I definitely give Katie props for the knife-zesting – way to improvise! :)

  34. Annette says:

    Thanks for the recipe!!! I used to not like lemony desserts, but once I became vegan I started liking them more. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still chocolate at the top of the list, I just added to the list. lol

  35. Laura says:

    I actually prefer lemon to chocolate! :) Good thing we all have different tastes, huh, to balance out supply and demand. More chocolate vegan desserts for you, more lemon cheesecake for me!

  36. I LOVE lemony desserts…more than, gasp, chocolate ones. Don’t hate. :-) This looks sooo yummy!

  37. Ooooh this is a great idea! I love love love lemon! Hopefully my food pics start looking as awesome as yours!

    Eventually 😀

    1. Oh my GOSH, thank you! ‘Cause, honestly, I am trying! LOL I always think everyone else’s photos look better (more professional) than mine… but ya know what? I have fun when I take them, so that’s all that matters, right? 😉

  38. I never understood lemon desserts. Chocolate all the way! I will admit, though, Lemon Zest Luna bars are really good.

  39. I love lemon desserts — well, any fruit flavor is good in desserts.

    I love the idea of a lemon cupcake :)

  40. L. says:

    I am putting some lavender in this and making it for my mommy!!!! The smells and textures will be so heavenly, and I hate to cook so it will only take two seconds :) Plus, its VEGAN, and since it’s so quick, I’ll bet she’ll make it too, which would be great since, IT’S VEGANNNN .< I'll try to shorten up future ones. Take care.

    1. L. says:

      *oops. ignore those last few lines!

      p.s. lemon and chocolate SO can go together when done right.

    2. Oooh lavender sounds so good… although, actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever had it lol!

      1. L. says:

        It’s more for aromatic/enticing purposes than it is for flavor :) It’s my mom’s favorite smell. Just a teeny bit goes a long way, and I’m not sure at all what would happen with it in the microwave–it’d be a little experiment. :) We have little buds of it in a jar that my mom grew in her garden and then dried out. Just a little something extra to make it more special!

  41. BroccoliHut says:

    I normally don’t like lemon desserts either, but my Nana always made the most amazing lemon bars. For that reason, I have a special place in my heart for lemony desserts:)

  42. Liz says:

    Hey Katie! I love your blog, you’ve really inspired me! you’ve made me realize that it’s not all that hard to give up foods we eat every day.. I’m lactose intolerant so I don’t eat much dairy, and I’ve recently switched to being a vegetarian!

    I go to culinary school for baking and pastry, and today I was making a banana ice cream, and I used a trick I learned on your blog- melting a banana in the microwave! Everyone in my class, and even my Chef was amazed that one could do that!

    Thanks for all the great ideas!

    1. Aww wow, Liz, I’m honored!! And YOU are an inspiration to ME, too, because I admire people who go to culinary school so much. They actually take time to learn the real art of preparing meals, as opposed to me who just makes it up. If you ever open your own restaurant, let me know: I’m going to want to visit! 😉

  43. Heather says:

    I love lemon desserts; they are spectacular. My BFF and I used to eat limes with a little bit of salt when we were in HS. This is without alcohol; when we drank we never ate fruit. Hmm.

  44. Oh yum, fab idea! I’m much more a chocolate person, which I assume you can understand, but I do appreciate a good lemon sweet every so often. My mom actually makes great lemon bars, which have a shortbread crust and a lemon custard filling. I just never think to make them myself! I love the sound of this cupcake with a little glaze. In fact, I might like to make a giant bowl of oatmeal themed after these ingredients! oooOOooooOooh maybe with some coconut too…

  45. Alyson says:

    That is all. :)
    Short and Sweet.

  46. Melissa says:

    I like lemon stuff – it has be really lemony, though!
    My SO finally told me after THREE YEARS that his favorite dessert is lemon poppyseed cake! I’d been baking him goodies and never once did he mention his favorite until I flat out asked. I’m making this for him now. He’s at work so it’ll be a nice surprise when he gets home. :)

    1. Haha he probably just LOVES the fact that someone will cook for him. Guys are so easy-going :).
      Let me know how the cake turns out! :)

      1. Melissa says:

        I slightly overcooked it (since I’m a dork and 90 second didn’t seem long enough… face desk) and it had a spot with “density issues” but otherwise good! I’ll try again. I think I overdid the stevia, too. My microwave has super powers of incredible hotness so I need to just follow directions(!) and trust it. Hah.

      2. Eh, to be honest, I like the oven version better. The microwave version is too dry for my liking.

      3. Melissa says:

        Yeah, I think my toaster oven is the way to go. I love that little monster!

  47. Namaste Gurl says:

    Different, very different…

  48. lhall13 says:

    I just tried this out! Added some rosemary to the mix and did it with all flax meal. Loved the flavor… but the flax made it a bit too gooey/slimy. Next time I’ll do a mix and reach Single Lady Cupcake perfection! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Aww, thanks for trying it! I’m sorry it was gummy :(… but at least you got some omega threes, right? :) lol

  49. Not a big lemon dessert fan but I eat lemons like apples! Yum.


  50. Alex says:

    A microwaved cupcake for one? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS SOONER?! Fabulous, saves me making batches, eating three and throwing the rest away. HURRAH. Thank you!

  51. Candace says:

    uh oh…i killed this recipe:( i used the same amounts of everything but tried it without the oil, a bit more milk, and added poppy seeds. it turned out chewy and tough. there also wasn’t much flavor to it:( next time i think i’ll add the oil, that was the mistake i made, right?

    1. Probably. I’m not big on fat-free baked goods, and adding more milk could also make it tough… really you made so many changes that I can’t say what could’ve been the problem :-(

      1. Candace says:

        yeah, i’ve tried SO many fat-free and reduced fat baked goods. they just don’t turn out quite right. now, i don’t need to cut back on fat but i jut feel better when i eat less of it. i guess sometimes we just have to make sacrifices:( i think i’ll try it again. i think maybe my microwave is pretty bad also; it sometimes makes my oatmeal a little funny. hey, do you know of a vegan mayonnaise recipe? thanks for having this awesome blog:)

      2. I don’t have a mayo recipe… but if you want a low-fat one, I know Veganaise makes a low-fat version, and Nayonaise makes a fat-free version (although it can be hard to find). cAs for fat-free baked goods, my banana bread is one of the only fat-free baked goods I actually like!

      3. Anonymous says:

        woah! that looks really yummy. i’m definitely gonna try that after my next trip to the health food store. i need to get chocolate chips. any brands you would recommend? i’m kinda new to this vegan life, but i really love it:)

      4. I usually buy whatever’s available and vegan: I can find Ghirardelli semi-sweet at a regular grocery store (gold package), but I also often buy Enjoy Life brand, Whole Foods vegan brand, or even Whole Foods dark chocolate mini chunks… which I also really like to just eat out of the package ;).

  52. Anonymous says:

    I’ve heard Ghirardelli is good. i think i’ll try that. thanks for your input.

  53. Karen says:

    We made these sans olive oil and added in poppy seeds. So good and light!

  54. Katie says:

    I just tried this and i loveeeeedddd it. I’m going to try it again, but try it with orange this time! and with an orange glaze. I’ve never had an orange cupcake, but I’ve had orange bread and I bet they taste similar :p thanks for the recipe!

  55. JennT says:

    Love your recipes! Just tried the Lemon version. We don’t keep lemons in the house, so I used True Lemon ( and you can get it at Kroger and Walmart now) and it turned out fantastic! Made a chocolate version for my husband and he loved it. I plan to make ‘take to work’ mixes of several flavors so I can kill my sweet tooth easily (and healthily) at work! I’m sure I’ll be making my co-workers jealous.

  56. Samantha says:

    LOVE LEMON! :) I understnad you have a lot your doing but i would love to see more lemon post in the future, i absolutly love lemon :) well any fruit for that matter, the strawberry muffin cupcakes were also fabulous! so more fruit in the future would be awesome ! (dont get my wrong, i love chocolate like any normal person does, but it seems to be upsetting to my stomach :( and i do know this is a “chocolate covered” blog, but still, fruity desserts are my one true love, :) )

  57. Adrienne says:

    Wow! Just made this and it was AMAZING! Granted I got a little carried away with the microwave and had more of a lemon shortbread cookie than cupcuke lol. Also I came up with an alternative topping since I didn’t have the supplies for frosting on had – 1 tbsp fat free greek yogurt, 1/2 tbsp honey, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Its not vegan but definitely delicious!

  58. Arielle says:

    I tried this recipe and it would have turned out perfect if i hadn’t left it in the microwave too long. I left mine for 2 minutes, and it burned about half of it from the bottom, so maybe others should keep it to just 1?

  59. Cate says:

    Great recipe! I love lemon; it’s always hard to choose between lemon and chocolate desserts. I made a few substitutions that also turned out great. Instead of olive oil I used coconut oil. I baked it at 350 for 18 minutes and it was very moist! I also used honey as a sweetener and doubled the lemon zest/juice (I like a more lemon-y flavor).

    Thank you for all of your wonderful posts!

  60. Danielle says:

    Please make a healthy peach cobbler! They are delicious and perfect for summer!!

  61. Josephine Sharpe says:

    I made this and loved it, I made it with spelt and olive oil and I loved the dense whole grain texture. I would like to be able this as a batch of 6 muffins or as a Loaf. I’m new to baking and I’m not sure if I increase the recipe how much baking powder to put in? Katie can you help me increase the measurements, since you are such a pro at this! I love your work.

  62. Felicia says:

    Hi! I love the idea of single serving cupcake recipes! Mostly because while I love baked goods, my bf dislikes them a lot (he’d rather have ice cream or something), so often even if I make a small batch it’s just too many for just me.

    I tried the lemon recipe above with a few alterations. I doubled the amount of lemon juice (maybe tripled), used 1 tbsp maple syrup for sweetener, and used whole wheat flour. I also reduced the liquid because I used liquid sweetener. I heated it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes at 50% power in a ramekin. It turned out pretty good! I think I’ll try it again with a few changes.

    Next time I won’t reduce any of the liquid (I think the batter was a bit thick) and I’ll microwave in a mug instead of a ramekin (better moisture retention, I think). I might also microwave it for just 2 minutes and see how that goes (or maybe not with the extra liquid). I’ll also try your lemon glaze with it, although for me it was plenty sweet by itself.

    Excellent ideas for quick, one person dessert!

  63. CJ says:

    I like lemon but I have to admit that didn’t even appeal to me. It almost looks like a dry muffin rather than a dessert. I love Lemon Meringue Pie but Chocolate will always be number 1 with me! Thanks for all the great recipes.

  64. Iggs says:

    Hi, how many calories per muffin?

  65. Ashlee says:

    Absolutely delicious! This is honestly the best mug cake recipe I’ve ever tried, it’s so moist and fluffy!

  66. Kaye says:

    Do you think cooking these recipes in a mini (six inch) skillet would work?