This delicious keto lemon cake is a low carb copycat of the famous Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake. Delicious layers of almond flour cake with a lemony cream filling and a tender crumb garnish. How can you resist?
I am absolutely delighted to re-introduce you to my Keto Lemon Cream Cake. It’s been a long time coming, but trust me, the wait was worth it!
I created this recipe back in the good old days, when keto was hardly a twinkle in people’s eyes. While I was firmly low carb at the time, I hadn’t even heard the word ketogenic. And it certainly wasn’t the wildly popular diet it is now.
But 10 years ago, a reader asked for a low carb version of Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake. It was no longer on their menu but I was able to find other copycat recipes upon which to base my sugar free version.
And it quickly became on of my most popular keto cake recipes.
Keto Lemon Layer Cake
This really is a perfect cake for lemon lovers. It features two tender layers of vanilla sponge cake, with a creamy lemon filling and a lemon scented crumb pressed into the sides.
For the updated version, I simplified the cake layers, eliminating some unnecessary ingredients like xanthan gum and stevia extract. I also baked it in two 8-inch cake pans so that I could skip the step of splitting one layer with a knife. I’ve never been very good at that and my layers always end up uneven.
The filling is similar to my original recipe as well. But this time, to stay true to the original Olive Garden version, I put my crumb garnish around the outside of the cake and sprinkled the top with powdered sweetener.
It really is the perfect keto lemon cake!
How to make keto lemon cream cake
This cake isn’t difficult to make, although it does have several individual components and dirties more than a few bowls. It’s a great baking project for a day off. Here’s how it’s done:
- Bake the cake layers. This is an almond flour vanilla cake, and the execution is quite simple. I used only egg whites so that the cake would be lighter in both color and texture.
- Prepare the lemon cream filling. The filling is a combination of cream cheese frosting and whipped cream to make it light and airy. It uses both lemon zest and lemon juice for flavor.
- Prepare the crumb garnish. The crumbs on the outside of the Olive Garden cake is what makes it so unique. I used lemon zest to give them a little more tanginess.
- Assemble the cake. Make sure to reserve some of the cream filling to spread on the sides of the cake so that the crumbs stick. The dust the top of the cake with some powdered sweetener.
- Slice and serve!
Tips for the crumb garnish
Use your hands when adding a garnish like sprinkles, nuts, or crumbs to the sides of a cake. Set the cake on a serving platter over a clean work surface.
Turn the cake as you gently press handfuls of the crumbs into the frosted sides. If you happen to have a cake turntable, you can use that to help you turn the cake evenly.
Scoop up any crumbs that fall onto the work surface and gently apply those to the sides of the cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you would prefer to use coconut flour, try making the cake layers with my Keto Chantilly Cake. Simply spread the batter in two cake pans, rather than three. It will take a little longer to bake through.
Yes, you can but your cake will be a little more dense and yellow in color. Use only 3 eggs to replace the 4 egg whites.
The cake layers will work with any granulated sweetener but do be forewarned that allulose can make them very dark on the outside. The frosting requires a powdered sweetener, and some of them are 2 times as sweet so please read your labels.
You can make this cake a day or two ahead of serving it, but I wouldn’t recommend any longer than that. The cream filling is best when fresh.
I can’t see why not! It will make 10 to 12 cupcakes.
Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve, as the cream filling softens easily.
Store any leftovers in the fridge and cover the cut sides with plastic wrap to keep the cake from drying out.
More delicious keto lemon recipes
- Sugar Free Lemon Curd
- Easy Keto Lemon Muffins
- Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- Keto Lemon Cream Pie
- Sugar Free Frosted Strawberry Lemonade
- Keto Lemon Sugar Cookies
Keto Lemon Cream Cake
- 2 ¼ cups almond flour
- ⅓ cup unflavored whey protein powder or egg white protein powder)
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup Swerve Granular
- 4 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ to ⅓ cup water
Lemon Cream Filling
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup powdered Swerve Sweetener divided
- 1 ½ tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 3 tablespoon powdered Swerve Sweetener
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon butter, melted
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325F and grease 2 round metal 8-inch cake pans. Line with parchment and grease the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, protein powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sweetener until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the egg whites and vanilla until well combined.
- Beat the almond flour mixture into the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with ¼ cup water. If the batter is very thick, beat in the additional water.
- Divide between the prepared cake pans and spread to the edges. Smooth the tops and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and the tops are firm to the touch.
- Remove and let cool completely in the pans.
Lemon Cream Filling
- Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat in ½ cup of the powdered sweetener, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice and until well combined.
- In another bowl beat the cream with the remaining sweetener until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until well combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sweetener, and lemon zest. Add the melted butter and toss until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Place 1 layer of cake on a serving platter. Set aside ½ cup of the cream filling and spread the remaining filling over the cake.
- Top the filling with the second cake layer, then spread the ½ cup of reserved cream filling over the sides of the cake.
- Using your hands, gently press the crumb garnish over the sides of the cake. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sweetener and refrigerate 1 hour to firm up.
Hi making this tonight for friends 80th birthday and wondering if bochsweet will work. I’m actually fine using swerve since my intake is limited but know they are going to give me crap since they do about my woe…lol
I get it! Yes… BochaSweet should be fine in the cake. Do you have the confectioner’s style for the frosting?
Karla G says
Thank you for your amazing recipes! Can I use allulose instead of swerve the cooling effect puts me off thank you:)
I love allulose, but it browns really quickly in baked goods so your cake will be darker. Also, for the frosting, it may be too soft. I’d recommend a combination of Swerve and allulose together, which should offset any cooling sensation you experience.
Although my butter was slightly softer than room temperature, I couldn’t get my butter and sweetener to cream and go fluffy no matter how long I whipped it for, it stayed as crumbly chunks, and my sweetener remained granular. As a result my cake was denser than the sponge cake this is meant to be. I wonder if starting this cake off the way you would a swiss meringue buttercream might be a better approach? Tempering the egg whites with the sweetener to get the sweetener to melt, then whipping up into a meringue, then adding in the butter chunk by chunk before proceeding onto mixing in the dry ingredients and water?
With 1/3 cup of water added, the batter was a stiff cookie dough consistency so I increased the water to 2/3 cup. The batter was still thick and unpourable but I was afraid of adding too much extra water. The cake cooked in the recommended amount of time despite the extra liquid. It wound up being a touch dry and very crumbly, but a quick application of a lemon juice-liquid allulose simple syrup fixed it right up and added extra zip.
The flavour was good. I was very impressed with the icing and will be making that again for sure. I added a teaspoon of lemon extract to give it even more of a lemon kick.
I made this cake for Easter. I piped the Lemon cream around the edge of the bottom layer and then filled the center with Carolyn’s lemon curd. I used the remainder lemon cream to frost the entire cake and omitted the crumb coating. So good! Everyone, even nonketo family, loved it. I will definitely make it again.
Can plant-based protein powder be used in place of whey protein powder?
I think so but I haven’t tried it myself.
Hi Carolyn, is there a reason you use egg whites and not the whole egg?
Please read the Frequently Asked Questions.
Made this for my Mom and Dad’s 65th wedding anniversary. They loved it! The lemon cream filling is so refreshing.
This cake did not work out for me. I don’t know what went wrong. It was moist in the middle although I cooked it for a bit longer than stipulated. I wonder if beating the egg whites until stiff then incorporating into the batter may have worked better to make a light sponge type cake. I used good quality almond flour. In future I might use the ricotta cake (fabulous) recipe which I make all the time as my base and put the lemon cream on top.
This already is a proper sponge cake so something went wrong if it was too moist in the middle. What kind of pan did you use?
I used a small round shallow cake tin (non stick). I halved the recipe to trial it. Even though the recipe was halved, it took longer to cook. So something must have gone wrong earlier when putting the ingredients in the bowl stage? I didn’t beat the ingredients very long, just until combined.
My guess is you actually miscalculated how much batter you needed based on the size of your pan. Many people do… especially round pans. You need to figure out the area of an 8-inch pan from this recipe and the area of your pan (you didn’t tell me what size it was).
katerina @ diethood.com says
This cake sounds amazing!! I can’t wait to try it!
Kim Platt says
The cream filing is yummy, but the cakes are dry. I made sure I had 8″ pans, oven temp is correct and didn’t over cook. Oh well, any hacks for moistening a dry cake?
Well something went wrong because these cake layers are anything but dry… what sweetener did you use? What almond flour?
You could treat it a bit like a poke cake now and drizzle some lemony sweetened butter over it after poking holes. Up to you!
Oh my god this was soooooooo good. I never would have guessed it was Keto.
Fantastic!! So refreshing & the crumb topping with the lemony cream mixture is the best!
Cecelia Teague says
I made this cake a few days ago and it’s wonderful! The cake is the best Keto cake recipe I have ever made. It was a bit fragile though and broke when I took it out of the pan. I think I will put the pan in the freezer for a few minutes next time. And the filling, on my gosh! I used the whole 8 oz of cream cheese instead of 6 so I had gobs of it! Put it between the layers and on top.
Carol Burnside says
I’m rating this 5 starts before I make it because I know how dedicated you are to making your recipes perfect. I may not have said so before, but wanted to let you know that I have all your cookbooks, have made both sweet and savory recipes, and I attribute your recipes to having helped me stay on a Keto diet and lose 40 pounds thus far. I have a few more bounds to go, so some of your desserts I have to really plan into my day as I can only have 1200 calories, but they’re worth it!
My husband is diabetic and a couple of months ago had his first A1C below 7 in YEARS! He and his doctor were both surprised and happy about that. You and your fabulous recipes were a huge contributor to that as well.
Many of us out here may not say it every day, but we appreciate you. Please, keep up the great work!
Thanks so much!
Thanks for sharing your story!
Carolyn is a fabulous teacher!
Hi, I am looking to make your lemon cake and was wondering if you could freeze the cake before the filling. Want to make this for some guests and want to plan ahead
Absolutely. Let them cool completely and wrap them up tightly.
Absolutely amazing cake recipe! I’ll definitely be making this again and again!
What would you think about well crushed pecans put on the sides of this cake?
So delicious! I love all these deserts you create that are healthy and/or keto friendly! It’s so satisfying to be able to have a dessert I can actually enjoy without feeling so guilty! Your desserts are always so good. Love this lemon cream cake!
I had a package of Swerve in my pantry that I wanted to use so I was happy to find this recipe. Though I have to say, I was even happier when it turned out SO good. The lemon flavor was just subtle and worked perfectly with the almond flour. Thank you.
This is so yummy!
Clare L Jones says
I used the cake part of this to cook on top of some rhubarb and strawberries that I had cooked down with some alluose … we had it with fresh whipped cream last night and it was fanbtastic.
I’ll make the lemon cake some time in the future.