Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

Bring a bit of Olive Garden to your home kitchen with this indulgent, vibrantly lemon flavored cake highlighted by a creamy filling and buttery crumb top.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.

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Italian lemon cream cake at Olive Garden

Olive Garden offers a lot more than just pasta. This beloved Italian-American chain serves some truly mouthwatering desserts to help diners cap off their taste of the “Old Country.” One of the most popular is Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake, a decadent and visually impressive treat for lovers of sweets everywhere.

What makes the Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake the perfect lemon cake 

Olive Garden’s lemon cream cake is so beloved because of the delicate but indulgent flavors that define it. It’s hard to match the creaminess of mascarpone cheese, which is infused with lemon juice, extract, and zest, while multiple sources of lemon flavor also permeate the cake itself.

There’s even lemony sweetness in the crumb topping, making this cake an ideal choice for those who can’t get enough citrus flavor alongside their sweet treats. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

Don’t be fooled by the impressive appearance of this cake. It’s surprisingly straightforward to make, with only one layer of cake to bake and little equipment required beyond a stand mixer and springform pan. Plus, with the exception of mascarpone cheese, all of the ingredients are easy to find at any grocery store or supermarket. 

Ingredients you’ll need

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to craft this deliciously sweet and refreshing copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.

  • Whole milk
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon extract
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sugar
  • Self-rising flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemons (for zest and juice)
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Limoncello

If you can’t track down any mascarpone cheese, you can substitute full-fat cream cheese. Full-fat is critical; low-fat cream cheese won’t create the proper texture.

You can also double the filling for an over-the-top super cake bursting with lemon cream.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake ingredients in bowls.

How to make lemon cream cake

Don’t be intimidated by the steps in this recipe; they’re relatively straightforward and worth the work when you’re digging into the final result. 

  1. Preheat the oven and grease the springform pan. 
  2. Whisk milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and lemon extract in a medium bowl. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients, followed by about a quarter of the milk and egg mixture. 
  4. Beat on low for about a minute, then scrape the bowl. Continue beating on medium for two more minutes. Then, add the remaining milk-egg mixture and the lemon zest. 
  5. Beat again briefly, scrape the bowl a final time, then beat for a few more seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan.
Preparing batter for copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.
  1. Bake until well-rise and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Rotate the pan about half an hour through to ensure even baking. 
  2. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife along the sides to separate the cake from the cake pan. Disassemble the springform pan and allow the cake to cool.

Meanwhile, turn your attention to other parts of this tasty cake:

  1. To make the lemon filling, combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, lemon zest, kosher salt, lemon extract, and fresh-squeeze lemon juice in a stand mixer bowl. 
  2. Beat with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks develop, scraping the bowl when needed. 
  3. Refrigerate this filling until you’re ready to assemble the cake. 
  4. Finally, make the crumb topping by mixing all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, lemon zest, cold butter, and kosher salt. Use your hands to integrate the butter until no pieces larger than a pea remain. Refrigerate until assembly.

All that’s left is to put these delicious pieces together:

  1. Slice the cooled cake in half, setting aside the top.
  2. Reserve 1¼ cups of filling, and spread the rest evenly over the bottom half of the cake. Cover it with the top half of the cake. Press the top down and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the remaining filling in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. 
  4. Press the crumb topping into the sides and top of the cake, covering as much of the surface as possible.
  5. Refrigerate the entire cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with powdered sugar.  

It’s vital to use the correct 9-inch springform pan for this recipe, as other sizes and forms simply won’t achieve the same effect. 

Frosting a copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.

Recipe variations

For additional lemon flavor, brush limoncello (an Italian lemon-flavored liqueur) onto the bottom layer of the cake while assembling, as well as on top of the filling, to allow it to soak into the top layer. 

Copycat olive garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand and a lemon beside it.

What to serve with Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

Pair this indulgent cake with some fresh fruit, which can provide a sweet, more healthful complement to your dessert. It also pairs well with a variety of beverages, from a steaming cup of coffee or tea to a cold glass of milk. Those over the drinking age can also try an Italian after-dinner liqueur like limoncello or amaretto.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake slice on a plate in front of the cake.

How to store

If you’ve got leftover lemon cream cake, the good news is that it’s relatively simple to store. Just cover the cake with foil or plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container large enough for the remaining cake. Store it in the fridge.

Freezing isn’t typically recommended, as the dairy in the filling can degrade in quality and texture when thawed. 

How long will lemon cream cake last?

When stored correctly, this copycat Olive Garden cake will last three to five days in the fridge after baking. 

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake and a lemon.

Love Olive Garden? Try these copycat recipes!

Favorite Cake Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy cake recipes and the best Italian recipes right here on CopyKat!

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.

Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

An incredible Italian Lemon Cake with a creamy filling and buttery crumb topping. 
5 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Cake, Lemon Cream Cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12
Calories: 665kcal


Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Lemon Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional Syrup

  • 1/3 cup limoncello

Crumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces cold butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar


Cake Directions

  • Grease a 9” springform pan and place it on a cookie sheet. Place a rack in the bottom third of your oven, and preheat to 325F. 
  • Whisk together the milk, egg whites, and extracts. Set aside close to your mixer. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add sugar, self-rising flour, and salt. Beat briefly to combine evenly. Add the softened butter and about ¼ of the milk/egg white mixture. Starting on low speed, mix until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes to mix in some air and lighten the texture. Add the remaining wet ingredients and the zest and beat for about 30 seconds to blend in the liquid. Scrape bowl and beat a few more seconds. 
  • Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until well-risen, domed, and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and gently rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Tent foil over the pan if necessary to prevent over-browning. Cake is done when it is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top springs back when pressed lightly. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake and then remove the springform sides. Allow cake to cool completely.

Lemon Cream Filling and Frosting

  • Combine all the filling ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until the mixture just reaches stiff peaks. Scrape the bowl as necessary and, if using mascarpone, take care to not overwhip or the filling will become grainy. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. 

Crumb Topping

  • Combine all the crumb ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your hands, mix/crumble together until there is no loose flour and none of the crumbs is larger than about the size of a chickpea. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. 

Cake Assembly

  • Carefully slice the cake in half horizontally with a long serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Place the domed half on a plate. Keep the bottom half on the base of the springform pan and reattach the sides. (Optional) Brush half the limoncello evenly on the bottom layer of cake. Reserve 1 ¼ cups lemon cream filling and spread the remaining filling in a generous layer on top of the bottom layer. (Optional) Brush/drizzle the remaining limoncello on top of the filling so it will soak into the top layer. Place the top layer of cake on top of the filling, and press down gently. Refrigerate for about an hour to chill the filling. Remove the springform sides from the pan. 
  • Spread the reserved frosting in a very thin layer around the sides and on top of the cake. Don’t worry if a little cake shows through—it really will be a very thin layer of icing which will act as glue for the crumbs. Holding the cake at an angle over a tray with one hand, gather up a small handful of crumbs and press them into the side of the cake, letting the excess fall into the tray. Rotate the cake a little and press more crumbs into the side. Continue until you’ve covered all the sides with crumbs. Pour the remaining crumbs evenly on top of the cake. This will be a very generous layer. If you have any thin spots, fill in with any crumbs that fell onto the tray. Press the top crumbs into place and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving. 
  • Garnish right before serving. Use a fine-mesh sieve to sift powdered sugar evenly over the top of the crumbs.


To make clean cuts when serving, use a long sharp knife with a thin blade and wipe the blade clean between cuts.
Store any leftover cake, covered, in the refrigerator.


Calories: 665kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 1110IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 0.6mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Diane Tindell

    I had this dessert at Olive Garden a couple weeks ago. I noticed that they don’t put the crumb topping on anymore, the cake has a yellowish tint to it (not pure white like this recipe) and it was not domed. I baked this recipe afterwards, hoping to duplicate it for my granddaughter’s birthday. I also had trouble with the cake not rising and then it sank in the middle. Ugh! The cake turned out more of a pound cake texture rather than the sponge type that Olive Garden served. The frosting ingredients made way more than was needed for the filling and a light coat around the cake. I lightly baked the topping ingredients on a sheet pan because the raw flour idea did not appeal to me. After the cake sat in the refrig for a couple days, the moisture from the frosting allowed the topping to soften a bit so that it wasn’t crunchy. I also brushed the bottom layer with limoncello and spread a layer of lemon curd on the filling. Next time I will probably use a lemon sponge cake recipe. Also beat the whipping cream and mascarpone separately and then fold together.

    • Stephanie

      I am sorry this cake isn’t what you had wanted to make. I haven’t been back to the Olive Garden thanks to the Corona virus. I do believe they have changed the cake. I will have to revisit this recipe in the future.

  2. Angie

    Would love to try your cake, especially since it’s not using a cake mix like most recipes I’ve seen for this cake. But I have one small concern, is it ok to eat raw flour ???? Would love your feedback. Thanks 😁

    • Areta

      You can bake flour on a sheet pan at 350F for about 10 min if you are concerned. I’ve done this for edible cookie dough and works awesome! Just watch the flour as you want to heat it through and not brown or burn it.

    • Cj

      There is a large risk in eating raw flour..
      You can actually buy heat treated for now. Or as previously explained, you can do it yourself.

  3. Ann Hart

    I am going to make this cake. Can you make just the cake part ahead of time and freeze it, then finish it when needed?


  4. Birdie

    5 stars
    I made this cake yesterday for my brothers birthday and it was AMAZINGLY! I didn’t have lemon so I used orange instead. . I made a special dinner for my brother and his favorite part of the meal was the cake.
    Thanks for developing the recipe and sharing it with us.
    Happy New Year!

  5. Darlene Hogan

    I spread a thin layer of cream filling on the top and side of cake. I use a box of lemon cake mix and cut in the butter like you would with crumb topping on a french apple pie. Then I cover the top and side of cake with lemon crumb topping. Not need to add sugar. The cake mix is sweet and tart. Big hit with my family. Hint: Use equal amounts of mascarpone cheese, (not cream cheese) powered sugar and whipcream, lemon zest and lemon juice for cake filling.

  6. Lauren

    I tried this recipe but to no avail. I had to bake it at least an extra half an hour because the center was gooey. I did put tin foil over the top to keep the edges from burning and eventually, the center cooked. Unfortunately, when I took the sides of the springform pan off, it didn’t rise at all! I was so disappointed! I was wondering what I did wrong- it almost seems like it’s missing an ingredient, like baking powder. I did use the self-rising flour. I’m so sad because it seemed really promising!

    • Stephanie

      It sounds like the leavening agent did not work. Could it be possible that the self-rising flour was old? Sometimes food can be old or not properly rotated on the grocery store shelf, and you could be purchasing older product unknowingly. I am really sad the recipe wasn’t a success for you.

  7. Gregory Toran

    Drive to Olive Garden and buy a piece at $7.50 each? No thanks, I read food blogs because I like baking, so I am trying this one!


    Hello Stephanie—First of all I love that you so detailed in your instructions–secondly I love the fact that you share this recipe using a from scratch cake recipe and not a box—boxes are fine but I just prefer from scratch and lastly I wanted to ask you a question regarding the crumb topping. Is the topping baked at all or how exactly does that work to combine the raw flour and sugar and butter. I imagine crumb topping to be buttery and crumbly with a mild crunch. I have had many of their desserts but have not tried this one so I am not familiar with the cake but have heard its delicious. I was thinking maybe a thin layer of lemon curd with the filling might be good as well. Let me know that you think.

    • Stephanie

      The flour is raw. You can pasteurize it yourself by cooking it for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, the crumb topping is not crunchy, it looks like it could be, but it isn’t. If you are concerned about the topping, you could omit this part of the recipe.


        Thank you I will try the pasteurizing in the oven eventually but I would like to try it the way it was intended first—I really want to experience it before I change anything—looks so good—your page is wonderful and so are the recipes—thanks again

  9. B. Chandrabose

    Agreed that the comment from Patricia was gratuitous/unnecessary, just skip the site if you don’t want to spend much money or time on food. Not everyone wants the cheapest, no frills recipe all the time. Eg, I cook all kinds of ways and think this recipe looks terrific.

    Also, just wanted to confirm that the required butter amount is 6 oz? Was confused by “6 ounces sticks unsalted butter, softened”. Thanks.

  10. Tammy

    I am so making this delicious looking cake! I am nowhere near an Olive Garden, and I have never tried their cake, but I do love a good lemon cake! I’m just confused on the amount of butter, what is the cup measure for the butter?

  11. Beth

    Wow! I’m more than excited to try this recipie! You know that dessert, the one you’re always telling everyone they HAVE to try? This is it for me & I don’t have to drag everyone to OG (which is not bad, but limited for my taste) & force them to order this. I can just present it at my next dinner party and then, yum! they will finally understand. Thank you, Stephanie, for wonderfully detailed instructions on how to make one of my very favorite restaurant cakes. Plus, it’s guaranteed to be fresh!

  12. YesImadeit

    This sounds luscious and I will keep it in mind for the next time I need to take a cake somewhere! I’ve never had Olive Garden’s cake.

  13. Ronda

    Stephanie, I have come here many times to get some of your recipes from my favorite places. I am very appreciative of these, and they are free!! It is beyond me that someone would take the time to criticize someone that has put in so much time as a service to others. Please continue to send these out, I know there are a lot of others like me that love to try these and appreciate what you do.!!! Thank you !!

5 from 18 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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