This easy lemon cardamom cake is delicate, light, moist, intensely citrusy and not overly sweet. Ground cardamom adds a subtle floral flavor and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios provides just the right amount of crunch.
If you like this cake, be sure to check out more of our delicious cardamom desserts!
- What does cardamom taste like?
- Cake batter ingredients:
- Glaze ingredients:
- Recipe and ingredient notes & tips:
- What kind of yogurt should I use?
- How long is the baking time?
- Can I make the cake without the glaze?
- How to make the cake:
- How to store the cake:
- How to freeze the cake:
- More delicious cardamom desserts:
- Full Printable Recipe
What does cardamom taste like?
Cardamom has a fresh, floral, minty and lemony flavor that works great with citrus in baked goods, such as this cake.
Cake batter ingredients:
Recipe and ingredient notes & tips:
- 1 teaspoon cardamom will give the cake a subtle cardamom flavor. If you prefer a stronger flavor, add 2 teaspoons ground cardamom.
- The pistachios add both visual appeal but also to add some crunch and a great texture contrast to the delicate, light and airy cake.
- To grease the loaf pan, I find it easiest to grab a paper towel, fold it up, then scoop up the vegetable shortening with it and rub it around the insides of the pan.
What kind of yogurt should I use?
You can use either plain, whole milk Greek yogurt or plain, whole milk regular yogurt for this cake (use the same amounts). Both kinds will make a delicious cake but they will produce slightly different textures. Greek yogurt will produce a fine crumb while regular yogurt will produce a slightly coarser crumb.
I photographed a slice of each version of the cake and you can see the difference in the photos below.
How long is the baking time?
The baking time will be between about 45 and 60 minutes and depends in part on the kind of yogurt you use. If you’re using Greek yogurt, it will be toward the shorter end of the range, for regular yogurt it will be toward the longer end.
Can I make the cake without the glaze?
Yes, you can do that. It won’t look as pretty as with the glaze and the pistachios but it will still taste great and very lemony.
How to make the cake:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Cut a piece of parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of a 9″ x 5″ x 2 ½″ loaf pan. Grease the pan (including the surface of the parchment bottom) well with vegetable shortening, sprinkle flour into the pan and shake out the excess. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 2. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom to a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Step 3. With an electric mixer or standing mixer, whip butter and sugar until fluffy.
Step 4. Whip in eggs followed by lemon zest. Set aside for a moment.
Step 5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract.
Step 6. With the mixer running, gradually whip the dry and wet ingredients into the batter, alternating between the two and starting with the dry ingredients. Whip the batter for a few minutes until it turns lighter in color and becomes firmer and smoother.
Step 7. Fill the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out completely clean. Check in several spots along the center length of the cake to make sure the cake is fully baked.
Let the cake cool a bit in the pan on a wire rack, then run a knife around the edges of the pan, turn the cake out and let it cool completely.
Step 8. Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. (If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add more lemon juice.) Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, then sprinkle chopped pistachios on.
How to store the cake:
You can let the cake sit out at room temperature, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 1 day.
How to freeze the cake:
You can also transfer the glazed cake into a freezer bag and freeze it. To thaw, let the cake sit on the kitchen counter for about 2 hours.
More delicious cardamom desserts:
- Baked Cinnamon Cardamom Donuts25 Minutes
- Cardamom Meringue Cookies1 Hours 55 Minutes
- Seedless Blackberry Sauce with Cardamom (for Cheesecake and Waffles)15 Minutes
- Apple Frangipane Tart with Cranberries, Orange and Cardamom1 Hours 20 Minutes
See all cardamom recipes →
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating or comment! Thanks!
Full Printable Recipe
Lemon Cardamom Cake
- measuring cups and spoons
- citrus zester
- citrus juicer
- knife and cutting board
- parchment paper
- 9" x 5" x 2.5" loaf pan
- mixing bowls
- standing mixer or handheld mixer
- liquid measuring cup (optional)
- rubber spatula
For the cake:
- vegetable shortening to grease the loaf pan
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting the pan
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom (1 teaspoon will give the cake a subtle cardamom flavor. If you prefer a stronger flavor, use 2 teaspoons)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest (you need 3 large or 4 – 5 small lemons for that)
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons plain, whole milk yogurt**
- 4 teaspoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 5 teaspoons lemon juice, or more, depending on the humidity in your kitchen
- chopped pistachios
For the cake:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper and fit into the bottom of a 9 inch x 5 inch x 2 ½ inch loaf pan. Secure it to the bottom of the pan with a few dabs of vegetable shortening.
- Grease the pan well with vegetable shortening (including the surface of the parchment bottom),* sprinkle flour into the pan and then shake out the excess.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
- Whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Add the eggs and continue to whip until well incorporated and smooth.
- Whip in the lemon zest, then set aside for a moment.
- In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk lemon juice, yogurt, milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
- Whip the dry and wet ingredients into the butter mix, little by little, alternating between the two and starting with the dry ingredients. Whip for a few minutes on high speed until you have a very smooth and creamy-looking batter.
- Fill the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out completely clean (about 45 to 60 minutes). (Check in several spots along the center length of the cake to make sure that the cake is fully baked.) If you're using Greek yogurt, the baking time will be on the shorter end of the range. If you're using regular yogurt, it will be on the longer end.
- Once the pan is cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Unmold the cake and then let it cool completely.
For the glaze:
- Whisk the two ingredients together and keep adding lemon juice until you have a slow-moving icing. (If the icing ends up too runny, whisk in a little more powdered sugar).
- Drizzle the icing on the cake and sprinkle the chopped pistachios on.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.
I used this recipe for a birthday cake and it is fabulous! I wish I could include a photo, because I doubled the recipe and used 3 round pans for a triple layer! I also used half plain Greek and half vanilla Greek, because it’s what I had, and it’s such a light and lovely texture.
I think I would add just a touch more cardamom next time, because there will definitely be a next time for this delight! Thanks for sharing it!
Hi Cathy, Thank you so very much for your lovely comment!! I am so happy you enjoyed the cake!
Can I change the pistachios, for nuts? Or it’s not the same. Thanks Again!!
Hi there! I have not tried that but honestly I don’t think it would work as well. I would rather recommend to just leave the pistachios out and make just the cake with the glaze. All the best! nicole
This is the 4th to tried to make this, and it still doesn’t turn out well. I followed the receipe spot on and it seems to never bake well in the centre. At step 9 it is never smooth and creamy lookin batter, at is always so thick; on my 3th try, I added a bit more milk and it did not cook all the way through,
Will get a another receipe to try
Hi Glenn, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good experience with this cake. I have made it many times and it has always turned out great for me. I’ve also received very good feedback from other readers about this cake, so unfortunately I’m not sure why it didn’t turn out well for you.
Tried it for the first time last night and didn’t have any issues with it. Do you think it might be your oven? The texture of the cake is excellent.
This was really delicious as a cake, but I wanted to try cupcakes with this recipe, any tips?
So happy to hear that you enjoyed the cake! I haven’t made cupcakes with this recipe yet but another reader did and reported that it worked well. :)
All the best,
Hello !! How much more Cardamom could I put in my cake? The Recipe says one teaspoon, could you add two? How many do you recommend? Thanks!
After I saw your question I went ahead and baked this cake again, this time with 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom. I tasted great! So, yes, you can definitely use 2 teaspoons for a strong cardamom flavor. I’ll add that option to the recipe.
All the best,
Made this tonight ! The cake itself is moist and fluffy. There is a LOT of lemon flavour, which I LOVE. I find the cardamom to be a bit lacking. I may try to increase the cardamom next time. but would definitely make again!
That’s great to hear, Giuliana! Thanks much for coming back and leaving feedback, it’s much appreciated! :)
A refreshingly excellent cake! I’ve fallen in love with cardamom over the past few years and this is an exemplary way to use it!!!! I went with two tsp. of freshly ground cardamom and it’s there, but not overpowering and blends sooo wonderfully with the lemon. I accidentally added 1 1/3 cup of flour instead of 1 1/2 cups, so it needed about 75 min to bake, oh dear… But it’s moist and delicious and not the least bit overbaked! I used half the glaze recipe since I love the cake so much I didn’t want to overshadow it. Thank you so much for this recipe! I think I’ll rework it into a lemon poppyseed loaf as well because it’s simply splendid!
That’s wonderful to hear, I’m so happy you liked the cake, Rachel!! Thank you so much for making this recipe and for coming back and leaving such a great review, I really appreciate that! You made my day! :)
Oh and I almost forgot the 5 stars this deserves!
Thank you so much, Rachel! Hope you’re having a wonderful day. :)
I would actually suggest that there’s still not enough cardamom/too much lemon. Obviously it’s up to personal taste so I’ll be making this again with less lemon. Tips for how to replace the lemon juice welcome ;)
I’m excited to try this recipe – cardamom is my favorite spice. My son has a pistachio allergy – is there a different nut you could recommend to replace the pistachios on top? Almonds maybe?
I haven’t tried the cake with almonds but I think that would be a terrific substitute. I would go with sliced almonds. If you make it that way, I’d love to know how you liked it!
All the best,
Love the recipe, although, can you use oil instead of butter?
I have never tried to use oil instead of butter in this recipe so I don’t know if that would work.