This Gluten Free Lemon Pudding Cake is so simple to make with 6 real food ingredients. A warm lemon cake sits atop a delicate custard-like middle in this light lemon pudding cake recipe. Delicious right out of the oven, it’s an excellent party dish. It’s equally flavorful and served chilled with coconut whipped cream, too. We’ve made this lemon cake healthier than your standard pudding cake by using gluten-free ingredients and Greek yogurt instead of cream. Dairy-free and sugar-free options!
Posted in honor of Celiac Awareness month, this easy gluten free lemon pudding cake recipe was the first dessert I ever attempted after going gluten-free! As a result, it holds a special place in my heart and remains one of my favorite treats today.
What Is a Gluten Free Lemon Pudding Cake?
If you haven’t heard of pudding cake, don’t be alarmed, it’s sometimes called ” self-saucing lemon cake“. Similar to my impossibly easy crustless sweet potato pie or a soufflé, the batter magically transforms in the oven (aka lemon magic cake). It’s a simple uncomplicated dessert that’s been around a long time. Gotta love those resourceful recipes.
There are actually several different flavors of pudding cake recipes like vanilla pudding cake, chocolate pudding cake, or our favorite lemon pudding cake. No matter which flavor you choose, there’s a reason they stand the test of time!
In this gluten-free recipe, the lemon pudding cake creates an airy layer of cake (similar to that of a soufflé or meringue ) on top and a creamy custard or pudding-like texture in the middle. Hence the word “pudding.” Believe it or not, no pudding is actually involved. It’s already a light dessert, due to the citrusy flavors, but we’ve lightened it up even more. Oh yes!
What’s In Lemon Pudding Cake, Anyway?
One of the best things about pudding cake is that it comes together with just a few simple ingredients. Of course, we made a few swaps to make the original recipe a little more allergy-friendly and better for you, too. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Large Eggs – The yolks and whites are separated and combined again to create a light, fluffy texture on top with a rich center filling.
- Butter – Unsalted butter or dairy-free butter helps form the custard center.
- Lemons – Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest are included to create the vibrant, refreshing flavor we love about this lemon pudding recipe.
- Greek Yogurt – This is our secret weapon to making this lemon pudding cake a little healthier while maintaining the tangy flavor and smooth, custard center we adore. We recommend using full-fat Greek yogurt. However, any percentage you have on hand can be used. Just make sure it’s plain or vanilla flavored!
Ingredient Swap: Replace the yogurt with coconut milk yogurt or a high-fat non-dairy yogurt for a dairy-free option.
- Gluten-Free Flour – We use a gluten-free 1:1 baking flour for this dessert. We don’t recommend swapping it out, because the taste and texture of your recipe just won’t be the same.
- Baking Staples – Vanilla extract, fine sugar or a sugar substitute, and salt combine to sweeten the batter and enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
- Toppings – We love to serve this lemon pudding cake topped with powdered sugar or a powdered sugar substitute, fresh berries, and extra lemon slices! Feel free to get creative, and mix and match whatever toppings you like best, though.
Pro-Tip: Use room temperature ingredients for easier mixing and to prevent the batter from being overworked.
How To Make An Easy Lemon Pudding Cake Recipe
Pudding cake recipes require a bit of time and patience, but they’re simple to make. Just follow the steps below, and don’t forget to scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom for the complete details!
- Prepare. Preheat the oven, and lightly butter or oil a baking pan. Or, if you prefer to make multiple, smaller cakes, grease 5-6 (6-ounce) ramekins instead.
- Separate the Eggs. Carefully separate the eggs and egg yolks into two separate bowls. Keep reading here to find 3 easy ways to separate your eggs.
- Whisk. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, butter, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, vanilla, lemon zest, ½ cup of sugar, and salt until smooth. Then, slowly pour in the flour, and combine until smooth. Set the mixture aside.
- Beat. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft foamy peaks form. Sprinkle in ¼ cup of sugar, and continue to beat until glossy peaks form.
- Combine. Fold half the egg white mixture into the bowl with the egg yolk and lemon mixture. Once smooth, add the remaining egg white, and continue to mix gently until a soft, airy, thick batter is formed.
- Bake. Transfer the pudding sauce mixture to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Place the mixture in a large deep pan or casserole dish, and create a water bath by filling the pan roughly ⅓-½ of the way full with hot water. Carefully transfer the cake batter to the oven, and bake until set. Keep a close eye on the oven, and be careful not to let it burn!
- Cool and Serve. Remove the lemon pudding cake from the oven and from the water bath, and set it aside on a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Add any remaining toppings, and enjoy warm or at room temperature!
How to Store
With a prep time of just 20 minutes and a total time under an hour, this gluten lemon pudding cake recipe is really best served fresh. However, if you want to make it in advance or happen to have leftovers, it can be stored for later.
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container, and keep them stored in the refrigerator for up to 3- 5 days. Then, when you’re ready to eat, reheat them in the microwave or set them out to come to room temperature before serving. Your cake will taste good as new!
More of Our Favorite
Gluten Free Lemon Desserts
Looking for more lemon lovin’ desserts? Don’t miss out on the gluten-free options below!
Gluten Free Lemon Pudding Cake Recipe
- Total Time: 55-65 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
Celebrate every occasion with this easy, refreshing gluten free lemon pudding cake recipe! Dairy-free-friendly.
- 3 large eggs (at room temperature), separated into whites and yolks
- ½ cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons, juiced)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest or ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
- ¾ cups plain or vanilla Greek yogurt – room temperature works best (see notes for dairy free substitute)
- ¾ cup fine sugar or sugar substitute, divided
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter, melted then slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ to ⅓ cup (45 grams) gluten free 1:1 baking flour
- Topping – powdered sugar, fresh berries, and/or lemon slices
- Preheat the oven to 330 F. Lightly butter or oil an 8-inch square or round baking dish. If making multiple cakes, lightly butter or oil 5 to 6 (6-ounce) ramekins.
- Separate the eggs and place the yolks and whites in separate bowls.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, Greek yogurt, ½ cup sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Sift or whisk in the flour and mix until smooth. Set aside.
- Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat/whisk the egg whites on medium-high until soft foamy peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle in ¼ cup of the remaining sugar and beat/whisk again until glossy peaks (to the touch) are formed, another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk/lemon mixture. Gently stir to combine. Fold in the remaining egg whites and gently mix so a soft and airy but thick batter is formed.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared 8-inch baking dish or divide the batter evenly into 5 to 6 ramekins filling ¾ full. Place the baking dish or ramekins in a deep pan or a large casserole dish. Create a water bath by gently adding hot water to the pan filling ⅓ to ½ way up the side of the ramekins or ½ way up the cake pan. Carefully transfer the pan into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes for the 8-inch cake or 35 to 40 minutes for the ramekins. Check for doneness at 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Using oven mitts or a towel, carefully remove the cake pan or ramekins from the water bath in the baking dish. Place on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving. (See notes)
- Serve warm or cool to room temperature and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat or let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
Substitutes – Coconut milk yogurt or a high-fat non-dairy yogurt may replace the Greek yogurt with a dairy-free option. The taste and texture will vary.
Baking Tips – It’s best to use room temperature liquid ingredients and eggs. Once baked and cooled, the cake(s) will slightly deflate, but that’s normal.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 207
- Sugar: 24.9 g
- Sodium: 96.7 mg
- Fat: 6.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 31 g
- Fiber: 0.3 g
- Protein: 6.1 g
- Cholesterol: 105.7 mg
Keywords: pudding cake, gluten free lemon pudding cake, lemon pudding cake, lemon pudding cake recipe
Do you have questions, feedback, or tips about this recipe? Leave a comment below with any questions or feedback you’d like to share!
I made the lemon pudding cakes for Easter and they came out perfect and were delicious. l followed your suggestions , separated the yolks and whipped the egg whites and folded them into the batter. I used 5 ounce ramekins butter and sugared the ramekins used full fat Greek yogurt and a little xtra lemon rind and baked them in he water bath as you suggested for 35 minutes. I cooled them in the fridge and they flipped out on to a small plate with a perfect pudding top and wonderful cake on the bottom. The rest is history because everyone devoured them. Thanks again for your guidance. I will surely be making them again.
I’m so glad! Did you follow the updated recipe I sent you via email?
Yes I did. Thank you. We decided to have them as a cold dessert with a dollop of whipped cream on the side and some fresh raspberries on the side sprinkled with the confectionary sugar as you suggested. Awesome!
How long do bake the pudding in ramekins
Good question! I haven’t tried it in ramekins in a while. I need to retest that. What size ramekins? how many?
Ramekins are 6oz. Size I have 6 of them . How long would I bake them. Thanks
Hi Cara! Are you making these for Easter? I’ll be retesting soon, but probably not by Sunday. . My recommendation would be to place the ramekins in 9×13 baking dish. Add hot water about 1/3 of way up of ramekins.
Carefully place in oven. Bake until the lemon cakes are puffy and golden, about 35-40 minutes. Check at 30 minutes for progress. They will deflate a bit after cooling. Hope that helps! And thanks for bringing this recipe fix to my attention.
Oh and I would also make sure to separate egg yolks and egg whites and whip egg whites until fluffy. Then fold into batter. Otherwise they won’t rise much in the ramekins
Thank you I will try your suggestions. I will let you know of the results. Yes I am making them for Easter as one of my guests is gluten free and I am sure we will all enjoy them. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
Great! I actually sent you an email with updated notes and measurements. I ended up retesting late last night. Just in case 😉
How much lemon juice is 3 lemons? I have some rather larger than normal lemons on my tree and don’t want to add too much juice and ruin the recipe.
Hi Ross! So one lemon equals 3 tablespoons, give or take. 3 would be around 1/2 cup. Let me know if that helps! We can put that in recipe card too.
what can you substitute for the yogurt as guests are dairy free?
Hi Bella! Do you have any non dairy milk based yogurts are your grocer? Vanilla flavored? If not, you could try canned coconut milk but it might be very dense so you might need to add another egg.
This is another favorite lemon cake recipe that can be made dairy free! Super easy!
I can’t wait to try this. Looks so yum.. Thanks heaps.
Keep me posted Janet! Thanks!
Super odd question….. but have you , or had anyone try to freeze this? I don’t want to eat the whole cake and i have no one to share it with these days.
I haven’t tried it yet, but worth a shot! I would let it thaw overnight before reheating.
After following the recipe exactly, I did not get a cake layer on top. Good lemony flavor, but all pudding. Not so great for my husband who doesn’t care for pudding. Is it supposed to be served hot or cold?
For me it also turned out as only pudding – nice, lemony pudding – but no cake. Not sure what I did wrong?
Oh no! What type of flour/yogurt did you use?
This cake is delicious! It’s so light and refreshing!
Thank you for such a great blogs! fantastic details and info.
I really loved it!! So delicious and refreshing!
You did an amazing job with recipe, this cake is amazing!
Sarah | Well and Full
This cake is absolutely stunning! I love lemony desserts, especially for spring 🙂
This cake is stunning! Going to make for Mother’s Day.
Love how moist this cake is!
My MIL introduced me to pudding cakes and my whole family loves them! Your lemon version is delicious!!!
Love anything lemon. Love how easy this cake is and how delicious it is.
Major cheers to you for optimal health! What a gorgeous, refreshing cake with which to celebrate.
And cheers to you my friend!