Lemon Drop Cake

"Where has this been all my life?" ...

...Have you tried something for the first time and thought “WHERE has this been all my life?” This Lemon Drop cake was inspired by one of those moments! I tried my first drink at 21. Prior to that the only alcohol I’d encountered was a tiny sip of my dad’s champagne at a friend’s wedding (it was awful to my 15ish year old memory)  and a taste of beer…..which I still can’t stand. 

EVERYTHING changed with that lemon drop! It was amazing. And that was the day I finally realized that all alcohol is not created equal!

(Disclaimer: if you love champagne and/or beer, please feel no need to send me any hate mail. I know people like them, they’re just not MY preference. Fair?)

Well, as with all great drinks….my brain went instantly to working on a way to incorporate those flavors into a cake! Result is below….give it a shot (lol, pun not intended but I'm leaving it anyway) and let me know how it goes!

(Disclosure: As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases, and my posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!) 


"Can I leave out the vodka?"

  • The short answer is yes! You'll just lose a bit of that classic Lemon Drop martini flavor. But it's not a bad idea to leave the alcohol out for any group that might not all be over 21. 😉 
    Replace the vodka in the cake layers with buttermilk, and the vodka in the frosting with milk. Obviously - leave out the cake soak, or use equal parts lemon juice and simple syrup. 

"Can I make the cake / frosting ahead of time?"

  • Definitely! Wrap the cake layers well and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Transfer the frosting to a zip-lock bag and squeeze out the extra air, and again - refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. 
    On a related note – cover any remaining cake well after serving to keep it from drying out - it will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

Lemon Drop Cake pinterest pin

Lemon Drop Cake

Packed with the flavors of the cocktail, this Lemon Drop Cake features lemon vodka layers and frosting, and a martini glass and drip topper!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Decorating time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Drop Cake, Lemon Drop Martini Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 752kcal
Author: Sarah H



Lemon Drop Cake Layers

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks, room temperature)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vodka (I used Pinnacle whipped vodka)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon extract (not lemon juice; it's likely to react with your baking powder)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest (I recommend fresh, but dried lemon zest is another option)
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring (optional)


  • 8 ounces one package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter (16 Tablespoons or two sticks, softened)
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoon vodka
  • 1-2 Tablespoons lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Drip & Decorations

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (for cake drip)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (for cake drip)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (for cake drip; add after chocolate and whipping cream are melted together)
  • 1 drop yellow food coloring
  • 2-3 small lemons
  • ¼ cup corn syrup (optional; this is the easiest way I’ve found to rim martini glasses)
  • ¼ cup sugar + teaspoon of lemon zest (to rim glass; optional)


Lemon Drop Cake layers

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
  • Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. (A hand mixer will work as well)
  • Mix bits of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  • Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Add in the buttermilk, vanilla, vodka, lemon extract, lemon zest, and food coloring if desired, and mix at a low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
  • Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
  • Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
  • Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized edges can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you trim the layers while they’re still warm, they'll crumble and break.
  • While you’re waiting…make your frosting!


  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with vodka and lemon extract until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Add salt and beat until well combined.
  • (Filling (optional) – I removed about 1 cup of frosting from the bowl and added another 2 Tablespoons each of both lemon juice and vodka, along with a couple drops of yellow food coloring to add a bit more flavor and color to the inside of the cake. Optional but recommended!)
  • Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired; these layers bake fairly flat and I didn't take much from the tops). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle.
  • (I wanted a bit more of a liqueur kick to the cake layers, so I used a jigger to infuse each one with about 30mL/2T of a mix of vodka and a bit of lemon juice. Again - optional but recommended!)
  • Pipe a rim of white frosting around the edge, and fill with lemon filling. (Or if you’re not using a lemon filling, spread the layer with frosting). Zest a bit of lemon over the frosting, and add your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
  • Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
  • Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place the icing comb on the cake circle against your cake and run the comb around the cake to texture the frosting. Place the cake into the freezer for about 20 minutes to set the frosting and get the cake cold enough to set the white chocolate ganache decoration.

Rimming the martini glass

  • Pour corn syrup onto a small plate, and sugar and lemon zest onto another separate plate. Dip the martini glass rim into the corn syrup, letting any excess drips fall off. Then dip the rim into the sugar and lemon zest to coat it evenly.

Cake drip & Decorating

  • Place heavy cream and white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Add lemon extract and food coloring and stir until smooth.
  • When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm but still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a piping bag or squeeze bottle. Squeeze about ¼ c of the ganache into the martini glass, and then quickly invert the glass over the cake, pressing the glass into the cake at an angle (check out my video for an extra guide on this step). Slowly drizzle ganache away from the glass, letting it fall down the edge of the cake to create drips.
  • Pipe a few frosting swirls around the glass and add a few spiraled lemon slices. Add a few quartered lemon slices and a bit of lemon zest around the edge of the cake too, if you’d like.
  • And you're done! ;) Congratulations!



Please note nutrition information is an estimate and may not be exactly accurate. 


Calories: 752kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 37g

Did you make this Lemon Drop Cake? Let me know how it went – or make my day and find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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