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Two freshly cut slices of Kentucky lemon butter cake.

Kentucky Lemon Butter Cake

This Kentucky lemon butter cake has the buttery richness of a traditional Kentucky butter cake, with a fresh lemon twist. It’s the perfect Bundt cake to make for summer gatherings.

A slice of Kentucky lemon butter cake on a plate.

What is Kentucky Butter Cake?

Kentucky butter cake is a dense, tender and moist cake baked up in a Bundt pan. Its very similar to a traditional pound cake recipe, but what makes it different is the butter sauce.

After baking, while the cake is still hot, holes are poked into the Kentucky butter cake and a sugar butter sauce is heated and then poured over the holes. The delicious sauce soaks into the cake and makes it extra moist and flavorful.

You don’t need to live in the South to enjoy this delicious and easy cake. Kentucky butter cake is easy to make and made with pantry staples you most likely have on hand.

Why I Love This Recipe

This Kentucky lemon butter cake has the same buttery richness as a traditional Kentucky butter cake with the added freshness and zing of lemon. This cake is especially great for warm weather and summer pot lucks.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is added to the batter and to the warm butter sauce that gets poured on after baking, giving this cake the perfect lemon flavor. The buttery lemon-y flavor makes this cake so incredibly irresistible, and the perfect warm weather desert.

Tools I Recommend

For this recipe I find the following tools quite handy (Amazon affiliate links):

Tips for Making Kentucky Lemon Butter Cake

  • Use room temperature ingredients – When making this recipe use room temperature eggs. Room temperature ingredients will bind together better than cold ingredients, resulting in a lighter and taller final product.
  • Measure the flour – To avoid dense cake, make sure your flour is measured out correctly. To do this, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off, ensuring it doesn’t become packed, or weigh the flour for exact measurements.
  • Use fresh ingredients – The baking powder in called for in this recipe is necessary to leaven the cake. Make sure your baking powder is fresh for the best results.
  • Don’t over mix the batter – Over mixing the batter can can cause too much gluten development, resulting in a cake that is too dense. Avoid over mixing to keep everything tender.
  • Don’t overbake – Overbaking can cause your cake to come out dry and possibly burn the edges.
A Kentucky lemon butter cake topped with powdered sugar, with three slices cut from it.

Recipe Variations

There are a few delicious ways to adapt this Kentucky lemon butter cake recipe you might enjoy:

  • Try a different citrus: Try using oranges, limes or even grapefruit in place of lemons when making this recipe for fun variations.
  • Add berries: Try adding berries like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries to add a fun fruity twist to this cake. Toss the berries in a little bit of flour and fold them into the prepared cake batter before transferring to the pan to bake.
  • Add spirits: Replace some of the water called for in the lemon butter sauce with your favorite spirits. Lemon pairs nicely with rum, vodka, and nut and orange liqueurs.
  • Spices and herbs: Add a small amount of cardamom or ground ginger to the batter to give this cake a delicate spice, or try garnishing your cake with fresh basil or mint.

How to Store Kentucky Lemon Butter Cake

This Kentucky lemon butter cake will stay moist for days if stored properly. I actually find it tastes better on the second day! Keep the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. If refrigerating leftovers, bring them to room temperature before serving for the best texture.

If you want to make this cake ahead of time you can freeze it. Store the cake in an air tight container after it has completely cooled and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready, pull it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw fully before serving.

More Recipes to Try

Kentucky Lemon Butter Cake

0.0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Samantha Citro


Cooking time


Total time






  • Cake Batter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 5 large eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • Lemon Sauce
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 2-3 tbs water

  • 2 cups powdered sugar


  • Mix the Batter
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt cake pan, then set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt until all the dry ingredients are evenly distributed. Then, set the bowl aside.
  • Using an hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until it is fluffy and aerated, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Add the eggs to the creamed butter-sugar mixture one at a time, beating until each addition is fully incorporated.
  • Whisk in the vanilla, milk, and lemon juice, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until fully combined and you achieve a thick, lump free batter. Be careful not to over mix the batter or your cake could turn out tough.
  • Bake
  • Pour the batter into a prepared Bundt cake pan.
  • Place on the lower center rack of a 350°F (180°C) preheated oven and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Keeping the cake in the Bunt pan, transfer it to a wire cooling rack to cool while you make the butter lemon sauce.
  • Make the Sauce
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • Once melted remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and water.
  • Sift the powdered sugar into butter mixture a little at a time while whisking until fully incorporated.
  • Finish the Cake
  • Using a wooden skewer, poke holes into the cake while it still in the pan being careful not to poke all the way through.
  • Pour the warm butter-lemon sauce over the holes, allowing it to soak into the cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool for at least two hours before inverting it onto a serving plate and dusting with powdered sugar.


  • How to Store: Keep the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. If refrigerating leftovers, bring them to room temperature before serving for the best texture.

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