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Homemade angel food cake without a box mix! This light and fluffy lemon angel food cake is the perfect spring time cake that won’t leave you feeling loaded down!

lemon angel food cake

So, if you’ve been following along for a little while, you’ll know that every year I make a birthday cake in honor of my Dad’s birthday! It’s a fun little tradition, and the kids are more than happy to eat a random birthday cake for dessert. It just so happens that his birthday landed on a Thursday this year, which is my usual posting day – so it worked out perfectly to post this cake. He would have been 65 today. So hard to believe. 

My Dad loved angel food cake! Since angel food is so light and fluffy, we always joked about scrunching up the whole cake and stuffing it into our mouths all at once. Ha! 

We always used a box mix for our angel food cakes growing up, but I like making them from scratch now. This lemon angel food cake is fully homemade, and it’s really so simple! You just need a TON of egg whites! I’ve got some ideas for the leftover yolks down below. 😉

lemon angel food cake

How do you make an angel food cake from scratch?

As I mentioned, you’ll need a ton of egg whites, about 1 1/2 cups, which equates to about 12 eggs.

Tip: I don’t recommend using boxed egg whites for this recipe. Use the real deal!

You will want to start ahead of time with this cake to ensure you can bring the egg whites to room temperature (this is important)!

Also, you will need VERY fine sugar for this recipe, so the cake can maintain its fluffiness and height. I use castor sugar, also known as berry sugar, since its already super-fine. To make it extra fine, put the sugar in a food processor and pulse it a few times.

Now, for the flour. The flour also (you guessed it) needs to be very light and fluffy! Measure out the flour, and then sift it at least 4 times over a mixing bowl. 

Start the recipe by whisking the egg whites, on high, with the salt and and cream of tartar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. You can also use a handheld electric mixer for this recipe. Whip the whites until they begin to form medium-hard peaks. After that, add the sugar, while running the mixer on low. Once added, turn up the mixer on high again and whip until the mixture is smooth and glossy. 

At this point, add the the lemon zest, followed by the lemon and vanilla extract. Whisk again on high until the mixture is very thick. Now that everything is thickened up and fluffy, we don’t want to ruin that height! 

Add the flour in 3 additions, folding gently with the spatula each time to incorporate the flour. You do not want to stir this batter too vigorously!

Pour the batter into the tube cake pan, giving it a little shake to smooth things out. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until it springs back when poked lightly and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Invert the cake (in the pan) immediately on to a wire rack or a glass. This allows air flow to continue circulating while the cake cools, without losing height!

What do you top this lemon angel food cake with?

You can serve this cake as is, with whipped cream and some berries (delicious), or you can whip up some of this delightful lemon glaze! It’s simple! All you need for this recipe is:

  • powdered sugar
  • lemon juice 
  • lemon zest
  • butter

Pour it over the cake when the cake has fully cooled, and serve!

lemon angel food cake

The cake is great to stay at room temperature for 2-3 days, in an airtight container – if it lasts that long!

Do you have to use a tube pan for this cake?

You definitely don’t want to use anything other than a tube pan for an angel food cake. The pan is essential for angel food, but I realize this is not a pan you might already have. Don’t fret! 

This article from Epicurious has some great ideas on how to get around the missing tube pan problem!

Ok – one last thing to address.

What can you do with all of the leftover egg yolks?

I don’t know about you, but I get really antsy about having a large quantity of egg yolks sitting there in the kitchen. Maybe that’s just me? Anyway, here’s a couple of recipe ideas for those leftover yolks:

Hopefully you guys will love this cake for spring. It’s getting super sunny here and lemon is just what you need!

lemon angel food cake

lemon angel food cake

Some of my other favorite cakes from the blog:

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lemon angel food cake

Lemon Angel Food Cake

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Katherine | Love In My Oven
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1 cake 1x


Homemade angel food cake without a box mix! This light and fluffy lemon angel food cake is the perfect spring time cake that won’t leave you feeling loaded down!


  • 1 3/4 cups castor sugar*
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites**, room temperature
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure lemon extract

Lemon Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Begin by running the sugar through a food processor a few times (pulsing it) to make it extra fine. You can also use a high-powered blender. Set aside.
  2. Over a mixing bowl, sift the flour 4 times. You want it to be extra light and fluffy! To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a handheld electric mixer, add the salt, cream of tartar and egg whites. Whisk on high for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens up and begins to form soft peaks. With the mixer running on low, sprinkle the sugar over the egg whites. Turn up the mixer to high and beat for an additional few minutes until the mixture is thick, shiny and forming stiff peaks. Add in the lemon zest, vanilla and lemon extract, and continue to beat until very thick, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Using a spatula, add in the flour 1/3 at a time, folding it gently in between additions to incorporate. Do not mix the batter too thoroughly. Once all the flour is added, pour the batter into an angel food tube pan and smooth out the top with the spatula. Give the pan a little shake to even things out. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes. Check it at 40 minutes by lightly poking it with a finger. If it springs back, the cake is done. You can also use a toothpick!
  4. Remove the cake from the oven, then immediately invert the pan, either on to a wire rack or on top of a glass. This will keep the cake’s height while it cools. Let the cake cool upside down for at least 1 hour, then run a knife gently around the outside edge of the pan before releasing the cake out on to a cake stand.
  5. Prepare the glaze. In a glass measuring cup, add the powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the butter, then heat the entire mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds. Give the glaze a stir, then pour it all over the cake. Serve immediately!

The cake (and glaze) will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days in an airtight container.


*Castor sugar is also known as berry sugar

**1 1/2 cups egg whites is equal to about 11-12 eggs. Do not use boxed egg whites for this recipe!

Cake recipe adapted from the Ina Garten lemon angel food cake recipe on the Food Network.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: cakes
  • Method: oven bake
  • Cuisine: american
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Lemon Angel Food CakeLemon Angel Food Cake

About Katherine

Heeey! Thank you for stopping by! I like 30-minute dinners and giant peanut butter cups made with only 3 ingredients. I LOVE food! If you do too, you're in the right place.

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  1. Granny always made angel food cakes from scratch and made jelly roll made from the egg yolks! I still use her recipe when I make it! I used to fill the cake with a strawberry/cream mixture for her birthday. Lots of memories of good times!

    1. I love the idea of making a jelly roll with the egg yolks, yum. I might have to try that recipe out!

  2. I remember your tradition making a birthday cake in honor of your Dad’s birthday, and that’s really nice of you! This cake looks and sounds so beautiful, delicate, and light. In deed, I’ve never had an angel food cake (no kidding!), but I wouldn’t mind a slice 🙂

    1. Thank you Ben!! It’s a great excuse to have cake during the week haha! It is such a light and fluffy cake, I’m sure you’d enjoy it!

  3. Such a special cake in memory of a special person Katherine. Looks so delicious!

  4. There’s nothing like an Angel Food Cake is there? I love the flavor and that texture… so light and just amazing! Perfect with the gorgeous lemon glaze!

    1. I love it!! I’m surprised I don’t make it more often, it’s such a nice treat! Thank you Laura!

  5. Can you believe I have never made an angel food cake?? I am adding this one to my list! It looks so delicious and I just adore the inspiration behind the cake. xoxo