Olive Garden Italian Lemon Cream Cake Copycat Recipe

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Lemon Cream Cake is light and airy, with the most luscious whipped cream mascarpone filling both inside and out! While it is a bit more work to make than other desserts at Olive Garden, bakers of all skill levels can make this masterpiece. Enjoy a slice with a casual meal or serve at any celebration!

Titled Image: Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake


Lemon Cream Cake

It’s no secret that I love Olive Garden appetizers and entrees, but the desserts at Olive Garden are truly something special.

There’s the classic tiramisu and the newer chocolate lasagna (you should give my pudding version a try!), but sometimes I need something a bit more refreshing after a heavy meal.

A sweet, lemony cream filling sandwiched between two layers of airy sponge cake is just the thing!

I love to add a coating of crushed Golden Oreos around the outside to really put it over the top.

Plus, this lemon cream cake Olive Garden copycat recipe can be made ahead of time — perfect for any dinner party or celebration!

ingredients for olive garden lemon cream cake

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • All-Purpose Flour – Take a few extra seconds to sift your flour before mixing up the batter. Sifting helps to aerate it, which results in a lighter cake texture.
  • Milk – Whole milk is the best choice since the fat content helps to make the lemon cream cake nice and moist.

    Low-fat milk is fine, but the texture may come out a bit different.
  • Lemon Juice & Zest –  Fresh lemon juice has a much better flavor than the bottled stuff, and the natural acidity helps balance the sweetness of the cream filling.

    Be sure to zest the lemons before juicing, and remove only the outer yellow layer — the white pith underneath is very bitter.

    In a pinch, you can substitute lemon extract for the juice but you’ll need to dilute it.

    Combine the extract with an equal amount of water to make the amount of juice needed.
  • Mascarpone Cheese – While the flavor isn’t quite the same, cream cheese is the best substitute if you can’t find this in stores.
  • Golden Oreos – I use these vanilla sandwich cookies to coat the outer layer of my cream cake.

    Not only does it make the dessert look extra fancy, but it adds another layer of texture!

    Pulse them in a food processor until they resemble sandy crumbs.
lemon cream cake batter

Tips to Make Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

  • Don’t rush the process.

It’s crucial to whip loads of air into the egg, vanilla, and sugar mixture if you want to achieve the perfect light cake texture. 

No exaggeration — keep that mixer going for 7-8 minutes! 

Once mixed, get the batter into the oven as quickly as you can. If it sits for too long, it will need to be remixed or the lemon cream cake will come out dense. 

  • Bring cold ingredients to room temperature first.

That means the eggs, milk, and butter! Cake ingredients blend more smoothly into the batter when they’re at room temperature, preventing lumps and ensuring a more uniform texture throughout the dessert.

Simply place the eggs and butter on the counter, but measure out the milk first so you only warm what you’ll be using.

Not the heavy cream, though!! That needs to be as cold as possible to whip properly into the cream filling.

  • Use a stainless steel bowl to make whipped cream.

And pop it in the freezer — along with the beaters — for 10-15 minutes ahead of time if you can! 

The colder everything is, the faster and easier those stiff peaks will form.

  • Apply cookie crumbs right after frosting the cake.

They’ll stick much better when applied before the frosting has a chance to crust over.

Using your hands or a flat spatula, gently press the crumbs onto the sides. Work all the way around for an even coating, filling in any bare spots as needed.

This is easiest to do once the cake is already on a cake stand — even better if it’s a rotating one!

filling for lemon cream cake

Prep Ahead

  • Bring eggs, milk, and butter to room temp
  • Sift the flour
  • Zest and juice lemon

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • 8” Cake Pan with high sides
  • Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Electric Hand Mixer – Opt for this over a stand mixer so you aren’t washing the bowl over and over again.
  • Citrus Juicer – This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing lemons so much easier. You’ll need a zester too!
  • Offset Spatula – This spatula has so many uses and is perfect for smoothing the filling onto the cakes, both inside and out.
  • Serrated Bread Knife for slicing the baked cake in half

Serving Suggestions

Be sure the let homemade Olive Garden lemon cream cake chill for at least 2 hours before serving. This allows the filling to set and the flavors to deepen.

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a handful of fresh raspberries if you’d like. And to really punch up that citrus flavor, add a dollop of homemade lemon curd!

Storing and Freezing Homemade Lemon Cream Cake

filled layered lemon cream cake

Tightly wrap leftover cake in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Leftovers are best eaten within a day or two to maintain that airy texture.

You can also freeze this dessert for up to 2 months, but you’ll want to wrap it in several layers of plastic and foil to prevent ice crystals.

Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Lemon Cream Cake Olive Garden FAQ

Is the lemon cream cake at Olive Garden discontinued?

Unfortunately, yes. One of the more popular desserts at Olive Garden, the Lemon Cream Cake was removed from the menu and replaced with a Strawberry Creme Cake instead.

Lucky for you, it’s easy to make it at home — and, dare I say, my copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake recipe is even tastier than the original!

Can I make this dessert ahead of time?

Yes, you can make Olive Garden lemon cream cake up to 24 hours in advance and keep it well-covered in the refrigerator.

How do I know when the cake is fully baked?

Insert a toothpick in the very center to check for doneness. There should be a few moist crumbs on the toothpick, and the top of the cake should be golden brown.

Bake a little longer if the toothpick comes out wet, but don’t wait until it comes out completely clean or it will be overbaked.

lemon cream cake with slice missing

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closeup of olive garden lemon cream cake

slice of olive garden lemon cream cake

Olive Garden Italian Lemon Cream Cake Copycat Recipe

Donna Elick
Lemon Cream Cake combines light airy sponge cake with luscious lemon mascarpone filling and an outer layer of crushed vanilla creme cookies.
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
chill time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 8 -10


Ingredients for Sponge Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Ingredients for Lemon Cream Filling:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • lemon zest from 1 lemon, about 2 Tablespoons
  • fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon, about 3 ½ Tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Assembly:

  • 3/4 cup vanilla cookie crumbs, for coating
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


Prepare the Sponge Cake:

  • Preheat your oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a deep 8-inch round cake pan.
  • Sift the dry ingredients: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Prepare wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs for about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and vanilla extract, and continue beating for 7-8 minutes until thick and pale.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients: Gently fold in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the melted butter and milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Bake the cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake: Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Lemon Cream Filling:

  • Whip the cream: In a mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Prepare the mascarpone mixture: In another bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
  • Fold in the whipped cream: Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until well combined.
  • Save some filling: Reserve 1/2 cup of this lemon cream filling for the cake's exterior.

Slice and Assemble the Cake:

  • Torte the cake: Once the cake is completely cooled, use a long serrated knife to slice the cake horizontally into two even layers.
  • Bottom layer assembly: Place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Spread the lemon cream filling over the top, excluding the 1/2 cup reserved for the exterior.
  • Second layer assembly: Carefully place the second layer on top of the filling.
  • Frost the cake: Spread the reserved 1/2 cup of lemon cream filling around the sides of the cake.
  • Decorate the cake: Gently press the vanilla cookie crumbs into the lemon cream on the sides of the cake.
  • Chill before serving: Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

Finishing Touches:

  • Finish the cake: Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar for a sweet, decorative finish just before serving.

Donna’s Notes

Tip: Make sure you beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar for 7-8 minutes. This gets lots of air into the batter to create a lighter cake. If this batter is let to sit for awhile, it may need remixing again before placing in the pan. If there isn’t enough air in the batter, the cake will become dense.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 581cal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 231mg | Sugar: 44g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake - PIN

Originally published January 2024

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this Lemon Cream Cake today, and it’s an absolute winner! Thanks, Donna and Chad’s The Slow Roasted Italian for sharing such an incredible recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    donna’s Lemon Cream Cake recipe is a game-changer! I added a touch of lemon zest to the cake batter for an extra zing, and it turned out even more amazing. Closest to restaurant quality!

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