Olive Oil Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

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Olive oil cake. You may never have had it before, but it’s one of the best desserts you will ever have in your life. Yep. We said it.

Inspired by Tulie Bakery in Salt Lake City, this recipe is designed to be identical to the cake that we’ve purchased countless times from our favorite bakery in the Beehive State. This cake is beautifully moist, rich in flavor, and oh-so-perfect with its accompanying browned butter frosting. Never had olive oil cake before? You are in for a serious treat.

Can you use olive oil in cake?

You may have landed here because you’re wondering if olive oil can be used in any old cake. The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, BUT you ideally wouldn’t want to do that unless the recipe (such as this one) is specifically developed to use olive oil because it will drastically change both the flavor and composition of the cake. Better oil substitutes for a classic cake are a neutral oils such as canola oil or vegetable oil, or even grapeseed oil.

What is olive oil cake?

Olive oil cake is very similar to any other cake you’d consume except for the fat in this cake is olive oil– preferably a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Other fats you’ll see more traditionally in cakes are canola oil, vegetable oil, or even butter.

Olive oil cake has a distinct flavor of . . . you guessed it– olive oil, which is why we recommend using a good-quality olive oil for this recipe. The olive oil is no doubt the most prominent flavor for this cake, but each olive oil cake will taste different based on the unique ingredients utilized. This particular cake calls for both orange and lemon zest, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, which gives it the perfect hint of citrus without overpowering the entire cake.

Ingredients

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • eggs
  • whole milk
  • zest and juice of lemon
  • zest of orange
  • sugar
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • baking soda

How To Make Olive Oil Cake

Making olive oil cake is very simple and (believe it or not) easier than making a traditional cake. The generous amount of olive oil in this recipe makes the cake less likely to dry up and is more likely to turn out perfectly every single time. You’ll combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer, pour them into a greased and parchment-lined 9-inch springform pan, and then bake for just over an hour.

This olive oil cake is served with an accompanying browned butter frosting, which is made by first browning the butter, allowing it to cool, and then creaming it with powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and a touch of milk. This recipe isn’t difficult by any means, the only challenge is being patient enough to complete each step in succession. You got this!

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Olive Oil Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

There is no cake like this in the world. This moist, beautiful olive oil cake is subtly sweet and complimented perfectly by a homemade browned butter frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword browned butter frosting, olive oil cake, tulie bakery
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • 9-inch springform pan

Ingredients

Olive Oil Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil*
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • zest of 1 medium or large orange
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Browned Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed

Instructions

Olive Oil Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan on the bottom and sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a 9-inch round of parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, combine the olive oil and eggs until smooth. Add the milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, and sugar and combine again until smooth.
  • Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the olive oil mixture all at once, and combine, still with your whisk attachment, until ingredients are just barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Remove bowl from stand mixer and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Place the springform pan directly on a cookie sheet, pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, and bake in the oven for 70-80 minutes. The cake will be done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. If the toothpick is wet in the center, continue baking for 5-minute increments until done. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting

  • Warm a medium-sized saucepan to medium heat and add butter. Once the butter has completely melted, allow it to brown, stirring frequently and gently scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula. The butter will foam and sizzle as brown specks appear on the bottom of the pan.** When the aroma of the pan is nutty and the bottom of the pan is a toasty-brown color remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Once the butter is completely cooled, beat the butter and sugar together; first on low speed, then increasing as the two ingredients become incorporated. Add the vanilla, salt, and milk, and continue to beat until smooth. If the frosting is still too thick, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved.

Assembly

  • Once the cake is completely cooled and the frosting is made, assemble your cake. Use a butter knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the springform pan if needed. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and place on a cake stand.
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting using an icing spatula. Set in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to allow the base coat or "crumb coat" to set. Take out of the fridge and add remaining frosting, gently scraping the side of the cake with a bench scraper or cake scraper for a clean edge. Using the edge of your icing spatula, create a simple swirl on the top of the cake by gently pressing the spatula into the frosting while turning the cake in a circular motion, moving the spatula from the edge of the cake, slowly toward the center as the cake rotates. This is most easily done with a cake turntable but can be done on a cake stand too.

Notes

*When we mention using a good-quality extra virgin olive oil recipe, it doesn't mean you have to go out and buy the fanciest, most expensive bottle of olive oil that you can find, but please do use an oil that isn't expired and one that comes from a reputable, good brand. Some of our favorites that won't break the bank: California Olive Ranch (found in most grocery stores), Kirkland Signature Organic (Costco), or Trader Joe's Premium 100% Greek. 
**Don't be afraid to really develop some color when browning your butter. You don't want to completely burn all of your butter but it's totally okay to get a few darker flecks on the bottom of your saucepan. Think about the slightly charred, amazingly nostalgic flavor that comes from the edge of a campfire-roasted marshmallow? We want a little of that in our buttercream. 
***Thanks to the generous amount of olive oil, this cake is one that will still taste fantastic if you make it a day ahead. You can make the icing a day ahead as well just store in the refrigerator and allow plenty of time to come to room temperature before frosting. 

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  1. 5 stars
    This is a heavenly cake recipe. The olive oil cake does not disappoint and the browned butter frosting is to die for. Also a note for novice cake bakers like myself, my cake was really fluffy on top so I trimmed the top off for easier frosting after baking. Also when I was making my frosting it was initially grainy but after I let it still while the cake was cooling, I mixed it just one more time and it became a lot closer to the texture seen in the photos of this recipe. 5/5, wonderful recipe.

    Also I used the Trader Joe’s olive oil and just a hand mixer for anyone wondering.

  2. 5 stars
    This cake is delicious. It is so light and moist, but a decadent experience. The browned butter frosting is some of the best frosting I have had. The recipe is easy to follow and just turns out great. I made it with my mom and she loved the frosting because it reminded her of childhood and the frosting her mom used to make. We used a gluten free flour 1:1 and it worked great.

    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth! So glad that it was a hit for both you and your mom. And thanks for sharing he info on the GF flour I know that many of our readers cook with it as well. Have a great week!

    1. 3 stars
      I know, how could I give this viral recipe three stars? Let me preface by saying, I followed the instructions exactly, used good quality olive oil, and it turned out perfectly baked. The browned butter frosting is PHENOMENAL – definitely five stars. But the cake, while super moist, tasted like olive oil. And I like olive oil. But not a cake that tastes like olive oil. It was overpowering, and kind of made me a little sick. Meanwhile my twelve year old daughter loved it so.. take that for what it’s worth. 😉 I will be making this frosting again.

  3. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was simply The Best Olive Oil Cake I have ever had! So easy to make and the lemon and orange zest tempered the olive oil perfectly. So delicious. This will be a family favorite for sure. I have had so many olive oil cakes and the cake is delicious on its own, but the brown butter frosting is a perfect compliment. Thanks Brooke. ♥️

  4. 5 stars
    This was so good – definitely adding to my list of regulars! I’m sure recipe creators just love this, but I made it with some modifications. I’m not a huge fan of olive oil, so I did half extra virgin and half extra light tasting. The extra virgin olive oil I found was infused with Meyer lemon and smelled amazing. I also added one teaspoon of vanilla and zested two lemons instead of one for some extra lemon flavor (still zested the orange as well). I have extra deep cake pans, so I skipped the springform and my pan did not overflow. The frosting was so good! I had extra so I’m going to try it on chocolate cake as well. This was so good. I may try it without the frosting next time, with whipped cream and berries. A great recipe!

  5. So easy, so delicious. If you want to impress people but not have to work very hard for it, then make this cake. It’s even better on the second day, I couldn’t stop cutting little slices off throughout the day.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this last night, the flavor and texture was divine! I followed the recipe exactly, I weighed the dry ingredients, used a 9 inch springform…it only was a little over an inch and a half tall, your pictures look taller than that. Should I have mixed longer? Im at sea level, does that make a difference? Thank you for another awesome recipe!!

    1. Hi Carly! Thanks so much for the kind message. You definitely don’t want to overmix the cake. Are your baking powder and baking soda new? Using baking powder/soda that is expired or even open for more than 6 months can impact baking recipes dramatically. I have made the cake at sea level so it should be okay at your altitude!

  7. 5 stars
    The cake was delicious and the browned butter was the perfect touch! I didn’t have a spring foam pan and was able to use a 9 inch cake pan and then I slid two extra strips of parchment paper down under the pan and was able to pull the cake out without difficulty.

  8. 5 stars
    This cake is heavenly! So moist and love the hint of citrus. The frosting goes so well and the brown butter bits are delicious.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. It is my new favorite and so easy! I used a normal 9 in pan with parchment paper in the bottom and it came out of the pan great. The brown butter frosting is out of this world. I will now be using it as a replacent for all vanilla buttercream. Great job Brooke! This is a staple for my family now!

  10. 5 stars
    This olive oil cake is amazing! I would even go as far to say it is the best cake I have ever had! I have made this recipe twice now and all I have shared with have loved it too. Highly recommend, thanks so much Brooke for another awesome recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Accidentally set oven temp to 350 degrees instead of 325 degrees. Cooked for 50 minutes instead and it still turned out perfect.

  12. Delicious frosting…the cake did not work for us though! It was oozing with oil and too dense. Must be us as it seems everyone else had great results!

    1. Sorry to hear that! The cake is dense and the oil is definitely noticeable, but it shouldn’t be oozing with oil. If you try again pay careful attention to quantities and make sure your baking soda/powder are new. Good luck!

  13. 5 stars
    I finally got around to making this cake and I’m only sorry that I waited so long to do it! Absolutely DELICIOUS and perfectly moist. That brown butter frosting, too 🤤
    Definitely a new favorite!

    1. Yes! You can totally make the cake, freeze the single layer, and then frost at a later date. Or if you make the cake and have leftovers, they can definitely be frozen as well. Wrap slices in plastic wrap or store in airtight containers.

  14. 5 stars
    This cake is easy to make and so delicious!! I love the light citrus flavor of the cake and it’s so moist. Browned butter anything is delicious, but I just kept eating the leftover frosting. The two flavors go so well together!!

  15. 5 stars
    Since I first made this cake I have added it into a weekly rotation. It is just too good. The cake itself is moist and has such an intriguing lemon flavor. The frosting is the best part and I want to put it on not only this cake but all other food in my house.

  16. 5 stars
    Seriously, this cake is TDF. The olive oil flavor is just so subtle if you use good oil. AND THAT FROSTING. Holy guacamole that brown butter is something else. Really, this cake is so easy to put together, but is so elevated and feels really fancy. Nailed it, Brooke!

  17. 5 stars
    Finally took the plunge and made this tonight. It definitely lived up to the hype! It was easier than expected to make and even more delicious than anticipated! My husband said the frosting was “the best frosting he has ever had!” Will be saving this one for the future!
    Also, I didn’t have a springform pan so I used 2 8-inch round cake pans instead and it worked great!

  18. 5 stars
    I have made this cake twice and both times everyone raved about it. It really is delish. Definitely splurge and buy the best olive oil you can as it’s a very dominant flavor. The frosting is amazing and surprisingly easy.

  19. 5 stars
    Loved making and sharing this cake! I don’t generally bake but this was a stunner! I’ll def make again.

  20. 5 stars
    This was definitely worth the bake! I love the citrus undertones and didn’t think it tasted like olive oil in a scary way at all. Great flavor, unique in all the best ways. That said, it is a very rich, sweet cake. And I think I didn’t expect that, maybe because of the olive oil? Have a small slice, with a drink of water. You DO want to try it!

  21. 5 stars
    I loved this cake. My kids didn’t like the frosting but who cares. They like to eat their boogers. They don’t know what they are talking about. It was absolutely delicious and can’t wait to make it again.

  22. 5 stars
    So delicious! The cake is not overly sweet and a great balance of flavor. Not a frosting lover but this is the best frosting ever! Now if I could just get mine to look as pretty as the Female Foodie.

  23. 5 stars
    I have made this several times and it is so, so good! I’ve also used the frosting for chocolate cake. I’m not a big olive oil fan so I use a blend of extra light tasting olive oil and lemon infused olive oil and it tastes amazing. So if it’s a bit too olive-y for you, try that. One of my favorite cakes!

  24. 5 stars
    My husband who is not adventurous when it comes to food look concerned when I told him what it was. He said,”huh, this cake is pretty good!” So thank you for that. I think it’s delicious and SO different! Curious how it would work with ghee instead of butter since I have a slight milk allergy BUT it was worth it!!

  25. 5 stars
    So good!! My new favorite cake 🤩 I added 1/8 teaspoon almond extract to the batter and only 3 cups powdered sugar for the frosting and it turned out really good!

  26. 4 stars
    Everyone liked it! ​The olive oil flavor was unfortunately lost, so it tasted more like a moist lemon sponge with frosting that was yummy but a little overpowering. Still good though. I personally enjoyed the unexpected pairing and love anything with browned butter, so I would make it again.

    1. Thanks so much Jill! The olive oil flavor should carry throughout. I recommend using a good quality oil next time you try to really enjoy the flavor of the oil in the cake. Thank you so much for the kind words!

  27. 5 stars
    This was so different than any other cake I’ve made. My husband and I kept saying we felt like we were so fancy eating this cake. The olive oil flavor is not too strong, but just enough and i love the citrus flavors. But that frosting is what dreams are made of! incredible! I didn’t end up using it all but couldn’t throw out that frosting so I saved it to use on something else because it is money! Oh and it’s even better next day!

  28. 5 stars
    I knew this recipe was going to be good because you never disappoint us but I didn’t know it was going to be next level good! Not only was it pretty simple to make but it was absolutely delicious! The frosting is everything!!

  29. 5 stars
    I’m typically not a cake person but this recipe converted me. That brown butter frosting is something from the heavens and the cake is so refreshing! Never thought I’d call a cake refreshing.

    So good! Easy to make and absolutely delicious. Couldn’t recommend it more.