Lemon Yogurt Cake with Chia Seeds

4.83 from 86 votes
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Delicious lemon yogurt cake with chia seeds! This baked good has healthy swaps that pack nutritional benefits into each bite.

Slices of lemon yogurt cake made with chia seeds.

I came up with a baked good that celebrates citrus flavors. This lemon yogurt cake recipe is the perfect slice to enjoy in the morning, although it can be eaten anytime. I want to give you the balance of a healthier baked treat with a hint of indulgence.

The base of the loaf cake is a mixture of white whole wheat flour, olive oil substituted for butter, and chia seeds for added fiber instead of typical poppy seeds. These wholesome ingredients don’t leave out the sweet and tangy flavor that you crave in a delicious lemon cake.

“I was looking for a cake that I could get away with serving for breakfast during this lazy summer. I loved it! It’s not too sweet, and it’s got some whole wheat, chia, and yogurt to tone down the guilt.”—Christina

Recipe ingredients

  • Lemons: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest add a distinctive tangy flavor to the cake and glaze. They naturally brighten and enhance the sweetness in other foods, even though they taste tart. If Meyer lemons are in season, I recommend using those for their herbaceous and floral citrus notes.
  • Yogurt: I use nonfat Greek yogurt, which is packed with protein.
  • Chia Seeds: Adds fiber and a delightful crunch in the crumb. The gel formed as it swells binds moisture, keeping the cake soft.
  • Flour: White whole wheat flour has a similar nutrient profile to whole wheat flour. However, the flavor is more neutral and yields a lighter-colored crumb.
  • Oil: Light olive oil is used for a delicate fruity flavor and is a healthier alternative to butter or vegetable oil.
  • Leavening Agent: Baking soda is used to help the cake batter rise when baked. Eggs also help with the lift and structure of quick bread.
  • Seasoning: Salt and vanilla extract enhances the taste and aroma of the cake.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar balances the tartness of the lemons. Powdered sugar is used to make a smooth lemon glaze.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Prepare the cake batter

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC) right at the beginning. The baking soda will lose its gas production the longer it sits before it bakes. That’s why you want the oven ready to go!

Step 2: To fully incorporate the ingredients together, start by mixing the yogurt, chia seeds, some lemon juice, and zest in a bowl. This will be added to the batter during the whisking process.

Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients separately to ensure the flour, baking soda, and salt become evenly dispersed. The particles are small, so a brief whisking distributes them together.

Step 4: Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer. Mix the olive oil and granulated sugar on high speed to incorporate more air into the batter, similar to creaming butter and sugar together. The result is a light and tender cake. Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time to help the batter gradually emulsify.

Step 5: Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the mixer in three additions. Alternate adding two additions of the yogurt mixture in between. Do not overmix! Hydrate the flour so that the cake stays tender.

Bake the cake

Step 6: Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan; I like to use olive oil since it’s already in the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Using an instant-read thermometer, you can quickly check to see if the center is done. The internal temperature should reach 205 to 210°F (96 to 99ºC).

Step 7: Let the cake cool and set in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to allow it to finish cooling to room temperature. If you want to keep sweeteners to a minimum, you can skip the lemon glaze. You’ll have a gorgeous golden brown cake with a nice shiny top.

Make the glaze

Step 8: The lemon glaze combines powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Just whisk together until smooth. The consistency should be like school glue. You may need to adjust it with more powdered sugar to thicken it up or lemon juice for a thinner consistency.

Add the glaze

Loaf of lemon cake with white frosting drizzled on top.

Step 9: Now you’re to generously drizzle that glaze all over the top of the yogurt cake. Sprinkle a little bit of zest on top, too. It’s that little extra lemon love. I know you won’t be disappointed. Make this recipe for a special weekend breakfast or as a gift.

Flavor variations

  • Citrus: Different types of lemons can be used. Regular lemons from stores like Lisbon or Eureka will be more tart and tangy. Meyer lemons will have a milder tartness and a mandarin-like taste. This cake would work well with oranges too.
  • Yogurt: Thicker Greek yogurt can be substituted with other types of yogurt. Plain yogurt works well, or add a flavored regular yogurt that complements the lemon flavor. Sour cream is a suitable swap that will add richness to the cake.
  • Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil will add a stronger taste and rustic flavor. Avocado oil or melted coconut oil works well as a replacement.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour, white wheat flour, or a half-and-half combination can be used. All-purpose flour gives the most soft texture but won’t be as hearty.
  • Sweetener: Other types of sugar, like brown sugar, turbinado, or coconut sugar, can be used. They will add a unique flavor to the cake.
Slices of lemon yogurt cake lined up on parchment paper.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between whole wheat and white whole wheat flour?

White whole wheat is a lighter-colored variety of hard white spring wheat. The flavor is milder, also yielding a more tender cake. Whole wheat is hard red spring-winter wheat, resulting in a darker flour and more nutty flavor. They are equivalent in nutritional profile. They are both made of 100% whole wheat.

Is White Wheat flour the same as all-purpose flour?

No! White whole wheat is a whole grain milled from a hard white winter winter wheat. All-purpose flour has the bran and germ removed. This yields a softer baked good but less nutrition.

Can I freeze the lemon cake?

Wrap the loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap. Store in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat if desired.

two slices of lemon cake stacked on top of each other

The benefit of adding chia seeds

Small but mighty, chia seeds are nutrient-dense and promote long-lasting energy. It’s a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, easily digestible protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. One tablespoon supplies about 5 grams of fiber. Chia seeds are used in this recipe for the little bits of crunch, similar to poppy seeds, but with added nutritional benefits.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Chia Seeds

Delicious lemon yogurt cake with chia seeds! This baked good is loaded with healthy swaps that pack nutritional benefits into each bite.
4.83 from 86 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 10 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil, extra-light
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • Heat the Oven – Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC). Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.
  • Mix the Yogurt Mixture – In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, chia seeds, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon zest. Set aside.
  • Mix Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix the Egg Mixture – Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer on high speed, whisk the olive oil and granulated sugar until combined, about 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Make the Batter – Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of the chia yogurt mixture.
  • Bake – Pour batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean and the top has set, about 40 to 45 minutes. The internal temperature should reach between 205 to 210°F (96 to 99ºC).
    If the top begins to brown rapidly towards the final minutes of baking (around 35 minutes), tent the cake loosely with foil, but without touching the surface.
  • Cool – Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the Glaze – In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest. If needed, adjust with more lemon juice or powdered sugar until a glue-like consistency is reached.
  • Add the Glaze – Drizzle the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon lemon zest. Let it set before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Using All-purpose and Whole Wheat Flour: I found that ¾ cup white whole wheat flour, plus ¾ cup all-purpose flour, gave a more tender cake. Make this substitution if you’re okay with not having all the whole wheat flour in the recipe.
  • Substituting the White Whole Wheat Flour: It can be replaced with all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a half-and-half mix.
  • Using Poppyseeds: Add 1 1/2  to 3 teaspoons in addition to the chia seeds. Alternatively, the poppy seeds can be substituted completely for chia seeds.
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 10 servings
Calories 321kcal (16%)Carbohydrates 47g (16%)Protein 6g (12%)Fat 13g (20%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Cholesterol 56mg (19%)Sodium 170mg (7%)Potassium 72mg (2%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 32g (36%)Vitamin A 81IU (2%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 47mg (5%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




74 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Ileah- I appreciate your feedback! Can you tell me more about the cake? Was there no dome? Was it flat or inverted? Any feedback you have can help me improve the recipe. Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use a round cake pan. I would bake at 350ºF and fill it no more than halfway. Bake until it reaches 205 to 210°F and the center comes out clean with a toothpick. This could be any where between 30 to 40 minutes, it depends on the size of the cake pan. Keep a close eye on doneness. Let me know how it goes!

  1. Nicolette says

    Delicious!! I made two versions of this cake. For the first cake I did 3/4 cup each of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour and used cane sugar as the sweetener. I didn’t have white whole wheat on hand so I just used the regular version. For the second cake I did half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour and used coconut sugar as the sweetener. I also subbed a stick of butter instead of oil for each cake.

    Both cakes turned out so yummy. The cake with coconut sugar tasted more earthy and healthy. I love the addition of whole wheat flour and the chia seeds which provided a wonderful crunch and nutrition. I’m excited to try different variations of this cake. Perhaps using all white whole wheat flour like the recipe calls for or using orange juice and orange zest.

    I also baked on 350 for 10 minutes and then lowered the oven to 325 for the remaining 30 minutes. My oven seems to run a little hot and I was worried it would burn and overcook otherwise.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can try to reduce the eggs to 2, however, it won’t be as rich and dense without the extra fat from the yolks. I would increase the yogurt by 1/4 cup for extra fat and moisture. Let me know how it goes!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I have not tried making the cake in a bread machine. If your unit has a specific setting to make quick breads (not yeast risen), then you can try it out. I would love to hear how it turns out! The goal is to get the bread to reach 205 to 210°F.

  2. Anna says

    Thank you Jessica … lovely recipe.
    I used light plain yoghurt,half plain flour and half wholemeal flour as we refer to our flours in Australia.
    Maybe it’s the flour but I thought that I should try 3/4 teas baking soda next time for better rising.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Anna- You could definitely increase the amount of baking soda in the recipe to give the bread more lift if needed. Let me know how hot goes!

  3. Irene says

    Hi Jessica

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Just wondering if I can use extra virgin olive oil or butter for this recipe? Thanks in advance.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use extra virgin olive oil, but will have a stronger earthy flavor, which may be lovely! If using butter, melt it first. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Janette Farrugia says

    Hi Jessica,
    I tried your recipe, taste is great but the cake didn’t rise well. I used baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda and whole meal flour, could that be the problem, please?
    Thanks
    P.S. I added 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Janette- Baking soda is 4x stronger than baking powder. If you only used 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, then that’s most likely the reason it did not rise as much. I would add 1 teaspoon baking powder next time.

  5. Waseem says

    Absolutely delicious! We modified it for a vegan version (using substitutes), and turned out great! Beautiful zesty flavours, and the icing is ?

    Thank you!
    Waseem
    demeals

  6. Margret A Blackmer says

    Made this with vegetable oil and all purpose flour and it worked out great will be making it again. Thank you!

  7. Grace says

    Hello!
    Loving the sound of this recipe – is it possible to have the measurements converted to metric? I’m from the UK and always struggle with the conversions.

    Thank you ?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Anne! Yes, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda is correct. It’s a lot more potent than baking powder, plus there is a lot of acidic ingredients in the recipe to help to create the carbon dioxide reaction.

  8. Joanne says

    Taste wise it is great. I just wonder why my glaze isn’t white like your picture. I did follow the recipe to the T. Please help enlighten me. ?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks, Joanne! Was the glaze runny or too thick? If too runny add more powdered sugar until it becomes thicker. Sometimes the volume measurement can differ, especially with a fluffy ingredient like powdered sugar.

  9. Leslie says

    Hi Jessica, doesn’t this loaf have closer to 40 grams sugar per serving? 1 cup granulated = 200 grams, 1 cup confectioners = 120 grams. 320 grams total / 8 = 40 grams. Just curious because I want to make this all the time but might need to save it more for special occasions. Or, is there something I’m not understanding about sugar and baking? Thank you!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re on the right track! I reviewed the ingredients and it was off, however it’s around 32g if you use all of the glaze, for 10 slices. You can reduce the amount of glaze if you want a lower sugar level. Thanks Leslie!

  10. Leslie says

    Hello again,
    I noticed the recipe calls for 5 tbs lemon juice, but only 4 tbs are used (2 in the cake and 2 in the icing). Should there actually be 3 tbs in the cake?!

    PS – I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!

  11. Leslie says

    Hi! I accidentally bought wholemeal flour instead of white whole wheat flour. Will wholemeal flour still work?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The whole wheat flour will still work in this recipe. It will taste a little more nutty and hearty, but tasty.

  12. Briley says

    Would this work with an orange too or mixing the two citrus’ together? I don’t have confectioner’s sugar. Would a simple syrup mix work?

  13. Rachel Chan says

    Hi Jessica! Is there anything I can sub yogurt with? It’s been quite hard to access yogurt with the current situation haha.

    Hope you’re well and safe!

  14. Hazel says

    Amazing recipe!! Everyone loved it! Super yum and super easy to make! Ingredients are easy to get ahold of as well!

  15. Julia says

    Lovely, light cake!

    We used 50/50 plain flour and wholemeal flour and double the amount of lemon juice (my 6 year old’s request as he loves lemon flavour), and it turned out great! I love using the chia seeds for extra nutritional boost.

  16. Leigh Lewis says

    Love this! Wayyyy more fiber and protein than traditional lemon loafs. With all the citrus in our yard, this will be my go to!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for making the recipe Leigh! I love making recipes that have a boost of fiber and protein when I can.

  17. Jenn says

    Lovely recipe 🙂 I took the risk and used regular whole wheat flour (cause I have a very hard time find white whole wheat flour in the stores here), and it wasn’t too dry! Yay! I also halved the sugar… It was still plenty sweet for me. Next time I plan on trying honey and twice the lemon–there’s never enough for this girl!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for sharing your substitutions Jenn! Happy to hear that whole wheat flour worked as well. I love lemon too!

  18. Michelle Lanspa says

    I made with whole wheat flour and substituted the cup of sugar in the loaf with 3/4 cup honey. The loaf is extremely moist and yummy although I only taste the lemon in the sugar powder drizzle. VERY YUMMY! Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Dhalia- Yes, I think you could sub plain yogurt. YOu may need a few more minutes of baking because plain yogurt has less protein and more moisture. Please let me know how it turns out!

  19. Colleen says

    Can’t wait to try this for my daughter’s birthday. I usually substitute flax eggs, but for this recipe I wonder how it would go if I were to use chia eggs (instead of the dairy eggs), and then omit the chia from the yogurt mixture. I would love Jessica’s thoughts!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Collen! I haven’t tried chia eggs, definitely worth a try if you adjust the amount in the yogurt mixture so it’s not over powering. Let me know how it goes!

  20. Michelle says

    Oh my gosh! This is delicious! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my zester and a I only had all-purpose flour, but it came out great! I think I might try adding some slivered almonds or maybe some blueberries next time.

    Do you think I could freeze this bread? With just two of us, an entire loaf in two days is absolutely possible but probably not necessary. 🙂

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Michelle- I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! I would cut the bread into individual slices and wrap them up in plastic wrap, then store in a resealable bag in the freezer. You can microwave to reheat, or warm in the oven. Yum!

  21. Sharon says

    Hi Jessica,

    I made this for a potluck today and it was a huge hit with the group! Thanks for another great recipe!

  22. Runita Ghosh Antony says

    This is such a brilliant recipe! I’ve made this a few times now, and it has always come out perfect. I replaced the glaze in your recipe with a simple lemon, water & sugar syrup, poured over hot cake right out of the oven. Divine!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Runita! The glaze for the chia cake sounds amazing 🙂 I’ll have to try pouring the sauce right out of the oven like you suggested, oh my!

  23. Lissette says

    Thank you so much for this recipe ! Its delicious!! Made it 3 times, my family and coworkers loved it. Will try with orange instead of lemon to see how it goes:)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re welcome Lisette! I’m so happy to hear that everyone enjoyed the recipe. Please let me know how the orange tastes 🙂

  24. Rachel Slader says

    Will this come out as well if you make it in mini muffin tins so its like mini cake bites? Do I need to alter the recipe at all for this?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Rachel! I haven’t tried it in mini muffin tins yet, but I think it’s worth the try. I would just shorten the time drastically, maybe check after 7 minutes of baking to see if the cakes have risen and set, and check every few minutes after (you can just take a peak with the oven light on). Fill the tins about 2/3 full, nearly to the top. Let me know how it goes!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Raquel! I was just reading that converting quick breads to muffins to increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. I’m assuming this may give a better quick oven spring for a better domed muffin top. Make sure to bake for the shorter time as it will cook quicker. Let me know if the 350 or 375 works better for you 🙂

  25. Christina says

    I was looking for a cake that I could get away with serving for breakfast during this lazy summer. I loved it! It’s not too sweet, and it’s got some whole wheat, chia, and yogurt to tone down the guilt. Printed out and in my recipe binder! 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      So happy to hear that this cake made it into your recipe binder Christina! I love it for the same reasons and you can’t go wrong with a lemon and chia combo 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Anushri! Have you ever tried making a flax egg? It’s 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to 3 tablespoons of water and allowed to hydrate and thicken for about 5 minutes. You would need to make 3 of these for the recipe. The only thing is it might make a more dense cake since it will not add as much air like an egg would, but worth a try! I also think you could substitute honey for the sugar. Let me know how it goes!

  26. Chloé says

    This cake was very nice. We had it for dessert last night. We were 6 and we ate it all. Light and fresh, exactly. The chia seeds add a bit of texture. The icing is what made me take 3 slices!
    I love lemons in desserts, but also in curry, mushroom salads, pasta and risottos with cream. I don’t have a lemon tree so I buy them organic to use the zest without ingesting pesticides.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Chloé! Thank you so much for your feedback. I love hearing when my readers enjoy the recipe and are nice enough to share with their loved ones too 🙂 I use lemon in savory dishes too, I’ll have to try it in my curries next time 🙂 I’m all about the zest in everything too!