Limoncello Cake With Mascarpone Frosting

Limoncello layer cake with marscapone frosting

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Cool Time: 60 mins
Total: 115 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 (9-inch) 2-layer cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
557 Calories
34g Fat
57g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 557
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 20g 102%
Cholesterol 148mg 49%
Sodium 386mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 39g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 28mg 141%
Calcium 78mg 6%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 199mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lemon lovers rejoice! This limoncello cake offers a decadent flavor and texture that's hard to beat. Incorporate lemon and limoncello liquor into the cake batter, and then indulge in the mascarpone icing that blends lemon curd and mascarpone cheese with whipped cream.

What is Limoncello?

Never heard of limoncello? It could be your next baking ingredient obsession. Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that is produced mostly in Southern Italy (it is commonly referred to as limoncino in northern areas of the country). It is one of the most popular types of liqueur in Italy, and it has gained popularity across the globe in more recent years. While limoncello is often served in cocktails, this limoncello cake allows you to enjoy it for dessert, too.

"I loved this cake, but I really loved the mascarpone lemon frosting. I thought it would be a
really unique way to use extra lemon curd filling as well." - Tracy Wilk

limoncello cake
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup limoncello (lemon-flavored liqueur)

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • White chocolate shavings, optional

For the Mascarpone Frosting:

Steps to Make It

Make the Limoncello Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Ingredients for limoncello cake recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans and then line them with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment paper as well.

    Two greased and floured cake pans

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

    Flour, baking soda, and salt being stirred in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl using an electric mixer.

    Butter and sugar creamed together in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

    Liquid ingredients combined in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Combine the limoncello and lemon juice and zest in a small bowl. Add the flour alternating with the buttermilk and limoncello mixture. Mix until combined.

    Smooth cake batter in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool completely in the pans.

    Cakes cooling in pans on a wire rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Frosting

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for the mascarpone frosting recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Cream together the mascarpone cheese and lemon curd in a bowl.

    Lemon curd and mascarpone being stirred together in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Whip the chilled whipping cream or heavy cream until almost stiff—about 5 to 6 minutes.

  4. Slowly add powdered sugar until completely combined.

  5. Fold the cheese and curd mixture into the whipped cream.

    Smooth and creamy frosting being stirred with a wooden spoon in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Assemble the Cake

  1. Once the cakes are cool, remove the limoncello cakes from the pans. Place one layer on serving plate.

    Limoncello cake placed on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Frost top with 1/3 of the frosting.

    Cake topped with frosting

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Place the second layer on top.

    Second cake layer placed on top

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Frost the top with 1/2 of the remaining frosting.

    Top of cake covered with frosting using a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides of the cake.

    Sides of cake covered with frosting using a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Decorate the top with the optional white chocolate shavings.

    Frosted cake decorated with white chocolate shavings

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Serve and enjoy!

    Limoncello layer cake garnished with twisted lemon slice and sliced on a cake plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

How to Store

This cake will keep for a few days covered and stored in the fridge. Because of the mascarpone and whipped cream frosting, it's important to keep it chilled.

Recipe Tip

  • Be sure to grease your pans before adding the batter, as this will help you release them when they are done baking and cooling. Would be a shame to have baked these lovely lemon cakes and have them not come out in one piece.

Recipe Variation

  • Instead of using whipping cream that has been whipped to soft peaks, you can use store-bought prepared whipped cream. If you make this substitution, we suggest cutting back on the confectioners' sugar for the frosting to 1/2 cup or less.

Make Ahead

Bake the cakes up to 3 days before frosting and keep them tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. You may also freeze the cakes double-wrapped and placed inside plastic freezer bags for up to 3 months. Let the cakes thaw, still wrapped, on the counter overnight before frosting.

What Type of Alcohol Is in Limoncello?

Limoncello is typically made by steeping lemon peels in a high-proof neutral spirit like vodka, straining, and mixing the flavored alcohol with a sugar simple syrup. The result is a sweet, lemon-flavored liqueur with a proof similar to other liqueurs.

What Do You Do With Limoncello?

Limoncello can be enjoyed on its own as a digestif after a meal, mixed into cocktails, used to spike lemonade or iced tea, or used in baked goods like cakes and frosty treats like ice cream.