Basil olive oil cake is an amazing fresh twist on the classic Italian olive oil cake. This recipe for olive oil cake has sweet basil that is added to the batter which lends a beautiful aromatic flavor to the cake without overpowering it.
The hint of fresh lemon just cuts through the heaviness of olive oil cake and balances everything out. This basil cake is moist and delicious and the perfect cake to make when you have an abundance of basil.
About This Olive Oil Cake Recipe
This basil olive oil cake is moist but not overly heavy. It is really easy to make too, with all the ingredients going right into the blender to mix and then the cake pans for baking.
The fresh basil just really adds a little interest and sweetness to the cake. I find it takes away the one noted aspect of mosts Italian olive oil cake recipes.
If you have ever tried a classic olive cake before and found that it can lack a little something or maybe it was too heavy, then this recipe is for you. This basil olive cake is none of that.
It is really just an amazing dessert.
Steps to make this basil olive oil cake
- Add all of your wet ingredients into a blender and blend well.
- Add all of your dry ingredients into a separate bowl.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until incorporated.
- Pour into prepared cake pans.
- Bake and then cool
Very easy and I promise, anyone can make this olive oil cake recipe. It is such an essential recipe to have in your repertoire.
This Italian olive oil cake is great served in the summer when basil is plentiful but nice any time if you can't wait. This will definitely be a dessert that will impress anyone you make it for and they will never know how easy it was to make!
For the ingredients, they are fairly basic and things you will most likely have already in your pantry. Possibly the only thing you will need to purchase is the basil.
Ingredients you will need for this olive oil cake
- all purpose flour
- olive oil
- fresh basil
- and baking powder and baking soda
I really love making this Italian olive oil cake as a special dessert (even though the effort that goes into making it is really simple). It is always loved by everyone who has eaten it.
Why I love this Italian Basil Olive Cake Recipe
When I think of desserts to make for someone, I always try to find recipes that are not just easy to make but ones that are rustic and beautiful. I also try to think of recipe ideas that do not require elaborate decorating skills.
I am a cook more than a baker and decorating a cake is really not my thing. It is more than that, I am terrible at it and not from lack of trying.
I long ago realized that rustic desserts where a great option for me. They are easy to make and they taste amazing!
The whipped cream for this olive oil cake recipe
When I serve this basil cake, I love to serve it with fresh whipped cream that is only lightly sweetened with sugar to leave the natural cream taste intact. Anytime I make a whipped cream (or a frosting), I will always only use a small amount of sugar. I just do not like a sickly sweet topping.
You can totally adjust this to your taste though and there will be no judgement.
You can also opt to leave out the whipped cream if you do not have cream available or substitute your favorite dairy or non-dairy whipped topping. If you have powdered sugar on hand, that is plenty for the topping and how I already decorate this cake before serving.
Referring back to what I said above, I'm not a cake decorator so for me powdered sugar is the unsung hero in my kitchen when I serve cakes. Now you have this as a tool to use too!
This basil olive oil cake is perfect for dessert (the most obvious use) but it is equally as delicious as a snack or for breakfast. It is light and not overpowering despite having basil and olive oil in it.
This cake is also great served at a summer BBQ since it will not spoil. Just omit the whipped cream out if your event is outside.
Some more event ideas for serving this Italian olive oil cake:
- Birthdays (especially for adults who do not really care for traditional birthday cakes).
- BBQ or cookout.
- Church picnic or gathering
- When you are entertaining for guests.
- As a dessert to go with an amazing Italian dinner like this Spaghetti and Meatballs or this Italian Baked Zucchini.
- An afternoon social gathering with friends or family
The uses for this cake are plenty and there is no wrong way to present this cake to someone. My favorite way of eating this is as an afternoon pick me up with some tea or coffee if I have any leftover from the day before.
Everyone will love it no matter what the event or when it is served.
Update: Making this olive oil cake gluten free and healthier
I always love hearing from readers who have tried my recipe and changed things up to suit their diet and preferences.
A wonderful suggestion from a reader on Pinterest who had great success with her substitutions to make this cake gluten free and lighter:
Substitute Almond Flour for All purpose flour. Make sure that you sift your almond flour to keep your cake light!
Substitute Agave Sugar for Granulated sugar.
If you make this recipe and change anything, send me your photos and what you have changed. I love hearing from you.
Tips for making the best olive oil cake
You can use whatever olive oil you have on hand and it will turn out great. I like a regular mild olive oil for making olive oil cake which you might see sold as everyday olive oil or not labeled extra virgin.
If you have a great high quality fruity extra virgin olive oil that you would dip bread in that would be fine too. I have tried all of them in this recipe and they all work well.
You can leave olive oil cake on the counter under a cake dome for the the first day and then place it in the fridge after that. Olive oil cake will last for a couple days in the fridge.
Just take it out an hour before you want to eat it to take the chill off of it.
Give this a try and you will see why the Italians love their olive cakes! It is simple, beautiful and so delicious.
What our readers are saying
My hubby and kids said it was the best cake I ever made! So yummy. Making again tonight and going to use some basil infused olive oil the store had! We’ll see if it tastes as good. My hubby and kids said it was the best cake I ever made!Briana from Pinterest
Everyone loved it! Turned out amazing! Added a bit of lemon juice to the whipped cream to bring out some freshnessAmber from Pinterest
Came out great!Ivie from Pinterest
More Italian Desserts
If you love this olive oil cake, you may also love these Italian desserts:
Even more dessert ideas
- Italian Berry Cake
- Italian Pizzelles
- Italian Ricotta Cake
- Ciambella Yogurt Cake
- Pizzelle Cookies
- Classic Carrot Cake
- Almond and Vanilla Layer Cake
- Pizzelle Cannoli
- Super Moist Chocolate Cake
- Italian Apple Cake
- Cheesecake Bites
Basil Olive Oil Cake
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ⅓ cups regular or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- zest of 1 lemon
- 11 large basil leaves course chopped. Large means each basil leaf measures about 2 ½ to 3 inches long usually they get this large when grown hydroponically. If you have smaller basil leaves (usually they are when grown in the garden) increase this amount by double, or 22 small basil leaves.
- Whipped Sweet Cream
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
- Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. You want a standard cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep.
- In a large bowl, sift your flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder.
- Now, with a blender, add your olive oil, course chopped basil and milk and blitz on high speed for about 2 minutes until the basil is fully incorporated into the liquid and the olive oil milk mixture turns a light lime green.
- In another bowl, add your eggs and lemon zest and mix well.
- Now pour the basil mixture from the blender into this bowl and mix well. Next, add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and give it a light tapping (just lift the pan about an inch above the counter surface and drop it lightly) to get out any air bubbles.
- Bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. If you see any jiggle in the middle of your cake when pulling it out of the oven, add a few more minutes of cooking at a time until it is firm and set.
- Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Invert your cake on to a plate and remove parchment paper on the bottom.
- Sweetened Whipped Cream
- With a hand mixer, stand mixer or whisk, mix your heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar (that has been sifted) until it starts to stiffen and form peaks at the tip of your whisk.
- Add a dollop to each slice of cake and enjoy!
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here
Love this recipe! But the metric conversion does not work for the flour.
Hi Crystal. Thank you for letting me know. I just fixed that so it should work now 🙂
The bests olive oil cake ever!
Mary Arner says
I have a huge crop of basil growing in a pot on my apartment balcony. I was running out of recipes to try and use it, so came across this recipe for a basil olive oil cake. I made it and it was well received by my company. They raved about it! I did put a vanilla glaze on the cake instead of serving it plain. The only comment I have is that I thought it was a bit oily. Next time I might cut back on the olive oil a bit and use a cup rather than 1 and 1/3 cups. I did use extra virgin olive oil so maybe if I used the light version or regular olive oil it might be better. Melissa, if you have any suggestions for me, I'll await your recommendations! Thank you!
Hi Mary. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and found a great us to use up all of that extra basil you have 🙂
Olive oil cakes are traditionally more on the dense side but it sounds like your preference is to lighten up the amount of oil which is totally fine! You can decrease the amount of oil to 1 cup and just substitute another ingredient for the oil that you are taking out. You can use yogurt or sour cream as a great substitute for the amount of oil you take out of the recipe. It will taste great.
I hope this helps!
made this cake into cupcakes with whipped strawberry frosting. delicious!! beautiful texture and moist and so SIMPLE!! looking to make it dairy free for a friend who loved!!! any suggestions?
Keeping It Simple says
Hi. I'm so glad to hear you liked it 🙂
I haven't tried making a dairy free version but I would think any dairy free milk might work as a substitute for the milk in the recipe. Coconut whipped cream would go beautifully with the cake as well. They sell this in most stores now or you could make your own. Just try to find a more neutral flavored dairy free milk for the cake part of the recipe so it does not overpower the basil.
Let me know if you make it and how it comes out!
Kirsten Wood says
This cake was stunning! Absolutely delicious! I will absolutely be making it again!
I am so glad to hear that! It is a favorite around here too 🙂
Alicia Brower says
What if you wanted to use basil infused olive oil? Would you cut back on the fresh basil??
Hi. It is hard to know how much to cut back since I haven't tried the olive oil. I would say if the olive oil has a very pronounced basil flavor then cut the fresh basil in half.
I hope this helps 🙂
Levi Bareither says
Hey Melissa, I was super excited when I saw this recipe, but since there are no comments or reviews yet, I have a couple questions. First, I notice that this recipe calls for more olive oil than many of the olive oil cake recipes I have seen, is there a reason for that? How would altering the quantity affect the texture? Second, have you had plenty of success using all purpose flour? I've noticed that other recipes call for cake flour. Hoping to make it next week. Thanks, hope to hear from you soon!
Hi Levi. Thanks for your questions! Like many cake recipes, the quantities will vary on the liquids but I used my olive oil cake recipe that I have used for years with the only difference of adding the basil to add some flavor. I have always used all purpose flour for this cake and haven't tried the other recipes that use cake flour. This is a very moist cake that can hold up to the strength of all purpose flour 🙂 If you have a good recipe for olive oil cake that you like and it uses cake flour and less olive oil, you can use that too and just follow the step in this recipe that mixes the basil and liquids in a blender! I hope this helps!