Italian Olive Oil Cake


We are going to make a cake with olive oil instead of butter which might sound a little bit strange but it works really, really well. It requires very little effort and almost no technique. Serve with fresh berries and/or a fresh berry puree or sauce.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs
Cool Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
1 olive oil cake

Italian Olive Oil Cake – No Butter? No Problem

If you've never had any luck making a decent cake from scratch, and have resigned yourself to being one of those "box cake people," then this simple, easy Italian olive oil cake is for you. Unlike other methods requiring multiple steps, and precise techniques, this unusual-sounding cake is made by dumping everything in a bowl and whisking. I hate to generalize, but that is sooooo Italian dessert.

If you're hesitant to try this because olive oil doesn't sounds like something you make cake with, I can promise you it works amazingly well. The subtle bitterness, and vegetal notes of the olive oil pairs wonderfully with the orange zest, and when balanced with the sweetness in the cake there's absolutely nothing off-putting about it. Of course, if you wanted, this method could be done with melted butter instead, but in that case, we must insist you change the name.

As far as enjoying your olive oil cake to its fullest potential, there's nothing like serving it with fresh fruit, in whole, or sauce form, and I really loved this with the blackberries. In fact, I was thinking about doing a version that includes the fruit in the cake batter itself, but that experiment will have to wait until next blackberry season. In the meantime, I really hope you give this simple, almost foolproof cake a try soon. Enjoy!

a single-layer cake with a powdered sugar grid pattern, garnished with fresh blackberries and orange zest
Chef John


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 ¾ cups white sugar

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (2 oranges)

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar for dusting (Optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the bottom of a springform pan with a round piece of parchment paper and generously grease with olive oil. Grease the sides of the pan with olive oil as well.

  2. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl; whisk together until evenly combined.

  3. Combine eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, honey, and orange zest in a second bowl. Starting slowly at first, whisk together until mixture is smooth. Stir in flour mixture until everything is just mixed together and flour has disappeared. Do not overmix.

  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and tap pan a few times against the work surface to remove any air bubbles.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is browned on the surface and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Make sure to not overbake.

  6. Transfer cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Loosen edge of the cake by running a knife around the sides of the pan. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely, another 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

    Italian Olive Oil Cake
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

For best results, choose a mild, buttery style of olive oil. Or mix half olive oil and half canola oil as an alternative.

Cake should be kept in the fridge.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

517 Calories
25g Fat
67g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 517
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 431mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 67g 24%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 7g
Potassium 100mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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