Lemon Basil Cake uses the wonderful combination of lemon and basil to
turn ordinary vanilla cake into a delicious gourmet dessert.  It
might sound a bit odd to put an herb like basil in a cake, but think of
how mint is often used in a similar way, commonly in combination with chocolate or vanilla.

Lemon and basil are a fantastically harmonious combination of flavors. Trader joes vanilla cake mixFor this recipe, you’ll be adding the lemon zest and chopped basil ingredients to Trader Joe’s vanilla cake mix.   If you prefer to make your cake from scratch, just add the lemon and basil to your favorite vanilla cake recipe in the same manner described below.  The cake is already quite sweet, so I prefer it with fresh fruit, unsweetened fruit jam, or whipped cream. Blueberries are a perfect complement to the flavors of this cake. 

Trader Joes basil plantMost of the year, Trader Joe’s carries live basil plants for just a few dollars. Use the basil leaves and (in spring or summer) plant the rest in your garden so you can continue harvesting fresh basil.


Lemon Basil Cake


  • 1 Package Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix (requires 2 eggs, 1 stick melted butter or 1/2 cup oil, and 1 cup cold milk)
  • Zest of 2 lemons, about 2 Tbsp (use a lemon zester to make it easy)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together cake batter as directed. When the batter is smooth, stir in lemon zest and basil.
  3. Spread batter in oiled 8×8-inch pan. Bake 40-43 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool and remove from pan. When serving slices, top with blueberries or whipped cream.