Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce

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This is a holiday tradition at our house, and once you try it, we think it will become one at your home, too.

Sugar and spice and everything nice is what this delicious dessert is all about. The cake is spectacular by itself, but the slightly sweet lemon sauce truly puts it over the top. It’s the perfect ending after a feast with your holiday roast and favorite side dishes. Loved by kids and adults alike.

A square slice of gingerbread cake sitting in a small pool of lemon sauce and topped with a small pile of lemon zest.

How To Make Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce


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The Ingredients You Will Need

The ingredients for this wonderful cake and lemon sauce are simple and many you very likely will already have on hand. A stand mixer (or hand mixer) makes bringing the batter together a snap.

For the Cake:
Flour – All-purpose
Spices – Ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and a little salt
Baking soda – Check the date, if it’s past its prime, get a new box
Butter – Unsalted
Brown sugar – Light or dark, but we prefer light
Molasses – Go with a good quality brand, if possible
Eggs – Room temperature, if possible
Milk – Whole

For the Lemon Sauce:
Sugar – Granulated
Butter – Unsalted
Cream – Heavy whipping cream is best, but half and half can be substituted
Lemon – You’ll need lemon zest and lemon juice
Cornstarch – Combined with water to make a slurry

EXPERT TIP: You can use a 9×9″ or 10×10″ pan for the cake. We highly recommend greasing the pan with softened butter (or shortening) and then dusting with flour, tapping out excess. This will ensure the cake can easily be removed from the pan, if desired.

A golden gingerbread cake batter being poured into greased and floured square metal baking pan.

Tips for Making the Perfect Gingerbread Cake

Don’t Overmix the Batter – Mix the batter until just combined to avoid overdeveloping the gluten, which can result in a tough cake.

Add lemon Zest to the Sauce – Be sure to incorporate freshly grated lemon zest into the sauce to infuse it with a bright citrus flavor that complements the rich gingerbread. A zester is a great (and inexpensive) tool to have on hand.

Warm the Sauce – Warming the lemon sauce before serving is highly recommended. Pour the warm lemon sauce over the cake to enhance its moistness and add a delightful contrast of flavors.

EXPERT TIP: To remove the cake from the pan, let it cool for about 10 minutes, and then run a sharp knife around the edges. Then, place a cutting board on the top of the pan and quickly invert. The cake should gently come right out of the pan. Next, gently use your hands to flip the cake over and onto a baking rack.

A whole square fully baked gingerbread cake sitting on a baking rack over a festive holiday place mat and in front of shiny red berries and green holly.

How To Serve and How To Store

This cake is absolutely wonderful when served warm or at room temperature. You can make the cake two to three days in advance. After slicing and cutting the cake, you can easily (and gently) reheat it in the microwave. The sauce can be gently heated over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

Be sure to save extra lemon zest to top each sauced piece of cake before you serve it o guests.

The cake can easily be stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid, either in the refrigerator or on the counter. The cake can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Allow to completely thaw and come to room temperature before serving.

A square piece of gingerbread cake being lifted with a metal spatula from the entire cake.

Other Classic Holiday Dessert Recipes to Try

There are so many things to love about the Christmas season. Holiday sweet treats are near the top of that list. Here are some of our favorites that we’re pretty sure you and your family will love, too:

Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)
Holiday Chocolate Toffee
Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
Classic Red Velvet Cake
Christmas Bundt Cake
Homemade Pecan Pie
Biscotti with Pistachios and Dried Cherries
Homemade Monkey Bread
Grandma’s Homemade Kolaches

These are all nothing short of amazing and we love them all. But, in the meantime, isn’t this cake catching your eye?

A large silver spoon being used to drizzle a lemon sauce over a square piece of gingerbread cake.

This incredibly delicious dessert is quintessential holiday fare.

It is also surprisingly easy to make and can even be prepared a day or two in advance.

If desired, you could substitute a cream cheese topping in place of the lemon sauce, but, we have to say, the lemon sauce is truly something special. It just goes so well with the gingerbread cake.

Every single bite is a holiday celebration to remember!

A straight-on view of a square piece of gingerbread cake with lemon sauce sitting on a white dessert plate with a bite out of it.

Ready to make the best Christmas dessert in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A straight-on view of a square piece of gingerbread cake with lemon sauce sitting on a white dessert plate with a bite out of it.

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce is the perfect holiday dessert! What spells the holidays more than gingerbread? Match it with this luscious lemon sauce, and you'll be in holiday heaven!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Keyword: gingerbread, holiday baking recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 568kcal


  • 9x9" or 10x10" baking pan or dish


  • cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting pan
  • tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 tsp ginger ground
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar light
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk

For the Lemon Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease the 9x9 (or 10x10) baking pan and dust with flour.
  • Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
    2½ cups all-purpose flour, 1½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt
  • In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream (mix) together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
    ½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup brown sugar
  • Add molasses and then eggs one at a time. Mix until completely combined.
    ¾ cup molasses, 2 eggs
  • Add flour mixture alternately with milk. (Add about a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the milk, and repeat until all is in the bowl). Mix just until combined. Don't overmix!
    1 cup whole milk
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Top with lemon sauce and sprinkle with grated lemon zest.

Make the Lemon Sauce

  • Combine the sugar, butter, cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly
    1 cup granulated sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup heavy cream, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry (2 tbsp cornstarch combined with 2 tbsp water). Continue stirring until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes (it will continue to thicken as it cools off).
    2 tbsp cornstarch


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
The cake can be made up to 3 days before serving, although, fresh out of the oven (and then resting about 15 minutes) is pretty amazing. The sauce can be made a day or so in advance, too, simply reheat over low heat in a saucepan on the stove. 
Leftovers will keep covered on the counter for 5 days or in the fridge for a week. The cake can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Let thaw completely and then bring to room temperature before serving. 


Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 283mg | Potassium: 604mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 1146IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This post was originally published in December 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in December 2024! 


  • 5 stars
    Made this for dessert last night. Delicious and smelled heavenly. I cook at 5300 feet but didn’t make any high altitude adjustments and it was perfect

  • I love all things Gingerbread! When I was young my mother would make gingerbread cake for Sunday night supper & and would serve with warm applesauce (on the side). I haven’t made it for many years but will be making this tonight; I have everything needed in my pantry. Thanks for the memory. Merry Christmas

    • Hi AJ! Isn’t gingerbread just so comforting and yummy? Warm applesauce on the side sounds heavenly! We hope you were able to make the gingerbread and it brought back wonderful memories!! Merry Christmas! Keep us posted! Best, Kris & Wesey

    • Hi Ann!! So sorry, I thought we had already responded to this, but I don’t think I did. Yes!! The sauce can absolutely be made in advance and then gently reheated on the stove before serving with the cake. Let us know if you make it and how it turns out! And Merry Christmas to you from us!! Kris & Wesley

  • Hello, the first time I ever had gingerbread with lemon sauce was when I was first married way back in 1976. We were in our first apartment and living in New Bedford Massachusetts. I just loved it but I haven’t had it since. At least not the lemon sauce. I am now back home in PA and I’m going to make it myself. I think my Mom will love it. Thanks so much for this recipe.

    • Hi Beth!! Yes…this is one of those recipes that just bring back good memories. So comforting and nostalgic. We love it with the lemon sauce and hope you do, too!! Let us know what you and mom think about it!!! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Sure sounds wonderful!! My Mom used to make gingerbread with a brown sugar and raisin sauce with lemon peels and it was fantastic!! I’m very anxious to try your tasty looking gingerbread with lemons sauce recipe! Thanks for reminding me of such lovely memories!! You all are so wonderful!!❤️

    • Hi Lucy! Wow! Your mom’s version sounds absolutely delicious! We just love gingerbread cake and we do like the lemon sauce. Thank you for sharing memory with us. Means a lot to us. Please stay in touch and let us know if you make this wonderful cake! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I am baking this cake right now for my Dads 80th birthday. He loves spice and carrot cake so I thought I’d give this one a try. Can’t wait for a bite

    • That’s wonderful, Rhonda!! We really hope you and your Dad liked this cake!! Please let us know what you all thought! And Happy Birthday, Dad!! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    OMG, I can hardly wait. Grandma always served her gingerbread with lemon sauce. I haven’t had this for at least 60 years. Thank you!

    • Hi Lucy! I would increase the bake time by 10 minutes, but try the toothpick test during the final baking period. If toothpick comes out dry, you’re set. Let us know how it turns out! Best, Kris & Wesley

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