This simple matcha cake recipe pairs the distinct flavor of matcha with the easy prep of a snack cake. A touch of lemon complements the grassy and earthy notes of green tea, and the 3-ingredient matcha icing adds irresistible moisture and sweetness! Only 10 ingredients and 15 minutes of hands-on time. Vegan and easily made gluten-free.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea made from shade-grown tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder. Matcha has a vibrant green color, unique, concentrated flavor, and is well known for being rich in antioxidants.
Unlike other varieties of green tea, where the dried leaves are steeped in hot water then removed, matcha powder is dissolved in hot water to create the tea. This means we're consuming the powdered tea leaves. So it's easy to see why matcha has a stronger flavor and is higher in caffeine and antioxidants than regular green tea.
If you're anything like me, you've probably purchased a tin of matcha before, expecting to make delicious matcha lattes every day, or get creative in the kitchen in other ways.
But before you know it, that canister of matcha is buried in the refrigerator door or pantry, and you forget all about it for weeks...or months!
That wouldn't be a problem with other types of tea. But according to experts, for the best quality and flavor, matcha is best consumed within a few weeks of opening.
It isn't so much that matcha "goes bad" in the way we tend to think of the shelf life of foods. It's really more of a quality issue.
Since matcha is a fine powder, it has a lot of surface area, leading to faster oxidation. This results in a deterioration in flavor, color, and nutrients. With this in mind, incorporating matcha into desserts like matcha cake is a great way to put that tin of matcha to use!
Before we dive into the recipe, let's talk about the best type of matcha to use for baking. I've tried a few culinary-grade matchas over the years, and honestly, they were pretty disappointing - bitter, and more brown in color than green.
Though ceremonial grade matcha is more expensive, for us home cooks, I think it's worth the extra few dollars. Plus, then you have a matcha that's delicious enough to drink on its own or as a simple matcha latte.
If you're preparing a larger volume of matcha desserts, it makes more sense to choose a culinary-grade matcha. Go with the best quality possible.
Ceremonial-grade matcha produces a cake with the best flavor and a vibrant green color. I always look for Japanese matcha. Three brands I've used recently and can recommend are Ippodo (Horai) (about $2 per teaspoon at the time of writing), Kiyo (approx. $1.50/tsp), and Aiya (approx. $1.60/tsp).
Tip! Considering the oxidation discussed above, matcha isn't an ingredient to buy in bulk. For most of us, it's best to purchase the smallest container available.
- flour - I've tested the cake with regular all-purpose flour and King Arthur's Measure for Measure gluten-free flour.
- sugar - To make sure your sugar is vegan and not processed with bone char, look for organic cane sugar or a product labeled as vegan. Currently I'm using this sugar from Whole Foods.
- matcha - See above; for the best flavor and color, choose a good quality, ceremonial-grade matcha.
- milk - Any unsweetened non-dairy milk you like is fine here. I used a combination of soy and almond milk.
- yogurt - I used plain cashew yogurt. Yogurt adds moisture to the cake and reduces the amount of oil needed.
- powdered sugar - Though the glaze is optional, it really adds an extra bit of decadence and enjoyment to the cake! Plus, it only takes about 2 minutes to stir together.
See the recipe card below for amounts and full instructions.
How to Make Matcha Cake
In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda. Sift in the matcha.
Whisk very well so that the matcha is distributed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, and stir to form the batter.
Pour the batter into a parchment-lined square baking pan, and sprinkle with nuts, if desired. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpic inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then lift out onto a cooling rack. While it's cooling, stir together the 3-ingredient matcha icing.
Once your matcha cake is completely cool, slice and serve with a drizzle of matcha icing and a dollop of non-dairy whipped cream.
- gluten-free matcha cake - Use a gluten-free baking blend such as King Arthur's Measure for Measure.
- with nuts - I had pistachios on hand and thought the color would pair nicely with the green cake. Feel free to fold nuts into the batter for even more texture, or just sprinkle them on top. Walnuts or pecans would also be delicious. We really enjoyed the extra texture provided by the pistachios.
- matcha layer cake - Serving a crowd? Double or triple the ingredients and bake the cake layers in 9-inch round pans. Sift some matcha into a simple vegan vanilla frosting, and use the matcha buttercream to frost the cake.
Yes, matcha contains about 70 milligrams of caffeine per teaspoon. Since this cake calls for 4 ½ teaspoons of matcha, at 9 servings, each slice contains around 35 mg caffeine.
Store matcha cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Absolutely! Like most cakes, this vegan matcha cake freezes well. For the best flavor, protect it from freezer burn by wrapping it very well and placing in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 2 months.
More Vegan Cakes
I hope you enjoy this sweet and simple vegan matcha cake! If you try the recipe be sure to comment below and let us know.
Easy Matcha Cake (Vegan)
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour - regular or gluten-free
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 ½ teaspoons matcha powder
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup plain non-dairy yogurt - I used cashew yogurt
- ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk - I used almond milk
- ⅓ cup neutral oil - Such as canola or grapeseed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 small lemon
Optional nuts and icing:
- 3 Tablespoons raw pistachios - or walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon matcha
- 4 teaspoons non-dairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift the matcha into the bowl and whisk very well to incorporate.
- In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, yogurt, milk, oil, and vanilla. Zest the lemon, and add the zest to the bowl. Cut and squeeze the lemon, adding 1 Tbsp lemon juice to the other wet ingredients. Whisk to combine.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir to form a batter. Try not to overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle nuts on top, if using. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then lift out onto a metal rack to cool completely.
- To make the matcha icing, sift together the powdered sugar and matcha. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. If the icing is too thin or thick, adjust the consistency by adding a touch more milk or powdered sugar. Drizzle over the entire cake or onto individual slices just before serving.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.