Shirley Temple Cake

We didn’t go out to eat much as a child, but when we did, I ordered a kiddie cocktail; a Shirley Temple drink. Lemon lime with a hint of greadine. And as an adult, I realize I probably just like the marshinaco cherries the best. I’d ask for extra.

close up of bundt cake slice with glaze and cherries with text overlay for facebook


I’ve made several lemon and lime cakes through the years, and oodles of cherry recipes, so I decided to try and make them into one nostalgic childhood cake. A Shirley Temple Cake.

Bundt Cake

I did make this particular cake in a bundt cake. I would assume it would work with loaf pans as well (two of them) but honestly, I haven’t tried it in actual cakes pans and not sure how it would work.

I like using a classic bundt pan or tube pan. The more nooks, crannies and crevices, the higher probability that the cake will stick and break when removing. Make sure to spray well to prevent sticking.

overhead of glazed bundt cake

What You’ll Need

The usual ingredients, but a few outliers too.

ingredients for shirley temple cake
  • Cake Mix– vanilla or yellow work best, angel food is also an option
  • Greek yogurt- which ever flavor you want to be the most forward is the flavor of yogurt you want to use; lemon, lime, vanilla or plain. Greek yogurt has been strained further and is thicker, so it provides the most structure for the cake batter.
  • Vegetable Oil– or any neutral oil
  • Eggs– for structure and loft
  • Citrus– I use lemon and lime just and zest. Fresh is always better than bottled which is often muted and dull. See below why we add both juice and zest and feel free to just use one or the other if you prefer a flavor.

For the Cake Icing, also a glaze…

  • Powdered sugar
  • Butter– melted butter is often not seen in glazes, but when it starts to set, this will help it cling to the cake and stay put inside of just dripping off.
  • Lemon-Lime Soda– such as Sprite or another off brand. Any carbonated citrus beverage will work, as will swapping this out for milk only.
  • Milk or Water– this helps to get the right consistency to pour and drizzle, add small and sparingly. Whole milk provides the most body.
  • Extract– Again to add more citrusy flavor, but if you want a milder crumb, omit this and stick with just the other liquids.
  • Maraschino cherries– no Shirley Temple is complete without cherries!
slice of shirley temple can on wire rack

Make it, Bake it

  1. Add all of the cake ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. This might take 2 minutes so using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer is your best bet.
collage of how to make a bundt cake
  1. Pour it in to a prepared bundt or tube pan and bake. This cakes does bake at a lower temperature than many, this is because testing higher temps browned the outside too fast, but left the interior soft. So please don’t ask, this is not a typo.
  2. Cool and invert.
  3. Make the icing and drizzle!
icing for shirley temple bundt cake

Juice vs Zest

What is the difference between citrus juice and zest? I would call citrus zests the purest. They give a clean, robust flavor without being bitter (as long as you don’t get pith, the white part). Juice is acidic and has flavor, but can be sour and works as a balance to the sweetness of the cake.

The short story is they serve different purposes, but they can be swapped. You can omit the zest if you are opting for using a bottled juice, but I also recommend not using a bottled juice.

fork with a bite of shirley temple bundt cake

Citrus, including oranges, start to lose flavor potency the moment they are pressed. If you do use one, shake well to mix back the liquids as they tend to separate.

Tips for Making a Bundt Cake

  1. Do not overmix the batter. The most commonly made mistake in making any cakes is overworking the batter. This is actually made easier when you are using a stand mixer because we overestimate how long the batter has been beaten. Pay attention and even set a timer.
  2. Eggs. Eggs make a cake moist and yolks make them even more moist. Try adding one or two extra yolks to your favorite cake recipe and watch the crumb get even crumblier. Yes, I made that word up! 
  3. Don’t over bake your cake! This might seem like it is super apparent, but many folks wait too long before taking the cake out of the oven and presto, dry cake. Whomp, whomp. They shouldn’t jiggle in the middle, but spring back when lightly touched. This cake is cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time since it is so thick and denese.
  4. Measure your flour. You might think you measure your flour, but are you doing it correct? Scoop flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a flat spatula or butter knife. Don’t pack it down, just let is sit how it did when you scooped it. Additional flour makes cake dry and even have a slight heap on your measuring cup could be the culprit. 
  5. Place it in the pan on a wire rack to cool. This allows air to circulate around the whole cake and cool evenly.
  6. Don’t wait until it is fully cooled to turn it out. The cake needs to cool slightly to keep its shape, but will get even more challenging to turn out the cooler it gets.


This cake should be stored covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. If freezing, freeze tightly wrapped without glaze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw at room temperature, then ice and serve.

long pin for shirley temple cake

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close up of slice of bundt cake with glaze and cherries with text overlay for pinterest
head on slice of shirley temple cake

Shirley Temple Cake

5 from 5 votes
Your favorite kiddie cocktail in cake form- a simple cake mix elevated with lemon-lime flavors, a bubbly icing and dotted with cherries.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 12






  • Preheat oven to 325°F and coat a 12 cup bundt or tube pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry cake mix with the yogurt, oil, eggs and citrus juices and zests, mix well, scraping down sides as you go.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until top (bottom) is lightly browned, springs back to the touch and passes the toothpick test.
  • Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Gently tap the top of the baking pan and then invert onto a serving platter. Allow to cool fully before drizzling with icing.


  • To make icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, soda, milk (or water) and extract until no lumps remain, approximately 2-3 minutes. If the icing isn't a pourable consistency, add more powdered sugar or milk until it reaches a smooth white texture that will coat the back of a spoon.
  • Spoon evenly over cake all the way around and allow to set, repeat with remaining icing.
  • Top of maraschino cherries and serve.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.


Calories: 342 kcal, Carbohydrates: 51 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 15 g, Saturated Fat: 10 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 297 mg, Potassium: 64 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 36 g, Vitamin A: 172 IU, Vitamin C: 7 mg, Calcium: 93 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 342
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon bundt cake, lime cake, shirley temple cake
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
overhead of glazed bundt cake
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I love any kind of dessert with lemon and/or lime in it, so this sounds perfect to me. I can’t wait to try it.

  2. 5 stars
    I was trying to find a unique recipe for a cookout this weekend and this cake is the answer! The flavor will be perfect with the other recipe swe’re making!

  3. 5 stars
    What a unique and unexpected treat! Exactly what I needed to cure my sweet tooth; definitely a new favorite recipe! It was delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    This delicious Shirley Temple Cake was a huge hit with the family. So moist. So tender. I love that it’s quick and simple to make!