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This easy 4-Ingredient Lemon Dump Cake is creamy, buttery, rich, and bursting with citrus flavor! I don’t know about you, but I crave the unique taste of a sweet lemon dessert from time to time. There’s just nothing quite like it. The lemon brings a refreshing and summery flavor, while the creamier ingredients ground the strong citrus to balance it. Just divine!
Even better, this recipe is so easy to make! After a quick 10-minute prep, pop the cake pan into the oven and let it bake for a little over half an hour.
Then, let it cool and serve this tasty lemony dessert for any occasion — it works perfectly for family gatherings, office events, or birthday celebrations!
And I have more easy lemon dessert recipes to satisfy any lemon lover, like my simple-to-make Lemon Cake Mix Cookies, my made-from-scratch Lemon Bundt Cake, and this refreshing Lemonade Icebox Pie in a Jar — YUM!
So, why do we call it a “dump cake?” The fascinating name of this American dessert describes the process of preparing it for the oven.
You often mix all the ingredients with typical cake recipes to form one batter. With dump cakes, though, you essentially dump, or layer, all the ingredients into the baking dish and pop it straight into the oven as is.
Dump cake is similar to the taste and texture of a cobbler but brings its own style to the dessert table with a cake topping and chunks of melty cream cheese!
Key ingredients & substitutions for Lemon Cream Cheese Dump Cake
- Lemon pie filling | Lemon pie filling creates the first layer of the dump cake, bringing a strong lemony flavor. You may substitute lemon curd if you like.
- Cream cheese | Add cubed cream cheese pieces, so each bite has a creamy texture and taste.
- Yellow cake mix | Yellow cake mix acts as the crumbly and dry topping for the dump cake. If preferred, add more lemon flavor to this recipe using lemon cake mix.
- Unsalted butter | The final additions to this delicious dessert are thin pats of unsalted butter scattered over the cake mix, producing a buttery topping.
How to make the Best Lemon Dump Cake Recipe
How do you make a four-ingredient lemon cream cheese dump cake? Just as it sounds — dump all the ingredients into the cake pan, bake, cool, and serve!
STEP 1 | Preheat the oven
Get ready to make this tasty lemon dump cake by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
STEP 2 | Spread the pie filling
Next, set out a 9 x 13-inch cake pan and carefully spread the lemon pie filling evenly on the bottom of the baking dish.
STEP 3 | Add the cream cheese
Now, unpackage the cream cheese and cut it into small cubes. Scatter the pieces over the pie filling, leaving even space between each.
STEP 4 | Sprinkle the cake mix and place the butter pats on top
Then, gently and evenly sprinkle the dry cake mix on top of the ingredients in the cake pan. Next, cut the butter into thin pats. Place the pieces on top of the cake mix, covering as much surface as possible.
If you prefer, instead you may drizzle melted butter all over the top of the cake before baking. If you do, it’s important that you don’t have any dry cake mix spots showing through.
- Precisely cut the cream cheese cubes and butter as directed above for the best results.
- As the cake cools, the ingredients solidify, producing a creamy and fluffy texture.
STEP 5 | Bake, cool, and serve!
Finally, slip the cake pan into the oven and bake your dump cake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Once the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, remove the cake from the oven and set it out to cool for around 15 minutes. Then, cut into your delicious lemon dump cake and serve!
Serve your lemon dump cake in slices topped with whipped cream, sprinkled powdered sugar and lemon zest, cool whip, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Frequently asked questions
Traditional cobbler and dump cakes have similar textures and tastes. The main difference is the topping — dump cake has a cake-mix topping, while cobblers are often topped with Bisquick or something similar. Cobblers also almost always have fruit filling. On the other hand, dump cakes sometimes have canned fruit in their ingredient list. They often have pie filling as a fruity addition to the dessert.
This lemon dump cake recipe is simple, so there is lots of room to personalize and make it your own. Try changing the cake mix to a lemon or white for a subtle flavor difference. For something unique, experiment with different pie fillings, like blueberry for a lemon blueberry dump cake! Strawberry pie filling is also a delicious option.
And finally, you can also customize your dump cake by adding lemon curd or lemon pudding mix for a more intense lemon flavor!
Absolutely! Make this lemon dump cake recipe up to two days ahead of time! Throw the ingredients together, bake, let it cool, then store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. When you’re ready to serve the lemony dessert, set it out on the counter to come to room temperature, then dive in!
You can also skip baking the recipe and store it in the fridge until you’re ready. Then, bake, let it cool, and serve.
More easy dump cake recipes
Whenever you need a quick dessert, it doesn’t get any easier than making a dump cake that starts with a boxed cake mix. And, the possibilities are endless — here are a few tasty suggestions:
- Apple Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans of apple pie filling + spice cake mix + 12 tablespoons butter
- Peach Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans peach pie filling + yellow cake mix + 12 tablespoons butter
- Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans pumpkin pie filling + yellow cake mix + 12 tablespoons butter + chopped pecans
- Blueberry Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans blueberry pie filling + cream cheese + lemon cake mix + 12 tablespoons butter + fresh blueberries
- Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans cherry pie filling + chocolate cake mix + chocolate chips + 12 tablespoons butter
- Death by Chocolate Dump Cake recipe — 2 cans of chocolate pie filling + devil’s food cake mix + chocolate chips + 12 tablespoons butter
Behind the recipe: Lemon Dump Cake
The dump cake’s origins are tricky to track down. From what I can find, it supposedly originated on the back of a cake mix box. The late 1960s is when this easy dessert gained popularity for using few ingredients and working great when you’re in a rush.
In the 1980s, the dump cake had a comeback. And today, it is still a family favorite served at family gatherings, potlucks, and other similar events.
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Lemon Dump Cake
- 2 21-oz. cans lemon pie filling
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 21-oz. yellow cake mix
- 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread the lemon pie filling evenly on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over the pie filling in the pan.
- Sprinkle the dry cake mix even on top of all the ingredients. Next, cut the butter into thin pats and place on top of the cake mix, covering as much of the surface as possible.
- Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
- If you prefer, instead of butter pats you may drizzle melted butter all over the top of the cake before baking. If you do, it’s important that you don’t have any dry cake mix spots showing through.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.