A Stinging Nettle Cake! Don't worry, boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting. This naturally green layer cake is easy to make and tastes just like a lemon cake! Nobody will guess there are nettles in it.
Everyone will be shocked when you tell them the cake is full (and I mean FULL) of stinging nettles. But it tastes just like a regular lemon cake.
The flavor of the nettles completely fades away, leaving behind that incredible green color!
I know what you're thinking: 'ouch'.
But trust me, just put on some rubber gloves and go foraging in the hedges for nettles to make a cake.
Or, pick up a few bunches at your local farmer's market. Because this cake needs nettles!
I've long loved developing creative cake recipes with unusual ingredients (hello, Kale Cake).
So I thought I'd take my naturally green cake obsession a little further and try it with stinging nettles.
And it works!
This recipe was originally published April 14 2014. Republished with improved text and some photos April 26 2021.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I've made this cake several times now - it's absolutely wonderful! Would highly recommend anyone to make it!" - Esme
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I've made it yesterday and it tastes absolutely lovely. The nettle gave it a natural green colour that looks attractive. " - Dan
Why You'll Love this Recipe
An unusual cake recipe.
A way to use up foraged stinging nettles,.
It's a quick and easy cake recipe.
Stinging Nettle Cake is naturally bright green.
You can't taste the nettles, the flavor of them fades so it tastes like a lemon cake!
It's probably the most quirky cake you'll ever make!
Stinging nettles make a fabulous soup, they're free and they're good for you (health benefits of stinging nettles), perhaps even better than spinach or broccoli.
Like kale's best friend before kale got popular (grew boobs, lost the braces and announced that "on Wednesdays we wear pink"), stinging nettle has all the makings of your favourite leafy green.
But because the supermarkets don't sell it, and it, well, stings, many haven't tried it.
Funny that, as the stuff really gets about. In the spring, stinging nettles are everywhere. Even, for me at least, in nettle cake!
And you'll love it. The lemony cake flavor is very spring-like as the flavour of the nettles fades away beneath the zesty lemon in this nettle cake.
Foraging for Stining Nettles
If you can't find bags of nettles at your farmer's market, then you can forage for your own in the wild!
I'm sure you know where to find nettles, as you only need to look around neighbourhoods, gardens, forests and verges in the spring. It's everywhere!
Obviously though, you'll want to stay away from major roads to avoid pollution on your nettles.
Nettle is best in the early spring so hurry and get foraging, choosing the top four to six leaves (they're more tender).
This recipe calls for 100g or 2 cups packed, which is about a small shopping bag full.
For a detailed description of how to forage nettles, take a look at this nettle guide.
How to stop stinging nettles stinging
Okay, so you don't want to add raw nettles to a salad. That would hurt your mouth and sting your lips.
But it's actually easy to stop nettles from stinging. You just need to boil them for a few minutes or else pulverize them in a blender.
Boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting, so don't worry that this nettle cake will sting. It absolutely won't.
Often you can find nettles at farmer's markets to save you foraging your own.
If you forage your nettles, choose the top 4 sets of leaves (they're more tender), and be sure to use rubber gloves. Forage away from busy paths, roads, and sources of pollution.
If you're struggling to puree the nettles, add the lemon juice at that stage. A stick immersion blender or standard blender works well for pureeing.
Ensure the nettles are pureed completely for the best solid green color. If you can't puree it fully the cake will still be delicious, but the color will be more flecks of green than solid green.
I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit, or just leave it with the simple lemon frosting. Zingy and delicious.
More Unusual Cake Recipes
Looking for more unusual cake recipes? Try these!
Kale Blood Orange Cake
Cucumber Cake with Gin Frosting
Kale Apple Cake
Chocolate Beet Cake
Vanilla Pea Cake
Swede Nutmeg Cake
Tomato Soup Cake
Did you make this stinging nettle recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you!
Leave a comment and star rating below and share a picture with the hashtag #veggiedesserts. I love seeing your recreations of my vegetarian and vegan recipes.
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Lemon Stinging Nettle Cake
For the Nettle and Lemon Cake:
- 2 cups (100g) packed raw young nettle leaves (use the top 4-6 leaves)
- ¾ cup (200g) butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose (plain) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Lemon Buttercream:
- ⅔ cup (150g) butter at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300g) powdered icing sugar
- Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
- blackberries optional
- lemon zest optional
For the Nettle Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F / 170°C. Grease and line two 7” (18cm) round cake tins.
- Using rubber gloves, carefully wash the stinging nettle leaves and remove any stems. Place in a pan of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes. The sting will be removed with the boiling. Rinse under cold water, drain and puree with a stick blender (note: if you're struggling to puree it, add the lemon juice at this stage). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the pureed nettles, vanilla, zest and lemon juice.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, push to the edges and level, then bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the Lemon Frosting:
- In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat. Beat in the zest and a little of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice to make it a frosting consistency and beat again. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Spread a little of the buttercream between the layers of the completely cooled cakes and sandwich together. Cover the cake in the remaining buttercream and decorate with blackberries and lemon zest.
- Often you can find nettles at farmer's markets to save you foraging your own.
- If you forage your nettles, choose the top 4 sets of leaves (they're more tender) and be sure to use rubber gloves. Forage away from busy paths, roads and sources of pollution.
- If you're struggling to puree the nettles, add the lemon juice at that stage. A stick immersion blender or standard blender work well for pureeing.
- Ensure the nettles are pureed completely for the best solid green colour. If you can't puree it fully the cake will still be delicious, but the colour will be more flecks of green than solid green.
- I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit, or just leave it with the simple lemon frosting. Zingy and delicious.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.
I'm excited about this recipe and am wondering if you can use dried nettles once the fresh ones are too mature? I drink a lot of nettle tea, so have a lot on hand.
I've never tried making this cake with dried nettles, so I'm not sure how they'll work and if they'll keep it so green. If you do try it, then please let me know how it goes!
What a great idea!
I love stinging nettle as a food.
Oh, how I wish stinging nettles were young in October! I have a friend who loves stinging nettle who is expecting and this would have made a great baby shower cake.
thanx for the great recipe!
made it last night and my daughter loved it. i gave some to some relatives but didnt tell them what it was, as they probably wouldnt have tried it if i did.
gorgeous natural colour and a great use of nettle.
will try it as muffins next so my daughter can take to school.
u fortunately it wont let me add pictures to the blog.
love from new zealand 🇳🇿
It’s really delicious xx
Thank you we all loved this loved this cake. Wanted a special cake to celebrate our first birthday anniversary as a Forest school and this was just the ticket. I feel it gave more nutritional value than a victoria sponge etc. (had to make some minor adaptions, but mostly because practicalities of serving a number of folk and and using my store cupboard. I made this into a tray bake. (I was not too worked up about it being pretty as I was worried about transporting it to the woods. but I did pick some edible flowers from my garden (violets which looked good against the lemon icing which I had scattered an additional zest and used extra juice in the icing.) I also used a castor sugar that is unrefined. at the cooking stage I was a bit worried about my puree as my hand blender was not so smooth but by the time it was cooked it was fine. I will definitely make it again.
Hello, thank you for the recipe. I have so much nettle growing in my back yard. I tried making the cake and it turned out GREAT with the lemon buttercream icing. I used apple sauce instead of eggs. Going to make the cake again this week to bring to a bbq.
I love the creativity in this cake! Thank you for getting me out of my comfort zone and trying something completely different. My kids called it the Hulk cake because of the green color, haha!
Made this yesterday.... absoloutely delicious! So moist and lemony! I topped mine with a coconut marshmallow type meringue!
That looks fabulous Kate and what a great idea.
This cake was so wonderful for my hubby's birthday and it was a big hit! I've never made a cake like this before and my family loved it! Definitely going to make this cake again!
This cake is simply amazing! It's the dessert I make when I want to impress people. So good, and always gets rave review!
Very easy and tasty! Thanks a lot for sharing this! Will make it again when I can get more nettles!
Thank you for this recipe, I made it yesterday and it turned out amazing. I did not do the butter icing as daughter does not like but instead whipped up cream and added the lemon juice and icing sugar.
I've made it yesterday and it taste absolutely lovely. The nettle gave it natural green colour that looks attractive. I have added some poppy seeds which made it taste even better.
I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the cake!
Hi Kate, I've made this cake several times now - it's absolutely wonderful! Would highly recommend anyone to make it! Do you mind if I post it on my blog as I'm planning to post a few nettle recipes. Finally a great reason to be surrounded by nettles!!
Hi Esme, I'm so glad that you like the recipe! Feel free to link to my recipe for readers to come and see it, but please don't write it out in full. I love nettle season!
Ok, will do. It's great the nettles are here!
Love it! Such an easy recipe to follow, though I left the pureed Nettles for an hour or so before making the sponge and the colour lost its vibrancy. Won't be making that mistake again!
I use dried nettle powder (I pick & dry the nettles from my in-laws' farm--they think it's a hoot!) as my "multivitamin" in my daily green "smoothie" (in the winter it's leaf powder stirred into a little applesauce). Leaf powder works well in cookie & cracker recipes too :).
I LOVE lemon--must try something like this 🙂 --but wheat gives me a rash, so I'll have to try something else for the flour...
Thanks for the idea!
What a great idea to dry it! I'm getting a dehydrator soon so I'm going to get some nettles 🙂 I don't think it's a hoot - I think it's genius!
I am also curious about using Nettle Powder instead of the Fresh Nettle leaf in the cake. I will try it with Gluten Free flour - possibly part zucchini flour which I made last month - it will just add to the green.
How much dried nettle did you add?
this looks amazing. I don't think I can get nettle where I live. is there anything I can substitute it with?
Can Stevia be used instead of sugar?
I am also interested in doing a direct substitution of flour, with gluten free flour.
Hi, you should be able to substitute stevia according to packet instructions. I haven't tried it with GF flour, but if you have a favourite that you usually use for cakes then it's worth trying that! Let me know how you get on with the cake as others will be interested. 🙂
Hi Elisa, did you find a vegan version of this delicious recipe ? I am trying to veganise it. The taste is great, but it does not has the right 'bit'. Kate, thanks for this very special recipe...
I like Just Egg for baking. Vegan butter works too
Sounds cool, but I can't help but commenting- nettles and poison ivy are NOT related. Ok, if you go back up really far back, they're both Rosids... but that's where the similarity ends. Poison ivy is poison, as is everything in their family, and nettles are not toxic, are not poisonous, as you know.
Looks great! I will take a big piece please.
Ha, thanks Peter!
I know I've heard about stinging nettles before but was just reading a cool article about them in Saveur Magazing in Australia. This is definitely a sign I need to make this cake!!
I hope you get the chance to (carefully!) forage for some 🙂
Love this. Very creative use of a much underused spring ingredient. The color is fantastic too. Can't wait to try it.
Very underused, isn't it? It's a shame since it's so nutritious and abundant!
Oh yes please!!! How have you managed to make the humble nettle look so appealing!
I'm a huge fan of that humble weed!
I love making savoury dishes with nettles but haven't tried sweet...yet. This is definitely where I'll start!
I love using nettles as well. So freely available and healthy!
Do you use one cup nettles or three? The directions say one, while the blurb above the recipe says three. I'm excited to try, and have a bag in my fridge. Thanks!
Oops, I've just checked my notes and it's 2 cups (I had meant to say 3 handfuls at the top!). I've updated the recipe. I hope you enjoy it - let me know how you get on!
Another great veggie recipe. Thanks for this version
I was pulling out hundreds of nettles last week - I did think of soup, but not cake! 🙂
Not many would! Ha ha.
This is SUCH a lovely cake! 🙂 Stinging nettles are weird things ... Brits are weird eating something stinging in the name, too! Love how vibrant the sponge is! Yummy!
I know! But you can't taste it, or feel it once cooked, so it's actually a great thing to cook with. x
Blue cheese and nettle rarebit sounds fab!
I've just made it (with a few changes) and it seems to be delicious.
Thank you so much
Magdaléna from the Czech Republic
I'm so glad you got to try it and you like it! I was the picture on your blog, it's beautiful!
Must go nettle picking this summer. Have never been too tempted by nettle soup but this looks just mouthwatering!
Thanks Zoe. Cake is a great reason to forage!
The photos are magnificent! It looks so delicious!
Thanks so much, Bee!
This looks fabulous Kate! Gorgeous colour & mouth-watering! x
Thanks Vohn. The cake is so GREEEEEEEEN and tasty!
I am on a single-handed mission to bring the nettle back to our tables. Each spring I make pestos, soups, gnocchi, bread, beer and spanokopita with them. I also enjoy them as a side vegetable. But now I know you can bake cakes with them - Fantastic. Thanks for adding to my repertoire
Mel, you've inspired me. I'm going back out to forage for more to make pesto and bread!
This is just stunning Kate. Much as I love nettles and at this time of year we eat a lot of them, I would never have thought to use them in a cake. It produces such a lovely shade of green, I think I'm going to have to try this out for myself.
Thanks Choclette. I've only had this cake and nettle soup. I'm now a convert and definitely going to try more recipes. I hope you like the cake!
Oh my, I can't even say a word right now. Those pictures are mouth watering. Came here from your instagram account, because I couldn't imagine a cake recipe with nettles. But really, I have to make this! A vegan option, but still. So, so cool!!!
I look forward to hearing about the vegan version, Elisa!
Elisa, did you make the vegan version? I'm very interested in that as well. Please share!!