Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake is beautifully moist, subtly spiced, and bursting with tropical flavours! 

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

I used my go-to cake batter for this – it’s undetectably vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free, so easy to make and comes together in just one bowl.

The other ingredients really bring this cake come to life, though – carrots add natural sweetness, coconut adds tropical flavour, dried mango adds gummy bursts of nectar-like sweetness and pistachios add a nutty crunch, whilst cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and cloves add a touch of warming spice.

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

And if you’re making a carrot cake, you obviously need to make a cream cheese frosting too, and we’re not going to let being dairy-free get in the way of having any cream cheese frosting are we?

I went for the simple and foolproof method of mixing coconut cream with lemon juice, which brings out a tartness perfectly reminiscent of cream cheese. If you’re feeling lazy, you can substitute the coconut whipped cream with coconut yogurt. 

I then like to top the cake with some toasted coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried tropical fruit, for extra colour and contrasting texture.

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

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Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake with coconut, mango, pistachios and cream cheese frosting!
Course: Dessert
Servings: 8
Calories: 394 kcal
For the cake:
  • 8 tablespoons coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
  • 230 ml (1 cup) milk, any kind
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon*
  • 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 g (3.5oz) carrot, peeled and grated (about one medium-sized carrot)
  • 2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried mango or papaya (ensure refined sugar free if necessary)
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking power (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting:
  • 400 g (14oz) tin coconut milk**
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To decorate:
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Dried mango or papaya, chopped into smaller pieces if necessary
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees)
  2. Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)

  3. Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, salt, grated carrot, dessicated coconut, dried mango, chopped pistachios, and ground almonds
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  5. Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it's looking too dry
  6. Transfer mixture between two small greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins)
  7. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean
  8. Once out the oven, immediately remove cakes from baking tins and transfer onto a wire rack to cool
For the frosting:
  1. You'll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won't happen and you won't be able to make this cream!
  2. Open the tin upside down - the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to soups or smoothies)
  3. Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl
  4. Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract
  5. Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy
To decorate:
  1. Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and cover with half of the frosting
  2. Place other sponge on top and use remaining frosting to cover the top
  3. Sprinkle with coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried mango
  4. Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days
Recipe Notes

*The lemon juice is crucial as its acidity needs to react with the alkali bicarbonate of soda to make the sponge fluffy. If you don't want to use lemon juice, substitute with 1 tablespoon vinegar instead
**You can alternatively use 200g (7oz) thick coconut yogurt

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8 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

    1. Hi Shannon, thank you so much! I divided the cake batter between two 18cm/7inch baking tins. Please let me know if you have any other questions 😊

  1. Hello, Please clarify about the ground almonds used in the recipe. Is this the same as blanched almond flour??? Or is it medium ground almonds that you use?? Thank you. Another question, due to nut allergies for a family member, I’m thinking of substituting this ingredient with cassava flour when I make it for him. Do you think it would work? Thanks.

    1. Hi – yes it’s the same as blanched almond flour. Some readers have told me they have substituted the ground almonds with ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds, which I have had good feedback about. Thank you and do let me know if you have any other questions!

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