This Vegan Carrot Cake is super moist, fluffy and perfectly fragrant. It’s covered in a tangy cream cheese frosting, easy to make in one bowl and gluten-free. Plus it’s refined sugar free and healthier than the traditional version!
Forget raw vegan carrot cake, this is proper carrot cake, and this is the best Vegan Carrot Cake recipe! It’s full of flavour, subtly spiced, fruity and fragrant. Perfect for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, bridal showers or baby showers!
Whilst carrot cake may be slightly more nutritious than regular cake due to the added nutrient content and fibre from the carrots, it does still contain the same amount of less healthy ingredients, such as oil and sugar.
However, this Vegan Carrot Cake recipe is healthier than a traditional carrot cake as it also contains some extra nutrients, protein and fibre from the ground almonds, is refined sugar free and much lower in sugar and fat.
Use a box grater to grate the carrots.
Carrot cake is usually made with cream cheese frosting, so I made a creamy coconut milk-based vegan cream cheese frosting for this vegan carrot cake recipe.
The best way to add pineapple to this carrot cake is to replace the raisins with dried pineapple cubes. I would be cautious about adding fresh pineapple or tinned pineapple as the carrots already add a lot of moisture and so it would be more difficult for the cake to cook properly. So, I recommend dried pineapple. If you like pineapple in carrot cake, you might like my Tropical Carrot Cake recipe!
If you have problems with your carrot cake being too crumbly, there are several different reasons why this could happen:
1. You’re using too much coconut oil.
2. The batter was dry as it didn’t contain enough liquid.
3. The batter contained too much flour.
4. The baking tins you used were too big for the amount of batter, resulting in an over-baked cake which is drier than it should be.
5. Your oven temperature was too high, resulting in an over-baked cake.
If you’ve made a carrot cake and find it comes out crumbly, you can troubleshoot it by checking you used the correct amount of all the above ingredients!
Yes – make the sponge according to instructions, leave it to cool on a wire rack then freeze as soon as you can. Leave to thaw at room temperature until completely defrosted then spread over freshly-made frosting.
Tips for shredding carrots easily
Grating carrots with a box grater isn’t too much work (especially when you have a yummy carrot cake to look forward to at the end of it!), but there are some other ways you can use if you prefer:
- You can use store-bought pre-grated carrots.
- You can grate the carrots using the shredding setting on a food processor.
How to make the cake
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe including measurements and full instructions.
- Mix together all the ingredients in a glass mixing bowl.
Tip: Use a food processor to grind up the walnuts until they form a fine powder.
What kind of pan should you use?
- Transfer the mixture to two 18 cm / 7 inch sandwich baking tins.
Tip: Line them with greased baking paper to make the sponges come out easier.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Leave the sponges to cool down on a cooling rack once they’re out the oven.
How to frost and decorate
- Make the frosting by using an electric whisk to whip up the coconut milk.
- Place one of the sponges on a cake stand or a plate and apply just less than half of the frosting onto it – you can use a palette knife for frosting for this.
- Place the other sponge on top and apply the frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Decorate the cake with walnut halves, if desired.
Carrot cake frosting alternatives
If you’d prefer not to use that, you can alternatively use a cashew-based cream cheese frosting instead if you prefer, or a normal cashew buttercream. Or instead of whipping the coconut milk into a whipped cream, you can mix the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla into some thick coconut yogurt.
Substitutions you can make
- You can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil.
- You can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
- You can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc.
- You can replace the ground walnuts with ground almonds (almond meal).
- For a nut-free version: replace the ground walnuts with ground sunflower seeds or use 30g (¼ cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 ¼ cup) ground walnuts.
- You can replace the raisins with any other dried fruit such as dried cranberries or chopped dates, or dried mango, dried pineapple or dried papaya for a tropical vibe.
- You can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you’re not gluten-free.
How long does this Vegan Carrot Cake last?
This Carrot Cake tastes best when fresh, but keeps for up to a few days.
How do you store it?
Covered in the fridge.
Tips for storing and making ahead of time
Although this carrot cake does taste best when fresh, if you must make it ahead of time, I wouldn’t make it more than a day in advance. I’d definitely recommend frosting it before putting it away to store, as this helps keep the sponge moist.
More vegan cake recipes
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Watch how to make this recipe
Vegan Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free)
For the cake:
- 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (⅘ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice *
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
- Pinch salt
- 100 g (3.5 oz) carrot , grated (one medium-sized carrot)
- 50 g (⅓ cup) raisins or sultanas (or sub finely chopped dried mango or papaya)
- 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground walnuts **
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the frosting:
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of full-fat coconut milk ***
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To decorate (optional):
- Walnut halves
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
- 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).
- Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, mixed spice, salt, grated carrot, raisins, desiccated coconut and ground walnuts.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
- Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it's looking too dry.
- Transfer mixture between two small greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins).
- Bake in oven for 15 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Once out the oven, immediately remove cakes from baking tins and transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
For the frosting:
- 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!
- 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).
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl.
- Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy.
- Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and cover with half of the frosting.
- Place other sponge on top and use remaining frosting to cover the top.
- Decorate with walnuts, if desired.
- Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
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