A carrot cake sponge cake with white frosting decorated with dried mango, chopped pistachios and coconut flakes on a green cake stand against a dark brown background

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake with coconut, mango, pistachios and cream cheese frosting!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten-free carrot cake, tropical carrot cake, vegan carrot cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 455kcal
Author Rhian Williams


For the cake:

  • 60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
  • 230 ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) lemon juice *
  • 8 tablespoons (8 tablespoons) maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
  • Pinch (Pinch) salt
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) carrot , peeled and grated (about one medium-sized carrot)
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) desiccated 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 (almond meal) **
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons (2 heaped teaspoons) baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

For the frosting:

  • 400 g (14 oz) tin full-fat coconut milk ***
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract

To decorate (optional):

  • Coconut flakes
  • Shelled pistachios , roughly chopped
  • Dried mango or papaya , chopped into smaller pieces if necessary


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, dessicated coconut, dried mango, chopped pistachios, and ground almonds
  • 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 around 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

To decorate:

  • 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 coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried mango, if desired
  • Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days


*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 apple cider vinegar instead
**You can alternatively useĀ almond flour
***You can alternatively use 200g (7oz) coconut yogurt


Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 276mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 2755IU | Vitamin C: 5.3mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 3.5mg