This Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is moist, rich, not overly sweet and full of flavor. It’s topped with a smooth vegan cream cheese frosting that’s as easy to make as delicious. Layers of tender cake full of warm spices and filled with a creamy frosting that makes this cake the perfect sweet treat for any occasion!
WHY MAKE THIS RECIPE
It’s moist and rich but healthy at the same time. The warm spices, walnuts and raisins make this cake even more special. It’s not overly sweet and just perfect to pair it with the addictive vegan cream cheese frosting. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t taste like carrots 😉
It’s easy to make. Haven’t you made a Vegan Carrot Cake before? Feeling intimidated? You shouldn’t, honestly. You’ll love this recipe for its simplicity. It’s a really foolproof cake! Follow the step-by-step photos and instructions above and you’ll get a perfect vegan carrot cake even the first time you make it.
It can be made with just one bowl and a few basic ingredients. As you may know, one-bowl recipes make cooking a total breeze! I’ve also used a small bowl to mix the wet ingredients first, it’s easier to show the step-by-step process that way.
Anyway, you can start mixing the wet ingredients in a big bowl and then sift in the dry ingredients. That’s what I do most of the time.
INGREDIENTS NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Flour. Gluten free all-purpose flour is what I usually use here. If you happen to run out of it, substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for all-purpose normal flour at a ratio of 1:1.
Sugar: You can use cane sugar, brown sugar or even substitute ¼ cup of sugar for ¼ cup of agave or maple syrup to enhance the flavor of the cake. I don’t recommend using granulated sugar here, brown sugar makes the cake moister and adds flavor.
Vegetable milk: Almond milk, oat milk or soy milk are the best choices for baking, although you can perfectly use rice milk, hemp milk, flax milk, cashew or coconut milk.
Walnuts: crushed walnuts are a great addition to this carrot cake. You can add pecans instead if you prefer. However, if you are allergic to nuts, you can omit them without sacrificing the flavor.
Apple sauce. You can either use Homemade Apple Sauce or store bought. I always have jars of homemade apple sauce in my freezer, I make a double batch and freeze them in jars.
Raisins: for extra moisture and flavor. They also make a more tender cake. In case you don’t like them, you can try adding dried cranberries or simply omit them.
Vegan cream cheese. I normally use Violife, it’s one of my favourite cream cheese and works great to make the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting in this recipe.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/ 180 ºC. Line and grease three 7-inch cake pans. In a small bowl, start mixing the wet ingredients.
- First, mix the milk and vinegar and let sit for 2 minutes until it starts curdling.
- Then, add the oil, apple sauce and vanilla extract.
- Mix everything well.
- Now, sift and mix the dry ingredients.
- Start sifting the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
- Stir to mix well the baking powder and baking soda.
- Stir in the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
- Once the dry and wet ingredients are well mixed, add the rest of the ingredients: sugar, grated carrots, crushed walnuts and raisins.
- Whisk for 1 minute, just until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly into the three lined pans.
- Add an equal amount of batter into each cake pan.
- Bake at 350ºF/ 180ºC for 20 minutes. Insert a tooth pick in the centre of your cakes, if it comes out clean the cakes are done. Let them cool for 15 minutes before unmolding.
- Let cool completely and frost with the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE THE FROSTING
- Use a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat until well mixed and lump-free.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, whisk until everything is well combined.
- If the frosting is too soft at that time, keep the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO FROST AND DECORATE THE CAKE
- Once the frosting has thickened, start frosting your cakes.
- Top the three layers with the cream cheese frosting.
- Stack them and leave in the freezer for 15 minutes. After that, you can finish frosting the cake.
- Serve as it is. Or decorate with walnuts and frosting carrots (detailed directions in the recipe card below).
Cake layers can be wrapped and stored at room temperature overnight. Make sure they have completely cooled before wrapping them.
The Cream Cheese Frosting can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. It thickens when it cools down. You don’t need to bring it to room temperature before using it as it’s easier to frost the cake when the frosting has cooled down.
Vegan carrot cake will last for one or two days at room temperature, stored in an airtight container. Then, place it in the fridge for up to three days.
To freeze unfrosted carrot cake, wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer. Once you are going to use it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge or for several hours on the counter.
To freeze a frosted cake, refrigerate it first to allow the frosting to firm up and then transfer to the freezer for a couple of hours. The frosting will harden and you’ll be able to wrap it without ruining the decorations. Double wrap and place in a freezer bag before transferring to the freezer. It lasts for up to 3 months.
Yes, but I really recommend shredding your own carrots. Store bought shredded carrots tend to be dry and hard. Freshly grated carrots are wetter, tastier and more tender. It takes two minutes to grate 4 large carrots that’s what you need for this recipe.
Three 6-inch round cake pans. This recipe is perfect to use in 6-inch round cake pans too, there is no need to adjust the ingredients amounts. You’ll get a three layered cake as well.
Two 9-inch round cake pans. If you’d like to use 9-inch round cake pans, you’ll get a two layered cake.
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Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- Three 7-inch round cake pans
- Big mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula
For the Carrot Cake:
- 2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup brown sugar (or ¾ brown sugar + ¼ agave syrup)
- ½ cup plant based milk (almond, oat, soy, rice)
- ¾ cup Apple sauce (homemade applesauce or store bought)
- ⅔ cup mild olive oil (or canola oil or sunflower oil)
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup raisins (optional)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup vegan butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups vegan cream cheese, slightly softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
For the Toppings:
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup
- ½ cup vegan butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Orange and green food colouring
For the Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake:
- To make the Carrot Cake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC. Line three 7-inch cake pans with parchment paper. I use round discs of parchment paper to line the bottom of my pans. Also, grease the pans with butter or vegan cooking spray.
- In a small bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, start mixing the wet ingredients. First, mix the milk and vinegar and let sit for 2 minutes until it starts curdling. Then, add the oil, apple sauce and vanilla extract. Mix everything well.
- Now, sift and mix the dry ingredients. Start sifting the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir to mix well the baking powder and baking soda.
- Stir in the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
- Once the dry and wet ingredients are well mixed, add the rest of the ingredients: sugar, grated carrots, crushed walnuts and raisins. Whisk for 1 minute, just until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly into the three lined pans. Add an equal amount of batter into each cake pan.
- Bake at 350ºF/ 180ºC for 20 minutes. Insert a tooth pick in the centre of your cake, if it comes out clean the cakes are done.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting. If you need to speed the cooling process, place the cake in the refrigerator or freezer
- Once the cake have cooled down, serve as it is or frost with the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate.
For the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting :
- To make the Cream Cheese Frosting: Use a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat until well mixed and lump-free.
- Then, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, whisk until everything is well combined.
- If the frosting is too soft, keep the bowl in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
- Once the frosting has thickened and the cakes are very cool, start frosting them.
- Top the three layers with the cream cheese frosting. Place the cake in the fridge after frosting each layer to help set the filling.
- Once filled leave in the freezer for 15 minutes. After that, you can spread the frosting around the cake.
For the Toppings:
- To top with the Walnuts: Mix the walnuts with the agave syrup in a small bowl. Draw a circle on top of the cake and fill it with the walnut-agave mixture.
- To make the Buttercream Carrots: In a medium bowl, beat the butter and the sifted powdered sugar on low speed until fluffy.
- Divide the buttercream in two bowls and add the food colouring, starting with a little and adding more if you need it. A little goes a long way.
- Once the food colouring is mixed in, transfer to a piping bag. For the carrot shape use a large round tip (1A) and a grass tip for the leaves. If you don’t have a grass tip, just use a small round like tip #2. Pipe the carrots around de walnuts. Refrigerate to let it harden and serve. Enjoy!