Vegan carrot cake with its creamy, delicious vegan cream cheese frosting will be your new favorite dessert! The ultimate tangy cream cheese carrot cake frosting is served along with chopped walnuts and cinnamon spices. It’s a dairy-free carrot cake recipe that’s moist, yummy, and easy to make, too!
Are you ready to go all-in on an indulgent dessert? This easy vegan carrot cake will be your go-to dessert.
You can’t usually find an egg-free carrot cake in the stores. But that’s ok. Homemade always makes the best vegan carrot cake ever.
Many recipes for vegan carrot cakes offer complicated processes. You won’t find that here today. I created an easy-as-possible process to make the most delicious carrot dessert imaginable.
If you think it’s unusual to use vegetables in desserts, there are plenty of veggie-focused desserts besides carrot cake. For example, one of my favorite zucchini dessert recipes is this Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Avocados are used in desserts too, such as my Chocolate Avocado Cake.
Key Ingredients for Carrot Cake
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this yummy vegan carrot cake:
- Flour — I use all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour (different than whole wheat flour), or even a high-quality gluten-free baking flour.
- Sugar — I use granulated sugar for this cake.
- Spices — We’ll use a mixture of ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
- Nuts — I add chopped walnuts to this cake. You can substitute chopped pecans or leave the nuts out entirey.
- Vegetable oil — Any vegetable oil will work, such as canola oil, olive oil, etc.
- Vinegar — We’ll use apple cider vinegar. You can substitute plain white vinegar or even lemon juice.
- Vanilla extract — I use high-quality pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Carrots — The star of the show, we’ll use fresh raw carrots to make this cake moist and delicious.
To toast or not to toast walnuts? I love this response on why to toast walnuts before baking. The walnuts are insulated by all the other batter ingredients. Toasted walnuts add a great touch to carrot cakes.
Moist Vegan Carrot Cake
You want a moist carrot dessert and there are ways to make that happen. Here are my favorite tips to make carrot cake moist:
- Carrots are naturally moist — using the right quantity will make your cakes good and moist.
- Use freshly grated carrots. Store-bought shredded carrots can be dry and have a powdery texture.
- Use oil instead of butter. Oil adds moisture without making it greasy.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Overmixing the batter will make cakes tough.
- Bake in a preheated oven. This will help the cakes cook evenly and prevent them from drying out.
- Don’t overbake. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when the cake is done.
By following these tips, you can make a moist and delicious carrot cake that everyone will love.
There are more tips that can make your cakes both moist and healthy. This recipe for healthy vegan carrot cake uses applesauce in the batter which adds moisture without sacrificing texture.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Adding pumpkin pie spices creates the perfect flavors for this spiced cake
- Toasting the walnuts boosts the walnut flavor in the batter and the garnish too
- Finely-chopped carrots (via a food processor) distribute the flavor and texture of carrots throughout.
New to Vegan Baking?
The idea of making cookies, cakes, or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb. But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!
Carrot Cake Frosting Options
A standard carrot cake is topped with cream cheese frosting. If you want your vegan carrot cake frosting without cream cheese, here are some other options:
- Vegan Buttercream Vanilla Frosting is a delicious option.
- Dairy-Free Ermine Frosting would taste nice, too.
Learn more about my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe and my secrets to making it extraordinary!
Making your festive cake for a party? Learn about how you can freeze carrot cake to serve it later.
I’ve made this vegan carrot cake recipe many times over the past few years for my vegan family members and friends and it has always been a favorite! Not just for the vegans but everybody loves this carrot cake. I’ve shared the recipe quite a few times.
Is carrot cake vegan?
The average store-bought carrot cake is not vegan. That’s because they’re made with dairy and eggs. Of course, you can make your own homemade vegan carrot cake topped with vegan cream cheese frosting.
Are carrots really in carrot cake?
There are carrots in carrot cake. There are a few vegetables that have found their way into desserts, including carrots, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. They typically add flavor, texture, and moisture.
- Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins — You can use this same batter and bake it in muffin compartments lined with cupcake papers. Reduce the baking time to around 20 minutes. Or you can use this vegan carrot muffin recipe.
- Make Vegan Carrot Cake Bread — bake it in a loaf pan and cook it longer, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes — distribute the batter into muffin pan compartments and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Make Carrot Cake Sheet Cake — Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for around 40 minutes.
- You can grate the carrots by hand. I’ve found using a food processor is faster and provides excellent results
- Try adding any of the following to the batter:
- Make vegan carrot cake with pineapple by adding 1/4 cup crushed pineapple to the batter. Make sure the crushed pineapple is drained of extra juice from the can.
- 1/2 cup dried fruit, such as raisins
- 1/4 cup coconut shreds
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
- Be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely before adding frosting.
Carrot Cake Favorites
Here are some other delicious carrot recipes:
Vegan Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Spray two round cake pans with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pans and spray the sides with vegetable oil.*
- Place walnuts on a baking pan and toast for 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook too long because they will burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chopping.
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Stir half of the walnuts into the flour mixture. Set aside.
- Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots.
- Add the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla to the food processor and pulse in quick bursts to combine.
- Pour the carrot mixture in with the flour mixture. Stir to combine, making sure there are no clumps of flour throughout the batter.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In the meantime, prepare the frosting by combining the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter in a mixing bowl. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Then add the lemon juice and beat until you get a spreadable consistency. You can add a tablespoon of plant-based milk if it's too thick.
- Ice the top of one of the cakes. Top with additional chopped, toasted walnuts. Place the second cake on top. Cover the top cake and sides with frosting. Garnish with chopped walnuts.
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Make it HealthierMaking the cake healthier will change the texture and flavor. But here are some of my favorite tips to make this carrot cake healthier:
- Reduce the sugar in the cake by up to 50% (1 cup). I like to add raisins to a less sweet cake for bursts of natural sweetness
- Substitute whole wheat pastry flour 1:1 or use half whole wheat flour in the cake.
- Substitute 1/2 cup of applesauce for the oil
- Rather than frosting, you can top the cake with some whipped coconut cream made with minimal sugar.
Baking OptionsYou can use a 9×13 pan if you prefer that instead of a layered cake. If so, you’ll need to bake the cake in a 9×13 pan for about 10 minutes longer. Be sure to use a tester in the center to see if the cake is done. This simple vegan cream cheese frosting is easy to make and flavorful, however, the consistency can be too thin. It works great for a 9×13 and even is fine with a layer cake. However, here’s a thicker vegan cream cheese icing recipe.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.