Vegan Carrot Cake

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!

A slice of carrot cake sits on its side on a plate with a fork in front of it.

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.

A slice of Vegan Carrot Cake sits in front of the rest of the cake.

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:

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.

Reader Reviews

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.

Pam C

Frequently-Asked Questions

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.

Baking Options

  • 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.
Looking down on a plate with a slice of carrot cake on it. A fork has cut into the cake and is sitting at the front of the plate.

Marly’s Tips

  • 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:

A slice of carrot cake sits on its side on a plate with a fork in front of it.

Vegan Carrot Cake

You’re in for a treat with this delicious layered Vegan Carrot Cake topped with an amazing Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. Every bite is dreamy!
5 from 24 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 550kcal


  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Easy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Additional walnuts for garnish


  • 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.
    The dry ingredients for this cake are in a white mixing bowl.
  • Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots.
    Freshly ground carrots are in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Add the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla to the food processor and pulse in quick bursts to combine.
    The wet ingredients for this healthy carrot cake recipe are in a glass mixing bowl.
  • 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.
    A stand mixer mixing bowl holds creamy frosting, with some of it on the beater.
  • 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.

Recommended Equipment

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Make it Healthier

Making 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.
To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten-free baking flour.

Baking Options

You 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.
Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 3363IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

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.

75 Responses to Vegan Carrot Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyIan Reply

    Hi Marley — I made this recipe as two 8″ square cakes and the results were amazing…light and fluffy and not oily or dense. I had tried over and over to veganize my mom’s traditional carrot cake recipe with disappointing results. I’m so glad to add your recipe to my repertoire. Every recipe I’ve made from your site has turned out wonderfully!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Ian, I’m so glad to hear this recipe worked for you and others too! Makes me happy!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTrès Reply

    I used this with ingredients we had on hand, because I couldn’t find a recipe for a vegan cake mix for pineapple and shredded coconut. Anyways the base was great, really moist!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      So glad you liked it Tres! Cooking with things you have on-hand is really different these days. I’m happy it worked!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShawna Williams Reply

    5 stars
    I am not vegan so when I say this carrot cake is amazing…. this carrot cake is amazing lol! It is moist and flavorful! I used the carrot pulp from juicing instead of shredded. I toasted the walnuts and added vanilla extract to the frosting. The cake tastes much better the next day! You cant tell its vegan!!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarbara Reply

    Hi Can I make this the day before and then refrigerate until serving?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Barbara! Yes, absolutely. I have done that before with this vegan carrot cake. If you have room in your fridge for the entire cake, that’s great. Otherwise, you can refrigerate the cakes and then frost them the day of serving.

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMD Reply

    Just made this and it tasted great. But the cake came out firm instead of soft and flakey. Any idea what may have gone wrong? This was my first cake ever:)

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi MD! So glad you liked the flavor of this vegan carrot cake! Congrats on your first cake! Normally when a cake is too firm it’s a sign it was stirred too much. Or it’s possible the baking soda wasn’t fresh and therefore didn’t cause as much rise in the cake. With this recipe, it’s the combination of baking soda and vinegar that helps create that rise. You should try my Wacky Cake recipe next — it makes a great second cake!

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJenny Trujillo Reply

    Hello! This recipe sounds delicious. I am vegan, and I will be giving it a try later today. I will let you know how it goes, and I hope to surprise my family.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Jenny! I’m so glad to see your note! Ah, this vegan carrot cake is one of my favorites! I get requests to make it for birthdays, but it’s wonderful this time of year too. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPam Clark Reply

    5 stars
    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

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Pam! Thank you so much for your comment. You made my day! I’m glad to see you love this recipe. It’s a favorite of mine too and I love making it for birthdays! Sending you a big ol’ virtual hug!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyStephanie Reply

    Hello, I’m trying to make this recipe. I wanted to know do I put 1/3 of almond flour to replace the protein powder, or do use almond flour instead of the all purpose.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Stephanie. If you don’t have protein powder, you can substitute it with an equal amount of almond flour. Hope that helps!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLeslie R Reply

    5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times and it’s absolutely amazing! Colleagues couldn’t believe it’s vegan (dunno what they expected!) and asked for the recipe (I shared the link). Thank you!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Leslie! I’m so glad you like this recipe! And your colleagues too! I love having those go-to recipes that surprise the omnivores! 🙂

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnisa Reply

    Hi Marly, do you know how well this cake freezes? Thanks

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Anisa! Yes, I make this cake and then slice it into individual slices. Then I freeze those on a tray and transfer to a freezer bag. It’s worked great!

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