This vegan carrot cake recipe makes moist, fluffy, delicately sweetened cake. With juicy raisins, crisp walnuts, and tons of fresh carrots folded in, every bite is layered with flavor. Vegan cream cheese frosting recipe included!
Making vegan versions of my favorite cakes is a challenge I’ve readily accepted. After making my vegan lemon cake and vegan chocolate cake on repeat, I’ve been looking for another recipe to add to my collection.
This cake recipe combines everyday baking staples with pumpkin puree, adding moisture and giving the cake a beautiful crumb. Shredded carrots, raisins, and walnuts are folded in to create a unique balance of textures you can only find in carrot cake.
Table of Contents
- Made in 1 bowl. Aside from the cake pan, everything you need to make this carrot cake comes together in 1 bowl.
- It’s healthy. Contrary to popular belief, just because it has “carrot” in the name doesn’t make it healthy. On the other hand, this carrot cake recipe is loaded with wholesome, good-for-you ingredients.
- Easily made gluten-free. Like my traditional carrot cake recipe, this vegan version is easy to make gluten-free with 1 simple swap.
We love eating carrot cake for breakfast in my house, and why shouldn’t we? It’s filled with fruits and veggies, after all. If you’re looking for more breakfast cake recipes, try our applesauce cake or vegan coffee cake. They’re both vegan, of course.
This carrot cake recipe is made with fuss-free ingredients, many of which you probably have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour. I used whole wheat flour for its chewy and slightly dense texture, which I think works well in this recipe.
- Spices. I used cinnamon and nutmeg, essential spices for any good carrot cake.
- Baking powder. To help the cake rise.
- Sugar. I used brown sugar for its subtle molasses flavor, but you can use white sugar or coconut sugar if you prefer.
- Milk. I used unsweetened almond milk, but any dairy-free milk, like oat milk or soy milk, will do.
- Oil. I used vegetable oil, but you can use any neutral-flavored oil of your choosing, like melted coconut oil or canola oil.
- Pumpkin puree. Gives the carrot cake moisture. If you don’t like pumpkin, you can use mashed banana, which will also make the cake sweeter.
- Carrots. Finely shredded. Use up to 1-1 ½ cups for more carrot flavor.
- Raisins. Optional, but I think it complements the carrot cake flavor well.
- Walnuts. Also optional but suggested.
How to make vegan carrot cake
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1- Prep work. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Step 2- Make the batter. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, spices, baking powder, and sugar. Mix to combine. Then, add milk, oil, and pumpkin puree. Mix, then fold in the grated carrots, raisins, and chopped walnuts. Continue to stir until a cohesive batter is formed.
Step 3- Bake. Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Step 4- Cool and frost. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost, if desired.
How to make vegan frosting
I’ve tested this recipe with and without frosting, and while I think it is entirely optional, I won’t deny it makes the cake quite a bit more decadent. Here’s how to make vegan frosting:
- Vanilla buttercream frosting- Whisk together powdered sugar with non-dairy milk and vanilla extract until the desired texture is achieved.
- Vegan cream cheese frosting- Beat 8 ounces of softened vegan cream cheese with ½ cup of vegan butter until creamy. Slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until it reaches your desired texture.
Recipe tips and variations
- Grate your carrots finely. The smaller and more finely grated the carrots, the smoother and more cohesive the cake will be.
- Don’t overmix. I know I say this all the time, but I really mean it! The more you mix, the more gluten develops and the less fluffy your cake will become.
- Cool the cake before frosting. I know this is the hardest part, but I promise your patience will be worth it!
- Enhance the flavor. When I want to go the extra mile, sometimes I’ll garnish the cake with chopped nuts or candied ginger.
- Bake in a cake pan. If you’d prefer to make this carrot cake recipe in a classic cake pan, use an 8-inch pan and check the cake every few minutes after the 30-minute mark. It won’t need as long to bake in a round pan.
- Make it gluten-free. This carrot cake recipe will be gluten-free by using gluten-free all-purpose flour. Make sure the flour has xanthan gum added, or add ½ teaspoon directly into the dry ingredients.
How to store leftovers
To store: Leftover carrot cake can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you want to keep it fresher for longer, I recommend storing it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze: I find it’s easier to freeze the cake in individual slices. Wrap each slice in parchment paper and keep them in a freezer-safe container. Stored this way, they should keep well for up to 6 months. Let the frozen cake slices thaw overnight in the fridge.
More vegan cake recipes to try
- Vegan birthday cake– Fluffy yellow cake filled with sprinkled and a simple yet delicious white frosting.
- Vegan strawberry cake– Made with fresh strawberries folded directly into the batter.
- Vegan ice cream cake– Moist and fluffy chocolate cake layered with vanilla ice cream.
- Cookie dough cake– Layers of gooey vegan brownies, edible cookie dough, and chocolate frosting.
- Snickers cake– My favorite candy bar, now in a decadent layered cake!
Vegan Carrot Cake
- 2 cups wholewheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk Can sub for any milk of choice
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil Can sub for canola or coconut oil
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1-1 1/2 cups shredded carrots Approximately 3 medium carrots
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, spices, baking powder, and sugar, and mix well. Add your milk, oil, and pumpkin puree and mix well. Fold in your carrots, raisins, and walnuts, and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour the carrot cake batter in the lined pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost, if desired.
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