Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake
Meet your new favorite cake in town: Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake! This easy vegan cake is made in 1 bowl, with just 15 minutes to mix up the batter. It’s topped with a delicious refined sugar-free & vegan cream cheese frosting! Thanks to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post.
We love a good cake around here, whether it’s a rich and tender Chocolate Cake, or a bright and beautiful Lemon Cake. But we’ve got a new cake in town, ready to compete for the title of “best vegan cake”. Meet the Gluten-Free & Vegan Carrot Cake!
It’s made with freshly grated carrots, crunchy pecans (or your favorite nuts), warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and light & fluffy flours from Bob’s Red Mill. The combination makes for a carrot cake that will definitely have you going back for seconds, and in the word’s of my very much not gluten-free or vegan grandfather: “you’d never guess that this was a vegan schmegan cake!”
What’s in this vegan carrot cake?
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this vegan carrot cake, and suggestions for substitutions.
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: or other dairy-free milk
- Apple Cider Vinegar: we mix this with the milk to make a vegan buttermilk substitute. Another kind of vinegar or lemon juice also works.
- Unsweetened Applesauce: pumpkin puree or even steamed pureed carrot should work as a replacement here.
- Coconut Sugar
- Almond Butter: any creamy nut or seed butter will work here!
- Refined Coconut Oil: I recommend sticking with refined to avoid coconut flavor, but use virgin if you prefer!
- Vanilla Extract
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour: you can also simply blend up Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oat too. Always make sure you buy labeled gluten-free because oats can have cross-contamination. If you go with Bob’s Red Mill, you’ll see gluten-free clearly labeled on their packaging.
- Bob’s Red Mill Blanched Almond Flour: the best, finest almond flour which makes for such a light and fluffy cake! Make sure to avoid using almond meal, which is much coarser.
- Flax Meal
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda
- Sea Salt
- Shredded Carrots: avoid pre-shredded carrots here, they aren’t as fine and don’t taste great.
- Chopped pecans: or walnuts or whichever nut you prefer! If you’re not a nut-in-your-cakes kind of person, leave them out!
Can I make my own oat flour?
Yes, absolutely! Oat flour is so easy to make, so if you can’t find it and have oats at home you’d rather use, it’s super easy to do.
To make oat flour: just add your gluten-free oats (I love using Bob’s Red Mill oats, as usual) to a blender and let it run for a few minutes, scraping the sides as needed, until you’ve got a super-fine oat flour! Then it’s ready to use.
How long does it take to make?
This gluten-free carrot cake is SO easy to make! The cake batter only uses 1 bowl, and only takes about 10 or 15 minutes to mix it all together.
It’s super simple to put together, but exact prep time can vary based on how long it takes you to shred carrots, chop nuts, and prepare your cake pans.
What kind of mix-ins can I use?
Whichever you like!! I personally am a keep-it-simple kind of girl – I just like shredded carrots and pecans. However, I know some of you like adding other goodies as well. Here are the best mix-ins for this carrot cake:
- Shredded carrots: of course!
- Nuts: I prefer pecans, but walnuts or another favorite also works
- Raisins: type of your choice! I like rehydrating with water or juice before adding if I’m using
- Coconut: shredded or flaked is a good choice
- Pineapple Chunks: this one may mess with the liquid ratio a bit, so make sure to drain fully and pat dry if you’re using pineapple!
Can I make cupcakes or a bundt cake instead?
Yes, absolutely! I opted for a little three-layer, 6-inch layer cake. However, you have other ways you can put the cake together too. Approximate baking times for each are included in the recipe card.
- Two 8-inch cake pans will give you a shorter, wider cake
- A Bundt cake will require a longer bake time but also works well
- Cupcakes are another choice if you’re serving lots of people
Tell me about this vegan cream cheese frosting!
This vegan “cream cheese” frosting has no cream cheese in it – we’re cheating a bit by recreating it without any processed foods, like store-bought vegan cream cheese. I also wanted to keep it refined sugar free, instead of loading it up with powdered sugar like so many vegan cream cheese frosting recipes tend to do.
So instead, we go for a creamy cashew base, blend it with coconut cream and a few other ingredients for flavor (like vanilla bean powder and apple cider vinegar, for a little tang), until we have a smooth, creamy, cashew cream cheese frosting. I like to chill it completely and then whip it up, so it gets super light and fluffy!
This frosting recipe works well to frost a cake, or it would also likely pipe well onto cupcakes, if that’s what you prefer.
However, if you don’t want to go to the work of making your own vegan cream cheese frosting, you can keep it simple and garnish with coconut yogurt, coconut butter, a vanilla glaze, or another favorite frosting recipe of your choice.
How to store leftover cake
The frosted cake can be left at room temperature the day it’s made, but any longer than that and you’ll want to store it in the refrigerator. It’s best kept in an airtight container and will stay good for up to a week. Cover any cut parts of the cake with something like parchment paper or plastic wrap for the best freshness!
This cake can also be frozen in an airtight container.
Want more amazing vegan cake recipes?Print
Meet your new favorite cake in town: Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake! This easy vegan cake is made in 1 bowl, with just 15 minutes to mix up the batter. It’s topped with a delicious refined sugar-free & vegan cream cheese frosting!
For the cake
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsweetened almond milk or other dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ (122g) cup unsweetened applesauce
- ⅔ cup coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup (85g) creamy almond butter or other nut or seed butter
- ⅓ cup (67g) refined coconut oil melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cup (144g) gluten-free oat flour
1½ cup (144g) blanched almond flour
- 3 tablespoons flax meal
- 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ⅔ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
For the frosting
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least an hour and then drained and rinsed
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your cake pans with parchment paper if necessary and grease well with coconut oil or avocado oil.
- In a measuring cup, mix together the dairy-free milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine applesauce, coconut sugar, almond milk mixture, nut butter, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
- Add oat flour, almond flour, flax meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir until combined. Fold in the shredded carrots and nuts.
- Divide between two 8″ cake pans, or three 6″ cake pans (see Notes for other options). Bake for 18 to 22 minutes for the 6″ pans, or between 24-28 minutes for the 8″ pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. The cakes should spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. They will be pretty flat.
- Once done, let cool completely on a wire rack before assembling and frosting (directions below).
- Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter for one day, or store the cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For the frosting
- In a high-powered blender, combine the soaked and rinsed cashews, coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.
- Blend for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary, until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust sweetness levels to taste, if desired.
- Refrigerate until the frosting is firm, about 2 hours, and then whip until fluffy with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer.
- Reserve about 1½ cups frosting for the top & sides of the cake.
- Place one cooled cake layer on a cake stand (or whatever you’d like to serve it on). Top with half of the remaining frosting.
- Top with the other (or second layer) of cake. Add the rest of the frosting. If you have three layers, place the third on top and top with the reserved frosting, covering the top and sides of the cake. Garnish as desired.
- Store covered at room temperature for 2 days or covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- For a Bundt cake, bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed.
- For a 9×13 inch cake, bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed.
- To make cupcakes, fill each liner up ⅔ full and bake for about 17 to 20 minutes.
Keywords: carrot cake, vegan cake, gluten-free, oat flour, almond flour, carrots, refined sugar free, easy cake, one bowl