Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

April 14, 2014 by Ali

This vegan and gluten-free carrot cake recipe is moist, flavorful, and tastes just like the real deal! Plus it's topped with a heavenly "cream cheese" vegan frosting that's soy-free and made with everyday ingredients.

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

This past Friday night was meant for celebrating.

The weather was sit-out-on-the-deck-in-the-cool-evening-breeze perfection. Friends gathered from all around the city with chips and salsa and salads and popcorn and laughter and stories to share. The fire pit was aflame. The candles were lit on this (gluten free and vegan) carrot cake.

And a very special birthday girl turned the big 3-0.

Friends, meet Stacey.

Stacey Bday

Photo via Bet

I have no idea how I got so lucky in life to cross paths with someone as cool as this birthday girl, but somehow it happened. And I am totally grateful to know her. And even more grateful to be able to call her a friend.

Because Stacey’s just great.

Can I tell you why?

Well, she’s clearly beautiful. She is warm and friendly and goes out of her way to make people feel included. She’s super smart and perceptive, and pays thoughtful attention to the world and people around her. She’s an incredible single mom to the most charming, spunky, creative 5-year-old daughter. She has one of my favorite Instagram feeds ever (with some of the best moments captured of said daughter). She’s strong and brave and stands up for things and people she believes in. She has an incredible heart for service and selflessly gives to so many around her. And quite simply, she’s one of those friends who quite simply has a way of bringing out the best in those around her.

Like I said, pretty great.

Oh. And you see that heart banner in the background? It’s worth noting that Stacey also just had last-minute minor heart surgery a few days before her 30th b-day (um, whoa), but she was still game to gear up the energy to spend an evening surrounded by friends. And of course, leave them all feeling extra loved and inspired and awesome in the process. Per usual.

Anyway, I feel like I don’t tell my friends often enough how amazing they are. So today on the world wide webosphere, I thought it would be fun to raise a glass to to this friendship and people like Stacey who make this world a more meaningful, awesome place.

Actually, I should raise a slice of this cake I brought for the party that was rumored (and then confirmed) to be her favorite — carrot cake!

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

Yes, yes, I know I just posted a carrot cake recipe on the blog last month that looks strikingly similar to this one. But Stacey and a few friends at the party are all gluten-free, and another friend is vegan. So I attempted my first vegan and gluten-free cake for the party.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a mega success!

I actually based the recipe off of a new cookbook that was recommended by a friend — The How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook published by America’s Test Kitchen.

I have long been a fan of ATK, and have given away probably 50 copies of The New Best Recipe as wedding presents over the years. (It is my top recommendation for friends who want to learn how to cook!) So when I heard that there was a new version explaining their process creating and testing out all sorts of gluten-free techniques, I immediately picked up a copy. And sure enough, it’s great! I have experimented with my fair share of GF cooking over the past few years — more for friends, than here on the blog — but I feel like this cookbook is finally giving some concrete answers to some of the science behind the ingredient combos. Especially about how different flours work together with different main ingredients.

So anyway, if you’re looking for a basic gluten-free cookbook to check out, I highly recommend picking up a copy. (This is not a paid endorsement — just my recommendation!)

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

I made a few tweaks to the recipe to adjust the spices and salt to the levels I prefer for carrot cake. But then to make it vegan, I also substituted flax eggs for traditional eggs (although chia eggs work too and are more flavor-less).

If you’ve never done this before, it’s a super easy substitution. Just whisk together 1 tablespoon of (ideally) freshly-ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water until combined. Then pop them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. And once you pull them back out, the mixture should be thick and sticky, which will help bind your batter together just like regular eggs.

(This recipe called for 4 eggs, so I used 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds and 3/4 cup water.)

I also whipped up a vegan “cream cheese” frosting — minus the cream cheese. (No, not even that fake soy vegan cream cheese stuff.) I just made a simple vegan buttercream, and added in a little apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. And voila. I don’t know how, but somehow it tastes just like cream cheese. My friends agreed.

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

The other main ingredient that’s a non-negotiable in my carrot cakes is fresh carrots. Yes, the recipe calls for an entire pound of carrots, which you can grate by hand. Or, if you have a food processor, I highly recommend trying out the grating attachment and letting that little motor do all of the work. Seriously, mine grated this whole batch in less than 20 seconds. Brrrrrrrilliant.

I was in a hurry making this cake and forgot to take step-by-step process photos. But I did make a few little carrot toppers for decor.

Well, I should admit the cake started out simply…

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

…and then got a little out of control with this carrot patch. ;)

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

(I apparently love cake toppers, what can I say?)

As pretty as it was on the outside, though, it tasted 100x better on the inside.

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about how the gluten-free substitutions would work, especially since the ATK recipe called for half the usual amount of oil for a carrot cake. But friends, the cake turned out so moist. And flavorful. And oh my goodness, that cream cheese knockoff was the perfect icing on the cake.

Thankfully, the birthday girl loved it, which in turn made me extra happy since cooking for friends is kind of my favorite things ever. Especially when they’re amazing friends like Stacey. :)

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

So now I pass on the recipe to you. I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did.

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake -- made with a heavenly (vegan) "cream cheese" frosting | gimmesomeoven.com #vegan #glutenfree #gf

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Either a 9x13-inch rectangle cake, a two-layer 9-inch round cake, or a three-layer 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

    Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups (12.5 ounces) gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour), plus extra for dusting the pans
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 flax eggs (*1/4 cup ground flaxmeal and 3/4 cup water, see instructions below*)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • (optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)
  • Vegan Gluten-Free "Cream Cheese" Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) vegan butter or margarine
  • 3 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Method

How To Make Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake:

Adjust oven rack to the middle position, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray or butter to thoroughly grease the inside of either:

-1 13x19-inch baking pan, or

-2 9-inch round cake pans, or

-3 8-inch round cake pans

Then dust the inside of each pan with gluten-free flour until the grease is completely covered and no spots of the pan are visible.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger together until combined.

In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred carrots. Then transfer them to the mixing bowl with the flour. Wipe clean the food processor bowl, and fit with the metal blade (in place of the shredding disk). Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar and flax eggs and process until frothy and throughly combined, about 20 seconds. With processor running, add oil in a steady stream. Process until egg mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.

Transfer egg mixture to the large bowl with the carrots and flour. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. If using nuts, stir them in until combined.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about:

-30-35 minutes for the 9x13-inch baking pan

-25-30 minutes for the two 9-inch round cake pans, or

-18-23 minutes for the three 8-inch round cake pans

Let cake cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Remove cake, if transferring to a different serving platter, and frost as desired.

How To Make Vegan Gluten-Free "Cream Cheese" Frosting:

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, and mix until smooth and combined. If the frosting is too thick, add in some extra milk to thin. If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar to thicken.

*Cake recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen.

**To make the flax eggs, simply stir together 1 Tbsp. flaxmeal (freshly-ground) and 3 Tbsp. of water until combined PER EGG.

(This recipe called for 4 eggs, so you would times those amounts by 4.)

Then refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes, remove and whisk again, and the mixture should be thick and sticky.

(c) 2013 Gimme Some Oven. All rights reserved.

Be sure to also check out these other carrot cake recipes on the blog:

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com

Traditional Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Raw Carrot Cake | gimmesomeoven.com

Raw Carrot Cake

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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50 thoughts on “Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

  1. I made this cake last Sunday and it was AWESOME!!!!! I still used a regular cream cheese frosting but my hubby and I were totally impressed with how great the cake tasted!!

    Thanks so much!

    - Patricia B

  2. Where did you purchase the adorable cake toppers?

    - Christina

  3. Great recipe! I used half applesauce half olive oil (not a huge fan of veggie oil and did not feel like using coconut)….also did not add the white sugar, just stuck with the brown. Turned out fantastic! Super moist, great flavor/spices, and a bit less sugar left room for the sweetness of frosting. Everyone who tried it loved it, gluten and non-gluten eaters alike, was gone within a day! My next mission will be to reduce the flour and add cocoa powder for a chocolate carrot cake….anybody tried that or have any suggestions!?

    - Hannah Farnell

    • Follow-up: Decreased flour by 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, still used only the brown sugar, and added a pinch of cayenne pepper….SOOOO good! Spicy chocolate carrot cake, give it a shot!! Yum!

      - Hannah Farnell

  4. About to bake this but I’m going to use coconut oil and xylitol to make it even healthier- not sure what gluten free flour I have in the cupboard right now but will mix them all up! I also make a great vegan frosting using coconut oil, not fake butters- unless you are living in a v hot place, because it will melt!

    - MelanieG

  5. Thank you so much for this awesome recipe!!! Made it for my girlfriends birthday and she loved it!!! In fact everybody at the party loved it :) mahalo!!!

    - Richard

  6. I love that I found this recipe. I’m making cake pop truffles for my sister in laws party and wanted a gluten free vegan cake recipe. There’s no need for it to be vegan and gluten free but I prefer vegan baking and my mother in law is trying to stay away from gluten. Since I love her of course I want to make her happy. But my question is can I use brown rice flower instead because that’s all I have?

    - Bessybel LaPann

    • Oooh, this would be yummy in cake pops! I have not tried it with brown rice flour, but think it would work. The flavor/consistency may just be slightly different. If you try it, though, I would love to hear how it goes! Enjoy!

      - Ali

  7. Hi Ali, I have a question. If I replace the flax eggs for regular eggs do I have to modified the recipe in some way?… Im making the cake for my cousin who does not eat gluten and dairy products but she has no problems with eggs. Thanks. P.S. The cake looks delicious, I will make it soon. Thanks

    - alicia

  8. Thanks for a great recipe . I swapped 1/2 cup of the oil for applesauce and kept the remaining 1/4 of oil . I used palm sugar instead granulated but kept the brown . Worked out great in my opinion while reducing the oil content and processed sugar. was a hit with the crowd .

    - Tina

  9. What a gorgeous post! And a fabulous recipe. I have no idea how you got the pics to look so lovely. I can barely get my kids to look good for my blog photos, and they’re pretty damn cute. My youngest is turning four and she’s eating gluten-free. I’m famous for my carrot cake, but gluten-free? I had the Bob’s Red Mill flour on hand so I gave it a go. I used regular eggs and added a touch of xanthan gum because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. Being a scaredy cat is actually especially appropriate as I added some marshmallow fondant in pink, white and purple to make a cute-tastic Hello Kitty cake. One thing to note though: the batter to the cake tastes horrible. I mean, irredeemable. I could drink a glass of wine and still taste it. Ack! Somehow though the cake is delish! Yay! Thanks for sharing!

    - jennifer groeber

  10. This sounds and looks divine. This is one of my families favorite desserts.
    I never knew about the egg substitute and I Judy bought a bag of chia seeds so I’m going to try this instead of flax.
    I noticed there is no crushed pineapple in this cake recipe… Have you ever used this in your recipe? I think it makes it more moist AND the flavor from the pineapple gives it a little bit of zest to what can be a very sugary dessert.
    Great job on the blog. You’re a very interesting writer and hope to see more of what you can do!

    Keep up the great work!

    - Dawn

  11. Oh my oh my oh my!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for this recipe!!! It is a hit here at home!!!
    I’m new to the vegan gf baking world and I love “healthy” baking!!! My 3 yo girl and my 17 mo boy want to eat the whole cake as it comes out of the oven. Second time I’m making in two weeks.
    The only change I made was to use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. I dislike the taste of vegetable oil and coconut oil is much healthier.
    I totally recommend not skipping out the salt, you can totally taste the pinch of salt and it gives a great flavor to the cake.
    Love it love it love it!!!!

    - Anna

  12. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I baked it today as a cupcakes, they taste awesome! Thank you again.

    - Christine

  13. I made this recipe for my birthday party this weekend and no one believed me that it was vegan! It was so moist and perfect…there were definitely no leftovers! Thank you for sharing it!!

    - Kelsey

  14. Cake is beautiful and smells great coming out of the oven. My vegan daughter and her family will love it, and we will too! One note, though — don’t grease the pan with “butter” as suggested as an option in the recipe, or it won’t be vegan anymore!

    - Lisa Gensheimer

  15. Thank you for the recipe, I’ll totally try this one!
    And very Happy Birthday to that special friend of yours! It’s great to know that there are people strong enough to not give up no matter what happens! Wishing Stacey all the luck and good health too!

    - Tina

  16. Looks amazing. Any suggestions on making it without any additional sugar? I realize the taste will suffer some but I would appreciate any advice.

    - Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      I have not tried this without sugar, so unfortunately cannot say. It would definitely change the flavor — and especially the consistency — of the cake, not having that extra amount of dry ingredients. So without testing it, I can’t say for sure. :( Sorry about that.

      ~Ali

      - Ali

  17. This is one gorgeous cake, Ali! Love that I could share it with all of my friends.

    - Kathryne

  18. I’m gonna give this a try. As a friend mine is all gluetin free. I have recently found coconut flour. Can it be used in this recipe? And is the measurements the same as with regular flour?. Thank have a super day. Lisa.

    - Lisa J Hildebrand

    • Hi Lisa,

      I have not tried this with coconut flour, so cannot say for sure. But it might work. If you try it, let me know!

      Thanks,
      Ali

      - Ali

  19. You have such a good heart, Ali! I loved reading about your friend, and how special your friendship is. And this cake! Obviously I’m in love with it.

    - ashley - baker by nature

  20. What a special, beautiful treat for a special, beautiful friend. Happy Birthday Stacey! Such a sweet tribute Ali (and I’m all over this cake!)

    - Erin | The Law Student's Wife

  21. I love carrot cake because it always makes me think that I’m eating healthy – and hey, with this I AM!! Obviously this needs to be actioned immediately! Gorgeous Ali, as per usual!

    - Megan {Country Cleaver}

  22. Wow Ali, this looks AMAZING!! Just pinned it all over the place :)

    - Alisa @ Go Dairy Free

  23. First off, I want to say this cake looks amazing! I am new to baking and cooking for a loved one with food allergies. At first it seemed we would never get to enjoy yummy food again. This cake gives me hope! Just one question, can I substitute another oil for the vegetable oil? My daughter is allergic to soy.

    - Manessa

  24. What? This is gluten-free? I thought the carrot toppers were the icing on the cake, but…wow!

    - Heidi Larsen (@foodiecrush)

  25. I second that – this cake definitely looks like a mega success :). Absolutely beautiful!

    - Kathi @ Deliciously Yum!

  26. Love, love, love this carrot cake, Ali! And, what a warm and inspiring story about your friend and your friendship. She’s lucky to have you as a friend as well. :) Thank you for sharing!

    - Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen

  27. AWE! Not only did the beautiful story totally make me tear up, but then I got to see all the beautiful photos of this recipe! You’re one awesome friend and blogger :)

    - Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

  28. The carrot cake looks divine! Perfect Easter recipe!

    - Jess

  29. this recipe completes my life. MUST BAKE for Easter this Sunday!

    - Nicole

  30. Look at your getting all flax eggy on Gimme Some. Love it!

    - dana

  31. What a lovely presentation! I am definitely trying this for Easter dinner!

    - Annie @Maebells

  32. Simply gorgeous Ali!

    - Aimee @ ShugarySweets

  33. I want a piece!

    - Maria

  34. Stacey sounds so cool! I’m going to follow her Instagram too. This cake sounds amazing!

    - Laura

  35. What a gorgeous cake! Happy Birthday to your sweet friend!

    - Jenny Flake

  36. Happy B-day to Stacey!! Sounds like an awesome night! :)

    And this cake! Well, I think it speaks for itself, but it looks incredible!

    - Tieghan

  37. Holy smokes!! Vegan and gluten free?! This cake is awesome!

    - Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar