Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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

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

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

Directions:

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.

**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.

*Cake recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

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

Leave a Comment:





Comments

  1. Ainsley — February 15, 2015 @ 9:45 am (#)

    This cake turned out very well.  It did not make enough to fill the 9×13 pan I had ready so I doubled the recipe and hoped it would be a good cake as the gluten free and organic ingredients were expensive.  Great news it turned out beautifully.  Thanks for a great recipe.  I made minor changes – I used coconut palm sugar in place of both the granulated and brown sugar, I used fresh ground ginger and ground chia seeds instead of the flax.    

  2. Jen — February 16, 2015 @ 4:56 pm (#)

    This frosting is amazing!! I didn’t try the cake, but I will have to soon~ I love carrot cake! :) The frosting tastes just like cream cheese!! I cut the recipe in half, but then accidentally put the full amount of vinegar and lemon juice….. Lol whoops… A little extra sugar and vanilla and it still tastes great!! I like how the tangy-ness cuts the sweetness a bit. I love frosting and sweet things, but it’s a bit too much sometimes. I put it on my brother’s strawberry birthday cake~ very good. Thanks!!:)

  3. Alison — February 19, 2015 @ 4:22 pm (#)

    This quantity filled two 8 inch round pans.
    It was very easy to make, I can definitely see myself making it again whenever I don’t have much time to bake.
    The better I licked from the spoon was delicious.
    I’ll edit this comment for yummy-ness once it’s cooked!

  4. Alison — February 20, 2015 @ 1:08 pm (#)

    I couldn’t edit my comment so here is the follow up. This was a fantastic tasting cake and frosting! My guests enjoyed it and asked for the link to the recipe. I will definitely make this again. (Note I used eggs instead of the flax).
    I used two 8 inch round pans for the cake. I halved the frosting ingredients and after finishing the cake have almost a cup left over.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  5. Charis — March 2, 2015 @ 1:46 pm (#)

    Danger- don’t make too much frosting or you will find yourself licking every inch of the bowl and packing on the pounds! LIFE CHANGING!!

  6. Leah — March 12, 2015 @ 1:15 pm (#)

    To make these into cupcakes.. less baking time? Thanks for any tips!

    • Ali — March 21, 2015 @ 12:48 pm (#)

      Yep, I would bake the cupcakes for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Enjoy!

  7. Amanda Parkins — March 12, 2015 @ 1:22 pm (#)

    If I wanted to make these as cupcakes (standard size), how long do you recommend baking them for? Thanks in advance! 

    • Ali — March 21, 2015 @ 12:41 pm (#)

      Sure thing! The cupcakes should bake for about 18-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. :)

  8. Genet — March 14, 2015 @ 1:53 pm (#)

    This looks AMAZING !

  9. Genet — March 14, 2015 @ 1:54 pm (#)

    Has anyone ever tried to make cupcakes out of this recipe ?

  10. Allie L. — March 16, 2015 @ 8:59 am (#)

    My mom and sister made this cake for me for my birthday, and it is amazing! Also, they gave it high praise, and are neither gluten free nor vegan, so additional confirmation that it’s an all-around delicious cake. 

    • Ali — March 17, 2015 @ 9:21 pm (#)

      Thanks Allie, that’s so nice to hear! : )

  11. Carol — March 18, 2015 @ 10:39 am (#)

    I’m definitely making this cake. How long will it last in an airtight container? Many thanks :)

    • Ali — March 21, 2015 @ 12:17 pm (#)

      I would say up to 5 days, to be on the safe side. But I have kept cakes around for longer. :)

  12. Olivia — March 20, 2015 @ 8:17 am (#)

    I made this cake last night and it was amazing! I want to make as cupcakes for a friends birthday… Any suggestions? 

    • Ali — March 21, 2015 @ 12:41 pm (#)

      Sure thing! The cupcakes should bake for about 18-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. :)

  13. EliZabeth — April 3, 2015 @ 11:10 pm (#)

    im making this tonight and it looks so delicious. I’m just wondering if anybody else’s turned out rather flat? I know this is common of gluten-free vegan baked goods and I’m sure it will taste good I just worry it may be very dense.

  14. Daina — April 5, 2015 @ 9:09 pm (#)

    This recipe is AMAZING! Made this for Easter and everyone loved it. I will probably use less sugar next time as it was a bit sweet for my liking, but all in all a great dessert! 

    • Ali — April 6, 2015 @ 1:55 pm (#)

      Thanks Daina, glad it was a hit!

  15. Katie — April 6, 2015 @ 3:51 pm (#)

    This is, hands down, the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. I made some changes due to availabilities/tastes, and the recipe was so versatile! I used my own all purpose GF flour blend, used the 4 eggs, only 1 cup of brown sugar total, and 1/4 C of applesauce + 1/2 C of oil to reduce the oil. It was delicious! I may be even more daring next time, and reduce the sugar even more and use more applesauce to make it more baby-friendly! Thank you for posting in weights, it definitely makes a huge difference when baking gluten free….

    • Ali — April 6, 2015 @ 8:32 pm (#)

      Thanks Katie! I’m glad you were able to make it gluten-free and that it was a hit, thank you for giving it a try! : )

  16. Kat — April 6, 2015 @ 8:51 pm (#)

    Further cupcake question – would you use cupcake liners or grease them only?

    • Ali — April 6, 2015 @ 9:50 pm (#)

      Hey Kat, it’s totally up to you, either would work fine!

  17. Andrei knight — April 18, 2015 @ 3:18 am (#)

    Hi..love this recipe..I am however struggling with the density of the sponges after they come out of the oven. I’ve tried three times now to get that light spongey look that you have in your pics..can you advise me some more..I’ve gone for the total vegan option..and yes it’s my first time baking cakes but any help would avert kitchen souicide..head in oven having eaten all the sugar and passed out! 
    Many thanks
    Andrei

  18. Judy — May 20, 2015 @ 10:15 pm (#)

    The cake looks delicious. I am wondering how many eggs the recipe would need if I replaced the flax eggs with real eggs. Could you advise me? Thank you, Judy

    • Ali — May 21, 2015 @ 8:19 am (#)

      Thanks, Judy! I would use 4 eggs, since the flax egg formula was calculated to be equal to 4 real eggs. I hope you enjoy!

  19. Charlotte — June 4, 2015 @ 9:59 pm (#)

    Hi this recipe looks fabulous! Do you think it could be made the day before serving? I usually find my gluten free baking is only good the day it is made. Thanks! Charlotte

    • Ali — June 5, 2015 @ 8:07 am (#)

      Thank you, Charlotte! I think it would be fine made a day before serving, I would just keep it under a cake dome or wrap it well with plastic wrap, to help keep it more moist and fresh.

  20. Steph — June 21, 2015 @ 9:04 pm (#)

    This cake was delicious! It only filled 2 8 inch round pans and took about 28 minutes to cook.The apple cider vinegar added a nice zing to the frosting.

  21. Melanie — June 28, 2015 @ 3:13 pm (#)

    I had to add additional time to bake for a cake in a 9×13.   The flavor was great, but I think the next time I may pulverize some of the carrots.  I made some flour substitutions (garbonz/fava bean flour, oat flour, arrow root flour) and substituted some of the granulated and brown sugar with dried date sugar and agava.  This was also the first time I’ve used ground flax for egg!   I used a different recipe that used tofu to create the frosting.  All in all, a success!  Thanks!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 28, 2015 @ 9:14 pm (#)

      Thank you for sharing, Melanie! Isn’t the flax egg cool? We’re so glad you enjoyed this!

  22. Melina — July 5, 2015 @ 8:17 pm (#)

    Do you think I could replace the gluten free flour for regular all purpose flour? Thanks in advance!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 6, 2015 @ 10:13 am (#)

      Hey Melina! We actually have a killer recipe (for a non-gf) carrot cake. We suggest you give it a try!

  23. Imani — July 8, 2015 @ 5:31 pm (#)

    Oh my gosh you’ve saved my life.
    Failing gluten free vegan baker here, just completed near perfect carrot cake despite following recipe wrong. You’re a genius!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 8, 2015 @ 10:47 pm (#)

      Thanks Imani, we’re so happy to hear that!

  24. Maud — August 4, 2015 @ 2:00 pm (#)

    OMG ! I just made this cake for my friends (who are not vegan) and they loved it ! Thank you so much for this delicious recipe :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 5, 2015 @ 10:41 pm (#)

      Thanks Maud, that’s so awesome! We’re so glad this was a hit with your friends!

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