Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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

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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.


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


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 13×19-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 9×13-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.

All images and text ©

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 |

Traditional Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Raw Carrot Cake |

Raw Carrot Cake

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360 comments on “Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake”

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  1. Hi, going to try making this for my son’s first birthday, which happens to be on Easter! Would like to make cupcakes first. Do you know how long they would cook for? Do you think I could get 24 out of the recipe?
    Thanks!! Excited to make this recipe!  Love carrot cake!!

    • Hi Andrea! You should get around 24-36 cupcakes from this. We’re not sure how long it would take them to bake, but we’d suggest starting your timer for 20 minutes and going from there. We hope you and your son enjoy these and that he has a happy birthday! :)

  2. Just made this! Wanted to bake something that my little guy who has many food sensitivities can enjoy – and this is it! This has got be the best gluten free, vegan baked good I have ever had! My husband, who is not a big dessert fan, ate the first piece and to my surprise – he loved it. I know what my little guy’s birthday cake is going to be : ) Thank you for this recipe!

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Janet! We’re thrilled that you and your husband loved this! :)

  3. Great recipe. Thanks! Has anyone ever tried putting pineapple in the recipe! My daughter loves pineapple in her carrot cake, but I wanted to make a vegan carrot cake for Easter instead of the regular recipe. I haven’t been able to find a vegan recipe using pineapple. Any help would be appreciated! Happy Spring!

    • We’re so glad you enjoy it, Melodie! We haven’t tried putting pineapple in this, but we think you would probably be fine to add a 15oz can of crushed pineapple (drained) — we would recommend gently folding it into the batter. We hope this helps!

  4. Hello! Can you substitute canola oil for vegetable oil? Thanks!

  5. Sorry Ali, one more question. I live in Canada and am having some trouble finding gluten-free powdered sugar. There is an organic product with the brand name, Wholesome. Do you know if this is gluten free? It doesn’t say so I am assuming it’s not. Can you please suggest the product you used to make this cake? My nephew is gluten-free and I like making gluten-free baking whenever I can. Thanks!!

    • No worries, Andrea! Unfortunately we aren’t familiar wth that brand of flour, but if it doesn’t say it’s gluten-free, we don’t think it’s gluten-free. We like a good all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, such as Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, or Cup 4 Cup. We hope this helps!

    • Hi Andrea!

      As far as I know powdered sugar is always gluten-free, it’s just sugar nothing else.

  6. Oh gosh! I just made this cake today, and I think it must be the best carrot cake I have ever tasted. I have made a few vegan cakes before, but with no luck – they all had bad consistency or just came out raw on the inside and burnt on the outside! So when making this cake (also my first gluten free cake!) I was really crossing my fingers for it to work. And it did! I absolutely love it. As my cake wasn’t going to be served to that many people, I halved the recipe. I also used vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice for icing. I don’t really have words.. Thank you so much – this will definitely be my new go-to carrot cake recipe! I’m in love with it. Virtual hugs from Norway!!

    • Thank you, Helena, we’re so happy you enjoyed it, and we appreciate you taking the time to leave such a sweet comment!

  7. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cake! Best carrot cake I’ve ever made/had. My dad is a big carrot cake fan (I never new about it, but if he says so, right?!) and he had seconds and left with a piece and had it for breakfast the next day (he never eats breakfast!). 
    Now about the frosting. I simply have no words. “How can there be no cheese in your cream cheese frosting” everybody asked me. The taste is exactly the same, if not better! I can still barely believe it! Thanks a mega bunch for sharing this recipe. I made it for my youngest’s first Bday and he devoured it (as did everybody else!) Cheers!

    • Thank you so much, Patricia, we’re thrilled that you and your family enjoyed this! :)

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  10. Whoa! These look incredible! How far in advance do you think I could get away with making this?! Hoping to make this today (Friday) and serving it on Sunday. Should I hold out longer, or am I in the clear? I’m having a massive Easter celebration and want to save as much time as possible, and keep my oven free up for other treats haha!

    • Hi Hannah! We’re so sorry we didn’t get to your comment in time! This can be made a few days in advance though, and kept in the fridge.

  11. Hi! I cant’s wait to try this GF Carrot Cake Recipe, Question could I add pineapple chunks to it? and instead of using vegetable oil could I use coconut oil? and instead of Granulated sugar could I use coconut sugar? I know crazy questions but unfortunately food allergies are bad sometimes! Thank you

    • Hi Dulce! These aren’t crazy questions at all! :) Yes, you can add pineapple chunks (just make sure they’re well-drained), you could use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and you could try coconut sugar in place of the sugar (though we’d recommend just doing half and half, since we haven’t tried this). We hope you enjoy the cake!

  12. WOW!  I made this recipe for Easter and I was so impressed with how well it came out!  I’ve been gluten and dairy free for the past 3 months.  I’ve always had a sweet tooth and loved desserts, so I came into this very skeptical.  I figured there was no way a GF dairy free cake could taste good.  Well, I was wrong because this cake was awesome.  

    The cake itself was super moist, unlike other GF cakes I’ve had.  I added in extra cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to make it extra flavorful, which I definitely recommend.  I was too lazy to make flax eggs, so I used 4 regular eggs instead.  The frosting was delicious.  Cream cheese frosting is my favorite part of carrot cake, and I was a little nervous about how a non-dairy frosting would taste.  This frosting tasted exactly like the real thing.  I only used about 5 cups of powdered sugar and added extra lemon juice because I found it to be a little too sweet, but I also used sweetened almond milk so that could’ve affected the sweetness.

    Overall, this cake was amazing and my family and friends all loved it.  Will DEFINITELY make it again.  Thank you for this awesome recipe!!!

    • Thanks for sharing, Laura, and thank you for your sweet words — we’re so happy this was a hit! :D

  13. I’m SO glad I found this recipe, and just in the nick of time! My baby girl just had her 1st birthday yesterday and I’d been trying out a couple gluten free vegan cake recipes since I found out she’s allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy, and nuts. This was an absolute winner and by far the best thing I’ve tried yet! She loved it, as did my husband and I, and we were really surprised/impressed and how much the icing tasted like your typical cream cheese icing. 
    I cut the recipe in half and made 12 cupcakes that baked for about 18 minutes and everything worked out very well. 

    • Thank you, Eileen, we’re so happy this was a big hit, and we’re glad you were able to make the recipe work well with cupcakes! Also, happy belated to your sweet little one! :)

  14. Hi, I made a boo boo. I was in a rush to make this at midnight the night before my daughter’s first birthday and I didn’t blend the ‘egg mixture’ before adding it. I just dumped it all in and stirred. It probably would have paid to read through the recipe again…will this affect the cake terribly?

    • Hi Kristie! We think it should probably still be okay — how did it turn out for you?

  15. Looks awesome -can you sub applesauce for the oil ? 

    • Thanks, Leigh, we hope you enjoy it! And hmmmm, we haven’t tried that, so it’s honestly hard to say. We think it could probably work (it’s worth a try) — if you give it a shot, definitely let us know how it turns out! :)

  16. Fantastic recipe!!! Made this cake for my mom’s birthday (she’s gluten free and I’m vegan). My whole family loved it and went in for seconds.
    I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil and it turned out great. And I only made half the recipe of the frosting and still had leftover. It really does taste like cream cheese frosting with the lemon and apple cider vinegar! Thanks for such a great recipe!

    Rating: 5
    • Thank you for sharing with us, Deborah, we’re so happy to hear it was a hit! :)

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  32. Yummy! I’ve hunted far and wide for a gluten free and vegan carrot cake. I’ve made it twice and it was great both times. Thanks for the recipe. :):)

    Rating: 5
  33. Hi! I’m making this cake for my graduation party, and I’m wondering how you got your cake to 3 layers. Did you make 3 different cakes or cut the cake in 3 different pieces?
    And if any of you who have made this cake befour sees this, please be free to answer! :)

    • Hi Nea! The layring/pan size options are listed at the top of the recipe, as part of the yield — we used three 8-inch pans. We hope you enjoy!

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  35. I don’t see ‘carrots’ included in this carrot cake recipe

    • The recipe calls for 1 lb of carrots, peeled (it’s listed right after ginger, and before sugar).

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  37. I didn’t get a chance to make this yet and haven’t been able to read all comments, but wondering what might be a good substitute for the vegetable oil? I did read someone had tried extra virgin olive oil? Any thoughts on organic shortening or avocado oil? Can’t wait to try – thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Heather! We haven’t experimented with other oils in this, but we think you could try olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil. We hope you enjoy!

  38. if we don’t care about the gluten free part, can we just sue AP flour? all the other leavening agents seem to be there that would make it ok to just use normal flour…

  39. The cake turned out delicious, but I had a lot of leftover frosting. How long can you store the leftover vegan gluten-free “cream-cheese” frosting?

    Rating: 4
    • Thanks for sharing, Swanee — we’re happy you enjoyed it! And for the leftover frosting, we’d recommend storing it in the fridge. We hope that helps!

  40. Amazing!!!! Thank you!!!!
    I was given the most important (in my opinion ;) the cake for my grandsons first birthday. His mom insisted that it be vegan. I tried 4 recipes before finding this one and it is the best cake ever, nobody believed it was vegan. Very moist and delicious! It was the talk of the party and a girl even came up to me after and asked if I could do her wedding cake. I made a 3 tier cake to make sure had enough for everyone.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks, Sara, we’re so happy this was a hit — thanks for sharing with us, and for your kind review! :D

  41. This recipe looks amazing! Could I sub the sugar in the cake for coconut sugar? Would that be 2 cups coconut sugar or less?

    Thanks in advance!

    My My

    • Thanks, My My, we hope you e enjoy it! And we haven’t tried coconut sugar in this cake, but we think that should be okay. It can definitely be used instead of the brown sugar, but we’re not sure how two cups would affect the flavor, so we would probably start by using 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of coconut sugar. Depending on how the cake turns out, you could try experimenting with all coconut sugar next time? We hope this is helpful — let us know how it turns out!

  42. I tripled this recipe to make a 12″ x 18″ sheet cake for an event. It was a big hit. Thanks for sharing this!

    Rating: 4.5
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  44. Hi! Quick question: do you shred or grate the carrots? In the narrative it says grate but in the instructions it says shred.

    Thanks in advance!

    My My

  45. We’re so happy to have found this recipe! We’ve tried other gluten free vegan cakes that we couldn’t get to come out well. We’ve made this cake about 10 times and it’s great every time! Thanks so much!!

    Rating: 5
  46. This is one of the best desserts I’ve seen lately. I will definitely try to cook this for my girlfriend, she will be so happy if I pull this off :) she is a vegan and this carrot cake will put a big smile on her face. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with us.

    Rating: 5