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.
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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…
…and then got a little out of control with this carrot patch. ;)
(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. :)
So now I pass on the recipe to you. I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did.
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
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.
Be sure to also check out these other carrot cake recipes on the blog:
I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit. Everyone liked it better than the gluten filled desserts others brought :-) I pulled this back up because I would like to make it again. My only complaint is the frosting was a touch too sweet for me. Any suggestions on reducing the sweetness a bit?
Thanks Heather — we’re glad to hear it was a hit with your family! If you want to make the frosting a little less sweet next time, you can try 6 or 6 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (then check the taste, and add more if you’d like). We hope this helps!
Does the batter is supposed to be dry? I added 1 1/2 coconut milk cup and it is now ón the oven. Tates yummy!
Hi Estefania! The batter shouldn’t be dry — how did it turn out? We hope you enjoyed it!
This is an amazing cake and frosting – both are incredibly delicious!! This is the first vegan “cream cheese” frosting I’ve tried to make, and it’ll be my standby recipe from now on (though I don’t actually make cake or frost things that often…). The cake is really moist, tastes great, and following the recipe (and using my food processor for the different steps) worked flawlessly. Thank you for sharing the recipe; I will be sure to pass it along in the future!
Thank you Linnea! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! :D
Hi! I need to make a small batch of vegan, GF cupcakes tomorrow and was hoping to use this recipe as it sounds delicious! Do you have any suggestions for making the batter and icing mixture smaller?
Hi Megan! Doing this whole recipe will give you between 24 and 36 cupcakes, so if you don’t want quite that many, we’d just suggest cutting the recipe in half. We would set the timer for 15 minutes and check them (they may need longer). We hope this helps!
Hi there! I’m hoping to make this cake next weekend but I’m not seeing if it calls for xantham gum – am I missing it somewhere or does your blend already have it? I’m wondering how much I’d need to use. Thanks!
Hi Jade! We apologize for just now getting to your comment! Hmmm there’s no xantham gum in the recipe, not even in the blend. We hope you enjoy! :)
thank you so much! this is the best vegan gluten free cake me and my mum have made in quite a while (all of our other recipes have been failing miserably) It was absolutely amazing, my non vegan dad even said it was the best carrot cake he’s ever had! seriously thank you again :)
You’re so welcome Imogen! We’re thrilled that you and your parents enjoyed this! :D
I just made this cake(as carrot cake is my boyfriends favorite) and he said it was the best he had ever had! I used regular white flour and I also forgot the milk, but it still turned out so well..I didn’t make the frosting, just a simple marmalade and fresh squeezed orange glaze for the top! So SO moist and just great!
Thank you for such a simple and amazing recipe :-)
We’re so glad to hear that Robyn! Thanks for sharing with us! And the marmalade glaze sounds fabulous—yum! :)
Do you think I should make any adjustments to this recipe if I want to keep it vegan but not gluten free? I want to make this vegan carrot cake for Easter, but I will be sharing it with family members who have high expectations for carrot cake and might be critical.
I am not sure how the oil to flour ratio will work out if I use all purpose flour. I have all purpose and whole wheat flour at home and do not have the need to buy a gluten free flour blend. In regards to the egg replacer, do you think I should grind up the chia seeds for my egg or keep them whole? I am trying to be resourceful for what I have on hand and also make this delicious looking carrot cake! Thank you!!
Hi Kristina! You can actually just sub in all-purpose flour in place of the GF flour blend. And for the eggs, we think you meant to say flax seeds, instead of chia. You want to use ground flax seed/meal. We hope you enjoy!
This recipe is amazing! I made it for my boyfriend’s bday as carrot cake is his favorite. His next birthday is fast a pro aching and he is already asking about your carrot cake. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks Shayla — we’re so happy you and your boyfriend loved it! :D
I only have chia seeds at home and I know you mentioned in your post that a chia egg would also work, so do you think there will be a big difference if I use a chia egg in this recipe? I am unsure if I should grind the chia seeds up before or leave them whole if I am going to use a chia egg. Thank you for getting back to me!
What if I don’t have a food processor? I have a vitamix blender..? Also, what if instead of granulated white sugar I used sucunat?
Hi Ina! Hmmm, we haven’t tried this in a Vitamix, but we think it should work! We haven’t tried sucunat either, so we honestly can’t say how that would work. However, we think you could definitely use coconut/palm sugar (same amount)! We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)
i made this and it was AMAZING!!! thanks for the recipe. :)
Thanks Olivia — we’re so glad you enjoyed it! :)
Just made for the first time and yo u nailed it!Thank you so much two of my your kids are anaphylactic to common 8 allergies and we are so oooooo grateful! My son was so happy after tasting the icing. The two that do not have allergies were just as delighted. Thank you again!
Thanks for sharing Patricia — we’re so glad it was a hit with you and your kiddos! :)
I’ve made this at least 3 times and its been perfect each time! A really good recipe that I would definitely recommend to friends. The family love it too :)
Thanks Lavinia — we’re glad you and your family enjoy this! :D
I finally got to make this and it was a HUGE hit! Everyone absolutely loved it and said it was the best carrot cake they have ever had (vegan or not)! I used all purpose flour and it still came out perfect. The spice blend was amazing and the icing was SO GOOD. I was amazed and nobody could believe it wasn’t made out of real cream cheese. I used a bag of powdered sugar that was 7.5 cups and it still came out incredibly sweet (if you are afraid of a tooth ache, I would recommend decreasing the amount of powdered sugar to taste) but it really was incredible. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I will definitely be making this again and the cream cheese frosting will be my go to recipe!
i want to try this recipe now !!!
This looks amazing and it’s vegan. Quick question in very allergic to rice and all nut/ coconut flours. Do you have any suggestions on other flours I could use ? Oatmeal, sorghum tapioca ? Thank you !
Hi Jennifer! Hmmm, we haven’t experimented with any other flours, but we wonder if you could do a mix of oat and sorghum?
Hellooooo just looking at the recipe, are you sure the icing requires 8 cups of icing sugar?! This seems like a LOT and I don’t think our cup measurements in Australia are any different to yours so I’m quite confused? Thanks!
Hi Sarah! Yep, 8 cups sounds like a lot, but reduces significantly when mixed into frosting. (This is also a big cake!) We hope you enjoy! :)
Have you ever made this recipe as cupcakes?
Hi Cate — yes, these will work just fine as cupcakes — we hope you enjoy!
Thanks for this awesome recipe! I made it for a potluck so that my dairy-allergic daughter would have at least one dessert she could eat. Everyone loved it, no one guessed it was vegan. I love that it uses ingredients I have on hand. I’m going to use the frosting recipe for my daughter’s birthday, it tastes like real cream cheese frosting!
You’re quite welcome! We’re so glad this was a hit! :D
Hi there, i am definitely trying this recipe! Is it possible to use normal eggs instead of the flaxmeal?
Hi Christa! Yes, you can use actual eggs instead. We hope you enjoy this!
I baked this cake yesterday and it is absolutely devine!
Thank you for the great recipe!
Hi there- I’m so excited to try this recipe! I scanned the comments but didn’t see anything regarding freezing. Has anyone had success freezing just the cake layers? (Unfrosted) I’m wondering if I could make this in advance. Thanks for any insight!
Hi Jenna! Awesome, we hope you enjoy it! And you should be fine to freeze the unfrosted layers — just make sure you wrap them really well (we’d probably do some extra layers of plastic wrap), then we’d then store them in freezer-safe bags or containers.
This was SO GOOD! I actually quartered the recipe, because I made a regular non-vegan carrot cake for a birthday but wanted a vegan version so that I could have some too… I figured I probably shouldn’t eat a whole entire cake by myself. And it worked just fine, even making such a small portion of the original recipe. It’s delicious! My mom (an omnivore) tried some of mine and said she really liked it. I also don’t have access to vegan butter or margarine for the frosting in my local grocery store, so I used coconut cream instead. It’s crazy how much it tastes like cream cheese with the lemon juice and vinegar added!
Thank you Parker — we’re so happy you and your mom enjoyed it! :)
I’m so glad to of found a cake that is not only vegan, but also gluten free! Unfortunatly I ran out of flax seed so had to make do with chia seed, which thankfully worked! The icing i found did not work for me, it tasted a little too much like apple aider vinaigra. Apart from that this cake was a hit!
Thank you Sophia! We’re so glad you enjoyed this! :)
So I used to master a regular Carrot cake. People asked for it at every event. Unfortunately my baking days have been well behind me. My son has severe anaphylactic reactions to wheat,dairy, nuts,oats and eggs. Amongst others but it wiped out all my baking tools. ? turns out he is also allergic to chickpeas and fava beans. I’m having a hard time finding a great gluten free all purpose flour that does not have any beans or oats. Any suggestions would be amazing. Can not wait to try this recipe out. I’ve missed carrot cake like no other.
What food processor do you have? Do you like it? Anything you don’t like? I’m going to ask for one for Christmas :)
Hi Christina! We use this Magimix food processor, from Williams-Sonoma and love it!
I was wondering if I could use coconut flour and coconuts sugar
Hi Sha! Hmm, we haven’t experimented with either of those in this cake, so we honestly can’t say for sure. However, if you give it a try, definitely let us know how it turns out!
Hi! I’m processed sugar free as well, do you have any suggestions for making this cake with alternatives? Thanks!
Hi Kimberly! Unfortunately we haven’t played around with sugar-free alternatives. You could experiment with pureed dates or apple sauce, but we haven’t tried those, so we’re not sure if they would work in this recipe.
I’m so excited to try this cake! I recent have had to go on a dairy, sugar, gluten, yeast, sugar, egg and tomato free diet. It’s very hard but it’s for health reasons and 1 month in I’m feeling pretty good!! My father loves carrot cake so I can’t wait to make this for him!
The only thing is I can’t have vegetable oil! Can I substitute olive oil or coconut oil? :)
Awesome, Rebel! You can totally use coconut oil or olive oil instead of the vegetable oil (we’d try the coconut oil). We hope you and your dad enjoy this! :)
I’m commenting in response to a comment made by PATRICIA on August 1 because my daughter also has a lot of the same allergies, but not such a serious reaction. If your son is allergic to wheat, however gluten is not a problem I have found that Barley flour is a great flour to incorporate. If a recipe calls for only a small amount of flour (cookies, brownies, cornbread, zucchini bread) I substitute solely with Barley flour and it turns out great. I just pulled this cake out of the oven and I used 1 1/4 cups barley flour, 1/4 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup oat flour, which you could substitute with another rice or barley or rye flour (I don’t know that the flavor would ruin this recipe with all the spices). In my learnings about wheat free baking there is very little focus on wheat allergy, with most recipes accommodating gluten issues so I’ve had to experiment with barley on my own. It does have some gluten in it so I find that helps with the texture and strength of the baked goods. I hope this is helpful!
Is there a reason why you didn’t use vegan cream cheese in your frosting?
No particular reason — definitely feel free to use vegan cream cheese in the frosting if you like! :)
How many cupcakes would you say this recipe yields?
Hi China! You should get around 24-36 cupcakes from this. We hope you enjoy!
Can you use real eggs? If so, how many?
Yes, in fact, we have a regular, non-vegan carrot cake recipe here:
I made this for a Friendsgiving dinner and it was absolutely delicious! The only thing is it fell apart and didn’t hold together well. I followed the recipe with no substitutions and I’m wondering what could have gone wrong? I really want to make this again for Thanksgiving but would love for it to be the right consistency.
Thanks for sharing with us, Stephanie — we’re so glad you enjoyed it! We’re sorry to hear it fell apart though! We wonder if perhaps it just needed longer to cool?
I’m planning to use this recipe next week… How long would you bake them for if you made them into cupcakes!?
Hi Shireen! If making cupcakes out of these, we would recommend setting your timer for 15 minutes to start, then checking every few minutes after that if they still aren’t done. We hope you enjoy them!
Freakin’ delicious and amazing cake! Made it exactly as is EXCEPT I subbed all-purpose flour so it was not gluten free. The omnis all devoured it. Such a good recipe. Thank you!
Thanks, Sara — we’re so glad this was a hit! :)
Thank you for the recipe! Everything worked great but the frosting is insanely sweet. It looked lovely though.
We’re glad you enjoyed the cake and we’re sorry you found the frosting to be too sweet! Definitely feel free to add less sugar (to taste) next time.
Hi, I’m in India and we don’t have GF flour here. Could you please let me know if there is any other GF flour which can be used like brown rice flour and potato starch. Many thanks!!
Hi Rashmi! We’re sorry to hear you’re not able to find any gluten-free flour where you are. :( Unfortunately though we haven’t experimented with brown rice flour or potato starch. If you do, definitely let us know how it turns out!
Hi, I made this last week and it was delicious, thank you
Thanks for sharing, Jill — we’re so glad you enjoyed it!
This is really the best cake recipe I ever found on the internet! My cake turned out amazing. I translated and I want to put it on my blog in Dutch – with a reference ofcourse. Is that okay?
Thank you so much, we’re happy you loved it! And yes, of course, thank you for asking first! :)
Hi, I was looking for a birthday cake for my 2 years old son and I loved the cake. We all like carrot cake and I believe this cake will suit us so well. I just couldn’t understand how to bake 3 8-inch layer.. should I pour whole mixture in 8-inch cake pan and cut 3 layer after it cooked or I should dived the mixture at 3 and bake them 3 times separately? Thank you..
Hi Sibel! You’ll just divide the batter between 3 8-inch round cake pans. :) We hope you and your little one enjoy this (happy birthday to him)!
I was wondering if I could use coconut oil instead of vegan margarine for the frosting. I can’t have soy and most of vegan butter/margarine have soy in them.
Hi Andreanne! Yes, we think you could probably use coconut oil instead (we haven’t tried this ourselves, so we aren’t totally sure how it would turn out, but we think it should work, and it’s worth a try)! Definitely let us know how it goes!
Just wondering how long this carrot cake lasts, I am baking it for the weekend, but will have to make it on the Tuesday – will it last?
Hi Claire! Did you mean to say you’re serving it on the weekend but need to bake it on Tuesday? If so, it will still be good (just needs to be refrigerated). It won’t be quite as moist or fresh as the day of (or the day after), but we think it holds up well because it’s got a good amount of moisture in it. We hope this helps!
I love this recipe. My mother-in-law found it and made it for me on one of our visits and it tasted amazing. My husband(fiance at the time) and I took some with us when we went home and ate it next to the ocean and it tasted even better eating it outside in the salty air. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to try this frosting on banana cake!
We’re so glad to hear that, Jessica, thanks for sharing with us! :)
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! :)
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! :)
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!
Hello! Can you substitute canola oil for vegetable oil? Thanks!
Hi Andrea! Yes, definitely. We hope you enjoy!
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!
As far as I know powdered sugar is always gluten-free, it’s just sugar nothing else.