Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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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


Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 9x13-inch, or a two-layer round (9") 1x


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


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. -1 13×19-inch baking pan, or
  2. -2 9-inch round cake pans, or
  3. -3 8-inch round cake pans
  4. 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.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger together until combined.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. -30-35 minutes for the 9×13-inch baking pan
  2. -25-30 minutes for the two 9-inch round cake pans, or
  3. -18-23 minutes for the three 8-inch round cake pans
  4. 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:

  1. 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:

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Traditional Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

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422 comments on “Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake”

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  15. 5 stars
    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. :):)

  16. 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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  18. 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).

  19. 5 stars
    Love love LOVED this cake! Made it for my non- vegan mothers group and it was a hit. Thank you! X

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  21. 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!

  22. 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…

  23. 4 stars
    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?

    • 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!

  24. 5 stars
    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.

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

  25. 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!

  26. 4 stars
    I tripled this recipe to make a 12″ x 18″ sheet cake for an event. It was a big hit. Thanks for sharing this!

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  28. 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

  29. 4 stars
    Just made cupcakes using your recipe!!! They were so good! None of the bitter taste most my free from cakes have. A dessert for everyone, people didn’t realise it was an allergy cake. They were so moist.

    Made 30 cupcakes baked for 18 minutes.

    Thanks for this xxx

  30. 5 stars
    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!!

  31. 5 stars
    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.

  32. So much yes! I wanted a vegan cake for hubs birthday and this was perfect. I followed the directions exactly as written except for using all-purpose flour instead of GF, and used a simple “buttercream style” frosting as cream cheese flavor is not my thing. We all loved it! Thank you for an amazing recipe that will definitely be used again.

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  34. 5 stars
    LOVE LOVE LOVE I made these into cupcakes and they were amazing. better than any regular Carrot cake I have ever tried. used chia seeds and they were really well… Thank you SO much for sharing.. xo

  35. 5 stars
    Absolutely LOVED this recipe! We made it for our wedding anniversary (had non-GF or Vegan carrot cake on our wedding day) and couldn’t believe how delicious it was! We substituted ⅓ of the oil for a small ?4oz can of crushed pineapple which I highly recommend. Can’t wait to make it again! Already sharing the recipe! Thank you

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  38. 5 stars
    This is absolutely AMAZING! My husband who is not even vegetarian, and a carrot cake lover, loved it! Thank you for sharing :)

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  40. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I made this for my gluten free boss. Icing was superb! Cake was a touch oily, but I’m sure this could easily be fixed by reducing the oil portion. Regardless, this cake is amazing :)

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  43. This looks incredible!! So excited to try it! If I were to make cupcakes instead of a full cake, would there be any modifications?

  44. Could I use bananas instead of chia/flax seeds? If so, how much bananas will I need?

  45. 5 stars
    Carrot cake has always been one of my favorites and I have a recipe I’ve used for years, only this week I had a vegan friend visiting and wanted to find a variation. I came across yours, wow! I think it might now become my standard recipe :)

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  47. Can the carrot cake be frozen? I would like to make it well in advance of a large celebration we are hosting.

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  49. 5 stars
    I made this and it was excellent

  50. 5 stars
    Let me first just say, not only are the cake and icing absolutely delicious, but I can testify that anyone can do it! I am dairy-free, and my mom is dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and it is HARD to find good desserts that meet all those requirements AND taste good. I am over 30, and I had never baked a caked from scratch (funny, I know), but my daughter was turning one, so I wanted something special, so I thought I would give this a try. And, it turned out WONDERFUL! I would highly recommend this cake and the icing (the icing is heavenly – I plan to make stuffed strawberries with the leftovers) to anyone for any occasion! It is THE BEST!!