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”

  1. 5 stars
    Can I make this with the real eggs?

  2. Hello 😊 This cake looks absolutely amazing! I am out of brown sugar though. Can I substitute it for an extra cup of granulated sugar?

  3. 5 stars
    As carrot cakes go, this one will be on top of the list of any carrot cake collection. Thanks for sharing a terrific, working recipe. I prefer to use weights in baking, more reliable than generic cups etc. Happy Baking

  4. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! Where do I even begin? I just made this for Easter lunch for our family gathering. My brother’s favorite cake is carrot cake and I can’t remember the last time carrot cake was on the table in our parents house. Because of that, I really wanted to make him one and Easter was our next family get together. My sister, brother in law and niece are vegan/gluten free, and my mom can’t have dairy. I’ve been really testing my skills trying to find yummy, varying diet friendly recipes for the entire family and came across this recipe. Y’all, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and make this cake for them. Zero exaggeration, best carrot cake I’ve had and in no way could you tell it was vegan and gluten free. It tasted gourmet and was so moist and had the perfect balance between flavors. The cake was devoured and is happily and peacefully resting in the stomachs of my entire family.
    I followed a suggestion left by another commenter about replacing part of the oil with pineapple and it worked perfectly.
    It was so easy to make too, which being a mom of three little ones, that’s an extra major bonus for me in my book.

  5. I am wheat intolerant but not vegan. I made this last week, following the cake recipe exactly and it turned out beautifully on the inside, but kind of rubbery around the edges. It may be the GF flour mix that I used, possibly absorbed too much of the liquid. So I added 2 eggs and a 400g can of crushed pineapple second time around and WOW amazing cake! Will keep this one on board, thanks for the great recipe.

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  8. 5 stars
    Swapped out the flour for 1.5 cups of almond flour and 1 cup of coconut flour. Additional baking powder 2 teaspoons. Made a moist cake, really yummy. Had to cook for about 1 hour.

  9. 4 stars
    Made this cake for my lil sis’ birthday 🎂 it really came out great. Wish it had less oil. Do you think applesauce will work as replacement?
    Also, this has soooo much sugar. The cake has 2 cups and the icing has 8??? 😩 Have you tried this with less sugar?
    Quick note, recipe references a 13 x 19 pan and later it lists it as 13 x 9. Error? I used the latter.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. First carrot cake recipe I can enjoy 😉 as our household is: Gluten free, Dairy free, egg free, Soy free and almond free, and it is sooo hard to find delicious and nutritious desserts!

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  11. 5 stars
    Simply. Thank you!
    Nobody believed it was vegan. The icing tasted like cream cheese, without all the fat and calories.
    It was moist and had a medium/heavy texture. :)

  12. Omg the carrot cake looks amazing! I’m going to make it but could I use self raising gluten free flour instead?

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  14. 5 stars
    I used apple sauce in place of the oil for the cake. Got rave reviews!!
    (3/4 cup apple sauce in place of 3/4 cup oil)

  15. I’ve made this cake several times now. It always turns out perfect. I don’t like really sweet things so I substituted coconut sugar for the granulated sugar and only used a half cup of blended oil, avocado, safflower and coconut. Perfection! No one can believe it’s vegan. Thanks.

  16. 5 stars
    I’ll start by saying this recipe is fantastic! My niece has Celiac disease and both she and her mom also can’t have dairy, so whenever we have plans to get together, I always searching for recipes to try that are safe for them to eat. Because I didn’t need it to be vegan, I used 4 real eggs instead of making flax eggs. I always use Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine when I need dairy-free “butter” and easy to find. I didn’t tell my sister-in-law what I was bringing to their house, and she was so excited because she hadn’t had carrot cake in a very long time. She was even more excited (and so was I) after we started eating it because it was so good, and you truly couldn’t tell it was gluten-free and dairy-free. The frosting doesn’t taste exactly like cream cheese frosting, but it’s pretty darn close and is really tasty. Everyone loved it. My niece had never had carrot cake before and she thought it was really good. This was definitely a winner that I will be keeping on rotation! Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic recipe!

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  18. 5 stars
    My husband is vegan so I am always looking for something he can eat and like. This recipe is great–the cake us really moist and delicious, but I have to believe there is a typo in the frosting measurements…8 CUPS of powdered sugar????? 3 sticks of margarine??? I halved both and it was still really sweet (and I have a sweet tooth). I can’t believe no one has mentioned this. 8 cups of powdered sugar–I just can’t believe that is right.

  19. So moist and delicious! Thank you for an amazing recipe

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  21. Utter perefection. My sister was the first of the two of us to go fully vegan and I was thrilled I could support her decision and show to the rest of the family how easy and YUMMY vegan foods can be. This was the most amazing cake and everyone loved it, the perfect cake for the perfect sweet 16 birthday party:)
    I definitely recommend it.

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  23. 5 stars
    I combined my paleo flours: 2 c. Almond, 2/3 c. Cassava, 2/3 c. Coconut, and 1/3 c Tapioca flours. Out of this I removed 2 and 1/2 c. to follow the recipe. I add chopped pecans and chopped figs. I added also 1/4 tsp. crushed Cardamon seeds. I also used the flax eggs in place of farm eggs for longer shelf life for travelling this Easter. I also baked this in 2 small (5-6 inch) cake pans for one hour at 325°F. I plan to make the df icing with cashew and df cream cheez. Thank you for your help. The kitchen smells amazing!

  24. This cake was delicious! I made a “test” cake to see how it would turn out before making it for an event. My neighbors were loving the fresh cake and could not tell there was any difference between this and one with all the gluten/dairy. The frosting recipe does make a LOT. I used about 6 cups of sugar and 2 sticks of vegan butter and it was plenty. I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!

  25. For the frosting what can I use besides apple cider vinegar I only have regular vinegar right now

  26. 5 stars
    I have made this cake once before, using real eggs, and it came out amazing (and I thought I had left a review already, but I couldn’t find it). I just made it again, exactly as written, and it’s once again amazing. I did cupcakes this time; it made exactly 24 cupcakes (filled 3/4 full) and I made a half-batch of the frosting and it was exactly the right amount. I was admittedly very nervous about the “flax eggs” because the mixture didn’t seem very egg-like in consistency at all, even after being in the fridge pretty much all day until I got around to making the batter. They must have been okay, though, because the cake came out perfectly. This is seriously awesome carrot cake and I love that I can make it safe-to-eat for certain family members and friends who have food allergies and Celiac disease.

  27. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Goodness. I just made this cake for Easter and it was fantastic!! Thank you for such a fabulous recipe. The only tweaks I made were adding in some xanthan gum because Bob’s doesn’t have any in it, using “neat egg” (basically the same as milled flax seed), and a different frosting recipe. The cake was moist and so delicious! Keeping this for the future, would highly recommend!

  28. 5 stars
    So awesome every time. Dense .and moist

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  33. 5 stars
    Best carrot cake ever! I used almond flour and I didn’t have flax seeds. Also ran out of brown sugar so I used apple juice and molasses so I used one less wet ingredient (egg). The frosting is delicious. I didn’t have butter so. Used coconut oil instead. The hint of citrus makes the whole cake come together. Oh and I completely forgot to add salt. But even with all those mistakes, it is still amazing. When I do another grocery run, I’ll be able to buy all the right ingredients… but for now…. I’ll give it five yummy stars

  34. Hi! I’m wondering what kind of dairy free butter you used for the icing?

  35. 4 stars
    I made this frosting to go with GSO’s regular carrot cake, and it was by far the best carrot cake I’ve ever made. But I would definitely only use about 3 c. of powdered sugar for the frosting, not 8 c. as in the recipe. With 3 cups it was still veeeery sweet. And yes, it does taste like cream cheese frosting!

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  37. 4 stars
    •coconut sugar for granulated sugar
    •applesauce for eggs (1/4 for each egg)
    Came out great !
    Also added a little maple syrup :)
    Thanks for the recipe !

  38. 5 stars
    Just made this cake for an event where there was a challenging group of attendees. We had allergies including – gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs, and soy. And just to add to the complexity we also had some vegans. When I found your cake I was pretty happy. It fit the bill and totally delivered on taste and presentation. The vegan cream cheese frosting is amazing! That recipe is going in my book. It can be reproduced from pantry items and who can tell it from real/traditional cream cheese icing? . Thank you Ali.

  39. This cake is a repeat request at our house! It’s SO good and hits all the marks. I’m curious about adding raisins? How much would I add, maybe a 1/2 cup would be enough just folded into the batter before pouring into pans?


  40. Great recipe!

  41. So I’ve made this multiple times and LOVE it. Tonight when I made it, the cake BOILED. I’m so sad. Any advice?

  42. Thank you for a great recipe. Made this Christmas morning and my family really enjoyed it and said I should make it again. This is the first carrot cake I have had since being diagnosed with food allergies and I would never know it was gluten free and vegan.

  43. sounds so delicious. What temp and time to bake do you recommend for cupcakes?

  44. This cake is truly delicious and I’m always asked to make it for someone’s birthday!

  45. Absolutely loved this recipe the first time I made it!!!! I followed it exactly for the cake but made my own recipe of vegan cream cheese frosting. Will this recipe work ok for cupcakes?


  46. AMAZING!!! I have been GF Celiac for 12 years and DF/EF for 3.5 years… I have also been a baker for 30+ years, and have 2 teens that have had severe food allergies their whole lives. I halved the recipe and made cupcakes… It made 12 perfectly moist, decadent, non gummy, absolutely delightful allergy free cupcakes ever!!!… And OMG’sh… That mock cream cheese buttercream is TO DIE FOR!! My picky allergy free eaters devoured the all of them in one sitting!! Thank you so much for sharing… And to Americas test kitchen for their innovative research into finds like this. Allergy free baking that tastes pallitable is a rare find… This was divine! I will have to check their book out. 😘

  47. Absolutely delicious!

  48. This cake is incredible! I have been making it for a couple years now (apologies I am just now writing a comment!). My 3 year old daughter has significant food allergies to wheat, egg, dairy and peanut … and now an intolerance to nightshades. I LOVE to bake. I grew up baking …and cooking… with my family. Learning to cook and bake again is like learning to walk for the first time. All new ingredients, new methods, substitutions, and … critics; who have been eating the “the other way” for decades. Any who, this cake was one of the first cakes I made – absolutely delicious! Over time I have changed it up a bit. Couple things I love to do is add applesauce (1/4 cup, and reduce veg oil to 1/2 c), add smashed pineapple (drained – 1/2 cup) and 3/4 c raisins. Just thought I’d share! This recipe doesn’t need a change… but I can’t help it – it’s the baker in me 🙃😊

  49. I don’t normally rate things online, but this recipe really saved my (vegan) bacon. The daughter was turning 5 and asked for a carrot cake. Muggins here messed up ordering one and had to try and make one.

    Followed the recipe exactly (although used less icing) and had to use a loaf tin. Reduced the oven temperature so much that it to 2 hours to bake 😂, but it turned out great. She said it was amazing and was incredibly happy.

    Thank you!

  50. Okay, so…this cake is INSANELY good. I set out to make a really good carrot cake after a heated discussion in our household about whether or not carrot cake is an acceptable “all time favourite cake” flavour. I was on team NO, initially, but I thought it only fair after making a solid carrot cake first. WOW– I have joined the other team now! In fact, at this moment, carrot cake might be MY favourite cake flavour. Thank you for this incredible recipe that is so allergen friendly and delicious!

    I made some substitutions and it still turned out perfect:
    -halved the recipe (one 8″ layer cake with one layer of frosting only- baked for ~26 minutes)
    -nearly halved the sugar amount too! I did 1/4 heaping cup coconut sugar in place of brown sugar, and about 3 tbsp cane sugar and 2tbsp monkfruit/erythritol blend in place of the white sugar. I tasted the batter as I went and found this to be a desirable level of sweetness for me (since a rich frosting would be added!)
    -instead of 1/4 cup + 2tbsp of oil needed for the amount I was making, I did 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup crushed pineapple with juices and all
    -as for frosting: I made 1/4 of the recipe, but did 1.5 cups sugar instead of 2 (ran out) and it was perfect for us!
    -I also used Bob’s GF AP baking flour (red bag) and loved it!!

    I can’t wait for another occasion to make this heavenly cake again!!!