Vegan Carrot Cake

I make this vegan carrot cake recipe for Jack's birthday each year. Moist, cinnamon-spiced, and slathered in frosting, it's perfect for celebrations.

Vegan Carrot Cake

This vegan carrot cake recipe is a riff on my mom’s traditional recipe. That cake is Jack’s all-time favorite dessert, so she makes it whenever she comes to visit. Then, I make it again for Jack’s birthday. This year, instead of making her recipe as written, I adapted it to make a vegan carrot cake instead!

My mom’s recipe calls for applesauce, which makes her cake super moist and light. Using applesauce, you can actually veganize carrot cake relatively easily. Along with the shredded carrots, it adds enough moisture to eliminate the need for flax eggs or other unconventional ingredients. As a result, the cake batter comes together with pantry ingredients like all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, sugar, and melted coconut oil.

The results are fantastic. The cake is moist, tender, and filled with warm, spiced flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Enjoy it on its own, or take it to the next level by slathering it in rich, creamy vegan frosting. Even Jack – a total carrot cake traditionalist – fell for this vegan carrot cake recipe. I think you’ll love it too!

Vegan cream cheese frosting ingredients Vegan cream cheese frosting

Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe Tips

  • Grate your carrots finely. Finely grated carrots meld seamlessly into the cake, while larger pieces create a chunkier, less uniform texture. For tender, cohesive cake slices, grate the carrots on the small holes of a box grater or on the smallest setting of the grating attachment on your food processor.
  • Don’t overmix! This rule applies to baked goods across the board. Mix your batter until just combined – and not any longer – or your cake will be dense.
  • Let the cake cool completely before you frost it. The hardest part! Make sure your cake is at room temperature before you slather on the frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt.

Vegan carrot cake recipe

Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe Variations

  • Let’s talk frosting. The frosting recipe below is a cream cheese-like blend of macadamia nuts, cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, and almond milk. Instead of using powdered sugar, I sweeten it naturally with maple syrup. I love this frosting, but you do need a high-speed blender to get it really smooth and creamy. If you don’t have one, or if you prefer a more traditional vegan cream cheese frosting, find one here.
  • Or skip the frosting! This vegan carrot cake is delicious plain. We also love it with a dollop of coconut whipped cream.
  • Add a mix-in. If you like your cake with raisins, chopped walnuts, or pecans, gently fold 1/2 cup into the cake batter when you add the carrots.
  • Or sprinkle something on top. Sprinkle the frosted cake with chopped toasted pecans or walnuts for crunch, or use shredded coconut for extra warm, buttery flavor. Yum!

Vegan carrot cake slices

More Favorite Vegan Desserts

If you love this vegan carrot cake recipe, try one of these vegan treats next:

Then, check out this post for 30+ vegan dessert recipes!

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Vegan Carrot Cake

rate this recipe:
4.85 from 175 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves 12
The BEST vegan carrot cake recipe! Applesauce makes it super moist, and cinnamon and nutmeg give it a delicious spiced flavor.

Ingredients

For the Cake

Frosting**

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, sugar, and oil.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the carrots.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
  • Make the frosting: In a high-speed blender, place the macadamia nuts, cashews, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until very smooth, for 1 to 2 minutes or more, scraping down the sides occasionally. You can add an extra tablespoon of almond milk if necessary to get your blade moving.
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes before spreading. (It will firm up a bit).
  • Store frosted cake in the fridge.

Notes

*Make sure your baking powder is fresh in order for the cake to rise (since there aren't eggs in the recipe). If your baking powder has been in the back of your pantry for too long it may be less effective.
**Soak your cashew and macadamia nuts for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight, then drain and rinse before using. I recommend using a very high speed blender (vitamix, blendtec, or similar). For a more traditional frosting, make this vegan frosting recipe with vegan butter and vegan cream cheese.

665 comments

4.85 from 175 votes (42 ratings without comment)

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  1. Shelly Harding
    05.31.2024

    I have made this recipe as vegan or using milk non vegan, it’s the best and only recipe I use. If I don’t make vegan often can I just use more apple sauce or water? to replace the almond milk? When I make vegan?
    As when I use almond milk I seem to waste the rest of carton as I don’t use it. And in this trying expensive grocery time….what is best?
    Thanks. And I honestly can say this is my now go to carrot cake just with vegan or if I use skim milk powder to make milk…
    So replacement for the almond milk….bit more apple sauce mixed with water?
    Thanks so much

  2. Mags
    04.29.2024

    Looks great. I’m wondering how to make the apple sauce. Do you just pure apple?

  3. Chi
    04.17.2024

    Hi! What could I use instead of applesauce? Could I use Greek or normal yogurt or banana purée?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.20.2024

      Hi Chi, I think either of those substitutions would work fine.

  4. Laura O.
    04.11.2024

    Is this refined or unrefined coconut oil? I could see where you might want some coconut flavor in this recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.20.2024

      Hi Laura, either is fine in this recipe.

  5. Lizza
    03.31.2024

    So excited to try this today! If gluten free, do you think an almond flour or oat flour might work? Would it be a 1:1 swap?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      04.05.2024

      Hi Lizza, sorry I’m getting to this late—I hope the cake came out well! Generally, I’d recommend replacing wheat flour with a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend instead of oat or almond flour.

  6. Estrella
    03.30.2024

    This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering if it’s okay to just use all purpose flour, since that’s al I have at the moment.

  7. Simon
    03.03.2024

    Your recipe looks great! But I’m unable to use it as it lists everything in cups, so having to look elsewhere. Please please also include a standard, universal, measurement like grams, for everyone not in USA, that uses regular scales. Please.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      03.08.2024

      Hi Simon, thanks for your feedback! Great suggestion.

  8. George
    02.09.2024

    5 stars
    It is my all time favorite vegan carrot cake recipe, thanks for sharing ❤️
    Works rather well with sweet potatoes too

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      02.09.2024

      Hi George, I’m so glad you love the carrot cake! Great idea to try the recipe with sweet potatoes.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.