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!


4.8 from 154 reviews

Vegan Carrot Cake

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The BEST vegan carrot cake recipe! Applesauce makes it super moist, and cinnamon and nutmeg give it a delicious spiced flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Cake:
  • 2¼ cups flour (half spelt or wheat, half all-purpose)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (*see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup almond milk or oat milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • ½ cup melted coconut or canola oil
  • 2 cups grated carrots
Frosting** (see note)
  • ½ cup raw macadamia nuts (soaked, drained and rinsed)
  • ½ cup raw cashews (soaked, drained and rinsed)
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, sugar and oil.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients.
  5. Fold in the carrots and stir until just combined.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
  7. Make the frosting: combine all frosting ingredients into a high speed blender. 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.
  8. Chill for at least 30 minutes before spreading. (It will firm up a bit).
  9. 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, use the frosting in this recipe using vegan butter and vegan cream cheese (such as Kite Hill).

609 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Alicia Behr
    05.27.2021

    I made the cake following the recipe exactly and it turned out most, springy, and perfectly spiced! I used my own icing recipe because I was too lazy to go through soaking and blending the nuts so I can’t rate that, but the cake gets five stars!

  2. Felix
    05.18.2021

    Made this in a bundt cake mold and it turned out absolutely amazing. I did need the full 40 mins but turned out awesome. Once it was cool I added the frosting on top and then I made candied pineapple and put it on top – amazing. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  3. Louise
    05.02.2021

    Hi and thanks for a beautiful recipe. Would this cake work as muffins and if so how long would you suggest for the cooking time?
    Thanx Louise

  4. Cindy Romero
    04.19.2021

    Can I make this into a loaf as well?:)

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.19.2021

      Hi Cindy, this cake is too dense and moist for a loaf – I think it would be hard to bake all the way through, so it’s best as a sheet cake. I haven’t tried it with a flax egg instead of apple sauce, so I’m not sure.

  5. Cindy Romero
    04.19.2021

    Any replacement for apple sauce ? Flax seed egg?

  6. Tassos
    04.05.2021

    Hi! Anyone could help with conversions? How many gram of flour and carrots do I need? Also is it the same for liquids eg ml for the almond milk.

  7. Trista
    04.04.2021

    I made this cake for Easter with the walnuts and brown sugar frosting, it was delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  8. Lianne byrne
    03.26.2021

    Hi wanted to make this cake for Easter & was wondering is it possible to make it into a layer cake? Would I need to double the recipe?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.26.2021

      Hi Lianne, I haven’t tried it, it’s a dense cake so I’m not sure if it would work well.

  9. Kate
    03.22.2021

    I have been making this carrot cake for years. I’m not even vegan anymore and no one in my family ever was… but it is STILL everyones favourite. I’ve never made it and not gotten asked for the recipe. It’s simply the best carrot cake ever!!!! So moist and yummy. I eat it for breakfast shamelessly.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.22.2021

      I’m glad you’ve loved it so much!

  10. amy
    03.21.2021

    the best carrot cake i’ve had. not greasy and very flavorful

  11. Vanessa
    03.19.2021

    If I wanted to split this cake into 2 cake pans to have a 2-layered cake, what size pans should I use?

  12. Natalie
    03.12.2021

    Can I make this as a carrot cake loaf in a bread pan??

  13. kendrick
    03.09.2021

    hey this was the best cake iv’e ever had!!

  14. Sarah
    03.06.2021

    Hello, thank you for sharing, I have only just discovered your recipes and I’ll certainly be back again! Quick question for the frosting: which nuts can I sub for macadamia? Can probably just double the cashews but would any others work?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.07.2021

      Hi Sarah, you can double the cashews – they’ll be the most creamy.

  15. Sonia
    02.06.2021

    Omg!!! This was so good!!!!!! Taste great on its own, and delicious with frosting!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.07.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  16. Ellen Z
    02.02.2021

    Tried this recipe and thoroughly enjoyed it, though I should have read it all the way through first. Making the oat milk was a bit of a surprise! Also my cake came out rather dense.. perhaps I stirred it too much? Really delicious, but also really thick with very little air pockets and a tight crumb.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.02.2021

      Hi Ellen, the oat milk recipe that’s linked is just an option, store bought almond milk or any plant milk is fine. What type of flours did you use and did you change anything about the recipe? It’s on the dense side, very moist.

      • Ellen Z
        02.03.2021

        I used all purpose flour and sub’d 1/2 of the cane sugar for monk fruit erythritol sugar. Perhaps that’s what did it!

  17. victoria
    01.29.2021

    can I use maple syrup?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.29.2021

      No, the batter will be too wet for this recipe.

  18. Grace
    01.21.2021

    I’m looking to make this and am wondering if you’ve tested the bake in a loaf tin or something more compact. I’m thinking a slightly lower temp with a longer bake time but was curious if you already had the temp and time for that! Thank you’

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2021

      Hi Grace – I haven’t, but this cake is very moist and dense, I’m not sure if it would bake all the way through in loaf form.

  19. Kristin
    01.20.2021

    Excited to try this recipe! Wondering if it’s possible to make as cupcakes vs a cake??

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.