Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe with Vegan Frosting

You’ll love this vegan carrot cake recipe for the moist cake and creamy, delicious vegan cream cheese frosting on top. Bake this easy layered cake recipe complete with chopped walnuts, cinnamon spice and the ultimate tangy cream cheese carrot cake frosting today!

Be sure to try some carrot cake cookies or even some carrot muffins too!

A slice of carrot cake sits on its side on a plate with a fork in front of it.

It’s time for a little decadence, don’t you think? But if you’re going to go for an indulgent dessert, I think you should go all in. That’s why today I’m sharing this easy Vegan Carrot Cake recipe.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Adding pumpkin pie spices creates the perfect flavors for this spiced cake
  • Toasting the walnuts boosts the walnut flavor in the cake and the garnish too
  • Finely chopped carrots (via a food processor), distributes the flavor and texture of carrots throughout this moist, cake.

In fact, I think homemade is the best vegan carrot cake ever!

A slice of Vegan Carrot Cake sits in front of the rest of the cake.
It’s easy to make this delicious carrot cake vegan!

Is carrot cake vegan?

The average store-bought carrot cake is not vegan. That’s because they’re usually made with dairy and eggs. Of course, you can make your own homemade vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting.

Are carrots really in carrot cake?

The short answer is, yes, there are carrots in carrot cake. And I never really understood the idea of it. Carrots in a cake? It doesn’t make sense. I mean, carrots are vegetables. There are a few crossover veggies that have found their way into desserts, including carrots, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.

What can I use instead of eggs in carrot cake?

The great news is you don’t need to add any egg replacers to make a delicious carrot cake. The flour combined with carrots and other ingredients in this recipe creates sufficient structure for both binding and moisture.

Freshly ground carrots are in the bowl of a food processor.

Some favorite zucchini dessert recipes include this Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake. And the avocado has been used in desserts as well, such as Chocolate Avocado Cake.

So, that means it’s time to give up my resistance to carrots in a cake. Oh, in fact, I already have.

Vegan Carrot Cake Ingredients

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this yummy vegan carrot cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Baking soda
  • Walnuts
  • Vegetable oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Carrots.

How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time!

I created an easy-as-possible process to make this eggless dairy free carrot cake. It begins by adding dry ingredients — flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and toasted walnuts — in a bowl.

The dry ingredients for this cake are in a white mixing bowl.

I love this response on why to toast walnuts before baking. Basically, the walnuts are insulated by all the other cake ingredients. Toasted walnuts add a great touch to a carrot cake.

The wet ingredients for this healthy carrot cake recipe are in a glass mixing bowl.

In a small bowl you’ll combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla, and chopped carrots. It’s a colorful mixture!

Ingredients from a food processor are being poured into a glass bowl full of the flour ingredients.

Then stir the wet ingredients together with the flour mixture. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake.

New to Vegan Baking?

The idea of making cookies, cakes or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb! But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!

Carrot Cake Frosting Alternatives

A standard carrot cake is toped with a cream cheese frosting. Making a vegan cream cheese cake frosting is easy using vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Some vegan cream cheese products don’t set up like dairy cream cheese. My anecdote is to use less vegan cream cheese, using just enough to add some flavor.

However, if you want your vegan carrot cake frosting without cream cheese, you can substitute a simple vegan buttercream vanilla frosting. You can also check out this healthy carrot cake recipe for an alternative for a healthy frosting option.

Note: The vegan cream cheese frosting in the recipe below is easy to make, and based off my vegan cream cheese frosting recipe.

Can you make carrot cake gluten-free?

A carrot cake is really just a spice cake in disguise. That means it’s easy to make gluten free by using a 1:1 gluten free baking flour in place of the all-purpose flour.

How do you know when a cake is done?

I look for three main signals to indicate a cake is done:

  1. the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan
  2. if you gently touch the center of the cake it springs back
  3. a tester inserted in the center comes back clean or with only a few crumbs.

Carrot Cake Variations

You can make this recipe as carrot cake bread (using a loaf pan) or cupcakes. For bread, bake it in a loaf pan and cook it longer, 40 – 50 minutes.

For cupcakes, distribute the cake batter into muffin pan compartments (either use papers or spray with vegetable cooking spray) and bake between 20 – 25 minutes.

Looking down on a plate with a slice of carrot cake on it. A fork has cut into the cake and is sitting at the front of the plate.

Marly’s Tips

  • I used two 9″ inch round cake pans but you can bake this in a 9X13 cake pan instead. Be sure to bake about 10 minutes longer
  • Some people prefer hand grating the carrots but I’ve found using a food processor is faster and provides great results
  • My favorite vegan cream cheese is Tofutti’s but Follow Your Heart and Daiya are good options too
  • For something different, add any of the following to the batter:
    • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
    • 1/2 cup dried fruit, such as raisins
    • 1/4 cup coconut shreds
    • 1 – 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.

Simple Cake Recipes

Here are some other delicious vegan cake recipes:

a slice of vegan Carrot Cake with a fork holding a bite of carrot cake next to it.

I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

A slice of carrot cake sits on its side on a plate with a fork in front of it.

Vegan Carrot Cake

You’re in for a treat with this delicious layered Vegan Carrot Cake topped with an amazing Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. Every bite is dreamy!
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegan cake, vegan carrot cake
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 550kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • cups walnuts
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped carrots

Easy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Additional walnuts for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two round cake pans with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pans and spray the sides with vegetable oil.*
  • Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Place walnuts on a baking pan and toast for 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook too long because they will burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chopping. Stir half of the walnuts into the flour mixture.
  • In a smaller bowl combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots. Pour the shredded carrots into the vegetable oil mixture. Stir to combine. Pour this into the flour mixture. Stir until just combine — do not overmix.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  • In the meantime make your Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting by combining the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter in a mixing bowl. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Then add the lemon juice and beat until you get a spreadable consistency. If it's too thick, you can add a tablespoon of plant-based milk.
  • Ice the top of one of the cakes. Top with additional chopped, toasted walnuts. Place the second cake on top. Cover the top cake and sides with frosting. Garnish with chopped walnuts.

Recommended Equipment

Notes

You can use a 9X13 pan if you prefer that instead of a layered cake. If so, you’ll need to bake the cake in a 9X13 pan for about 10 minutes longer. Be sure to use a tester in the center to see if the cake is done.
To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten free baking flour.
This simple vegan cream cheese frosting is easy to make and flavorful, however, the consistency can be too thin. It works great for a 9X13 and even is fine with a layer cake. However, here’s a thicker vegan cream cheese icing recipe.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Carrot Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 550 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 11g55%
Sodium 407mg17%
Potassium 142mg4%
Carbohydrates 79g26%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 55g61%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 3363IU67%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Enjoy!

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56 Responses to Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe with Vegan Frosting

  1. I am intrigued by the addition of protein powder and wonder your logic. I recently posted a chocolate beet cake that is a riff on a carrot cake I made for years and years as a pastry chef. It does have eggs and some honey, though I gave it a vegan chocolate glaze.

    • Hi Letty. I like to add protein powder to my cake because it helps to create more structure. I’m sure you know this, but that’s one of the roles that eggs play in baking and sometimes can be lacking in vegan baking. Thanks for your comment!

    • Hi Victoria. You don’t have to use the vanilla protein powder, although I think it adds structure to the finished cake. You could try using peanut butter powder or almond flour. Let me know how it goes!

  2. I love carrot cake and have had to give it up since switching to dairy-free. This sounds amazing! Thank you Marly!

  3. Hi Marly. I make carrot cake for my husband’s birthday every year. This year I needed to make a vegan carrot cake because my son and daughter-in-law–guests at my husband’s birthday dinner–recently became vegans. I found this recipe, and it’s a winner. Every one of us decided it was just as delicious, if not more so, than past carrot cakes I’ve made. Since I had no vegan cream cheese, I made a vegan buttercream frosting, which was yummy. I’m having fun discovering wonderful recipes for vegan cooking and bringing smiles to my children’s faces. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Absolutely divine. I made this vegan carrot cake recipe yesterday evening and I´ve just had a slice for breakfast – it´s the most delicious carrot cake I´ve ever had.. and it wasn´t hard to make at all. Thank you so much for the recipe, Marly!

    • We have tried out several protein powders. I prefer the ones that aren’t loaded with sweeteners, even though I understand why they do that for flavor purposes. I typically use vanilla protein powder, but if you don’t have protein powder, you can sub peanut butter powder. It works!

  5. Vegan carrot cake is one of my favorites and yours looks so good!. I love the texture and the creamy frosting. Of course, I like to tell myself that I’m doing my body a favor when I eat it because of the carrots. 😉

  6. Looking at that gorgeous slice, I can totally understand why you needed to make a second cake for picture purposes. I bet you were disappointed that you had to eat it all over again… Darn! Haha! That’s interesting that the carrots add moisture to the cake.

    And for a non-cake related question, do you know when you’ll have another episode of the Chopped podcast up again? I really miss it! I always check to see if there’s a new episode before I go on a walk or hop onto the elliptical trainer. Just think of how much more fit I’d be with a new episode to keep me going. 😉

    • It’s so easy to make carrot cake vegan! I’m so glad you appreciate that. The Chopped Podcast is back on schedule too – so glad you love it! 🙂

    • Thanks, Alena! As far as picky eaters go, you can make this dairy free carrot cake to meet all kinds of needs – no nuts, with nuts, you name it!

  7. I don’t have any protein powder in my house, or anything like it. Can I substitute with anything or simply leave it out..?

  8. This looks amazing! I love your idea of adding protein powder to the recipe. I was reading some comments and saw that it’s use is to help replace eggs. I’ve seen flax meal used to replace eggs in other baking recipes, so I just wanted to share that with you all. Flax meal is super nutritious and vegan as well! I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

    • Thanks, Kat! Yes, I love using ground flax seeds as an egg replacers. I’ve used chia seeds as well. The protein powder is a different take on egg replacement and I like doing that, especially with some cakes where I don’t want the flavor of flax seeds to come through (or the chia seeds texture). So much to think about! Thanks again for your comment!

    • Hi Mikael. I’ve never used slippery elm bark as an egg replacer, but it certainly has a lot of health benefits and it is noted to create the same texture as combining ground flax seeds or chia seeds in water. It is expensive though, so it may not be a good cost effective egg replacer. Maybe the price will come down in time.

    • Hi Ann! Absolutely, you can transform this into vegan carrot cake cupcakes. Just put 24 cupcake liners in a muffin tin (or tins). Fill those with the batter. Then bake about 15 – 20 minutes. Hope that helps!

  9. Hi, Marly! I’m going to try this recipe out this weekend (looks very promising) and was wondering what size cake pan you used? I’m assuming 9″, but want to double check. Thank you!

    • Hi Madison. Yes, I used 9-inch round cake pans. I will add this to the notes section. Hope you love this cake. It’s a favorite of ours and we have Birthday season coming up so I’m sure I’ll be making it again soo too! 🙂

    • Hi Cece! Yes, you can leave out the walnuts. Can you have pecans? If so, that might be a good replacement? But you can make this carrot cake with no nuts at all and it will still taste great!

    • Hi Anisa! Yes, I make this cake and then slice it into individual slices. Then I freeze those on a tray and transfer to a freezer bag. It’s worked great!

  10. I’ve made this a few times and it’s absolutely amazing! Colleagues couldn’t believe it’s vegan (dunno what they expected!) and asked for the recipe (I shared the link). Thank you!

    • Hi Leslie! I’m so glad you like this recipe! And your colleagues too! I love having those go-to recipes that surprise the omnivores! 🙂

  11. Hello, I’m trying to make this recipe. I wanted to know do I put 1/3 of almond flour to replace the protein powder, or do use almond flour instead of the all purpose.

    • Hi Stephanie. If you don’t have protein powder, you can substitute it with an equal amount of almond flour. Hope that helps!

  12. I’ve made this vegan carrot cake recipe many times over the past few years for my vegan family members and friends and it has always been a favorite! Not just for the vegans but everybody loves this carrot cake. I’ve shared the recipe quite a few times

    • Hi Pam! Thank you so much for your comment. You made my day! I’m glad to see you love this recipe. It’s a favorite of mine too and I love making it for birthdays! Sending you a big ol’ virtual hug!

  13. Hello! This recipe sounds delicious. I am vegan, and I will be giving it a try later today. I will let you know how it goes, and I hope to surprise my family.

    • Hi Jenny! I’m so glad to see your note! Ah, this vegan carrot cake is one of my favorites! I get requests to make it for birthdays, but it’s wonderful this time of year too. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  14. Just made this and it tasted great. But the cake came out firm instead of soft and flakey. Any idea what may have gone wrong? This was my first cake ever:)

    • Hi MD! So glad you liked the flavor of this vegan carrot cake! Congrats on your first cake! Normally when a cake is too firm it’s a sign it was stirred too much. Or it’s possible the baking soda wasn’t fresh and therefore didn’t cause as much rise in the cake. With this recipe, it’s the combination of baking soda and vinegar that helps create that rise. You should try my Wacky Cake recipe next — it makes a great second cake!

    • Hi Barbara! Yes, absolutely. I have done that before with this vegan carrot cake. If you have room in your fridge for the entire cake, that’s great. Otherwise, you can refrigerate the cakes and then frost them the day of serving.

  15. I am not vegan so when I say this carrot cake is amazing…. this carrot cake is amazing lol! It is moist and flavorful! I used the carrot pulp from juicing instead of shredded. I toasted the walnuts and added vanilla extract to the frosting. The cake tastes much better the next day! You cant tell its vegan!!

  16. I used this with ingredients we had on hand, because I couldn’t find a recipe for a vegan cake mix for pineapple and shredded coconut. Anyways the base was great, really moist!

    • So glad you liked it Tres! Cooking with things you have on-hand is really different these days. I’m happy it worked!

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