Vegan Carrot Cake

You’ll love this vegan carrot cake recipe for the moist cake and creamy, delicious vegan cream cheese frosting on top. Bake this layered cake 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 all-in on an indulgent dessert, this easy vegan carrot cake should be your go-to dessert.

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) distribute the flavor and texture of carrots throughout this moist cake

In fact, I think homemade always makes the best vegan carrot cake ever.

A slice of Vegan Carrot Cake sits in front of the rest of the cake.

Some favorite zucchini dessert recipes include this Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake. And 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.

What You Need

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:

  • Flour — I use all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour (different than whole wheat flour), or even a high-quality gluten-free baking 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

Many recipes for vegan carrot cakes offer complicated processes. You won’t find that here today. I created an easy-as-possible process to make the most delicious vegan carrot cake imaginable.

  1. Toast the Walnuts — It only takes a few minutes, but toasting the walnuts adds depth of flavor
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients — Add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices to a mixing bowl
  3. Shred Carrots — I prefer using a food processor to shred the carrots, but a box grater works too
  4. Combine Wet Ingredients — In a separate bowl, add the vegetable oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar, then add the shredded carrots
  5. Make Cake Batter — Pour the carrot mixture in with the flour mixture and stir it all together
  6. Bake — Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of your pan or pans)

These step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos are a great visual guide to making your own vegan carrot cake!

Step One: Toast Walnuts

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.

Marly’s Tips

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.

Step Two: Combine Dry Ingredients

Stir together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

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

Step Three: Pulse Carrots in a Food Processor

Add the chopped carrots to a food processor bowl and process in short bursts to shred the carrots. If you don’t have a food processor, use a grater to shred the carrots.

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

Either way, be sure to leave some texture to the carrots — we’re not after carrot soup here!

Step Four: Combine Wet Ingredients

Add the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla to the shredded carrots. Pulse this a few times in short bursts to combine it all together.

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

Step Five: Make Cake Batter & Bake

Pour the carrot mixture in with the flour mixture and stir until combined. Make sure there aren’t any pockets of flour throughout the batter.

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

Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Insert a tester in the center of the cake. It should come out clean, indicating the cake is done.

Marly’s Tips

Before combining wet and dry ingredients, be sure to have your pans prepared and the oven pre-heated.

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!

Frosting Options

A standard carrot cake is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Making a vegan cream 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 solution is to use less vegan cream cheese, using just enough to add the tangy 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 a healthy frosting option.

My Amazon Picks for this Recipe

Frequently-Asked Questions

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—carrots are vegetables. However, 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 replacer 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.

Can you make a carrot cake gluten-free?

A carrot cake is really just a spice cake in disguise. That means it’s easy to make it 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?

Look for three indicators that 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

Baking Options

  • Carrot cake bread — bake it in a loaf pan and cook it longer, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Carrot cake cupcakes — distribute the cake batter into muffin pan compartments (either use papers or spray with vegetable cooking spray) and bake 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Make carrot cake sheet cake — Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for around 40 minutes.

Either of these variations are even better with frosting on top.

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

  • Some people prefer hand grating the carrots but I’ve found using a food processor is faster and provides great results
  • Try adding 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 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.

More Carrot Cake Favorites

Here are some other delicious carrot recipes:

I hope you love this vegan carrot cake as much as we do!

a slice of vegan Carrot Cake with a fork holding a bite of carrot cake next to it.
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
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 550kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 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
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Easy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ 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.*
  • 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.
  • Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Stir half of the walnuts into the flour mixture. Set aside.
  • Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots. Add the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla to the food processor and pulse in quick bursts to combine.
  • Pour the carrot mixture in with the flour mixture. Stir to combine, making sure there are no clumps of flour throughout the batter.
  • 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

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

You can use a 9×13 pan if you prefer that instead of a layered cake. If so, you’ll need to bake the cake in a 9×13 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 9×13 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.

This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.

Enjoy!

60 Responses to Vegan Carrot Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLetty/ Letty's Kitchen Reply

    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.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyVictoria Mensah Reply

    Do I have to use the vanilla protein powder? And if so, can I substitute it?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKris Adair Reply

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

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCathy Reply

    What size round pans,8,9,or10″.thankyou

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Cathy. I use either an 8″ or 9″ cake pan. Hope you love this cake!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMaria Reply

    Hi Marly. I’m a T1 Diabetic. Can i subsitute regular sugar with splenda, Stevia etc.?

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJulie Reply

    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.

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTereza Reply

    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!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      So glad you loved this vegan carrot cake recipe…for breakfast too!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJasmin | VeeatCookBake Reply

    Oh yum. What an awesome idea to use pumpkin pie spice. Can imagine it tastes delish. 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      So glad you loved the spices in this vegan carrot cake, Jasmin!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLeona Reply

    I love a good carrot cake. It’s one of my favorites. I like your dairy free version.

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyHolly Reply

    This sounds amazing! Is there a particular vegan protein powder you prefer for this cake?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  11. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLinda from Veganosity Reply

    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. 😉

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Linda! Vegan carrot cake recipes are the best!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTara

      Do you have the recipe for a thicker version of this ? I have found tofutti cream cheese to be so soft and not hold up well for cream cheese icing . Any tips ?!?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Tara. I agree with you that store-bought vegan cream cheese can result in a frosting that’s very thin. I created this alternative vegan cream cheese frosting that holds up better.

  12. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCadry Reply

    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. 😉

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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! 🙂

  13. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAlena @ nutriciously Reply

    Hi Marly, what a delicious carrot cake recipe! I love treats that hide a few veggies, especially great for picky eaters 🙂 This looks super moist and the frosting is my favorite part of it!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  14. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLuna Reply

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

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I have had great luck using almond flour. It makes a very moist vegan carrot cake!

  15. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLuna Reply

    Could I substitute the protein powder with pofiber..?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I recommend using almond flour. I hope this is helpful!

  16. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKat Reply

    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!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  17. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMikael Reply

    Have you ever used slippery elm bark as an egg replacer.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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.

  18. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnn Reply

    Can I make carrot cake cupcakes with this recipe? What would you change?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  19. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMadison Reply

    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!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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! 🙂

  20. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCece Reply

    Can’t wait to try ur recipes!can I leave out the walnuts??? Dealing with allergies to all nuts, & coconut!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  21. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnisa Reply

    Hi Marly, do you know how well this cake freezes? Thanks

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  22. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLeslie R Reply

    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!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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! 🙂

  23. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyStephanie Reply

    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.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

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

  24. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPam Clark Reply

    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

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  25. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJenny Trujillo Reply

    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.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  26. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMD Reply

    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:)

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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!

  27. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarbara Reply

    Hi Can I make this the day before and then refrigerate until serving?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      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.

  28. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShawna Williams Reply

    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!!

  29. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTrès Reply

    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!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

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

  30. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyIan Reply

    Hi Marley — I made this recipe as two 8″ square cakes and the results were amazing…light and fluffy and not oily or dense. I had tried over and over to veganize my mom’s traditional carrot cake recipe with disappointing results. I’m so glad to add your recipe to my repertoire. Every recipe I’ve made from your site has turned out wonderfully!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Ian, I’m so glad to hear this recipe worked for you and others too! Makes me happy!

  31. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyVegan Baker Reply

    I would like to try this recipe and read the comments and ingredients. Has the protein powder been removed from the recipe?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Yes, the original recipe included protein powder but it was a difficult ingredient for some people to find so the recipe was adapted to make it more accessible for everyone. Besides, I like that the finished recipe has fewer ingredients!

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