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!
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.
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
- Ground cinnamon
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Baking soda
- Vegetable oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Vanilla extract
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.
- Toast the Walnuts — It only takes a few minutes, but toasting the walnuts adds depth of flavor
- Combine Dry Ingredients — Add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices to a mixing bowl
- Shred Carrots — I prefer using a food processor to shred the carrots, but a box grater works too
- Combine Wet Ingredients — In a separate bowl, add the vegetable oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar, then add the shredded carrots
- Make Cake Batter — Pour the carrot mixture in with the flour mixture and stir it all together
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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:
- The edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan
- If you gently touch the center of the cake it springs back
- A tester inserted in the center comes back clean or with only a few crumbs
- 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.
- 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!
Vegan Carrot Cake
- 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.
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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.