Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe with Vegan Frosting

The best vegan carrot cake recipe is creamy, delicious, and topped with a delicious, dairy free vegan cream cheese frosting. Bake this easy layered cake recipe complete with chopped walnuts, cinnamon spice and the ultimate tangy cream cheese carrot cake frosting today! Make this easy cake recipe with pineapple or transform it into vegan carrot cupcakes.

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!

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.

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.

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

It’s so delicious, you might even want to share it with friends. While you’re thinking about easy vegan cake desserts, why not check out my Vegan Coconut Cake recipe. Or how about my Easy Vegan Vanilla Cake recipe, otherwise known as a vegan white cake. It’s all so good!

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.

We don’t serve spinach in a cake. Right? So what’s the deal with carrots?

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

There are a few crossover veggies that have found their way into desserts, including carrots and sweet potatoes, and obviously pumpkin. Do you see anything in common there? They’re all orange!

Can we call it revenge of the orange vegetable?

I bet you’re already one step ahead of me and thinking about the zucchini which has been used in a cake here or there. I might have even created a Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake myself. 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.

How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake

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

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

Next, toast the walnuts on a baking sheeting the preheated oven. Stir in half of the toasted walnuts to the flour mixture. Why toast walnuts if they’re going to be baked in the cake anyway? Great question!

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 your carrot cake recipe!

In fact, I love carrots in desserts so much, I even made these Vegan Carrot Cookies!

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

In a small bowl combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla.

Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots. Add this to the vegetable oil mixture and stir to combine before adding to the flour mixture. Stir together and then pour the batter into your prepared cake pans and bake.

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

Carrot Cake Frosting

A vegan cake frosting is easy to make using vegan butter such as Earth Balance. To make the vegan cream cheese icing, combine the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until creamy. Add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time and continue beating until light and fluffy.

When it comes to vegan frosting for carrot cake, you do have options! For example, to make the vegan carrot cake frosting without cream cheese, simply leave out the vegan cream cheese. You can substitute 1/4 cup of coconut oil if you’d like, or substitute a simple vegan buttercream vanilla frosting.

Note: The vegan cream cheese frosting in the recipe below is easy to make, however, vegan cream cheese creates a thinner consistency for the frosting. For a thicker consistency, try making my best vegan cream cheese frosting recipe!

Can you make this carrot cake gluten-free?

Healthy vegan carrot cake recipes are really just spice cakes in disguise. All you have to do is make a spice cake batter and add shredded carrots. Voila. You’ve got a carrot cake. That means it’s easy to transform this into a vegan gluten free carrot cake recipe by using gluten free flour in place of the all-purpose flour.

How many calories are in vegan carrot cake?

Assuming you have a plate of one slice of frosted vegan carrot cake (out of 14 slices), the estimated calories per serving is 461 calories. Of course, this depends on how much of the vegan cream cheese frosting you add. If you want to reduce the calories, make the slices smaller or use less frosting.

How do you know when carrot cake is done?

It’s easy to tell when your egg free carrot cake is done — it’s a similar process to determining if any cake is done. I look for three main signals: 1) the edges of the cake are pulling away from the sides of the pan, 2) if you gently touch the center of the cake it springs back, and 3) a tester inserted in the center comes back clean or with only a few crumbs.

Most people prefer to use toothpicks as a tester to insert into the center of a baked cake. But what do you do if you don’t have a toothpick? Or, what if you’re like me and you hate touching raw wood? I oftentimes will use a piece of raw spaghetti. It works great!

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I recently turned this recipe into cupcakes, although I called them vegan carrot cake muffins. There’s a lot of crossover between muffins and cupcakes, especially when you’ve got frosting involved.

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 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.

Either way, be sure to top it with a dairy free carrot cake frosting.

Expert Tips

Here are some tips and tricks to making this recipe for vegan carrot cake perfect every time:

  • Add 1/2 cup of dried fruit, like raisins for a variation
  • For something different, add 1/4 cup of coconut shreds to the cake batter
  • I use protein powder in this batter, but if you don’t have it or don’t want to use it, sub in 1/3 cup almond flour or meal
  • 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 to be faster, easier, and provides great results
  • My favorite vegan cream cheese is Tofutti’s but Follow Your Heart has a good one too
  • This vegan cake is made with no eggs because it’s using the gluten from the flour to provide structure
  • Make a gluten free vegan carrot cake recipe by substituting gluten free baking flour for all-purpose flour in this recipe. I love using Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free flour for my gf carrot cake
  • For something different, add 1/4 cup crushed pineapple to the batter
  • You could also try adding a little lemon zest to the batter or the icing
  • Be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.

You’ll love that this carrot cake is moist, sweet, rich and flavorful. You’ll love even more that it’s topped with a vegan cream cheese frosting.

I sprinkled the top with chopped walnuts for a beautiful presentation.

Simple Cake Recipes

This is a simple vegan carrot cake recipe that I based off of my Wacky Cake. A wacky cake is basically a simple vegan sponge cake recipe made without eggs. It uses baking soda combined with apple cider vinegar to give the cake a nice rise.

Some other delicious vegan cake recipes:

Have a birthday coming up? Surprise someone you love with this delicious vegan carrot cake with vegan carrot cake icing!

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!

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: 461kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vanilla plant-based protein powder*
  • 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

  • 8 ounce container vegan cream cheese (see note)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 2 – 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, vanilla protein powder, 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, until you reach a desired consistency, which should be spreadable but thick.
  • 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.

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.
If you don’t have protein powder, substitute almond 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 461 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Sodium 421mg18%
Potassium 142mg4%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 29g32%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 3055IU61%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 2.2mg12%
* 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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54 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!!

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