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This easy vegan carrot cake recipe relies on inexpensive pantry staples for a moist, tender, warmly spiced cake loaded with carrot and walnuts, + your choice of frosting!

completed Vegan Carrot Cake on a white surface
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Moist, Tender, Delicious, Easy Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe

Having shared delicious carrot cake muffins with banana, it’s high time we shared this recipe for vegan carrot cake – now 100% banana-free. Instead, using simple pantry staples (with flax eggs), this egg-free carrot cake is tender, fluffy, moist, just sweet enough, and irresistibly delicious, loaded with carrot in every bite.

Even better, this recipe is really easy to adapt in several ways; be that baking it in a different size or shaped pan, making it refined sugar-free, using gluten-free flour, making the vegan carrot cake with pineapple, raisins, or vegan chocolate chips, and using your frosting of choice (i.e., decadent vegan cream cheese frosting or light citrus glaze).

Either way, this cake is moist, rich, delicious, loaded with texture, great for satisfying a sweet tooth, contains several beneficial micronutrients (yay for veggies in cake!), and is perfect for serving next Easter, Mother’s Day, at an afternoon tea, and basically any special occasion.

Looking for more veggie-loaded bake ideas? Check out our one-bowl zucchini bread, Zucchini mock apple pie, pumpkin cupcakes, or sweet potato brownies.

The Ingredients

ingredients for Vegan Carrot Cake on a white surface
  • Flax egg: Ground flaxseed (or chia seeds) and warm water combine into a gelatinous, binding egg replacement in this vegan carrot cake recipe.
  • Plant-based milk: Use any unsweetened dairy-free milk. E.g., soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
  • Apple cider vinegar: This combines with the plant-based milk for dairy-free ‘buttermilk.’
  • Vanilla extract: Use a natural extract for the best flavor.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour or a 50/50 blend of AP & whole wheat or spelt flour.
  • Sugar: Many recipes use brown sugar (for extra flavor, moisture, and deep color), but we’ve found regular sugar is delicious, too. You could also use less refined muscovado, coconut sugar, or date sugar.
  • Leavening agents: Baking powder and baking soda provide all the lift and fluffiness in this egg-free carrot cake recipe.
  • Spices: We love the simple warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt (to enhance all the flavors).
  • Oil: Adding a mild oil makes the most tender, moist vegan carrot cake. We recommend vegetable oil/canola oil.

To reduce the amount of oil, replace a portion with unsweetened applesauce, though the texture won’t be as tender.

  • Carrots: Use freshly shredded carrots for the best texture and flavor.
  • Walnuts: (OPTIONAL) Use raw or lightly toasted, chopped walnuts. Pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds would also work.

What Is The Best Vegan Carrot Cake Frosting?

There are several popular options for frosting carrot cake, including:

  • Vegan cream cheese frosting (Either pick up an ‘accidentally vegan’ tub of cream cheese frosting or make it with vegan cream cheese + vegan butter + powdered sugar)
  • Citrus frosting (with lemon or orange)
  • Vanilla buttercream
  • Citrus glaze (with lemon or orange)
  • Maple glaze (Combine maple syrup + powdered sugar + plant-based milk + pinch of salt)
  • Cinnamon sugar crust (Coarse sugar + cinnamon sprinkled over the batter before baking)

Recipe Variations and Add-ins

  • Spices: For a more spiced cake, add a generous pinch of ginger and/or a tiny pinch of cloves or cardamom (or mixed spice).
  • Orange zest: Add the zest of one orange/lemon for subtle, bright, citrusy flavor.
  • Dried fruit: Sprinkle up to ½ cup raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, or chopped apricots/dates. For more flavor, soak the fruit in rum/brandy first.
  • Pineapple: Make vegan carrot cake with pineapple for extra tropical flavor and moisture. Use about ½ cup crushed pineapple/pineapple tidbits, well-drained.
  • Coconut: Up to ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (great in vegan carrot pineapple cake, too!).
  • Vegan chocolate chips: Add up to ½ cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks.

How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake

  • First, preheat the oven to 375F/190C and line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Leave overhang on at least two sides.
  • Then, combine the flaxmeal and warm water in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the plant milk and apple cider vinegar and mix until it thickens. Then, stir in the vanilla extract and oil, stir, and set it aside. Also, peel and shred the carrots using the medium or fine setting on a box grater or food processor shredding disk.
  • In a large bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt) and mix well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix gently until just combined.

Be careful not to over-mix the cake batter, or the cake can come out tough/sunken. A few tiny lumps are fine.

  • Fold in the carrots and walnuts (if using) carefully, then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife inserted into the center comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs).
  • Finally, remove the cake from the oven, leave it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then let it sit on a wire cooling rack until completely cool before topping with your frosting/icing of choice. Enjoy!
completed Vegan Carrot Cake on a white surface

FAQs

Can I make it gluten-free?

To make a delicious gluten-free vegan carrot cake, replace the flour with an all-purpose gluten-free blend like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill. The cake will likely be slightly drier/denser, but it should work.

Can I make a sugar-free vegan carrot cake?

While you can easily decrease the sugar slightly for a more healthy vegan carrot cake, replacing it entirely with a sugar alternative (like erythritol or a brown sugar alternative) may affect the texture and moisture of the cake. Let us know if you try it.

Can I make a round cake, layered cake, or loaf cake?

To make a round carrot cake, use a 10-inch round cake pan for one layer. Alternatively, make a two-layer 7-inch cake or three-layer 6-inch round cake (bake for 25-30 minutes).

You could also make a vegan carrot cake loaf in a 9×5-inch loaf pan, but there might be slightly too much batter (excess could go into mini loaf tins or a muffin tray).

You’ll need to adjust the baking time based on how thin/thick the batter is in the new pan/s, using a toothpick to test for doneness.

Pro Recipe Tips

  • Measure the flour accurately: First, fluff it up in the bag with a fork. Then, use a spoon to transfer it to the measuring cup, leveling it with the back of a knife.
  • Grate the carrots finely: Use your grater’s small or medium holes for the most seamless incorporation in the batter.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: Otherwise, you can end up with dense, gummy, sunken bakes. Mix gently – a few tiny lumps are fine.
  • Be careful not to overbake: Otherwise, the cake will be dry. A toothpick inserted into the center can have a few moist crumbs but not wet batter.  
completed Vegan Carrot Cake on a white surface

Storage Instructions

Store the vegan carrot cake in an airtight container lined with paper towel at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for up to a week. It tastes even better on day two.

You can also freeze the cake, best done unfrosted, by wrapping it in plastic wrap, transferring it to a Ziplock/Stasher, and storing it for up to 3 months.

Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for several hours.

completed Vegan Carrot Cake on a white surface

More Vegan Cake Recipes

You might also enjoy these 35 must-try vegan cake recipes.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Vegan Carrot Cake

5 from 34 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Cool: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 9 pieces
This easy vegan carrot cake recipe relies on inexpensive pantry staples for a moist, tender, warmly spiced cake loaded with carrot and walnuts, + your choice of frosting!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons of flax meal
  • 5 tablespoons of warm water
  • ½ cup of plant based milk
  • ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • cup of neutral oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 cups of grated carrots
  • ½ cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 pint of store bought vegan cream cheese frosting (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prep a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, mix the flaxmeal and water. Mix well and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the plant-based milk and the apple cider. Mix until it starts to thicken. Then add the vanilla, and oil. Mix well and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well and add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  • Fold in the carrot and mix until all the carrot shreds are well integrated, but do not overmix.
  • Add the batter into the baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Insert a knife into the cake, if it comes out clean, it's ready. If not, add 5 more minutes to the baking time or until the knife comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook because it will become dry.
  • When ready, allow it to sit on a cooling rack until completely cool before topping with vegan cream cheese.

Notes

  • Measure the flour accurately: First, fluff it up in the bag with a fork. Then, use a spoon to transfer it to the measuring cup, leveling it with the back of a knife.
  • Grate the carrots finely: Use your grater’s small or medium holes for the most seamless incorporation in the batter.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: Otherwise, you can end up with dense, gummy, sunken bakes. Mix gently – a few tiny lumps are fine.

Nutrition

Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 7gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 718mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 6gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 4755IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 131mgIron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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