Our vegan carrot cake is an easy-to-make one-layer cake with simple ingredients you already have in your pantry.

You’ll love this recipe because you can put it together with little effort; it’s perfectly moist, tender, and packed with flavor thanks to the carrots, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

You can have this vegan carrot cake with or without our vegan cream cheese frosting, plus the recipe has less oil and sugar than most online recipes. Try it, and you’ll never bake any other carrot cake again!

Carrot cake with frosting and walnuts

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian and vegan diet. It’s low on cholesterol and saturated fats.

Don’t have time to read the full blog post? JUMP TO RECIPE HERE!

What is Vegan Carrot Cake?

vegan carrot cake with frosting

Like our other delicious vegan dessert recipes, vegan carrot cake does not contain eggs, butter, or milk.

Don’t be put off by the “vegan” in the title.

We carefully developed this recipe to be the easiest, tastiest, most delicious carrot cake you’ll ever bake.

Our readers love this recipe because there are no complicated steps, no layers to build, and, most importantly, no unusual or strange-tasting vegan ingredients.

a square of vegan carrot cake with frosting

And like with most vegan cake recipes – think of our viral apple cake, zucchini bread, banana bread, and blueberry muffins, the secret to making a rich, flavor-packed, soft, and perfectly moist vegan carrot cake is getting the correct ratio of liquids, flour, carrots, and spices.

To do that, we tested this cake more than 50 times over the years and are thrilled to share this recipe with you.

Thanks to your feedback, we tried it with different oils and without oil.

The cake turns out beautifully with olive and avocado oil, and you can substitute apple sauce for oil to make it oil-free.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Similarly, we tested different sugar amounts as some of you prefer less sweet cakes.

And yes; you can cut the sugar in this recipe in half for a less sweet cake.

Finally, you can bake the cake in a square, round, or rectangular pan, in a muffin pan or in a donut pan.

It will be delicious no matter the shape.

You can serve vegan carrot cake as is or topped with our creamy and zesty vegan cream cheese and lemon frosting; the same one you loved on our vegan cinnamon rolls.

Vegan carrot cake video

Ingredients and Substitutions for Vegan Carrot Cake

ingredients for vegan carrot cake

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Carrots

For the moistest vegan carrot cake, peel whole carrots and grate at home.

Pre-grated carrots are a good option if you are trying to save a few minutes, but they are often dryer than home-grated carrots and can negatively affect the moisture content of the cake.

You can grate the carrots with the small holes of a box grater or a food processor with a grating disc attachment.

Medium to finely grated carrots are best as they almost melt in the batter and are more pleasant to eat than coarsely grated ones.

Flour

Use all-purpose flour for the best results.

You can also use half-all-purpose and half-whole wheat flour.

The whole wheat flour adds a nutty flavor to the cake, but it makes it slightly less moist.

We haven’t tried gluten-free flour, but some of our readers did so successfully and shared their learning in the comment section below.

Spices

We add cinnamon, grated nutmeg, freshly grated ginger, and allspice.

Clove is optional.

Baking powder

It helps the cake rise and makes it lighter and less compact.

Baking soda

A small amount of baking soda is optional, but it improves the carrot cake’s texture, making it even lighter.

There’s no need to add apple cider vinegar.

Salt

A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the other ingredients, especially the spices.

If you are on a low-sodium diet, omit the salt.

Brown Sugar

We like to use brown cane sugar to add the right amount of moisture and sweetness.

White sugar works well, too.

You can use coconut sugar or date paste if you don’t want regular sugar.

If you do so, remember that the cake will be less sweet, moister, and with a more natural taste.

Non-Dairy Milk

Almond milk is our favorite in carrot cake, but any other plant milk would work, including soy milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk, and oat milk.

Olive oil

We tested this vegan carrot cake with most oils, and it works with all of them.

Our favorites are olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil) and avocado oil.

Substitute sunflower oil, canola oil, or any other vegetable oil for olive oil.

You could replace oil with melted coconut oil or vegan butter, but they make the cake heavier, so we don’t recommend them.

Make it oil-free by substituting applesauce for the oil.

Vanilla extract

Optional, although always welcome. It adds a warm flavor to the carrot cake.

Walnuts

It’s optional, but we recommend adding some chopped or food-processed walnuts.

You can replace walnuts with pecan nuts or any other nut.

Raisins

It’s optional, but add some natural sweetness to the cake and make it delicious.

Note: there is no need for flax eggs in this vegan carrot cake.

Vegan Cream Cheese and Lemon Frosting

vegan cream cheese and lemon frosting

The cake is delicious with or without vegan cream cheese frosting, and we often make it without.

However, if you want the most flavorful and indulgent sweet treat, try it with our delicious vegan cream cheese frosting.

It’s made by whisking together:

  • vegan butter
  • vegan cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • lemon zest or lime zest.

Note: different countries have different brands of dairy-free cream cheese. In the US, some good ones are VioLife, Kite Hill, Daya, or store brands like Aldi and Trader Joe’s. In Europe, we use VioLife and Simply V.

Equipment

This cake bakes best in an 8-inch square baking pan (20 x 20 cm).

You’ll get the moistest and tastiest cake with a soft crumb.

It also comes out well in a 9-inch square baking pan (23 x 23), in a 9-inch round cake pan (23 cm), or an 11×7-inch rectangular baking dish (28 x 18 cm).

You can also make it in a muffin, donut, and cupcake pan, reducing the cooking time to 20 to 25 minutes.

How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

1. Grate the carrots

Preheat the oven to 340°F or 170°C.

Butter the sides of your cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

cake pan for vegan carrot cake with hands

Wash and peel the carrots, then grate them with the small holes of a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment.

Set aside.

Tip: finely grated carrots melt in the batter as the cake cooks, releasing moisture and carrot flavor evenly, making the cake perfectly moist and delicious.

carrots grated in a food processor with hand holding the handle

2. Make the cake batter

To a large mixing bowl, add all-purpose flour, sugar, cinnamon, grated nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Whisk the dry ingredients until well combined.

dry ingredients in a glass bowl

Now add non-dairy milk (we use almond milk), olive oil, vanilla extract, and grated ginger.

Stir with a spoon or spatula until barely combined (15 seconds).

Don’t over-mix it. The batter should be pretty dense.

Tip: overmixing at this stage will activate the gluten in the flour, making your cake denser and less tender.

We do not recommend using an electric mixer for this recipe.

batter for vegan carrot cake in a glass bowl

Fold in grated carrots, chopped walnuts, and raisins.

Tip: chop the walnuts with a knife or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts in a glass bowl

The batter should be pretty thick as the carrots release moisture while baking.

hands mixing batter for vegan carrot cake in a bowl

3. Bake the vegan carrot cake

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Vegan carrot cake before baking in a cake pan

Bake in the oven at 340°F or 170C for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Let the vegan carrot cake cool down in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer it onto a wire rack and cool down completely, or for about 2 to 3 hours.

Vegan carrot cake after baking

4. Add the frosting

Frosting is optional.

To a bowl, add vegan butter, softened at room temperature, the grated zest of one lemon, and the vanilla extract.

Dairyfree frosting with lemon peel

Whisk with a hand mixer until the butter is creamy.

Beat the butter and cream cheese

Add the vegan cream cheese and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

cream cheese and butter in a bowl

Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.

Store it in the fridge to set if you don’t apply it to the cake immediately.

Tip: you can add between 1 and 4 cups of powdered sugar based on your taste. We like it with 1 cup of powdered sugar.

vegan cream cheese and lemon frosting in a bowl

When the cake has cooled down, spread the frosting on top, slice it into squares, and enjoy.

Optionally, you can garnish with chopped walnuts, pistachios, or coconut flakes on top.

vegan carrot cake with frosting

Variations

Italian carrot and orange cake

slice of carrot cake with orange juice

Follow our Italian carrot cake recipe and try a surprisingly easy, zesty carrot and orange cake.

This one is extra moist and packed with flavor.

Plus, you can make it without effort by mixing all ingredients in a blender. We love it!

Carrot cake cupcakes or muffins

Carrot cake cupcake

Transfer the vegan carrot cake batter to a 12-piece muffin pan and bake in a preheated oven at 340°F or 170°C for 20 to 25 minutes.

You can serve them for breakfast as they are or apply frosting for an indulgent snack or dessert.

Carrot cake donuts

Carrot cake donuts

Aren’t they cute? You need donut molds, fill them, and bake them at 340°F or 170°C for about 20 minutes.

You can use this vegan carrot cake recipe or our Italian carrot cake recipe for these little ones. They are cute and delicious.

Tips

Oil: We recommend olive or avocado oil because they are healthier than most other oils, but you can substitute any other vegetable oil for olive oil.

Oil-free: Substitute apple sauce in the same amount.

Sugar: You reduce the sugar by half and still get a delicious carrot cake.

Grating the carrots: Make sure the carrots are grated with small or medium holes in a food processor or with a box grater.

Baking time: Depending on your oven, It will take 45 to 55 minutes.

Check at the 45-minute mark by inserting a skewer in the center. If the skewer comes out mostly dry, the cake is ready.

Let it cool down: Carrot cake needs cooling at room temperature for at least 2 to 3 hours before you can apply the frosting and slice it.

The cake will be even tastier the next day as the flavors have time to meld and develop.

Questions

What can you substitute for eggs in carrot cake?

You can substitute milk, dairy-free milk, yogurt, dairy-free yogurt, or applesauce for eggs in carrot cake.

What’s most important is to get the ratio of dry and wet ingredients right.

Follow our recipe to make a delicious vegan carrot cake with simple ingredients.

What makes a vegan cake rise?

Vegan cakes rise thanks to baking powder, or in some cases, cream of tartar, a natural alternative to baking powder.

Ensure your baking powder is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in your pantry open for too long.

Storage & Make Ahead

Make Ahead: Vegan carrot cake is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it keeps well for days and freezes well. The cake tastes even better one day after it’s made.

Room temperature: Store the vegan carrot cake without frosting at room temperature under a cake dome or in a food-grade plastic bag for up to 5 days.

Refrigerator: If you apply the frosting, store the cake in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freezer: Let the vegan carrot cake cool down completely, transfer it into a freezer-friendly bag, and freeze it for up to 3 months.

Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving it. Freezing without frosting is easiest. You can also cut the cake before freezing it.

More Vegan Cakes

Vegan Quick Breads

Vegan Muffins

vegan carrot cake with frosting

Vegan Carrot Cake

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 54 votes
Our vegan carrot cake is an easy-to-make one-layer cake with simple ingredients you already have in your pantry.
You’ll love this recipe because you can put it together with little effort; it’s perfectly moist, tender, and packed with flavor thanks to the carrots, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 16 squares
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American

Equipment

  • Box grater with small holes or food processor with grating disk attachment.
  • 8-Inch square baking pan (20 cm) or 9-Inch square baking pan (23 cm), 9-Inch round cake pan (23 cm), or 11×7 rectangular baking dish (28 x 18 cm).

Ingredients

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon all spice optional
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt

WET INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup dairy-free milk we use almond milk
  • cup olive oil or another vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • cups carrots finely grated

ADD-INS

  • ¾ cup walnuts chopped or pulsed in food processor
  • ½ cup raisins

FROSTING

  • 2 ounces vegan butter diced and softened at room temperature
  • ½ lemon the grated zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions 

GRATE THE CARROTS

  • Preheat oven to 340°F or 170°C. Butter the sides of your pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
    cake pan for vegan carrot cake with hands
  • Peel, then grate 2½ cups carrots with a food processor with grating disk attachment or with the small holes of a box grater. Set aside.
    carrots grated in a food processor with hand holding the handle

MAKE THE CAKE BATTER

  • To a large bowl, add 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon all spice, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
    Whisk well.
    dry ingredients in a glass bowl
  • To the same bowl, add ¾ cup dairy-free milk, ⅓ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 inch ginger (peeled and grated), and stir with a spoon/spatula until barely combined.
    Don't overmix it. Batter should be pretty thick.
    batter for vegan carrot cake in a glass bowl
  • Fold in the grated carrots, ¾ cup walnuts (chopped), and ½ cup raisins.
    grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts in a glass bowl
  • The batter should be pretty thick as the carrots release moisture while baking.
    hands mixing batter for vegan carrot cake in a bowl

BAKE THE VEGAN CARROT CAKE

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
    Bake at 340°F or 170°C for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
    Vegan carrot cake before baking in a cake pan
  • Let cool down in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer it onto a wire rack and cool down completely, or for about 2 to 3 hours.
    Vegan carrot cake after baking

FROSTING

  • Add 2 ounces vegan butter (softened at room temperature), ½ lemon (the grated zest), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to a bowl.
    Beat with a hand mixer until creamy.
    Beat the butter and cream cheese
  • Add 4 ounces vegan cream cheese and beat until combined, then add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
    vegan cream cheese and lemon frosting in a bowl
  • Apply frosting on top of the carrot cake, cut into squares and enjoy.
    You can garnish with crushed walnuts.
    vegan carrot cake cut into squares

Video

Easy Vegan Carrot Cake

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 square of carrot cake with frosting out of 16 squares.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make Ahead: Vegan carrot cake is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it keeps well for days and freezes well. The cake tastes even better one day after it’s made.
Room temperature: Store the vegan carrot cake without frosting at room temperature under a cake dome or in a food-grade plastic bag for up to 5 days.
Refrigerator: If you apply the frosting, store the cake in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Let the vegan carrot cake cool down completely, transfer it into a freezer-friendly bag, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving it. Freezing without frosting is easiest. You can also cut the cake before freezing it.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 245mg, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 3344IU, Vitamin B6: 0.1mg, Vitamin C: 3mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 8µg, Calcium: 84mg, Folate: 44µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 0.4mg, Magnesium: 19mg, Zinc: 0.4mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




39 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Nico,
    I was searching for a way to use the leftovers from my carrot and ginger juice. I found this recipe and made carrot cake donuts. They are delicious – thank you so much!

  2. Hi Nico, thank you for all the wonderful recipes. I really enjoy watching and trying them!
    I just want to point out that I tried your Vegan Carrot Cake and decided to double the recipe, when I checked with a toothpick, it came out clear, only to find out after I took it out and let it cool down for 15 mins, that it wasn’t done:(
    I had to start all over.
    This time I didn’t double the ingredients. It turned out perfect!:)
    I realized the baking times are all the same for a single, or double recipe.
    I thought you would want to know so you can adjust it. All the best😊

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback, Joanne! We’ll make sure to add these in the notes of the recipe.

      Have a wonderful Friday. Kindest, Louise

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your message. You can omit the salt without problem. For the oil, I’d use apple sauce instead; same quantities.

      I hope this helps 🙂
      Nico

  3. I made the carrot cake and taste wise it was amazing!!!!

    My problem was the almond milk because in my country it’s hard to find!!!
    Any substitute I can use cause I love this recipe and wan to try it again but not go through the process of finding almond milk!

    1. Hi Maya,

      I’m very happy you enjoyed the cake – and really sorry that you had to go through so much trouble for finding almond milk.

      Really any kind of plant milk would work, including soy milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk, and oat milk 🙂

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other concerns. All the best,

      Louise

  4. I want to make this for a friend’s birthday. How would it do as cupcakes? I read all the ways you’ve tried it and didn’t see that one. Would be easier to serve for a lady’s lunch. Thank you!

    1. Hi Gail,

      – Divide the batter evenly into a 12-piece cupcake pan or muffin pan lined with muffin liners.
      – Fill the molds 2/3 full.

      – Bake in a preheated oven at 340°F or 170°C for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.
      – Let them cool down on a cooling rack then top with vegan frosting or whipped cream if you like.

      I hope this helps,
      Have a great day!
      Nico