The best Vegan Carrot Cake! Perfectly spiced, incredibly moist, topped with creamy vegan cream cheese frosting and simple to make in just 1 bowl!

a bite taken from a big slice of vegan carrot cake with orange flowers in background

Once you realize how easy this vegan carrot cake is to make, you will find yourself making it over and over again! Not only is it 100% vegan, it is simply the best tasting carrot cake, vegan or not. No one will guess it’s free of eggs, milk and butter!

The cake layers are super moist, perfectly sweet and full of texture. It’s an incredible dessert for Easter or any day of the week when a craving strikes.

Just like my Vegan Chocolate Cake and Vegan Funfetti Cake, this carrot cake is made in just 1 bowl. I love easy dessert recipes!

Ingredients you need (with substitutions)

  • All purpose flour – May substitute a gluten free flour mix, if needed. Many have tried this with success!
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt
  • Oil – I used canola oil, but you can use grapeseed oil, melted coconut oil or vegan butter. You might be able to substitute more applesauce for oil, but I’m afraid it will come out a bit gummy.
  • Applesauce – Try substituting crushed canned pineapple for a change!
  • Almond milk – Any non-dairy milk works here, such as soy, oat or coconut milk.
  • Vanilla
  • Grated carrots
  • Walnuts, optional – Simply omit for nut free. Or substitute pecans, raisins, etc.
  • Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting or Vegan Vanilla Frosting.
whole cake with swirly frosting and walnuts on the edges

How to make Vegan Carrot Cake

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below. This is simply an overview with photos.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 8-inch cake pans with a little circle of parchment paper, and then spray the pans generously with oil. This will help your cakes come out of the pans with no problems!

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl.

sugars and flour in a clear bowl

Using a stand mixer or simply a whisk, whisk the ingredients to combine.

dry ingredients being mixed in a bowl

To the bowl with the mixed dry ingredients, pour in the canola oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine, but be careful not to over mix. If you are using a stand mixer, use the lowest setting and do not over mix, the cake will come out dense and chewy if you do.

oil, applesauce and vanilla being added to dry ingredients in a bowl

Add the shredded carrots and walnuts, if using, and fold them into the batter gently.

Again, do not over mix! I can’t stress this enough. Just mix until combined, and gently.

shredded carrots and walnuts being added to a clear bowl with batter
carrot cake batter in a clear bowl with a spatula

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

two unbaked vegan carrot cakes in round pans

Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before carefully removing them. Let them cool on a cooling rack completely before frosting.

two layer carrot cake on cooling rack, no frosting

Vegan carrot cake frosting

Traditionally, carrot cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting, so I prefer my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting for this cake. Vanilla Frosting is also a great option. Or you could even make this tart cream cheese-like frosting from my Pumpkin Cake Bars recipe. Or lemon buttercream from my Vegan Lemon Cake recipe.

The only thing with vegan cream cheese frosting is it can be a bit unstable if it gets warm, so make absolutely sure your cakes are cooled completely before frosting, and keep the frosted cake in the refrigerator, just to make sure the top layer of your cake doesn’t slip off!

If you plan on serving this cake outdoors or want to leave it out in a warm room for awhile, I’d go with one of the buttercream frostings so the cake doesn’t slip.

frosting being spread on a cake

Vegan carrot cake cupcakes

This recipe works great for cupcakes! Fill liners 3/4 of the way full and bake cupcakes for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Let cool completely, then frost as desired.

Gluten free vegan carrot cake

Substitute a quality gluten free flour mix for the all purpose flour to make this cake gluten free. I prefer King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour.

The outcome will be slightly different, but still really good!

Variations

  • For a 9×13 inch cake, bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is set.
  • Make a triple layer cake by using 3 6-inch pans, baking for a little less time (25-30 minutes.)
  • For a carrot bundt cake, place the batter in a bundt pan and bake for about 60 minutes until done.
piece of vegan carrot cake on a plate with orange flower in background

How to store leftover cake

If you frost it with cream cheese frosting, the cake will need to be kept in the refrigerator. If you use vanilla frosting instead, you could store it on the counter for a few days.

It will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week, and can also be frozen. Cover any cut parts so it doesn’t dry out.

a fork about to take a bite of orange cake

Want more amazing vegan cake recipes?

piece of orange cake on a plate with walnuts on the frosting
4.90 stars (139 ratings)

1 Bowl Vegan Carrot Cake

The best Vegan Carrot Cake! Perfectly spiced, incredibly moist, topped with creamy vegan cream cheese frosting and simple to make in just 1 bowl!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup applesauce or crushed pineapple
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 1 Recipe Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 round 8-inch cake pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper and spraying well with oil.
  • In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and whisk well. 
  • Pour in the canola oil, applesauce, almond milk and vanilla and mix until combined with a large spoon. Now fold in the grated carrots and walnuts. Be very careful not to over mix the batter, or your cake will come out dense and chewy!
  • Pour the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans, then bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before carefully removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • Once cooled completely, frost with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, or Vegan Vanilla Frosting if preferred. Enjoy! Store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, covered.

Video

Notes

  1. May substitute a gluten free all purpose flour for gluten free.
  2. For nut free, omit the walnuts.
  3. May substitute soy, coconut or any other non-dairy milk for almond milk.
  4. May use melted coconut oil or another oil in place of the canola.
  5. To make cupcakes instead, fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes until set on top. Pipe frosting on each cupcake.
  6. This cake freezes well for up to 3 months. Wrap well to avoid freezer burn.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 348mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 5352IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. This is the best carrot cake/frosting recipe I have ever made. It was both luscious and beautiful.
    I made it in a Bundt pan. Only subs I made were to replace the white sugar with same amount of monkfruit and used olive oil instead of the vegetable oil. I didn’t want to take a chance of overmixing so I used 2 bowls, one for the dry and one for the wet. Then I GENTLY combined.
    Thank you for such a great recipe. I will definitely make it again.

    1. You are welcome, Michelle. I’m so glad you loved the cake! Thank you for sharing your fabulous review and feedback!

  2. Can you use coconut sugar instead of white? I love this recipe! But wondering if I can make a switch this time 🙂

  3. This is fabulous! I made this last night & only changes per your suggestions/I made were instead of canola oil I used coconut oil, & crushed pineapple vs applesauce, made homemade cashew milk vs almond milk, I also omitted some of the sugar on both by a little over 1/4 & used golden raisins. This baked lovely & I let cool over night, popped out of pans no problem this morning (Xmas eve/day), & topped with your vegan cream cheese (I used miyokos) frosting! This is soooooo good!

    Another winner recipe that was super easy to follow with little to no experience really needed. Will absolutely make this again!

    Perfect holiday dessert pairing this Xmas for the vegans here at my home with your killer lasagna, macaroni noodle salad and vegan eggless salad (vegan eggless on crackers)! You’ve brought so much joy to so many of us with your recipes & this Xmas, you’ll be with us in recipe spirit! Thank you!
    Happy Holiday’s to you & yours Nora! May this new year continue to inspire you, bringing you more love, good friends/family, laughter, prosperity & good health!

    Grateful in Southern California!

    1. I am so encouraged by your heartfelt words! Thank you for your encouragement and positive wishes! I am thrilled that you are enjoying my recipes! Thank you for sharing your stellar review! Wishing you and your family a very warm and wonderful holiday season!

    1. Hi Lydia. This recipes works with gluten free flour. King Arthur gluten free all purpose, and Bob’s Red Mill are 2 that work well. Happy baking!

  4. Your recipes never fail to please! Regardless whether my friends and family are vegan or not, they say this is the best carrot cake that they have ever had! For the icing I did cut the icing sugar in half, but that is to my taste. Great recipe!!!

    1. Hi Nathalie. How wonderful the carrot cake is a hit with friends and family! Thanks for your fabulous feedback!

  5. Lovely cake to make for a vegan friend. However how’d you all get moisture out of the gratedcarrots? I wrung them out in a towel, which worked, but left the towel covered in orange blotches that haven’t washed out. Paper towels seemed too fragile.

    1. I’ve actually never drained or wrung out the shredded carrots for this recipe. I just shred and add them. I’ve found that the moisture from the shredded carrots works well in this particular recipe, plus it’s a whole lot easier. Hope that helps!

  6. My second attempt at commenting but I’ve had the opportunity to review other posts…”too moist”?…..”strain the carrots?”…..”too sweet”?
    What in the world?? This recipe is outstanding, Nora, and I’ve been baking for more than 30 years.

    1. Hi Janice. Thank you for you encouraging feedback! I am thrilled you love the Carrot cake! I appreciate you, and your fabulous review!

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