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
4.94 stars (107 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 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 1 hr
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. Have to add my five-star here too, the family went crazy for it and my husband said it was bakery-quality. And your vegan buttercream frosting was perfect on it too! Thanks for making me feel like a gourmet baker 🙂

    1. Hi Andrea! I love that your cake was hit with your family! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy baking, gourmet baker!

  2. I found myself with an abundance of carrots and no ideas. So I just happened to check out Pinterest and found Nora’s recipe for a 1 bowl vegan carrot cake and gave it a try. While I am not a vegan I have come to love making vegan desserts for some friends of mine and enjoy the challenge. My husband who is a carnivore and has a serious sweet tooth thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. For comparison purposes I also made another vegan recipe and hands down Nora’s was the keeper.

    1. Hi Brenda! I’m so glad you tried my cake recipe, and loved it! Thanks so much for taking time to share your terrific feedback and review!

  3. In my husband’s words… this was the best carrot cake I ever made. And he does not jump through hoops to eat many vegan creations. That being said, it was worth all the bowls and tools needed to make it. Had to laugh at the name, “one bowl carrot cake!” I did start with one bowl, realized it wasn’t big enough, switched to a bigger bowl, then there was the grater for the carrots, the plate to catch the grated carrots, 3 dry measuring cups, a liquid measuring cup, various measuring spoons, a whisk and a rubber spatula, and then my stand mixer with its bowl to whip up the cream cheese frosting. The name of this cake may be misleading, but it is the best carrot cake ever.

    1. Absolutely! Pour the batter into a bundt pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  4. Hi Nora, Thank you for the excellent recipe! My friends and family absolutely love it. Can you please let me how how I can convert this recipe to a 1/2 sheet and a full sheet, with baking times please.

    Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you love the carrot cake recipe! I haven’t tried making a 1/2 sheet or full sheet cake with this recipe, so I can’t tell you what baking times would be for sure, sorry! I think it would be too much batter for a 1/2 sheet cake, so you may want to cut the recipe in half. A full sheet cake I think would work with this amount of cake batter, but the bake time will be much shorter, perhaps around 20 minutes or so. Just check it often with a toothpick and take it out when no wet batter comes out. Hope that helps!

  5. I have your carrot cake baking in oven right now. I am not vegan, nor my husband, but, my one daughter and her fiancee are. I am making this to bring to a fall gathering at my younger daughter’s home. I made your chocolate cake for my daughter’s birthday and it was absolutely delicious! I’m sure this cake will be as well. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kathleen. The carrot cake is a good one! I hope everyone enjoys it! I’m glad you all liked the chocolate cake! Thank you for your positive feedback – it makes my day!

  6. My brother came to visit and his favorite cake is carrot cake. I made him this recipe and absolutely loved it with the cream cheese icing. He couldn’t believe that it was vegan. I’ve never been disappointed with your recipes. The one question I have is can I freeze the cake if it’s iced?

    1. Hi Kim. I’m so happy your brother loved the carrot cake! Thank you for sharing that fun and wonderful feedback! This cake does freeze very well! It’s always fun to have some for later!

    1. Hi Hollie. Other commenters have had luck replacing the brown sugar with maple syrup, so it’s worth a try. You might be able to substitute more applesauce for the oil, but I’m afraid the cake will come out gummy.

    1. Hi Rochelle. You can use a total of 1 cup of canola oil in the batter instead of using applesauce, or a can of pureed pears.

  7. Yummy!!!! You never ever disappoint, Nora! This cake was so good! Followed as is and added all the extras including walnuts and raisins. Used violife cream cheese for the frosting. I used a 12 “ rectangular cake pan and baked for 45 minutes and it came out perfectly moist and delicious. Going to freeze several slices and save for breakfast at work for the next couple weeks. What? It has apples, carrots, walnuts and raisins! That is one healthy breakfast! 😉

    1. Hi Jess. I’m so happy you are loving my recipes! I love freezing slices of cake to take out when I want it! Sounds like a delicious breakfast! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and ideas!

  8. Nora, thank you so much for this wonderful carrot cake recipe!! I first made it at the end of July for my landlady’s birthday, and it came out so well and was such a hit that I ended up making it four times within a month (once as cupcakes!) I just made it this weekend with gluten-free flour (Bob’s 1:1), and while the consistency is a bit different, (as I expected) it’s still great! I will be making it for many years to come, and can’t wait to try your other cake recipes as well! For the icing, I’ve used both Earth Balance and Trader Joe’s vegan butter–both worked well, but I prefer Trader Joe’s as I found that it yielded a thicker/fluffier result. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  9. My son has made this cake for my birthday and at Christmas. It is the absolute best carrot cake. It is simply delicious and very moist. 

    1. Hi Bonita. I”m glad you love the cake, and how great that your son makes it for you! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

      1. Hi Nora sounds like a fabulous recipe however I’m on oil free and fat free diet. Carrot cake is my favourite. What can I use to substitute oil

        1. Hi Mary. You might be able to substitute more applesauce for the oil, but I’m afraid the cake will come out a bit gummy.

  10. This cake was AMAZING! My whole (mostly non-vegan) family absolutely loved it, and my very picky husband said it was the best carrot cake he’d ever had. I used Miyoko’s brand vegan butter and cream cheese for the frosting and it turned out incredible! I also used a little freshly grated ginger instead of ground ginger which worked well. 

  11. This carrot cake was perfect, my husband’s favorite birthday cake. Spicy, moist, and delicious. I made a buttercream frosting with a bit of lemon instead of the cream cheese one…I still find vegan cream cheese to have an off putting taste and I didn’t want it on my cake…it turned out great, perfect on a carrot cake!

    Question, can this cake be made in a loaf pan for a breakfast bread type of cake?

    1. Hi Harper. Happy birthday to your husband! I’m so thrilled the cake was perfect! This would be a great breakfast cake! I’m not sure if the whole thing will fit into one loaf pan or not, as I haven’t tested it. If you fill a loaf pan about 1/2-3/4 of the way full, it will likely take around an hour. Make sure to check with a toothpick to make sure it’s done. I hope this helps!

  12. I haven’t made the recipe yet, but I will soon. Just wondering if you have any recommendations for substitutes for the white sugar.

    1. Hi Elicia. I always use organic granulated sugar which is more of a tan color, not straight up white sugar. But you could also use coconut sugar – 1:1 substitute. Hope this helps!

  13. Made this for a wedding cake and it worked perfectly! The taste, texture and structure was great to provide great stability to make a two tiered cake. I made a 10” bottom with a 8” top. Thank you for this recipe!
    It says you can make cupcakes with this same recipe, how many does it make?

    1. Hi Angie. How great to hear the cake worked so well for the wedding cake! That’s awesome! The recipe should make about 20-24 cupcakes. Thank you for taking time to share you great feedback and wedding cake experience!

    2. Hi. Respect for making a wedding cake. Can I ask, how many times did you increase the recipe for the 10″ cake, and how many layers did that make.

  14. I did this carrot cake yesterday , no one believed that it was eggless, sooooo yummy. Thanks a lot Nora, I’m glad I’ve found you.

    1. You are welcome, Miah! I’m so glad you found my site as well! I’m thrilled you loved the carrot cake! Thank you for taking time to share your positive feedback, and I hope you enjoy your journey through my recipes! Happy cooking!

  15. This is sooooo delicious.  I have just ‘trialled it’ for my perfectionist son-in-law to be as a tier of their wedding cake and it was a big hit, so will feature on the wedding day! The balance of flavours is absolutely perfect and it is incredibly moist. I have no doubt that the vegans wont be the only ones eating it! Many thanks for your wonderful recipes: delicious yet realistic ingredients and not time consuming to bake.  

    1. Hi Angela. Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement! I’m so glad that you are enjoying my recipes, and find them delicious, realistic and easy. That is my goal! How fun that the carrot cake will be part of a wedding cake! Congratulations to you all! I appreciate you taking time to share your wonderful feedback!

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