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 (108 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. No, I don’t think that will add the vanilla flavor you need for the cake. You can probably leave it out, though it will miss the flavor.

  1. Just made this recipe in muffin tins and it was amazing! I tried a different vegan carrot cake recipe and was disappointed, but this one was perfect!! I’m so glad I gave it a try. My wife is very happy!

    Thank you!

  2. I love using nut-safe pepitas instead of walnuts, currants, and pineapple in this recipe!  So quick to put together and delicious!

  3. My cakes are in the oven.. smells heavenly!
    But after watching the video I think I grated the carrot too coarse? Yours seems to be fine grated.
    Fingers crossed it works!

  4. Hello, 
    What can I use instead of applesauce, it doesn’t need to be vegan. Eggs or butter ? 
    And is it ok is I use self rising flour instead of all purpose flour ? ( I will just take out the baking powder from the ingredients) 

    Thank you 

    1. I’m not sure, I haven’t tried it with anything else. You could try whatever you think might work best. I also haven’t used self raising flour, but it might work.

      1. It worked out great  actually 🙂 with self raising flour and taking out baking powder, used eggs instead of applesauce. 

        Next time I will just have to adjust better the batter because my pans are 9”springfolds so it came out as thin layers.
        Any suggestions to help me with the proportions? 

        Thank you ? 

        1. I’m so glad to hear it worked out well! Interesting, I wonder if you could just double or 1.5 times the recipe to make the layers thicker. You will have to bake them for longer, until a toothpick comes out clean. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi … great recipe!!!what do substitute almond milk with if it’s not available??
    Thank you 

  6. I’ve made this many times and it is as delicious if not more so than non-vegan carrot cake.  One question, I am planning on making this in advance and wanted to see if freezing the cake layers for a few days, then frosting them would work okay?  

    1. Hi Caroline. Thanks for your great review on my carrot cake. I’m so glad you love it! Yes, the cake freezes very well. I hope this helps! Thank you!

  7. Very tasty cake even for non-vegans. Tweeks to the recipe : reduced brown sugar to 1/2 cup of brown Truvia and white sugar to heaped 1/2 cup heaped.
    To the icing I added a little dessert wine to reduce the sweetness.

  8. I made this in several bowls, because I’m always scared of overmixing cakes and ruining their texture. All the dry except sugar well mixed and then all the wet plus sugar well mixed, then combined the two as little as I could manage without visible flour. (There were still tiny lumps, which disappeared once cooked.) Then I folded in the carrots and dried fruit and nuts. Turned out great! I don’t like frosting so didn’t make any. The cake is very sweet and, for my taste, would probably be a little too cloying with frosting. Next time I make it, I’ll experiment with reducing the sugar.

  9. i made this for mothers day and it was a huge hit!!! only swap i made was coconut oil and i did the frosting with cashew cream. but everyone loved it! i think next time ill use a little less sugar for my mom (but i thought it was perfect). and i used two 9 inch round and baked for only a couple less minutes. anyways this was such a great recipe. i’ll definitely make again for my next carrot cake. it’s so moist and the amount of spice is great and makes it very flavorful. i added walnuts and golden raisins too. i missed a good carrot cake, thank you!!!!

  10. The flavor is great! Thank you for this recipe. Although, my cake cake out gummy what did I do wrong?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor, but the cake should not be gummy. Gummy cakes are most often a result of over mixing the batter, so be careful not to do that next time. Thank you, hope that helps!

  11. There I was wanting carrot cake and perusing Pinterest for a good recipe when it occurred to me to check your site. Normally when I want to make something that I have not memorized I go straight to your website so it was weird that I did not in this case… I looked at recipes for the better part of an hour before I practically smacked myself for not going to your site first! You, like 100% of the time, did not disappoint. This cake was easy to make, came together quick, and tasted amazing! I used a store bought (vegan) cream cheese frosting and subbed soy milk for the almond. Spot on like usual! Thank you, (from Beaverton) for always having such great recipes. 

    1. Hi Jen! Thank you for sharing your fabulous review, and for using and enjoying my recipes! I’m so glad you loved the carrot cake!

  12. Super good cake!  awesome
     however, it is quite complicated for the creaming part.  When you pull the cafo d fast enough, it is difficult to make it hold.
     do you have any advice?
     thank you ??!  

    1. No, other than maybe cutting the baking time down by 5 minutes. But check with a toothpick to make sure the cakes are down, as ovens can vary.

  13. everyone loved it and my four year old who normally dislikes carrots keeps asking me to make it again. thanks for another great recipe!

  14. Hi! I just made this & i’ma bit concerned. I know it says don’t over mix but when i started mixing it became chewy almost instantly & i still had undistributed flour. What is the reasoning for that? 

    1. Hi there, I wonder if you happened to use coconut oil with very cold applesauce and/or milk? Because that will make the batter immediately thicken up. This cake batter should be be very thick. If you did use coconut oil, next time at least make sure it’s melted and warm, and you should likely warm the milk/applesauce to room temperature before adding them together. Hope that helps!

      1. Ah yes it must’ve been that the milk was cold as my coconut oil was already melted & the applesauce was room temp. Thank you for taking the time to respond 🙂

  15. Hello Nora, hope you are doing good! I am planning to bake this cake and I have only 9 inch Springform cake pan. How do I adjust the measurement accordingly? Should I half the recipe? Please let me know! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes! 🙂

    1. Hi there! I’m so glad you are enjoying the recipes. ? I would cut the recipe in half to make it in one 9 inch springform pan. That should work quite well, though I’ve never tested it myself. Let me know how it goes!

  16. Amazing! made it 3 times already and everyone loves it! Thank you for this delicious recipe! I used Miyoko cream cheese and it came out spoon-lickin’ good!!

  17. Wow! Thank you for a lovely Easter recipe. I made it in a Bundt pan and it took about 65 minutes to cook through. I used Earth Balance instead of oil, crushed pineapple instead of applesauce (I would increase this a bit next time as the little pineapple bits are so nice with the cake) and oat milk. Also reduced both sugars by 50-75 grams each; the sweetness was just right with vegan cream cheese frosting. A winner!

    1. Thank you for sharing your review and comments Cathleen! I’m glad the carrot cake turned out delicious for you!

  18. Just had a slice and hands down absolutely delicious ?!!!!  Very moist! The only change I made is I used  two cups of confectioners sugar instead of four- still sweet and tasty!

  19. So moist and flavorful!! So easy. I have made it several times and everyone loves it-vegans and non vegans!!

  20. WOW! I made this as an Easter treat. It’s just the two of us, so I halved the recipe and then cut the one layer in half. I then frosted the 1/2 layer, placed the other on top and turned it to the cut end. I frosted the rest and it looked so cute standing up by itself. I think I could have turned it into a bunny! But it didn’t last that long. Husband loved it! I did make a small change: I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup brown and 1/3 cup white (for half of the recipe), and I used raisins instead of nuts. I frosted with your cream cheese frosting and it was amazing! I did have to cook longer, but it was still very moist. I used my food processor to grate the carrots. The end result was a lovely dessert, not too sweet. Happy Easter Nora! And thank you for this great recipe!

  21. I’ll put this on the Pinterest pin as well in case anyone needs this info but if you’re making cupcakes you’ll get about 20-22. I didn’t see this info anywhere so I thought it might be helpful to someone else! Great recipe btw. Very moist and tender and super easy. 

  22. Tasty cupcakes! Definitely moist almost a little too moist. Can I leave it in the oven a bit longer so it’s not so mushy?

    1. Yes, it sounds like they maybe needed a little longer in the oven, until a toothpick comes out clean, or mostly clean with no wet batter. Thanks!

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