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 (104 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. This is my first time making a cake from scratch and oh my goodness let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised. The instructions were so clear and easy to understand, the cake tastes amazing and everyone loved it! Thank you so much Nora for this recipe ❣️

    1. Hi Nora, I love your recipes!
      But I failed with this cake and the why is a mystery so far.
      I made half of the recipe, used exact measurements in half, and only used one 8” round pan. I used coconut oil, which is recommended as a substitute, I also put an apple in the food processor because I didn’t have apple sauce. I read that blended apple is a good substitute for apple sauce and also just used half of what the recipe calls for. Anyway it looked good when going into the oven, it rose, in 35 minutes a knife came out clean, and I placed it on a cooling rack. Then it just seemed to have collapsed and it is dense and the consistency of something like bread pudding rather than a fluffy cake.  Please help. What could have happened?

  2. Hi Nora! I’ve made so many of your recipes, but I really needed to impress with this one as I made it for the first time for my partner’s family gathering. I drove to a different city with the cake and frosting separate and then frosted it there. I really appreciate all the detail and consideration you put into your notes because it helps me accomplish the recipe exactly as pictured! It was a huge success 🙂

    1. Aw, thank you Fiona. It’s really great to get feedback out about the instructions of the recipe, and know that they are easy to follow! I’m thrilled the cake was a hit at your gathering! I appreciate you sharing your great feedback!

  3. I made this recipe(with pineapple and walnuts) for my non-vegan roommates and they loved it so much I had to make it again THE NEXT DAY! If that isn’t a sign of an awesome recipe, I don’t know what is.

  4. Hi my name is Maria Lucio. I baked cake on rectangle 9 by 13. Baked for a full 45 minutes. Took out of oven. Didn’t looked quit baked in center, so I put it in again for 8 more minutes. Finally another 3 more. Is it because I didn’t use round pans. Is it going to come out chewy. This is my first time.

    1. Yes, if you use a 9×13 inch pan it will take longer to bake. I haven’t tested it, but I’m guessing 45 minutes or so. Hopefully it turned out okay! Just bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with no wet batter.

  5. If I don’t have applesauce on hand (and don’t want pineapple in my cake), what would you suggest using instead?

  6. Hi Nora! how many cupcakes would this recipe make? Also, do frosted cupcakes need to be refrigerated or can it be left on shelf? I’m planning on bringing this to a picnic but not sure if it can stand the heat or if the frosting will melt (expecting 75F-80F weather).

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Francis. The recipe should make about 20-24 cupcakes. I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes until you are ready to eat them. The frosting will get melty when left in the heat for too long. I hope this helps!

  7. I made this as a cake and as muffins, tasted one muffin right out the oven and it was perfect, fluffy and moist. A few hours later I cut the cake and it was really dense. Tried another muffin and it was dense and sticky too. No idea why it seems like they lost the fluffiness… what did I do wrong?

  8. Wow. I’ve always loved carrot cake, but this was the most incredible thing I’ve ever eaten. Words can’t fully describe how delicious this was. Will definitely be making this again asap, 1000/10

    1. Hi Maria. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback on my carrot cake recipe! I’m so glad that you loved it! Happy cooking!

  9. Sorry, my last message should say self raising not salt raising. Predictive text is a nightmare! ?

  10. Hey there. I would like to make this tomorrow. I need to make it gluten free. When you say swap out the flour do I use GF plain or salt raising blend please? (Im in the uk by the way) If it plain flour (ie all purpose) should I add xanthan and baking powder please? Would really appreciate your guidance. Thanks 

    1. Hi Mandy. Yes, use a plain gluten free flour mix. Most of these mixes already include xantham gum, so you shouldn’t need to add any extra. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much for your reply. The gf plain flour I have does not have xanthan. Any idea how much I should add please? 

  11. Love Nora Cooks’ recipes! Made this for mother’s day & everyone loved it. We ended up adding only half the amount of white sugar & felt that it was the perfect amount of sweetness, especially since the frosting is so sweet. We’ll probably try this trick for the chocolate cake as well. Thanks again!

  12. This cake is delicious! And easy! I decided the day before Easter that I wanted to make carrot cake and pretty much had everything on hand. I used the applesauce option and omitted walnuts and raisins in the cake. I made it in two 8×8 square glass baking dishes and did need to bake it a awhile longer-it’s still super moist. I let it fully cool overnight. I made the suggested vegan cream cheese frosting, following her notes closely, and it was also perfect. I had a gorgeous and scrumptious carrot cake to serve on Easter and everyone loved it!

    1. Thank you for your wonderful words and feedback about the carrot cake! I’m so glad that it was a hit at your Easter gathering!

  13. This was the perfect Easter dessert! And it was so delicious and moist! The best carrot cake I’ve tasted, vegan or non. My family was shocked it was vegan. I used applesauce and 1/2 c oil, no pineapple. I used the vegan buttercream recipe Nora suggested, but added a little (a tablespoon or so) of lemon juice to add just a little tang which mimicked a very light cream cheese frosting. So delicious!! 

    1. This is the only carrot cake recipe I have currently. You could sub coconut or date sugar in the cake itself if you want.

  14. I made this recipe but as cupcakes. WOW! So delicious! My husband couldn’t stop eating them. I made the frosting using Violife cream cheese and I also sifted my powdered sugar. And I stuck the icing in the freezer for the 15 min (my house is always too warm). It’s absolutely delicious. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you both loved the carrot cupcakes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

  15. Hi Nora – can this recipe be used to make muffins rather than a cake? If so, would I bake at the same temperature and for approximately  how long? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nat. Yes, in my recipe notes I mention how to bake as cupcakes: fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set on top. Pipe frosting on each cupcake. Hope that helps! Let me know how they turn out for you, and enjoy!

      1. Thank you! Apologies I missed those notes. Can’t wait to try. I have made your blueberry muffins and they were delicious!

  16. Just made this for my husband’s birthday celebration made as 1 deep ring cake cooked for 1 hour. Didn’t have time to put frosting on as he started eating it, was still a lovely cake and enjoyed. Will definitely use this great recipe again, used crushed pineapple as no apple in the pantry. Shall Ice the remaining cake.

    1. Thank you for sharing your feedback about the cake! Happy birthday to your husband – I’m glad he loved the cake! You’ll love the frosted version! Happy cooking to you!

  17. Absolutely delicious!  I sub’d cane for granulated sugar, 1/4 almond for all purpose flour, dried cherries for raisins, grape seed oil for canola & made 1/2 the recipe in an 8×8 dish for 45 min’s.  Extremely pleased with every Noracooks.com recipe I’ve made this far.  Blueberry muffins were my husband’s favorite!

    1. Hi Yvonne. Your cake sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing your ideas, and I appreciate your great review and feedback! I’m glad you are loving my recipes! Wishing you happy cooking!

    1. Hi Cleo. I would actually replace the applesauce with canned pineapple, about a cup or a little more, for best results. About 1 cup shredded coconut should work. Sounds wonderful!

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