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 (147 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. My son loves my carrot cake recipe, which I make every year for his birthday, however, his girlfriend is vegan, and this year, I wanted to make a cake that she could enjoy, too! I tried your recipe, and, Nora, it is outstanding! Wouldn’t even know it was vegan. Thank you, so much!

  2. Normally your recipes are really good but I’m convinced that everyone who’s reviewed this recipe and said it was amazing owes me my money back for ingredients. This is an awful recipe that is way too sugary. Note to self: follow a non vegan recipe and just omitt the eggs and dairy.

    Gutted I’ve wasted money, food and time on this all for a works bake competition.

    1. Sorry this didn’t work out for you. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I’ve been making this recipe for years and it always gets rave reviews from all kinds of eaters. It calls for the same amount of sugar as any non-vegan recipe, so I’m not sure why it would taste too “sugary”.

  3. I just made this recipe after a failed attempt at a different one and this one was sooo good. Definitely give this one a go first before trying another. You might just stick to this one 😀
    Suggestions: Definitely cut the sugar by half. I always use just 1 cup sugar to 2 cups flour so 2 cups sugar seemed excessive here to me. I instead used
    1/2 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar
    1/2 cup + 1/4 cup brown sugar

    It did not mess with the consistency at all. Still fluffy and moist and tender. Sweet but not too sweet and could still use a little less sugar. Next time I’ll just use 1/2 and 1/2 of each 😀

    Everything else is spot on! Love

  4. I made this today as a tester before making it Saturday for friends. So good! The only things I changed always I did one big cake in a springform pan, instead of 2. I cooked for 70 mins.
    And I add a little apple cider vinegar to my icing for the tang. I saw that on another recipe somewhere else.

  5. This recipe is wonderful; I’ve made it twice and the favor is amazing. Vegan or not, you will enjoy this cake!
    My only complaint is that it comes out a little too moist. Next time I will half the apple sauce and see if that helps.

    1. Hi Michelle. I’m glad you are enjoying the cake! Ensure that the carrots have been squeezed well to remove additional liquid. Thanks for your wonderful feedback and review!

  6. Absolutely loved this cake, so easy to make and simple instructions to follow. I did reduce the sugar by half a cup and I don’t think this affected the structure. I had lots of non vegans tell me it is the “best carrot cake ever” thank you Nora for another wonderful recipe that will be in my repertoire for future baking, definitely a winner !

  7. Unfortunately, it came out too moist, porridge-like, even though I skipped the almond milk. Only after reading the comments did I find out that the carrots should’ve been squeezed of liquid. And here I thought it was going to turn out too dry judging by the way it looked before putting it in the oven. I think the amount of oil was too much, half would’ve been enough. Also, I only added half the sugar and it still came out too sweet. I need to redo this recipe.

    1. Sorry it didn’t work out for you. I have never squeezed the shredded carrots before adding. Cutting the sugar in half will affect the texture of the cake though, so that could be why it came out different than it should. Also, you left out the almond milk which probably also led to the off-texture.

  8. Hello Nora, I made this recipe and it turned out wonderful. I made some substitutions as to what I had on hand. I used chopped apples instead of applesauce, silk coconut milk for the almond, 1 tsp of vanilla and shredded parsnips instead of carrots. I had been trying to find ways to use up my parsnips from last year. It is a great recipe and thank you for no eggs.

  9. We had a big party for my husband’s birthday and this is his favourite cake. I got so many compliments from everyone about it – they were shocked when I told them it was vegan! ‘Best carrot cake ever’ was the most overheard comment – thank you Nora once again.

    1. You are welcome, Rebecca! How awesome the cake was a hit! Happy birthday to your husband! Thanks for sharing your stellar review and feedback!

  10. Hi, do you think with work without sugar? I wanna make these for my daughter, but I only use honey in her recipes

    1. Hi Lidia. Other commenters have had luck replacing the brown sugar with maple syrup, so I’m sure honey would be ok, too. Replacing ALL of the sugar with it, however, may affect the structure of the cake.

      1. Hi Nora, I am going to try this for my husband’s birthday tomorrow. If I take half the quantities and make just one layer, will that work? I don’t have too much experience with cakes so wanted to be sure.

        1. Hi Mansi. That should work, though I’ve never tested it myself. Let me know how it goes! Happy birthday to your husband!

  11. Another perfect recipe. I followed it exactly but added 2 tablespoons brewed coffee. It’s wonderful. I see the comments about draining the shredded carrots. I think anyone with soggy carrots had grated them in a food processor. I grated mine with an old fashioned box grater and they were not wet at all.

  12. Like others have said this is very sugary, but it was still delicious. I had to make it again and decided to cut the sugar in half, omitted nuts and only added half of the carrots cuz I am not an actual carrot cake fan. I am in love with this recipe. I used baby carrots and put them through my processor which made them less stringy, therefore, made the cake so much more enjoyable for me. I chose to go with the cream cheese frosting recipe. This cake is awesome in every way! Thanks Nora!

  13. Hi….. I’m going to have another go at this recipe for my granddaughter’s birthday. Could you tell me please if it’s necessary to strain the grated carrot. The cake has a lovely flavour, so want to get it right this time. Thanks.

    1. Hi Gillian. No I do not strain the grated carrots. Happy birthday to your granddaughter! Happy baking!

    2. Hi Gillian, Sounds weird but I used parsnips. They had been frozen so quite moist. That needs to be squeezed out or my batter would have been too dense.

  14. Nora does. not. miss. This is so good – moist and tastes so fresh even after a few days. This will definitely be my new go-to carrot cake recipe. I only wish the cream cheese frosting was more “cheesy” – but that’s maybe more a statement on vegan cream cheese than it is the recipe. Next time I’ll experimet to try to get more of that tangy creamy cheesy-ness of dairy frosting. Thank you for an awesome recipe!

    1. Hi Jamie. Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review! I’m glad you love the cake! Happy cooking!

      1. Very good recipe. I cut down the sugar by about 1/4 cup, next time I’ll cut it down by 1/2 cup at least, just personal preference. I’ll also add a quarter teaspoon of clove next time. I’m not much of a baker, and yet this recipe still turned out fabulous, I could hear my husband groaning with pleasure in the other room as he tried it. 😸

  15. Hi Nora! I never comment on recipes, but I had to let you know that I made this cake for my omni family for Easter and they were blown away! I skipped the nuts and raisins, used your vanilla frosting recipe, and added a vegan blood orange curd filling. Thank you for such a delicious recipe! It absolutely stole the show.

    1. Hi Sally. How fantastic the cake was a hit with your family! Thank you for sharing your fabulous feedback and review!

  16. We LOVED this cake! Probably our new favorite cake recipe from your site (which is saying a lot … previously this title was held by your strawberry cake).

    We omitted the nuts because of allergies. And we omitted the nutmeg because we didn’t have it and tbh I’ve never been a huge fan of nutmeg. We used a fairly loosely packed 3 cups shredded carrots and gave them a good squeeze in some paper towels but didn’t especially drain them. Paired the cake with your vanilla buttercream frosting.

    Turned out perfect! Brought it to an Easter party and everyone loved it! Was told by my grandmother it was her favorite cake I’ve ever made. So moist and flavorful- and I totally agree! Thank you for having so many incredible and delicious recipes!!

    1. Aww, you are welcome, Ashley! Your cake sounds wonderful! I’m so glad it was a hit at your gathering! Thank you for taking time to share your fabulous feedback and review!

  17. This cake is delicious! I used two 8 inch square pans. I let the layers cool down completely overnight before adding frosting and decorating. Since I am not a fan of thick layers of frosting, I halved the frosting recipe. It was plenty for one layer and good covering of the whole cake. My family loved it!

    1. I’m thrilled the cake turned out delicious and was a hit with everyone! I appreciate your wonderful feedback and review! Thank you!

    2. Made this for my daughter’s 23rd birthday. Used your cream cheese frosting recipe. She and her boyfriend said it was “perfect!” Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  18. This cake was EPIC. Everyone (including non vegans) was blown away. I paired it with your pumpkin cake bar frosting…delicious! One question though…can I put less sugar next time? I feel like I could’ve halved it perhaps and it would still be fantastic.

    1. Hi Mandi. I’m thrilled the cake was a hit! What a good frosting choice! I don’t think cutting the sugar in half will affect the recipe. Thanks for your terrific feedback and review!

  19. Made this carrot cake today. It turned out very stodgy, a bit like bread pudding. It was only afterwards that I saw a comment that the carrots should be drained of moisture. I didn’t see this point in the recipe. This must have been why the cake was so stodgy. Very disappointing.

  20. I tried this recently and followed every notes, instructions carefully. However, my carrot cake came out very chewy and the whole cake slipped 😂 BUT the cake was very delicious and everyone loved it still even though the presentation was kind of a disaster haha! I thought I was very careful not over mixing it but I guess I wasn’t. And next time I will just use the other type of frosting and not the cream cheese so it will not slip haha. Still 10/10 recommend

    I do have a question though, I wanted to make this again for Easter but as cupcakes. I’m wondering how many cupcakes will it make?

    Thank you !!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Dannah! My cake has slipped and broken before, but always because the cake was actually still a little warm when I frosted it. So watch out for that and make sure whatever cake you make that they are truly cooled all the way before frosting. If the cake came out chewy, you probably did mix a little too much but you may have over baked it as well. Be mindful to take it out as soon as it’s done and be gentle when mixing. 🙂 Hope that helps and thank you! For cupcakes, it will probably make around 24.

  21. So our son comes home from college saying he’s now vegan and I can’t not make a cake for him!!!! This turned out perfectly. I can’t believe how delicious, moist, airy and flavorful it is. I made sure to squeeze out the moisture from the carrots. Thank you for a super recipe. An absolute keeper.

    1. You are welcome, Annie! How fabulous the cake turned out wonderful! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review!

  22. Hello, should I drain the crushed pineapple or use it in the juice. An 8 oz can has a good amt of juice. Gluten free is so different from my regular carrot cake. I just don’t want it to be heavy or mushy. Thanks.

  23. I made this cake today. I used crushed pineapple instead of applesauce and it turned out so good. The vegan cream cheese frosting was excellent too. I’ll be adding this to my repertoire of cakes.

      1. Hi Carole. It could probably be made into a sheet cake. I haven’t tried making a sheet cake with this recipe, so I can’t tell you what baking times would be, or how it might turn out, for sure. I would say the bake time will be around 20 minutes or so. Just check it often with a toothpick. I hope this helps!

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