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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is the best Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake recipe you’ll ever make! This dairy free, lightened up carrot cake is soft, moist, and beautifully sweet. Lots of cinnamon, allspice, and walnuts in every bite!

vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

I have a strong affection for carrot cake. I just can’t resist how delicious it tastes, and the aroma while it’s baking. 

This vegan carrot cake isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill carrot cake recipe. Of course, it has bright, tender, grated carrots, but it’s sweetened with maple syrup as well as crushed pineapple, which gives it a ton of moistness.

Whole wheat pastry flour + walnuts add a rich, nutty flavor and a nice dose of whole grains. Each bite will give you a hint of orange flavor from the orange juice in the cake and the orange zest in the homemade icing. 

So, if you’re in the mood for something irresistible, this healthy vegan carrot cake is just waiting for you to make it! Take it to all your family gatherings for the holidays or keep it all to yourself at home. 

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

Recipe Ingredients & Notes

vegan carrot cake ingredients

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, stir together the carrots, orange juice, vanilla, olive oil, maple syrup, and pineapple until well-blended. 

carrots and wet ingredients in a mixing bowl

Step 2: In another bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Mix in the walnuts. 

walnuts added to batter in a mixing bowl

Step 3: Blend the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed. 

wet and dry ingredients combined

Step 4: Pour the batter into a nonstick 8-inch square baking pan.

carrot cake batter poured into a pan

Step 5: Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and remove from pan. 

vegan carrot cake fresh out of the oven in a baking dish

Step 6: To make the icing, mix the vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange zest together.

vegan frosting in a bowl

Step 7: Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the cake. Alternatively, you can just dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve. 

vegan carrot cake, frosted, on a wooden cutting board

What Makes This Vegan Carrot Cake Healthy?

  • Low Calorie: You can enjoy one piece of this vegan carrot cake for only 250 calories, and that includes the icing! Most traditional carrot cakes run about 600 calories per slice.
  • Less Sugar: While there is some sugar in this cake, this healthy carrot cake recipe is also sweetened with pineapple, maple syrup, orange juice, and carrots. This is a great alternative to give yourself a special dessert without overloading on sugar. 
  • Nutrients: Each slice of carrot cake will provide you with valuable nutrients. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin A, and potassium are just a few of the vitamins in this cake. You’ll also get fiber thanks to the easy swap of all purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe!

Will Kids Enjoy This Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe?

Oh yes! Kids will enjoy everything about this carrot cake. Everything from the texture to the natural sweetness of the fruit in the cake to the incredible icing just pleases kids of all ages.  The hardest part is going to be keeping the kids from eating several pieces!

piece of vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

Recipe FAQs

Can I Make This Vegan Carrot Cake Gluten Free?

It is super easy to make a gluten free carrot cake! Just swap the flour for Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking flour, or use your favorite gluten free flour blend.
If you don’t eat gluten-free 100%, you could do a combination of whole wheat pastry flour along with the gluten-free flour blend, to get more of that traditional cake texture.

How Do You Store and Freeze Homemade Carrot Cake?

To Store in the Fridge: Let the cake cool completely. Keep the icing separate. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep the icing in a separate airtight container in the fridge. Right before serving, frost your cake.
To Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing the frosting for this cake, but you can make this low calorie carrot cake ahead of time and freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To freeze, make sure your cake has cooled completely. Then wrap tightly in plastic and transfer to an airtight container. Defrost in the fridge overnight and then warm for 5 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. Before serving, frost your cake.

What Is A Good Substitute For Pineapple in This Recipe?

While I haven’t actually substituted the pineapple, you could use applesauce as an alternative. Applesauce tends to be a great natural sweetener in many baked goods, and I think it would be a good fit in this vegan carrot cake recipe. The point of the pineapple is to give the bread some added sweetness and moisture without adding extra sugar/fat.

Top Tips For Making The Best Vegan Carrot Cake

  • Don’t overmix the batter or the carrot cake may end up too dense. 
  • Be sure to spray your baking pan with a nonstick spray or use a nonstick pan. If you are removing a cake from the pan you could take a knife and lightly rub it around the edges to break anything loose from the pan itself. Then it should easily come out of the pan when you flip it over. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you can line it with parchment for easy removal.
  • Whenever possible use fresh orange juice not something you buy commercially prepared. Fresh orange juice is much healthier and gives this healthy carrot cake the perfect flavor. 
  • The easiest way to grate carrots is in the food processor, using the grating attachment. You can also use a hand grater – it will just take longer. can grate the carrots in your food processor with the grated blade, or you can use a hand grater.
  • For the sweetest carrot flavor, choose medium sized carrots and peel them before grating.
  • Let your cake cool completely before frosting it, otherwise the frosting might melt off the cake!
  • You can turn these into cupcakes or muffins! Transfer the batter to muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
  • If you’re not the icing type, it could be subbed out for just a dusting of powdered sugar over the top of the cake.
  • For a sweeter cake, use up to 2/3 cup maple syrup. Just keep in mind the amount of sugar per slice will double (to about 24 grams per slice)
vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

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vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the best Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake recipe you'll ever make! This dairy free, lightened up carrot cake is soft, moist, and beautifully sweet. Lots of cinnamon, allspice, and walnuts in every bite!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Servings: 12 pieces
Calories: 255.4kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Cake:

For The Icing:

  • 4 oz vegan cream cheese (I like Miyokos Organic)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange zest optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the carrots, orange juice, vanilla, olive oil, maple syrup, and pineapple until well blended.
  • In another bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Mix in the walnuts.
  • Blend the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed.
  • Pour the batter into a nonstick 8-inch-square baking pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and remove from pan.
  • To make the icing, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest together. Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the cake. Alternatively, you can just dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve.

Video

Notes

Top Tips For Making The Best Healthy Carrot Cake
  • Don’t overmix the batter or the carrot cake may end up too dense. 
  • Be sure to spray your baking pan with a nonstick spray or use a nonstick pan. If you are removing a cake from the pan you could take a knife and lightly rub it around the edges to break anything loose from the pan itself. Then it should easily come out of the pan when you flip it over. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you can line it with parchment for easy removal.
  • Whenever possible use fresh orange juice not something you buy commercially prepared. Fresh orange juice is much healthier and gives this healthy carrot cake the perfect flavor. 
  • The easiest way to grate carrots is in the food processor, using the grating attachment. You can also use a hand grater – it will just take longer. can grate the carrots in your food processor with the grated blade, or you can use a hand grater.
  • For the sweetest carrot flavor, choose medium sized carrots and peel them before grating.
  • Let your cake cool completely before frosting it, otherwise the frosting might melt off the cake!
  • You can turn these into cupcakes or muffins! Transfer the batter to muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
  • If you’re not the icing type, it could be subbed out for just a dusting of powdered sugar over the top of the cake.
  • For a sweeter cake, use up to 2/3 cup maple syrup. Just keep in mind the amount of sugar per slice will double (to about 24 grams per slice)
Calorie counts include frosting!
Adapted from Dr. Weil

Nutrition

Serving: 1square | Calories: 255.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.4g | Protein: 4.9g | Fat: 11.8g | Saturated Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol: 5.6mg | Sodium: 43.4mg | Potassium: 156.7mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 12.2g

Posted In…

Dessert ·

Indulge your sweet tooth with some of my lightened-up treats. From gluten-free brownies to fruity crumbles, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to check out holiday favorites like my healthy pumpkin pie!

26 responses to “Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Hi, you have a great blog! I found this recipe very interesting and I gave it a try today but the result wasn;t like your s:/ . I followed every step exactly like you said, apart from not using whole wheat pastry flourb, but mixing white flour and wholewheat instead. The problem is that my cake is all rubbery :/ can you help me?

    • Thanks so much Nancy! Aw man, I’m sorry this didn’t turn out well for you. Honestly, I think it’s because of the whole wheat flour you used (vs. the whole wheat pastry flour). It does make a difference in terms of the consistency of the cake. The other thing you can try doing is sifting your flour before you add it to the rest of the dry ingredients. I hope that helps!

  2. Hi There,

    Please advise could I swap the pineapples for an alternative fruit.
    – Could I also add in dates.
    – Would this recipe work using gluten free flour
    – Please advise what is “whole-wheat pastry flour” can this be substituted with another type of flour.

    thanks

    • Hi! So to your questions:
      – For the pineapples – basically they are adding natural sugar and moisture. You could try applesauce as an alternative (I’ve never used it in this recipe, but I have used it in other baked goods and it works well).
      – I’m not sure how well dates would work in this recipe – I don’t think I’d add them, I think they would make the cake too dense
      – Gluten free flour should work! If you’re not 100% gluten-free, I’d do a combination of gluten free and whole wheat pastry flour, since the whole wheat pastry flour gives the cake the lightness/fluffiness that you’d expect from a carrot cake
      – Whole wheat pastry flour is a specific type of flour used in baking – you should be able to find it in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. For substituting another flour, you could use all purpose or whole wheat flour (or a mixture of flours as I mentioned above), but the pastry flour is really the best for this cake because we are taking out a lot of the fat and sugar of the original recipe, so this flour gives the cake the texture you’d want in a dessert-type-carrot-cake 🙂 Hope that helps!

    • Hi Heather! You know, I’m not sure honey instead of powdered sugar will work – because I don’t think it will make that icing-consistency that powdered sugar will. But it’s worth a try to see what happens! If the honey does work out, please do let me know!

  3. With a husband who has a typical Indian sweet tooth and the holidays here, this one’s definitely on my “Try It” list!

    Thanks for passing this on!

    Aarti

    • Hehe your husband sounds a lot like my husband Aarti 🙂 Which means, he will definitely enjoy this recipe! Let me know if it passes the “husband-test” for you!

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