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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 Vegan 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. There’s plenty of cinnamon, allspice, and walnuts in every bite, and it’s topped with a rich vegan cream cheese frosting!

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 and 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.

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

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Moist Crumb, Totally Delicious: I promise, no one will be able to tell this classic dessert is vegan! It’s moist and perfectly sweet, and tastes just like classic carrot cake!
  • Low Calorie: You can enjoy one piece of this vegan carrot cake for only 250 calories, and that includes the icing! Most traditional carrot cake recipes run about 600 calories in a slice of carrot cake.
  • 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. 
  • Kid-friendly: Kids will enjoy everything about this 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!

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

You don’t need much to make this easy vegan carrot cake. Gather your wholesome ingredients, easily found at any grocery store, and get baking! Here’s a simplified version of the ingredient list for your cake:

Ingredients for vegan carrot cake recipe on a white background.

For The Cake

  • Carrots: Peel the carrots first before finely grating them. Save time by buying pre-grated carrots!
  • Orange Juice: As with any ingredient, freshly squeezed is the best. 
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla brings out all of the sweetness of the fruits and the warm flavors of the spices.
  • Olive Oil: Using extra virgin olive oil eliminates the need for butter and helps create a moist non dairy carrot cake!
  • Maple Syrup: Maple syrup gives the vegan carrot loaf rich sweetness while also replacing any need for refined sugar.
  • Pineapple: Be sure to drain the pineapples to avoid adding excess moisture to the cake. Crushed pineapples are perfect for egg free carrot cake!
  • All-Purpose Flour & Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour: These two flours helps give the cake its texture.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda helps to make the cake light and moist.
  • Cinnamon & Allspice: These two warm spices add incredible flavor and a heavenly aroma to the cake. 
  • Walnuts: Chopped walnuts give a touch of crunchiness to this delicious vegan carrot cake.

For The Icing

  • Vegan Cream Cheese:  To keep this carrot cake vegan, use a brand of vegan cream cheese like Miyoko’s Organic.
  • Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar, this helps to give the vegan carrot cake frosting its silky smooth texture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla enhances the tanginess of the cream cheese and the sweetness of the powdered sugar.
  • Orange Zest: Zest adds a bright, fruity flavor which is very welcomed in this vegan frosting for carrot cake!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Oil: Any oil can be used in this vegan version of carrot cake – like melted coconut oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil, or even melted vegan butter. Earth Balance is a good brand for vegan butter.
  • Flour: You can try a different mix of flours in this recipe. Instead of all-purpose flour, try using another variety that is gluten-free or try out spelt flour. Instead of the whole wheat flour you could try oat flour, almond flour or cassava flour – or a mix of all three. Just keep in mind that changing the flours will change the texture of your cake!
  • Walnuts: While I like walnuts best for this recipe, you can use any kind of nut that you prefer. Pecans or even almonds would taste great. If you have a nut allergy, leave them out!
  • Applesauce: I love the bright, sweet flavor of pineapple in this cake but if you prefer more mellow flavor, you can experiment with using apple sauce instead.
  • Sugar: Instead of maple syrup, you can use cane sugar, coconut sugar, or your favorite sugar alternative. 

🔪 How To Make The Best Vegan Carrot Cake

Make this easy carrot cake recipe with minimal effort. Even if it is your first time, you’ll look like a cake expert and have a very good carrot cake! For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card below. Here is how to make vegan carrot cake:

Mix Wet Ingredients: 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. You can use a hand mixer or a simple whisk or wooden spoon.

carrots and wet ingredients in a mixing bowl

Combine Dry Ingredients: In another large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Mix in the walnuts. 

walnuts added to batter in a mixing bowl

Mix Wet Mixture And Dry Ingredients Together: Blend the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed. 

wet and dry ingredients combined

Transfer Cake Batter: Pour the batter into a nonstick 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper.

carrot cake batter poured into a pan

Bake And Cool: Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and remove from the pan so that it can cool on a wire rack.

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

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

vegan frosting in a bowl

Ice The Cake: Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, transfer the cake from the cooling rack to a serving plate and spread the icing over the entire cake, including the sides of the cake. Alternatively, you can just dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve. 

Dairy free eggless carrot cake served on a wooden cutting board.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Avoid overmixing. For best results, don’t overmix the batter. The cake may end up too dense. 
  • Grease your pan. 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. With prepared cake pans, 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.
  • Squeeze your own juice. For the best carrot cake, use fresh orange juice instead of something you buy commercially prepared. Fresh orange juice is much healthier and gives this healthy carrot cake the perfect flavor. 
  • Use the right tools. 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.
  • Choose carrots wisely. For the sweetest carrot flavor, choose medium-sized carrots and peel them before grating.
  • Give the cake time. For the perfect vegan carrot cake, let your cake cool completely before frosting it. Otherwise, the frosting might melt off the cake!

📖 Variations

There are a few ways to change up this delicious cake. Check them out:

  • Cupcakes Or Muffins: While carrot cake with vegan frosting is already amazing, you can transform it 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). Skip the frosting for muffins, but consider adding in some raisins to the batter.
  • Different Toppings: If you are not vegan, you can use buttercream frosting. 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. Alternatively, roll the tops in a white sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  • Adjust Sweetness: 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).
  • Layered Cake: For cake layers, double to recipe and use 2 8-inch pans. You may need to double the frosting recipe, as well. You will transfer batter into the prepared pans, and bake according to the instructions on the recipe card! Allow to cool and then ice and layer cake.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

This vegan carrot cake with frosting is so full of flavor it hardly needs anything to go with it! That said, here are a few ideas if you’re looking for pairings.

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

While this is already a dairy free carrot cake that meets the standard for vegans and vegetarians, you can make additional changes to expand the inclusivity of the cake! Here are some adaptations to this plant based carrot cake:

  • Gluten-Free Option: Replace the all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour with a gluten free flour blend.
  • Lower-Sugar Option: For fewer carbs and less sugar, use sugar substitutes for the powdered sugar and the maple syrup. 

🫙 Storage Directions

  • To Refrigerate: 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 wrap or aluminum foil 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.

❓Recipe FAQs

WHAT IS VEGAN CARROT CAKE MADE OF?

The primary ingredients in this recipe include shredded carrots, pineapple, and orange juice, as well as olive oil, walnuts, and 2 different types of flour. The vegan cream cheese frosting icing is a tasty blend of powdered sugar and vegan cream cheese. Other recipes may vary, sometimes using ingredients like apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, canola oil, or a flax egg.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CARROT CAKE AND SPICE CAKE?

The spices in spice cake are generally the same as carrot cake! The primary difference between the two is that carrot cake incorporates shredded carrots. The carrots contribute a slight bit of sweetness, a touch of texture, and added nutrients.

IS CARROT CAKE HEALTHIER THAN REGULAR CAKE?

​While all sweets should be eaten in moderation, carrot cake does have the advantage over regular cake in that it incorporates healthy carrots, which are chock-full of nutrients. Each slice of carrot cake will provide you with folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin A, and potassium!

And in this recipe for vegan carrot cake, you’ll also get fiber thanks to the easy swap of all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour!

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

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Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Vegan Carrot Cake With Vegan 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. There’s plenty of cinnamon, allspice, and walnuts in every bite, and it’s topped with a rich vegan cream cheese frosting!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 12 pieces
Calories: 255.4kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Cake

For The Icing

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.

Notes

  • 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

38 responses to “Vegan Carrot Cake With Vegan Frosting”

    • Hi Drea! I haven’t tried this with pineapple juice, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! I would say go ahead and try it – it may give the cake a slightly different flavor but I would think it should still taste good. Hope that helps!

  1. This was a hit. I made it with the kids and we skipped the frosting and it was still so so good! Currently our go-to carrot cake recipe!5 stars

  2. I always feel really guilty eating carrot cake but this version tastes delicious and is so much healthier.5 stars

  3. Thank you for this recipe! I had to bring a cake to a friend’s kid’s birthday party; they are a plant-based family. I wanted to do a carrot cake as it’s a bit healthier for kids with some hidden veg. I turned the recipe into cupcakes so it was easier to share around, reduce the baking time a bit. Turned out super well, everyone loved them!5 stars

  4. Carrot cake has to be one of my favourites! This sounds so delicious especially that wonderful frosting.5 stars

  5. This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting looks divine and I love how easy it is to make. Wonderful to bring to a family fall gathering. Yummy!5 stars

  6. I love carrot cake. This recipe sounds delicious. That cream cheese frosting sounds like the perfect icing for this cake.5 stars

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

    Aarti5 stars

    • 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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