Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Learn how to make vegan carrot cake, complete with a dairy-free cream cheese frosting. This cake is moist, sweet, and perfect for Easter, the winter holidays, or whenever you’re craving a homemade dessert.

Kirsten Nunez, MS

By Kirsten Nunez, MS

2 Ratings

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Vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

This vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is moist and full of flavor. Make it for Easter, the winter holidays, or whenever you’re craving a sweet vegan treat.

The spiced cake batter gets its moist texture from applesauce, which doubles as an egg replacement. Feel free to use homemade applesauce or a store-bought brand.

Once baked and cooled, the cake is layered with plant-based cream cheese frosting. It’s also topped off with coconut flakes and walnuts, though you can use pecans (or your favorite nuts) as well.

For an even richer dessert, serve this vegan carrot cake with Coconut Whipped Cream or crushed Vegan Gingerbread Cookies.

Key Ingredients

Ingredients for vegan carrot cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez
  • All-purpose flour. To make this cake gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose baking flour, like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
  • Grated carrots. Grate peeled carrots with a box grater or hand grater.
  • Applesauce. Applesauce is used an egg replacement. It also gives the cake a wonderful moist texture.
  • Plant-based cream cheese. Use your favorite plain vegan cream cheese. We used So Delicious Dairy Free Creamy Original Cream Cheese.
  • Powdered sugar. This is a main ingredient in the vegan cream cheese frosting. If you don’t have powdered sugar, process regular white sugar in a coffee bean grinder until fine.

How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake

There are many ways to customize this vegan carrot cake. For example, you can mix in walnuts and/or raisins into the batter for even more flavor. Another option is to sprinkle the top of the cake with shredded carrots, a heavy layer of walnuts, or raisins. Either way, it’s sure to be delicious. Here’s how to make vegan carrot cake at home:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round nonstick pans with oil or butter. You can also add a circle and/or strips of parchment paper to each pan. This will make the cake super easy to remove.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Mix well.

Mix dry ingredients for vegan carrot cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, canola oil, vanilla extract, and non-dairy milk. Whisk well.

Mix wet ingredients for vegan carrot cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time, mixing well between each addition.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

4. Continue adding the dry ingredients until the batter is completely formed and mostly smooth.

Stir batter for vegan carrot cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

5. Fold in the shredded carrots, taking care to avoid overmixing. Add walnuts and raisins, if you’d like. Start with 1/2 cup of each.

Fold in grated carrots
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

6. Divide the batter between the two round pans, filling each one about 1/4 full. The batter will rise significantly.

Pour batter to round cake pans
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

7. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Bake until toothpick comes out clean
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting is made with plant-based butter and cream cheese, so it’s totally dairy-free. You may have some frosting leftover, depending on how heavy you like to coat your cakes. If you prefer a lightly frosted cake, you can split this recipe in half. Here’s how to make it:

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the salt and vanilla extract, then beat until combined.

Beat butter and cream cheese
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, or until the frosting is thick and uniform. Taste and add more powdered sugar or vanilla extract, if necessary. If you need to thin the frosting, mix in non-dairy milk, about 1 tablespoon at a time.

Add powdered sugar and beat
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Decorate Vegan Carrot Cake

Once both layers of your vegan carrot cake are cool, it’s time to put everything together. Follow these steps:

1. Carefully remove one cake and place it on a large plate. Spread a thick layer of frosting on top, followed by coconut flakes, chopped walnuts, and/or raisins.

Spread frosting onto cooled cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. Top with the second cake and spread frosting on top, along with toppings of your choice. Repeat along the sides, if you’d like.

Add grated coconut
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

3. Top with additional coconut flakes, walnuts, and/or raisins.

Optional: Slice leftover carrots into thin rounds. Trim each piece into a triangle by making two diagonal cuts. Arrange on the cake with fresh thyme or rosemary to create mini carrots.

Add carrots, thyme, and walnuts to cake
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Recipe Tips, Variations, and Substitutions

  • Mix nuts or raisins in the batter. Fold in 1/2 to 1 cup of nuts or raisins into the batter.
  • Use pecans. Instead of walnuts, use pecans or a mix of both.
  • Top with crystallized pineapple. The sweetness of pineapples works beautifully with carrot cake.
  • Always let the cakes cool. Make sure the cakes are fully cooled before adding frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt.
  • Use a larger dish. If you want to make a single layer cake, use one large dish, about 9×13 inches.

Can I store leftovers?

You can store leftover carrot cake in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Keep the cake in an air-tight sealed container or cover it in aluminum foil.

Can I freeze it?

Yes, as long as the cake has completely cooled. You can freeze the cake with or without frosting. In either case, chill the entire cake before slicing and wrapping each piece in plastic wrap. Be sure to wrap each slice very tightly to avoid freezer burn. The cake and frosting will last for about 2 months.

Vegan Carrot Cake

Serving Suggestions

Vegan carrot cake on gray background

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Learn how to make vegan carrot cake, complete with a dairy-free cream cheese frosting. This cake is moist, sweet, and perfect for Easter, the winter holidays, or whenever you're craving a homemade dessert.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
2 Ratings
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, vegan cake, vegan carrot cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Calories: 680kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

Vegan Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar light or dark
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk plain unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes or more, for topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or more, for topping
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary for decoration
  • Oil or butter for greasing pans

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 stick plant-based butter room temperature
  • 8 ounces plant-based cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the salt and vanilla extract, then beat until combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, or until the frosting is thick and uniform. Taste and add more powdered sugar or vanilla extract, if necessary. If you need to thin the frosting, mix in non-dairy milk, about 1 tablespoon at a time.

Vegan Carrot Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round nonstick pans with oil or butter. You can also add a circle and/or strips of parchment paper to each pan. This will make the cake super easy to remove.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, canola oil, vanilla extract, and non-dairy milk. Whisk well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  • Continue adding the dry ingredients until the batter is completely formed and mostly smooth.
  • Fold in the shredded carrots, taking care to avoid overmixing. Add walnuts and raisins, if you’d like. Start with 1/2 cup of each.
  • Divide the batter between the two round pans, filling each one about 1/4 full. The batter will rise significantly.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

How to Decorate Vegan Carrot Cake

  • Carefully remove one cake and place it on a large plate. Spread a thick layer of frosting on top, followed by coconut flakes, chopped walnuts, and/or raisins.
  • Top with the second cake and spread frosting on top, along with toppings of your choice. Repeat along the sides, if you’d like.
  • Top with additional coconut flakes, walnuts, and/or raisins.
  • Optional: Slice leftover carrots into thin rounds. Trim each piece into a triangle by making two diagonal cuts. Arrange on the cake with fresh thyme or rosemary to create mini carrots.

Notes

  • For even more texture and flavor, fold in 1/2 to 1 cup of nuts or raisins into the batter.
  • You can use pecans instead of walnuts or a combo of both.
  • Make sure the cakes are fully cooled before adding frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt.
  • You can store leftover carrot cake in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Keep the cake in an air-tight sealed container or cover it in aluminum foil.
     

Recommended Tools & Products

Large bowl
Round baking dishes

Nutrition

Calories: 680kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 779mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 7292IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!
Kirsten Nunez

About the Author

Kirsten Nunez is a journalist who focuses on healthy food and cooking. Her vegan and plant-based recipes have appeared on VegNews, eHow, Shape, and more. When she’s not creating vegan recipes for Clean Green Simple, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen and sharing plant-based meals with friends and family. More articles by Kirsten.

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