Moist, light and so simple to make, this vegan carrot cake recipe is a one for the back-pocket for gatherings, guests or simply to treat yourself. It will go perfectly on an Easter table too. Made with easy, fuss-free ingredients you can have this whipped up in around 40-minutes.
We are big fans of adding vegetables to our desserts around here - I'm looking at you zucchini muffins with chocolate chips - because, it just feels healthier, right? And this carrot cake is vegan, so we're feeling pretty good.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
Well, for starters it's carrot cake, yo! And it's vegan. Besides the obvious, this cake is:
- super easy to make; this is another mix and bake recipe just like my vegan pumpkin cupcakes.
- can be made as a sheet or a tiered cake (I'll give the cook times for both below)
- is lighter than traditional carrot cake but still full of flavour
- moist and delicious
- ready in around 40-minutes from mixing bowl to baked
- adaptable - I love pistachios but you can add raisins or walnuts or pecans...
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredients for this vegan carrot cake recipe are pretty straight forward.
Oil: neutral flavoured oil rather than butter creates a deliciously moist cake and it keeps well for days. I use sunflower oil but any neutral flavoured oil will work. You can use melted coconut oil or vegan butter but I find sunflower or vegetable oil works best.
Cardamom: with a slight floral essence, cardamom works beautifully in this cake but you can go more traditional by adding nutmeg or ground cloves instead.
Dairy-free milk: I use soy milk in most of my baking but oat, cashew or almond milk work well too.
Add-ins: I make my carrot cake clean and just add nuts to the topping but you could stir in a handful of chopped walnuts, pecans or raisins.
Vegan yoghurt: I use a coconut yoghurt int his recipe but you can add your favourite. We don't add enough for it to affect the cake's flavour.
Apple cider vinegar: the acidity in the vinegar activates the baking soda and creates a buttermilk in the wet ingredients. Buttermilk equals tender crumb.
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1: Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, sugar, and yoghurt.
Step 3: Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until almost combined.
Step 4 and 5: Stir in the coconut and grated carrot and mix until combined.
Step 6: Transfer the batter to a lined rectangle baking sheet or two 8-inch cake tins. Bake in the oven until the centre is set.
Done! How simple is that? Once the cake has come out of the oven, allow it to cool completely before topping it with a vegan cream cheese frosting or simply dust it with powered sugar.
+ Pro Tips
Tip 1: Don't over-mix your batter. Mixing cake batter too much results in rubbery cake. Mix until all the ingredients are combined but no more.
Tip 2: Line your cake tin well and give it a light spray or grease for good measure.
Tip 3: Be patient. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting or it will slide right off. Trust me, I've been there.
Totally. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Wrap it in foil and then transfer it to a freezer-proof container or bag. Freeze it flat for up to 3-months and thaw it in the fridge overnight to serve.
Use gluten-free flour and make sure your baking powder is also gluten-free.
Yes! Line two 8-inch round cake tins and divide the batter between the two. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes away from the centre clean.
Using oil instead of butter helps keep the cake moist for longer. This cake will keep (unfrosted) in a covered container at room temperature for 4 or 5 days. In the fridge it will keep for the same time and you can frost it.
More baked goodies? Try these easy vegan baked treats
Want more plant-based goodness?
Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe
- 2 and ¼ cups (320g) flour
- 1 cup pecans or walnut halves
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom optional
- 1 and ¼ cup / 310ml dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 ⅓ cup (255g) brown sugar
- ½ cup (125ml) sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup apple sauce
Add In Ingredients
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- 2½ cups grated carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225 g / 8 oz vegan cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup / 125g vegan butter room temperature
- 3 cups icing sugar confectioner's sugar
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 177°C (350°F) and line a 9" x13" inch rectangle baking pan or two 8-inch round pans.
- Pop the pecans on a rimmed, lined baking tray and toast them in the preheated oven for around 5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and, once cooled enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board and chop them into small pieces. You can set a quarter cup aside to garnish the cake , if you like. Otherwise, we're going to fold them into the cake batter.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, sunflower oil, apple sauce and vanilla in a separate bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.
- Add the grated carrot, coconut and pecans and mix to combine. Don't overmix.
- Transfer the batter to the pan and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes (25-30 minutes for the two round cakes) or until a skewer comes away clean from the centre.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 10-minutes before turning it out on to a cooling rack or plate. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting
- To make the cream cheese frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer or using a hand mixer until well combined and light.
- A cup at a time, add the sifted icing sugar and continue beating until well combined. After each cup is completely incorporated in to the frosting add the next cup until you have your desired sweetness and texture. I use anywhere between 2½ and 3 cups for a soft frosting similar to whipped cream.
- Cover the cake in frosting and sprinkle with any reserved toasted nuts or serve as is.