If you are looking for a perfect vegan carrot cake recipe, this is it! I’ve made this carrot cake countless times for birthdays, and holidays. I even used this recipe to bake my own vegan wedding cake. It always bakes up moist and delicious with just the right amount of spices. 

A slice of a vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting with a fork cutting off a piece.

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You can use it to make cupcakes, sheet cakes, or sturdy layer cakes. Top it with my homemade vegan cream cheese frosting or vegan buttercream for a truly authentic carrot cake.

I love this recipe so much. I’ve made it nearly a dozen times and it’s always perfect. It tastes great with and without frosting. I do the half oil half applesauce combo and it is never dry and great texture. I am making it again this weekend for my daughters birthday. I would live off this cake if I could! Thank you!

—Jennifer

This vegan carrot cake recipe has no strange or hard-to-find ingredients, just simple things you can buy at your local grocery store. You can add nuts or raisins if you would like, or just leave them out for a simple cake.

You’ll love this recipe because

  • it’s dairy-free, egg-free, and can easily be made gluten-free and nut-free too.
  • moist, yet firm enough to hold up in layered cakes.
  • simple and easy to make.
  • made with everyday ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Grated Carrots – fresh carrots that are peeled and chopped or shredded into small pieces.
  • Flour – for the base of the cake. I usually use all-purpose flour, but you can also use cake flour or even whole wheat flour. Any grain-based gluten-free flour mix will work well too. I like my homemade gluten-free flour blend made from oat flour.
  • Baking Soda – to help your cake rise.
  • Baking Powder – to help your cake rise.
  • Salt– for flavor.
  • Cinnamon – for flavor.
  • Nutmeg and Ginger or Pumpkin Pie Spice – You can use 1/2 nutmeg and 1/2 ginger or a pumpkin spice mix to make it easier. You can also use freshly grated ginger to give it that extra punch of flavor.
  • Brown Sugar – to sweeten the cake. You can also use half brown and half white sugar or use coconut sugar or Sucanat instead.
  • Plant-Based Milk – for moisture and add some protein. I usually use soy milk, but almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or oat milk all work well too.
  • Vanilla Extract – for flavor.
  • Oil – to make it moist. You can use any neutral flavored oil that you would like vegetable oil, refined coconut oil, or canola oil. I don’t recommend olive oil unless it is very light olive oil. You can also swap out 1/2 of the oil for apple sauce or crushed pineapple if you would like a lower-fat option.
  • Frosting – Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting or my homemade Vegan Buttercream Frosting made with vegan butter and powdered sugar work best, but you can also make it easy and use store-bought frosting – most varieties of Pillsbury and Duncan Hines are vegan. 

Note – I don’t use any type of vegan egg replacer in this recipe. Some vegan carrot cake recipes call for flax eggs, apple sauce, or other things to replace the eggs in traditional carrot cake, but I don’t find it necessary. The shredded carrots alone work as an egg replacement.

Helpful tools

  • A Cheese Grater or Food Processor – to chop up or grate the carrots into very small pieces.
  • A Large Mixing Bowl – to mix everything.
  • Cake Pans – to bake the cakes in.  You can make it in 9-inch rounds, a 9 X 11 sheet cake, or even cupcakes.
A piece of vegan carrot cake being taken out of a full cake on a blue cake stand.

How to make vegan carrot cake

Step 1Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C).

Step 2Prepare your cake pans by rubbing them with oil and then dusting a little flour on the oil.  You can also line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper.

Step 3Chop or grate the carrots into small pieces and set them aside.

Step 4Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices to a large bowl.

The dry ingredients for a carrot cake mixed together.

Step 5In a smaller bowl, mix the brown sugar, plant milk, vanilla, and oil then stir with a whisk.

Step 6Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk.

Adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients to make a vegan carrot cake.

Step 7Add the shredded carrots and beat with a whisk again for about 30 seconds until everything is incorporated. (You don’t want to use an electric mixer or even stir it too much or your cake will be chewy.) (Add nuts and raisins at this time if you choose.)

The vegan carrot cake batter ready to pour into the cake pans and bake.

Step 8Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans filling them about 3/4 of the way full to leave plenty of room for them to rise.

Two cake pans filled 3/4 of the way full with vegan carrot cake batter.

Step 9 – Bake at 350° F (177° C) for about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Step 10Allow cooling on a rack for about 15-20 minutes before inverting to remove the cake from the pans, and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Step 11Frost with my homemade vegan cream cheese frosting or my vegan buttercream frosting.

Notes

  • Bake your cake until it dries on the top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow your cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • This will make two 9-inch round cakes or 36 vegan carrot cake cupcakes.  You can easily cut the recipe in half if you need less.

Pro Tips

  • Use a food processor to chop your carrots to save time and effort – and keep your hand from hurting from all that grating.
  • Be sure to preheat your oven and don’t put the cake in until it has reached 350° F.
  • Grease your cake pans before adding the batter.  If you reduce the amount of oil in this recipe, be sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment as well. 
  • Be sure to chop the carrots up into very small pieces.  You don’t want big chunks of carrots in your cake.

How to bake in a sheet pan

  • Use a 12 X 18-inch sheet pan to bake the cake. 
  • Pour all of the cake batter into an oiled and lightly floured sheet pan.
  • Bake at 325°F for 45 -50 minutes until the top is dry to the touch and springs back up when pressed slightly. 
  • Let cool completely and frost in the pan.
A slice of carrot cake being served.

Should I add nuts and raisins to the carrot cake?

It’s really up to you whether or not you want to add nuts or raisins.  If I make this for a party where someone could have a nut allergy or for kids who may be a little picky, then I just leave it plain.  If I know that the people I’m sharing it with like nuts and raisins, then I add them.  About 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts adds a lot to the flavor and texture of the cake.  You can also add a few more to sprinkle on top to help decorate the cake.

How to make a gluten-free vegan carrot cake?

To make a gluten-free carrot cake, you simply need to swap out the flour for a gluten-free flour mix.  I have made it with many different brands over the years and they all work well.  If the mix doesn’t contain xanthan gum, you can add 1 tsp of xanthan gum to help it bind together better. 

What frosting goes well with carrot cake?

For a classic carrot cake, use my authentic-tasting vegan cream cheese frosting recipe.  If you want a lighter fluffier frosting that works well for piping and decorating, use my classic vegan buttercream frosting recipe.  (When I use the buttercream frosting, I usually make it in the cinnamon flavor.) My vegan whipped cream frosting is light and silky and goes great with this cake.
You could also bake it as a vegan bundt cake and pour vegan icing over the top.

A slice of vegan carrot cake on a blue plate with a fork slicing into it.

Vegan wedding cake with this recipe

When my husband and I got married 17 years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a vegan wedding cake, so I decided that I would bake my own.  I knew that this carrot cake recipe never failed me, so I was sure that it would work well. 

I rented 3 large cake pans from my local cake store and baked 3 incremental sizes of these very large cakes a week before the wedding and then froze them.  On the morning of the wedding, I assembled the cake on a stand, frosted them while still frozen, and topped them with fruit and sugar. 

By the evening, the cake was perfectly thawed. (It was about $75 to make a cake that served 70 people – that included the cake pan rental and cake stand which I bought).

Bride and groom cutting into a wedding cake made of vegan carrot cake and topped with fruit.
My homemade vegan wedding cake.

This is the best vegan carrot cake recipe and it’s been a favorite in my house for over 20 years. I’m sure it will be a favorite of yours too! I’ve made it in just about every form, with both regular and gluten-free flour. It always bakes up perfectly and everyone always loves it.

More vegan cake recipes

A vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting on a blue plate with a fork in it.
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5 from 34 rating

Vegan Carrot Cake

A classic carrot cake made vegan without eggs or dairy.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 3 1/4 cup flour, use any gluten-free flour mix if needed and add 1 tsp of xanthan gum if the mix doesn't contain any.
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cups brown sugar, or 1 cup white and 1 cup brown sugar. You can also use coconut sugar or Sucanat.
  • 1 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oil, any neutral-flavored oil will work. Make it lower fat by using 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce or crushed pineapple.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or raisins (optional)

To frost the cake

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Prepare your cake pans by rubbing them with oil and then dusting a little flour on the oil.  You can also line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper.
  • Chop or grate the carrots into small pieces and set them aside.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices to a large bowl.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix the brown sugar, plant milk, vanilla, and oil then stir with a whisk.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk.
  • Add the chopped carrots and beat with a whisk again for about 30 seconds until everything is incorporated. Don't over-mix the batter.  (Add nuts and raisins at this time if you choose.)
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans filling them about 3/4 of the way full to leave plenty of room for them to rise.
  • Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow cooling on a rack for about 15-20 minutes before inverting to remove the cake from the pans. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • Frost with my homemade vegan cream cheese frosting or my vegan buttercream frosting.

Notes

  • Be sure to preheat your oven and don’t put the cake in until it has reached 350°F (177°C).
  • Grease your cake pans before adding the batter.  If you reduce the amount of oil in this recipe, be sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment as well. 
  • Be sure to chop the carrots up into very small pieces.  You don’t want big chunks of carrots in your cake.
  • Bake your cake until it dry on the top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow your cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • Note: This will make two 9-inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes.  You can easily cut the recipe in half if you need less.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 462kcal, Carbohydrates: 84g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 728mg, Potassium: 296mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 57g, Vitamin A: 4765IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 140mg, Iron: 2mg
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