Vegan Carrot Cake

published Apr 12, 2022
Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe

You won't miss the dairy products in this spice-packed vegan carrot cake.

Serves8 to 10

Prep20 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a slice of vegan carrot cake on a plate with the rest of the cake on a plate beside it, on a blue and white patterned background.
Credit: Laura Rege

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are a match made in heaven, and it holds true in this vegan rendition of the iconic cake. Yes, vegan — but you wouldn’t know it! Don’t trust me: Ask my family who raved about the cake before I told them it was vegan. Their response? Lucky vegans. 

Carrot cake is naturally blessed with a moist crumb and tender texture that takes well to the adjustments required to convert the batter into a vegan one. Our ultra-creamy vegan cream cheese frosting doesn’t require any hard-to-find ingredients — just a trip to the vegan dairy aisle at the grocery store.

Oil Rather than Butter

Most carrot cakes are oil-based cakes, so we didn’t have to worry about this swap, however it’s one to consider if you do usually use a carrot cake recipe that calls for butter. 

Credit: Laura Rege

What Do I Substitute for Eggs in Vegan Carrot Cake?

The biggest difference in baking vegan carrot cake is swapping out the eggs. Eggs help with the rise of the cake, contributing a lightness to the texture while at the same time providing structure. In lieu of eggs, flaxseed “eggs” are often used in vegan baking. Here, however, to get the texture that most resembled the carrot cake we know and love, the recipe leans on baking soda, baking powder, and apple cider vinegar, the latter of which activates the leaveners to provide lift.

Vegan Swaps for Cream Cheese, Butter, and More

For the creamiest frosting with the best flavor and texture, start with store-bought vegan cream cheese. After trying a few brands, I opted to use Kite Hill in this recipe, but use whichever you like best. Most vegan butters will work just fine, too, but I prefer Earth Balance.

It’s also important to note that some cane and powdered sugars are not vegan, so you’ll want to read the bags clearly before purchasing.

What Frosting Goes on Vegan Carrot Cake?

While vegan cream cheese frosting gives this cake classic appeal, you can swap it out with vegan vanilla buttercream, if you prefer.

Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe

You won't miss the dairy products in this spice-packed vegan carrot cake.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


For the carrot cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 5

    medium carrots (about 8 ounces total)

  • 1 1/4 cups

    chopped pecans, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    sweetened, shredded coconut

  • 1/2 cup

    canola oil, plus more for the pan

  • 1/3 cup

    golden raisins

  • 3/4 cup

    unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) vegan unsalted butter

  • 8 ounces

    vegan cream cheese

  • 4 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract


Bake the cake:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat 2 (8-inch) round baking pans with canola oil. Line the bottom of the pans with a parchment paper round, then coat the parchment with oil.

  2. Place 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, , 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk until combined.

  3. Peel and grate 5 medium carrots on the large holes of a box grater until you have 2 cups. Add the carrots 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans, 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, and 1/3 cup golden raisins to the flour mixture and stir to combine.

  4. Place 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup canola oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract in a large measuring cup or medium bowl and whisk to combine. Pour into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined.

  5. Divide batter among baking pans (about 1 1/2 cups per pan). Spread the batter evenly in the pans with a flexible spatula.

  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the edges start to pull away from the side of the pans, 25 to 28 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment and let cool completely.

Make the frosting and frost the cake:

  1. Meanwhile, place 2 sticks (8 ounces) vegan unsalted butter and 8 ounces vegan cream cheese in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and let come to room temperature, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  2. Add 4 cups powdered sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the butter and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer (with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  3. Place one cake layer on a cake plate or platter. Dollop about 1 1/2 cups of the frosting onto the cake and use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup chopped pecans around the perimeter of the top of cake, creating about a 1 1/2-inch border. If at any point during assembly the frosting doesn’t seem to hold the weight of the cake or its shape, refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes before continuing. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 5 days before serving. Serve chilled.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.