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This is the BEST vegan carrot cake you will ever try! It's super easy, moist, and incredibly delicious topped with a perfectly sweet cream cheese frosting.
Let me introduce you to my passion: cake.
Specifically, my mom's carrot cake. Except, now that I'm vegan (and live 1,000 miles away) I can't enjoy it. Seriously, this cake is famous. She gets requests from coworkers to make this...and gets paid for it. I'm telling you it is the BEST carrot cake ever.
I took her original recipe and made minor adjustments to create a vegan carrot cake recipe. It is every bit as moist and delicious, sans eggs and dairy!
- Flour: We're using all-purpose flour for this recipe.
- White granulated sugar: Just regular ol' sugar.
- Baking soda AND baking powder
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
- Powdered egg replacer mixed with warm water: I use Ener-G. See the section below on egg replacers for more information.
- Oil: Vegetable or canola oil works best in baking.
- Vanilla extract
- A can of crushed pineapple (with the juice)
- Carrots: Finely shredded
- Walnuts: Chopped
How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake
For this easy vegan carrot cake recipe, you'll need two mixing bowls and cake pan(s).
In the first bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In the second bowl, whisk together the egg replacer (more on that later) and water, oil, vanilla, crushed pineapple, and finely shredded carrots.
Now mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in walnuts (totally optional, though.)
Pour the cake batter evenly into prepared baking pans. If I'm using a 9x13 pan, I just leave the cake right in the pan so only greasing is necessary. To prepare round cake pans, I also cut parchment paper into circles to fit in the bottom.
This recipe will make one 9x13 cake, two 9-inch cake rounds, or three 6-inch cake rounds.
Bake until done. Then let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Overturn them onto a baking rack and gently tap the bottom and sides of the pan so the cake will slide out. Let them cool completely before frosting.
This recipe will take about 45 minutes, not including the cooling time.
(Pssst...Did you catch the "secret" ingredient? It's totally the pineapple. It makes all the flavors in the carrot cake pop thanks to that unique tropical flavor and citric acid. You barely even notice it's there until it's not, then you miss it. Seriously, I didn't even know my mom used pineapple until she sent me the recipe!)
Vegan Egg Replacer
The biggest task I had when recreating my mom's carrot cake was replacing the eggs - it is actually the only non-vegan ingredient she uses (aside from the dairy in the frosting.)
Eggs generally have many functions when baking a cake: as a leavening agent (to help the cake rise), to create moisture, to add structure, and to emulsify fat and water.
There are many ways to replace eggs, but not many egg replacements act the exact same way real eggs do.
Some egg replacers include:
- Powdered egg replacer
- Mashed banana
- Pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, or squash
- Ground flaxseed
- Chia seeds
- ...and more.
I tested a few of these options. Below are my top recommendations.
Powdered Egg Replacer
The best egg replacement for this vegan carrot cake recipe is a powdered egg replacer. The brand I use is Ener-G and I buy it from my local grocery store. For this recipe, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the powder and ½ cup of water.
As you might be able to guess, a typical applesauce or flaxseed "egg" substitution is not able to scientifically take on all the roles that real eggs do in a cake. A powdered egg replacer, however, does.
In my tests, using the powdered egg replacer resulted in a sturdier cake that had more lift and structure.
If you cannot find powdered egg replacer or order it in time for your baking needs - my next recommendation is to make flax eggs. Mix together 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed and ¾ cup of water. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then mix in ¼ teaspoon of baking powder before proceeding with the recipe.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The cake I tested with flax was not quite as sturdy but it should be okay if you are gentle with it. My best recommendation is to bake this version in a 9x13 cake pan and leave it in the pan to serve. Or, if you are using cake rounds, make sure to line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper to provide some support when removing from the pans.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The best frosting to use for carrot cake is vegan cream cheese frosting. I already have a recipe for that on the blog, but let's talk about it here, too.
Beat together ½ cup of softened vegan butter, 8 ounces of room temperature vegan cream cheese, and vanilla extract. Beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time so you don't experience a sugar dust explosion. If you need a thicker frosting (especially if you're making a layered cake) add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the frosting.
Alternatively, you could make this coconut whip frosting.
Tips for Frosting and Stacking
Now, I am certainly no pastry chef, but I've picked up some tips along the way for success when stacking and frosting a cake.
- To make cream cheese frosting sturdier, beat in a couple of tablespoons of corn starch (don't overdo it - using too much corn starch will give it a chalky taste.) You could also use vegan buttercream frosting.
- Though I made a 3-layer cake for the photos and video of this recipe, a 2-layer cake is going to be more sturdy. When I'm making cakes in "real life" for birthdays and such (especially with cream cheese frosting) I stick to a 2-layer cake. It's much simpler.
- Refrigerate the cakes for about an hour after cooling so the frosting doesn't melt while you're working with it.
- An icing spatula really is a godsend (but a butter knife works fine if that's what you've got!)
Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and a ⭐ star review below!
Best Vegan Carrot Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon powdered egg replacer (like Ener-G)
- ¼ cup warm water
- ⅔ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple (with juice)
- 3 cups finely shredded carrots (about 1lb)
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare the baking pans by greasing them and/or lining with parchment paper.* Shred the carrots.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered egg replacer and water. Stir in the oil, vanilla extract, crushed pineapple, and shredded carrots.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts.
- Pour the cake batter into the pan(s) evenly.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and dry when stuck in the center.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. If you're going to make a stacked cake, remove the cake from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) beat together the room temperature butter and cream cheese until completely smooth.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- With your mixer on low speed, mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add more if you need a sweeter, thicker frosting. Add in the cornstarch if you need. a thicker, more stable frosting (I recommend this when making a layered cake.)
- Frost your cake when it has fully cooled.
- This recipe will make one 9x13 cake, two 9-inch cake rounds, or three 6-inch cake rounds.
- If the cream cheese frosting is too runny (which may happen depending on the brand of cream cheese you use) beat in some cornstarch. I typically use 2 tablespoons if I use Go Veggie cream cheese.
- Nutrition facts do not include frosting.