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Best Vegan Carrot Cake

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.

A slice of a 3-layer vegan carrot cake on a plate with cream cheese frosting.

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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!

Ingredients

  • 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.)

Collage of process steps.

Pour the cake batter evenly into prepared baking pans. If I’m using a 9×13 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 9×13 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.

(PssstDid 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!)

Baked cake fresh out of the oven in a round pan.

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
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed banana
  • Pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, or squash
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Tofu
  • …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 1/2 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.

Flax Eggs

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 3/4 cup of water. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then mix in 1/4 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 9×13 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.

A glob of vegan cream cheese frosting on top of a cake layer.

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 1/2 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.

A slice being taken out of a vegan carrot cake topped with icing and walnuts.

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!)
A close-up shot of the inside of a 3-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting studded with walnuts.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and a ⭐ star review below!

A slice of carrot cake on a plate

Best Vegan Carrot Cake

Karissa Besaw
This easy vegan carrot cake with pineapple and dairy-free cream cheese frosting is so moist and delicious!
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 12
Calories 363 kcal

Ingredients
  

Carrot Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese room temperature
  • ½ cup vegan butter room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • optional: 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for stability

Instructions
 

Carrot Cake

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe will make one 9×13 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 363kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 4gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 305mgPotassium: 231mgFiber: 2gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 5355IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 1mg
Did you try this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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9 Comments

  1. Hey! This recipe looks terrific! I was wondering if I can substitute another fruit in place of the pineapple. Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Karissa
    What gluten free flour can I substitute all purpose for? Spelt, oat etc? Thank u. Looks soooo yummy

  3. Hi, I would like to make your cake, it I would like to try making them with aquafaba instead of the egg substitute. I was trying to calculate the eggs your mum used. I worked it out at about 4. Is that correct?
    I am looking forward to making it. Thank you

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