Cake is a celebratory food for a reason and oh boy, this carrot cake needs to be celebrated. This vegan carrot cake recipe is THE best. Moist cake paired with a decadent vegan “buttercream” frosting, adorned with crushed walnuts. Do I have your attention now? Keep reading to get to the good stuff!
This recipe was originally published in March 2018. New images and more detailed notes have been added!
Let’s give it up for Springtime and carrot cake! The time of year when carrot cake is “in season” as if that’s even a thing. I’m so excited to introduce this vegan carrot cake recipe with you. Carrot cake if my all-time favorite cake flavor and I was itching to make a vegan version of this classic.
What makes this carrot cake recipe so good?
- Super moist
- Easy to make
- Full of flavor
- Vegan buttercream frosting
- You can’t tell it’s vegan – I swear!
How to make a flax egg
Start by mixing flax meal (ground flax seeds) with water. I like to do this step first and place it in the fridge while I’m prepping everything else for the cake.
When water is mixed with ground flaxseed, it becomes gelatinous; similar to a raw egg.
This recipe calls for 4 flax eggs which means 4 Tablespoons of flax meal mixed with 10 Tablespoons water.
How to make vegan carrot cake
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt (fig. 1).
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the cane sugar, coconut sugar, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla, and flax eggs (fig. 2 and 3).
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until just combined. I use a rubber spatula for this step!
- Add the shredded carrots and chopped walnuts. Fold into the batter until just combined.
- Pour the batter into two greased 9-inch circle baking pans and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes.
Note: Refined vs Unrefined Coconut Oil
You may notice when purchasing coconut oil, the label will specify if it’s refined or unrefined. I personally use refined in cooking and baking as it has less of a coconut flavor. Unrefined is considered healthier as it’s less processed. By all means, use what you have on hand as both will work in this recipe!
How to make vegan buttercream frosting
- Using a hand mixer, combine the powdered sugar and softened vegan butter until the sugar is incorporated with the butter.
- Add almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until a frosting consistency is reached (should take between 1-3 Tablespoons).
- Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Once the cakes are completely cooled you can assemble! The frosting is enough for 1 thin layer in between both layers of the cake as well as to cover the top and sides.
Decorate with chopped walnuts for extra flair!
Variations for carrot cake
While baking is a hard science, you can add or remove some ingredients to make this recipe your own!
- Add 2 Tablespoons of crushed pineapple
- Add 1/2 cup raisins
- Add ginger or cardamom for a unique flavor
- Substitute pecans instead of walnuts
- Omit nuts – this cake will still taste amazing!
Tips when making carrot cake:
- If cake batter seems dry, add some more almond milk. The batter should be thick and scoopable, not pourable
- Make sure not to overmix the batter. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Then fold in your carrots and walnuts. Tip: I used a rubber spatula to mix the batter
Tips when making frosting:
- Add almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until a thick, buttercream type consistency is reached
- If frosting gets too runny, try adding some more powdered sugar or cornstarch. Be cautious with cornstarch as it can add a not-so-pleasant starchy flavor to your frosting if you add too much!
What cake pans are best for carrot cake?
Any cake pans you have will do, but it will affect the thickness of the layers as well as the baking time.
I used (2) 9-inch circle cake pans which yields relatively thin layers. To get thicker layers, use a 7 or 8-inch cake pan. If you only have 1 cake pan and are baking the layers separately, make sure the cake pan is completely cool before baking the second layer.
You can also use this recipe to make a 9×13 sheet cake or about 24 cupcakes. It’s important to check the bake times when altering the recipe! To check the doneness of cake, insert a toothpick into the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done baking!
If you tried this vegan carrot cake, let me know in the comments below and share a photo using #mindfulavocado. I’d love to hear from you! Want to see more recipes? Let’s get social! CONNECT WITH ME on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to see what I’m currently cooking up!
Vegan Carrot Cake
For the Cake:
- 4 flax eggs (4 Tablespoons ground flax seed + 10 Tablespoons water)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup refined coconut oil melted
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (plus more for decorating)
- 2 packed cups grated carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces vegan butter softened (I use Earth Balance)
- 5.5-6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make flax eggs: Combine ground flax and water. Stir well and place in the fridge to set. It will be a gelatinous consistency when ready.
- Sift flour into medium mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk together.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix cane sugar, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, vanilla, flax eggs and almond milk.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in shredded carrots and chopped walnuts.
- Pour into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans and bake for 25 minutes. To check the doneness of cake, insert a toothpick into the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done baking!
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Make the Frosting:
- Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.
- Add powdered super 1 cup at a time. It will look kinda crumbly at first but this is okay!
- Once you add in the rest of the sugar, the mixture will be super thick and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of almond milk and vanilla. If you need more liquid, add the last Tablespoon of almond milk.
- When cakes are completely cooled, frost top of one layer lightly and place the second cake on top.
- Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Decorate with chopped walnuts (optional).
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