This vegan carrot cake is rich, flavorful, and topped with a decadent maple cream cheese frosting. This one-bowl recipe is super easy to make, 100% vegan, and simple to make gluten-free.
Ah - carrot cake. One of my all time favorite desserts.
I mean, it's basically health food right? There's carrots in the cake, so I think that counts.
Last year I created these pint-sized carrot cake cupcakes, that are totally adorable and delicious. But they weren't plant based.
So of course, I had to go ahead and create a vegan carrot cake to share with you all.
This vegan carrot cake is:
- Topped with a decadent vegan cream cheese frosting!
- Rich, moist, and totally delicious.
- 100% vegan and vegetarian friendly.
- Easy to make gluten-free. (Also check out this gluten free carrot cake recipe)
- Super simple and fun to make in just one bowl!
So let's get baking.
(P.S. If you love vegan baking, you should grab a copy of this free printable cheat sheet. It's packed with my favorite simple substitutions to make just about any recipe vegan!)
Tips for Perfect Vegan Carrot Cake
Making flax eggs. Flax eggs make a sturdy substitute for traditional eggs in this vegan cake, helping to hold the thick batter together. To make a flax egg - simply whisk together 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp water. (You can also grab this free printable vegan substitution chart for a handy reference!)
Make it gluten-free. This recipe is 100% gluten free when made with a gluten-free baking flour. I love this one, because it can be swapped out in a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour.
Use your favorite frosting. I think the vegan cream cheese frosting is totally worth the effort. But if you're short on time, feel free to use your own favorite instead. In fact, Pillsbury's Cream Cheese Frosting is actually completely vegan.
Keep it simple with one layer. If you want this cake recipe to be even simpler, you can definitely make one large cake from this batter, instead of multiple layers. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. One large thick cake will take longer to bake, then several thinner layers.
How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake
Making this vegan carrot cake is ridiculously easy. It’s just all the ingredients tossed into one bowl. Then stir well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer.
The cake batter is then poured into a greased cake pan, and popped into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 °F.
I love one-bowl cake recipes that don't require me to mix all the wet and dry ingredient separately and dirty everything in my kitchen!
(This philosophy extends to all my cooking - check out these one pot recipes for easy dinner ideas!)
For a fancy celebration cake, follow the recipe instructions to create multiple layers. But, you can also make just one single layer of cake if you prefer to keep things simple.
And it's even delicious served "naked", without the frosting. Although I don't know what kind of person skips the frosting. 😀
How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
It's pretty hard to beat cream cheese frosting. It's such a rich, distinct taste that there's not really a substitute.
So I created my own version of vegan cream cheese frosting, inspired by this one that I saw on Minimalist Baker.
I used a store-bought vegan cream cheese as the base for my frosting.
I'm usually not too big on commercially prepared products like these, but in this case it's the simplest way to get a result that resembles REAL cream cheese frosting.
What is vegan cream cheese? Well it tastes much like real cream cheese with a tangy sour cream flavor and a firm texture but is completely dairy free.
It’s made from ingredients like soy protein, plant based fats, nuts and natural enzymes. You can find it in the dairy or produce department of most grocery stores.
I added a bit of vanilla and maple syrup to infuse extra flavor. I think it really gives the frosting something special!
I used a stand mixer to whip together the vegan cream cheese, dairy-free margarine, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. You'll want to whip it until it's really creamy and fluffy!
Remember to let the cakes cool down completely before adding the frosting!
Use a generous amount of frosting, about ½ cup for each layer. As you assemble the cake, level off each layer of icing using a spatula to make sure the layers are smooth and even. (An offset spatula like this is easiest to work with!)
Once the layers of the carrot cake are assembled, cover the entire cake with the vegan cream cheese frosting.
Get the icing as smooth as you can with your spatula. Finish off with chopped nuts. I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans - but pistachios would be delicious too!
If you're looking for more vegan desserts to satisfy that sweet tooth, be sure to check out a few of these:
- Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
- 30-Minute Vegan Brownies
- Vegan Baklava
- Vegan Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
- Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies
- Vegan Oatmeal Cookies
- Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream
- Vienetta Ice Cream
Ok, clearly I have a dessert addiction.
And don't forget to grab a copy of that free printable cheat sheet to help you vegan-ize just about any recipe. Or go ahead and grab the full vegan toolkit, packed with reader-favorite recipes and handy references for plant-based cooking.
Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare 3 6” cake pans with nonstick spray.
- Combine all cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until well combined into a thick batter.
- Note: If your batter seems too dry, you can add a bit of water or dairy-free milk to loosen it up. This is due to the varying moisture levels found in carrots.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the three baking pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, prepare your vegan cream cheese icing by creaming together the vegan cream cheese, vegan margarine, vanilla extract, and maple syrup until smooth. (This is best done in a stand mixer.)
- Slowly add in one cup of confectioners sugar at a time, whisking until combined. Continue mixing on high until the frosting is nice and fluffy.
- Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a cake stand or plate and topping with about ½ cup of the frosting and leveling with a spatula. Continue with all layers.
- Finally cover the entire cake with the frosting, and top with chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired. Enjoy!