This vegan carrot cake recipe is fluffy and full of aromatic spices. It's paired with a delicious tangy classic vegan cream cheese frosting.
This recipe includes options to make a 6-inch 3-tier layer cake, or a two-tier 8-inch sandwich cake. Either way, it's the perfect vegan snack cake to enjoy with your cup of tea or coffee, or for celebrating Spring and Easter.
And if you don't want to turn on the oven, try this vegan carrot cheesecake, which is no-bake and easy to make.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Quick & Easy - The cake batter is super easy to make and comes together in a few simple steps.
- Spiced, Fluffy & Tender - This easy carrot cake has a fluffy texture that's bursting with spices and moisture from the carrots.
- Perfect for Special Occasions - It makes the perfect table centerpiece for Easter, Birthdays, or Mother's Day.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here's everything you need to grab to make this easy vegan carrot cake recipe:
- Soft brown sugar and granulated sugar as I find a combination of both create the fluffiest carrot cake. I tried making the recipe with just brown sugar a couple of times but the result was a little denser than I would like.
- Soy milk and apple cider vinegar are mixed together to create a vegan replacement for buttermilk. The acidity in the vegan buttermilk helps to tenderize the carrot cake. You can also use almond milk in place of soy.
- Baking powder and baking soda are the leavening agents for this carrot cake seeing as it's made without eggs. The baking powder and baking soda help the vegan carrot cake to rise and become fluffy and light.
- Sunflower oil adds moistness to the cake. I prefer using oil to vegan butter for baking as oil remains liquid at room temperature, whereas butter solidifies and I've found cakes to be less fluffy. You can use any neutral-tasting oil for this recipe, rapeseed oil, vegetable oil or light olive oil would work.
- Spices add the most delicious aromatic flavor to this vegan carrot cake. The recipe calls for ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. You can add a little allspice as well if you have it to hand.
- Freshly grated carrots give the cake a delicious flavor and moisture.
- Chopped walnuts are folded into the carrot cake batter, you could also use chopped pecans.
- You also need vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, and vanilla for the vegan cream cheese frosting.
🥕 How To Make Vegan Carrot Cake
Before getting started on making this eggless carrot cake, make sure you prepare everything you'll need to make them:
- Preheat the oven 30 minutes ahead of time.
- Measure out all of the ingredients.
- Prepare the ingredients including mixing the vegan buttermilk, grating the carrots, zesting the orange, and chopping the walnuts.
- Grease and line the base and sides of 3 x 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
Step 1: Mix the wet ingredients. Add the sunflower oil, vanilla extract, and orange zest to the jug with the vegan buttermilk, and mix using a fork.
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, spices, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
Step 3: Make the batter. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Step 4: Mix. Gently whisk until they form a batter consistency. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
Step 5: Add carrots and walnuts. Add the freshly grated carrots and chopped walnuts to the mix.
Step 6: Fold the batter. Carefully fold the carrots and walnuts through the batter until just mixed.
Step 7: Bake. Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared either two 8-inch cake pans or three 6-inch cake pans and bake in a preheated oven until golden.
Step 8: Make the buttercream. Reduce the orange juice (if using) and prepare the cream cheese frosting. Once the cakes have cooled completely, assemble them and sandwich them with a layer of buttercream.
Step 9: Assembly. To assemble your two-tier or three-tier vegan carrot cake add a little bit of cream cheese frosting to a plate to secure the cake. Then simply assemble the cake layers with a layer of frosting between each one.
Frost and garnish. Use the remaining frosting to coat around the sides on top of the cake and smooth everything out with a cake scraper. Garnish the cake with chopped walnuts, orange slices, carved carrots, carrot tops, flowers, and/or kumquats.
🧁 Alternative Frosting Ideas
Carrot cake is traditionally paired with cream cheese frosting as the tanginess works incredibly well with the spices in the cake. However, if cream cheese frosting isn't your thing, you can opt to frost your vegan carrot cake in a variety of different ways.
Vegan Swiss meringue buttercream or vegan Italian meringue buttercream both work really well as they aren't as sweet as traditional American-style buttercream. In fact, these frosting recipes will go with pretty much all vegan cake recipes!
You can create a carrot sandwich cake with 2 x 9-inch pans by using the same ingredient quantities as for 8" cakes. Just note, that the baking time may be a little less, so keep an eye on the cakes and bake for more time accordingly. You can always reference Sally's Baking Recipes cake pan size conversions if you are working with different-sized pans.
I personally use Violife all the time, as it's readily available here in Ireland.
Yes, you can freeze the baked cakes before frosting them. Make sure they are individually wrapped in plastic wrap before you freeze them. Defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a couple of hours.
You can freeze the vegan cream cheese frosting in an airtight container if you have leftovers. Defrost it in the fridge overnight, and whip it again if needed before frosting.
This vegan carrot cake is best served at room temperature to ensure it keeps its fluffy consistency.
If you don't plan on eating it all in a day or so, seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. Then remove the cake from the fridge about 1-2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature.
🎂 More Vegan Cakes
3x 6-Inch Cakes
- 300 g (2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, (plain flour)
- 120 g (½ cup) granulated sugar, or superfine/caster sugar
- 120 g (½ cup) soft brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 270 ml (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) soy milk, or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 120 ml (½ cup) sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil, vegetable oil, light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 225 g (1 ¾ cups) carrots, freshly grated
- 100 g (⅘ cup) walnuts, finely chopped
2x 8-Inch Cakes
- 400 g (3 ⅕ cups) all-purpose flour
- 150 g (¾ cup) granulated sugar, or superfine/caster sugar
- 150 g (⅔ cup) soft brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 340 ml (1 ½ cups) soy milk
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 150 ml sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil, vegetable oil, light olive oil
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons orange zest
- 280 g (2 ⅕ cups) carrots, freshly grated
- 125 g (1 cup) walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 batch vegan cream cheese frosting, or half batch to lightly frost
- 225 ml orange juice, freshly squeezed
- chopped walnuts, optional, for garnish
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 175°C (347°F). Line the base of three 6" cake tins or two 8" cake tins with a circle of parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray.Add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to a jug, stir, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Mix the wet ingredients: Add the sunflower oil, vanilla extract, and orange zest to the jug and mix using a fork.
- Mix the dry ingredients: Add the plain flour, granulated sugar, soft brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sea salt to a large mixing bowl, whisk, and set aside.
- Make the batter: Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk carefully to combine. Do not overmix the batter. Fold the grated carrots and chopped walnuts in until just combined.
- Bake: Divide the batter into the lined cake pans. For 6" cakes - bake for 30-35 minutes, for 8" cakes - bake for 25-30 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further.
- Prepare a batch of vegan cream cheese frosting according to the recipe. For an orange version, first, reduce the juice in a saucepan until it is down to 50ml. Then cool it, and slowly drizzle into the buttercream while whisking during the final stage.
- Assembly: Place a tiny amount of frosting on a cake turntable and secure the first sponge layer on top of it. Use an offset spatula/pallet knife to spread a layer of frosting on top of the sponge. Add the next layer of cake and repeat with another layer of frosting. Top with the final layer of cake. Use the remaining frosting to coat around the sides on top of the cake and smooth everything out with a cake scraper.
- Decorate with chopped walnuts, carrots, carrot tops, and/or orange slices.
- Storage: This cake is best served at room temperature to ensure it keeps its fluffy consistency. If you don't plan on eating it all in a day or so, seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. Then remove the cake from the fridge about 1-2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature.
- Nutritional information is based on the cake without buttercream
- As with all baking, measuring with a kitchen scale will always give you the most accurate results, therefore I highly recommend that you measure the recipe in grams.
- Preheat your oven properly as the oven temperature affects the texture, flavor, and browning of the cake. I usually aim to preheat the oven a good 30 minutes before baking.
- Use freshly grated carrots for the best flavor as well as provide moisture that can be lacking from pre-packaged grated carrots.
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