This Gluten Free Carrot Cake is moist and fluffy and easy to make with with cozy spices, shredded coconut and freshly grated carrots. It’s paired with a silky vegan cream cheese frosting for a classic family favorite for spring that complies with your dietary needs. Dairy-free, grain-free, paleo with low carb and keto options.
Updated April 2022
Moist & Tender Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
If your family is anything like ours, carrot cake is the most highly requested dessert for special occasions. Whether it’s Easter Sunday, someone’s birthday or a gathering with extended family, this gluten-free carrot cake at the center of the table is what makes it a celebration. We can never get enough of homemade carrot cake – especially since our version is so healthy!
Not only is it loaded with nutrient-rich carrots, but it’s also made without any grains or refined sugar. It’s paleo-friendly as well, and you can make it low-carb, keto and vegan if need be. The best part? It’s super easy to make!
What You’ll Need
This healthy carrot cake is made possible thanks to the following ingredients. Let’s begin!
For the Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Layers
- Superfine Blanched Almond Flour: Make sure you either use a food scale or the spoon and level method to properly measure your almond flour. And don’t confuse it for almond meal – they’re not the same!
- Coconut flour: Measured accurately.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: The use of both makes this cake extra soft and fluffy.
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Cloves: These warm, sweet spices provide that signature carrot cake flavor.
- Salt: We prefer to use fine sea salt.
- Vinegar: This triggers the baking soda’s rising reaction and also provides moisture.
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: Or any milk of your choice, brought to room temperature.
- Eggs: Room temperature. We have not tested a vegan carrot cake version, but if needed, you are welcome to try a combination of unsweetened applesauce, whipped aquafaba, flax eggs or preferred egg substitute.
- Maple Sugar: This paleo-friendly, refined sugar-free sweetener can be swapped out for coconut sugar or brown sugar – just keep in mind that the color will be much darker. Use granulated monk fruit sweetener or brown SWERVE for low-carb/keto cake.
- Coconut Oil: Or another neutral-flavored oil, melted and cooled.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: This enhances the flavors of the spices.
- Pure Maple Extract: Or pure maple syrup. You can omit this if you’d like, but I wouldn’t! It adds some amazing dimension and flavor.
- Shredded Coconut: Unsweetened.
- Carrots: Finely grated.
For the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Vegan Butter: Softened (we like Miyokos).
- Dairy-Free Cream Cheese: Softened (we like Kite Hill).
- Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener: Or another confectioners’ low-carb/paleo sweetener of choice (SWERVE, erythritol, powdered coconut sugar, etc).
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Almond Milk
How to Make Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Even though this diet-friendly carrot cake is one extraordinary treat, the process of making it is super simple. You just have to bake the cake, let it cool, then layer it up with the frosting and enjoy!
Make the Cake
Prep for Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat three round 6-inch cake pans or two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Set the prepared pans aside.
Combine Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set the dry ingredient mixture aside.
Make Buttermilk: Use a measuring cup to measure out the almond milk, then add the vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit and curdle for about 5 minutes while you mix the wet ingredients.
Add Carrots & Coconut: Stir in the carrots and the shredded coconut.
Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth out the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake layers for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let Cool: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for at least 30 minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire racks so they can finish cooling.
Make the Frosting
Beat Butter: Use a hand mixer or an electric stand mixer to beat the softened butter on high for 2 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
Add Cream Cheese: Add the cream cheese and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes, until combined.
Set Aside: Cover the frosting and chill it in the fridge until you’re ready to build the cake.
Build & Decorate
Chill: Let your finished cake chill in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing and serving it.
Can I Make This in Advance?
Absolutely! Simply prepare the cake layers and the frosting as directed, then wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and place the frosting in an airtight container. Keep everything in the fridge and assemble your cake the following day. I suggest letting the frosting sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour so it can soften back up before you build the cake.
Tips for Success
You don’t make this cake as many times as I have without picking up some helpful tricks along the way. Check out my pointers to nail it on your first try!
- Don’t Mess with the Flour: The ratio of almond flour to coconut flour is important – it does a great job of mimicking the flavor of a classic flour cake. The almond flour provides most of the bulk while the coconut flour adds structure and absorbs moisture. Accurate measurements are key.
- Not a Fan of Grating by Hand? I usually grate my carrots by hand, but I understand why you may want to avoid that. To speed things along, you can purchase pre-grated carrots or let your food processor do the work for you.
- Let the Cake Layers Cool Completely: Don’t try to build your cake until all of the layers have fully cooled! Otherwise, your frosting will melt into the cake and might make it soggy.
- Chill Before Cutting: I like to let this cake chill in the fridge for at least an hour before I slice and serve it. This makes it easier to cut, and I also find that it tastes even better when it’s cold.
This gluten-free carrot cake is absolutely perfect as it is, but it’s totally okay to add or change something if you’d like. Try making one of the following adjustments.
- Add Raisins: Many people don’t think a carrot cake is complete without raisins. If that sounds like you, go ahead and add some! Fold them in after combining the wet and dry ingredients.
- Swap Out the Coconut Oil: Want an easy way to add even more moisture and flavor to your cake? Simply substitute the coconut oil for applesauce or pineapple. If the pineapple is canned, be sure to drain it before you add it to the batter.
- Add Nuts: If you’d like your carrot cake to have a light crunch, feel free to fold in any chopped nuts of your choice. I recommend going with pecans or walnuts.
- Make them into bars: Don’t need a layer cake? Bake in a large rectangle cake pan and cut into bars for carrot cake bars.
How to Store Extras
Leftover carrot cake should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container. The cake will stay fresh for up to 5 days while the frosting will be good for up to 4.
Does Carrot Cake Freeze Well?
Yes – both the cake and the frosting can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap the cake layers tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and keep them in freezer-safe storage bags. The frosting can be kept in any freezer-safe container. Thaw out the cake and bring the frosting to room temperature before assembling.
More Decadent Gluten-Free Cakes
Don’t let your gluten sensitivity or celiac disease stop you from enjoying your favorite desserts. Just whip up these tasty gluten-free versions!
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Layer Cake
- Healthy Pumpkin Cake
- Gluten-Free Lemon Cake
- Low-Carb Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake
This Gluten Free Carrot Cake is moist and fluffy and easy to make with with cozy spices, shredded coconut and freshly grated carrots. It's paired with a silky vegan cream cheese frosting for a classic family favorite for spring that complies with your dietary needs. Dairy-free, paleo with low carb and keto options.
- 2 cups superfine blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk room temperature (can also use any milk of your choice)
- 4 large eggs , room temperature. We have not tested a vegan carrot cake version, but if needed you can try whipped aquafaba, flax eggs or preferred egg substitute.
- 2/3 cup granulated maple sugar can sub with coconut sugar/brown sugar but color will be darker. Use granulated monk fruit sweetener/brown SWERVE for low carb/keto
- 2/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil or other neutral-flavored oil
- 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure maple extract OR 2 tablespoons maple syrup can omit but HIGHLY recommended for dimension and flavor
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1.5 cups finely grated carrots
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- raisins if not low carb or keto
- 1/3 cup vegan butter , softened (may sub with grass-fed butter or ghee if not dairy-free)
- 8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese , softened (feel free to use regular cream cheese if not dairy-free)
- 2 - 2.5 cups powdered monk fruit sweetener or other confectioners' low carb/paleo sweetener of choice (SWERVE, erythritol, powdered coconut sugar, etc.)
- 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons almond milk or any other milk of choice
- 3 Carrot Sugar Decoration Toppers or Royal Icing Carrots (store bought or piped)
- Pecans Halves and / or Chopped Pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly coat three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper rounds. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.
In a measuring cup, measure out the almond milk then add the vinegar. Allow to sit and curdle for about 5 minutes while you mix the other ingredients.
In another separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sweetener, coconut oil, vanilla and maple extract if using. Pour in the curdled milk and mix until combined. Stir in the carrots and shredded coconut.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined. Add chopped nuts/raisins if using.
Evenly divide the batter between the baking pans and smooth out the tops with a spatula. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool in the cake pans for at least 30 minutes, then carefully remove from cake pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely to room temp before frosting.
Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the softened butter and beat on high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes until combined.
Slowly add the powdered sweetener, vanilla extract and almond milk and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to frost.
Once the cake layers are completely cool, invert the bottom cake layer onto a cake stand or cake platter and add a layer of frosting, smoothing with a spatula.
Repeat with second and third layer (for 6" inch cake) then decorate the top layer (and sides of the cake, if desired) with remaining frosting.
Decorate with a few carrot sugar decoration toppers (royal icing carrots), pecans and some chopped pecans, if desired.
Chill in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing.
- To Store: Keep cake covered in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- To Freeze: Wrap cake layers tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and freeze in freezer-safe storage bags. Freeze frosting in a freezer-safe container. Thaw out cake and bring frosting to room temperature before assembling.