This easy one-bowl vegan carrot cake recipe is kicked up a notch with pineapple, walnuts, and coconut, making it a winner for all occasions.
Showing up to a get-together or party with a vegan carrot cake is sure to yield a mixture of responses.
"Does it taste healthy?"
"Is there tofu in it?"
"No way am I eating anything vegan!"
Word of advice - don't tell a soul this one's vegan, cause I promise you, no one will know. After everyone's licked their plates clean, feel free to drop the V Bomb and watch their jaws drop to the floor.
And this, my friend, is how you start changing the minds of others who think vegan food is tasteless and sad.
I especially love how simple and basic the ingredients are in this carrot cake recipe. Let's get the run-down.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour - Using a whole wheat pastry flour rather than all-purpose gives that added bit of health without changing the flavor. The other ingredients in this carrot cake are so strong, you won't even notice the difference. Also, if you can't find the pastry flour, I would suggest not using regular whole wheat flour, unless you don't mind a super tense and tough cake. In that case, I would just opt for regular all-purpose flour.
Crushed Pineapple - This recipe includes a few polar ingredients. Some people just do not believe a carrot cake should include pineapple. And to that, I say fine, just omit and add more applesauce instead. I believe the crushed pineapple adds a sweetness that takes the cake to another level. Just be sure to drain it really well to avoid too wet of a batter.
Unsweetened Applesauce - Using applesauce adds both sweetness and moisture to the cake, omitting the need for any oil or egg in this vegan carrot cake.
Grated Carrots - The hero of the show here. I know some people still get totally grossed out by carrots in a dessert, but you do not taste them. Be sure to grate the carrots as small as you can to ensure nice uniform cake slices. Large shreds work as well, but will result in a messier looking slice.
Chopped Walnuts - Yet another deal-breaker for some people, I love the additional of walnuts or pecans in a carrot cake, but you can feel free to omit if you're not down with the crunch.
Coconut - Coconut. Some love it. Others hate it. I love it, and think it adds a great element to this carrot cake, both in the batter and in decoration.
As you can see, there are a few ingredients that you may or may not enjoy. Feel free to omit the walnuts or coconut. And the pineapple can be omitted as long as you add more applesauce. Without the pineapple, the cake will not be quite as sweet, but it will still be delicious.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe
Step 1 - Preheat the oven. Grease and line your cake pans with parchment and set aside.
Step 2 - Whisk together the dry ingredients.
Step 3 - Add the pineapple, applesauce, almond milk, and vanilla and mix till just combined. Do not overmix!
Step 4 - Fold in carrots, walnuts, and coconut.
Step 5 - Add batter to pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely!
Step 6 - Make the frosting by beating together all frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake and decorate as desired.
This Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe is everything you've ever needed when it comes to comfort food:
- minimal dishes
- so simple to throw together
- fools the pickiest of dessert-lovers
- just the way you remember traditional carrot cake
- balance of perfectly sweet without it being too sweet
Holly's Insider Pro Tips
Carrot Size Matters
When you grate your carrots, be sure to grate them as small as possible in order to get the most uniform cake slices. Sure, a larger grate will work, but the slices won't look as neat. Plus having the finer carrot pieces ensures they get evenly dispersed throughout the cake.
Be Careful Mixing
You do not want to mix this batter too much. Mixing the batter creates an excess of gluten, which can result in a more dense chewy texture. Good for some cookie recipes, but not so much cakes.
Don't Frost too Soon
If you've spent enough time in the kitchen, you've probably experienced the sliding layer cake situation. You got overly excited, didn't want to wait, and frosted your cake just a little bit too soon before the cake layers could properly cool down.
This caused the frosting to melt and everything to just slide all around. You want to make sure the cake comes all the way down to room temperature, and then ideally, you'd wrap the layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or up to a couple of days even) before frosting.
Always Prep your Pans
We've all seen the baking shows where they forget to prep the pans and half the cake sticks to the pan. Or maybe you've lived that nightmare (I know I have)! Now I'm always sure to use a cake-release spray as well as parchment paper along the bottom of the pan. This ensures the cake just slides right out of the pan every time.
Vegan Carrot Cake FAQs
In this carrot cake, we aren't using eggs at all. In many cakes, you can sub in a flax egg, but because we're using applesauce and pineapple, that becomes a great binder.
Carrot cake is generally an oil-based cake, removing the need for butter. In this case, we're using applesauce instead of oil, making it a great oil-free dessert!
Yes, you can definitely use a different cake pan if you don't have two 9-inch cake pans. Instead, you could use two 8-inch pans or three 6 or 7-inch pans.
I personally love using the vegan cream cheese frosting I posted with the recipe, but if homemade just isn't in the cards for you, there are a couple accidentally vegan options you could try.
Duncan Hines Cream Cheese
Miss Jones Vanilla
Leftovers? I've never heard of such a thing for cake. I kid. If you. have leftovers of the cake, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Looking for more Vegan Dessert Recipes?
Complete the meal with these Spring Vegan Recipes
Now that you know how to easy it is to make this vegan carrot cake recipe, please give it a star rating below and comment letting me know how it turned out for you.
Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup crushed pineapple drained
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups finely grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped walnuts plus more for top
- 1 cup shredded coconut plus more for top
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
- ½ cup vegan butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups organic powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and line your cake pans with parchment and set aside.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the pineapple, applesauce, almond milk, and vanilla and mix until just combined. Be sure not to overmix.
- Fold in carrots, walnuts, and coconut.
- Add batter to pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.Make the frosting by beating together all frosting ingredients until smooth.
- Frost cake and decorate as desired.