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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This gluten-free carrot cake is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

Hi friends! Easter is right around the corner and I feel like I’m highly unprepared this year. I’ve had so much travel and excitement this past month, much due in large part to KitchenAid. First, there was the Housewares show in Chicago. An event fab enough on it’s own, but remember that little video we created? Yeah. It’s now been viewed more than 2.7 million times. Crazy!

Then, KitchenAid flew me out to New York for a blogger retreat just last week. We literally ate our way around the city on a foodie walking tour of the lower east side and spent a whole day at Food52 (I seriously wanted to move in). Food52 is like a candy store for food and interior design obsessed adults. Oh, and we got to meet Chef Marcus Samuelson. Yep, two unbelievably dreamy days.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

So continuing my month of KitchenAid love, I bring you this triple layer gluten-free carrot cake, made super easy with KitchenAid’s new Fresh Prep Slicer Shredder. If you leave your stand mixer on your countertop (as I do), then it’s super easy to add this attachment and quickly grate 3 cups of carrots.

The carrot cake itself is gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly, but the icing does contain dairy. You guys know I’m dairy-light, but I do love cream cheese frosting, so this is my splurge for Easter. If you don’t do dairy, I promise you this gluten-free carrot cake is abundantly delicious all on it’s own. Or, you could make a dairy-free buttercream, similar to the one I used on my Coconut Amaretto Crepe Cake (minus the amaretto and shredded coconut).

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

I decided to make this gluten-free carrot cake a naked cake, meaning the sides are scraped clean of icing (otherwise known as a crumb coat). This gives it a bit of a rustic look, which I think is fitting for a carrot cake. It also keeps it a smidge (a very slight smidge) healthier.

When it comes to carrot cake recipes I know some folks like to add lots of mix-ins – things like raisins, coconut…even pineapple. Call me boring, but I like a simple, pure carrot cake. The only mix-in I added was chopped pecans. But feel free to modify this gluten-free carrot cake recipe as you wish.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

One quick note about the three pans. It will seem like the pans barely have any batter and that’s okay. Once you divide the carrot cake batter between three pans they’ll only be about 1/4 full, but your cake will rise. It will also cook faster and bonus, my layers cooked and stayed 100% flat, so there was no need to trim a dome. You could also do this recipe in three 6-inch pans or two 9-inch pans. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.


Pin for later:

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.

This post was created in partnership with KitchenAid. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help keep Downshiftology going! As always, all opinions are my own. 

This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans.
5 from 20 votes

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
This gluten-free carrot cake (which is also paleo) is a rustic naked cake, topped with ultra creamy cream cheese frosting and pecans. 


Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup palm shortening, ghee or butter, melted and room temperature
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, (plus extra for garnish)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, (or more, as needed)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Grease three 8-inch pans and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. 
  • Add all of the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together. 
  • In a separate large bowl, add the eggs, palm shortening or butter, applesauce and vanilla extract. With a hand mixer on medium speed, blend together for 30 seconds. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend for another minute, or until well combined. Fold in the shredded carrots and chopped pecans. 
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between the three 8-inch pans. They'll only be about 1/4 full, and that's okay. Use a spatula to flatten them on top. 
  • Cook the cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the cakes halfway through. 
  • Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then remove them from the pan and continue cooling on a cooling rack. 
  • While the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Combine all frosting ingredients together and blend in a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed. 
  • Divide the frosting between the layers and add a thin layer of frosting, which is then scraped off, from the outside edge. Top with chopped pecans. 


Calories: 630kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 119mg, Sodium: 537mg, Potassium: 329mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 43g, Vitamin A: 6070IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 118mg, Iron: 1.7mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free Carrot Cake, Paleo Carrot Cake
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Other recipes you might like:

Chocolate Mug Cake (gluten-free, paleo)

Clementine Upside Down Cake (gluten-free, paleo)

Molten Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream (gluten-free, paleo)

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104 comments on “Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. I made this last weekend for my Mom’s 93rd birthday and it was a huge hit! I shared some with a few friends and the reviews were all raves. I know I’ll be asked to make this one again. Thanks, Lisa!

  2. Love this recipe, made cupcakes since it was for a kids birthday and they turned out fantastic! Thanks Lisa!

  3. Very Very good recipe. Husband liked it better than the flour type carrot cake that I have made for years.  This now takes the top spot! 
    Thank you Lisa

  4. Just made this last night and loved it! So good! Was just wondering how long does it keep and how do you recommend storing it? I am assuming in the fridge because of the frosting right? Or could it be left out?

    • Hi Joanna – so happy you loved this carrot cake! If it’s not too hot, you can leave it stored on the counter covered, but I do prefer to store mine in the fridge. It will last for up to a week usually.

  5. I read through all the comments and couldn’t find adjusted bake times using 2 9-inch pans instead of 3. I’d like to make this for my father in laws 84th birthday this week, but not sure what to adjust oven temp and/or cook times to. I don’t bake enough, nor feel comfortable winging it, so any advice greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  6. What could I use instead of cream of tartar? I’m not able tk find it in my grocery store. 

  7. Hi Lisa, do I use sweetened or unsweetened apple sauce? Thanks!

    • Hi Lina – Either one is fine! Depending on how sweet you want your cake to be.

      • Thanks Lisa.  I used sweetened apple sauce and it turned out amazing!! This and your paleo chocolate cake will be the only cakes I will make from now on. Thanks so much for sharing. 

      • Hi Lina- Wonderful! I’m so glad you’re enjoying all my paleo baked goods :)

  8. The best recipe! I’ve made it for birthdays several times and it’s always amazing! 

  9. Boys and girls, this Carrot Cake is out of this world — DELICIOUS and super easy to make!!! I used coconut flour instead of tapioca flour (my store didn’t have it) and we loved it. It lasted 1,5 days (household of 2 people, oops no self control :) Also, I made the mistake to “brag” about it to my extended family from Romania and they forced me to translate this recipe into Romanian, and they loved it too.

    PS: Lisa, many thanks for all your amazing work. Looking forward to make it again soon.

    • Hi Marina- Thrilled to hear you found this carrot cake recipe so easy to make and delicious! Glad that your entire Romanian family enjoyed this as well :)

    • Hi Marina,

      Did you replace the tapioca flour with the coconut flour in the same quantities?


  10. This HAS to be the best gluten-free carrot cake recipe out there. I made it for my fiancé’s quarantine birthday and we didn’t even miss his mom’s (who usually makes one). I ended up making a different dairy-free frosting, though. The whole thing was devoured within a couple days!

  11. I love your recipes and suggestions!

    What can I use to replace the almond flour if I’m allergic to nuts? There are lots of your recipes I’d love to try.



  12. Something tells me we cant USE Flax or Chia Egg Substitutes In this withit taking 5 eggs.What else could we use if have egg Allergy? Thank You. This Recipe looks so good♡♡♡

    • Hi Diana – yes, I’d agree with that. I’d recommend looking for a different recipe online that might have ingredients/ratios better suited to be egg free. :)

  13. Hey! will I be able to replace egg in this recipe?

  14. Dear Lisa, I made your absolutely fabulous carrot cake this evening. I made it into cupcakes with the cream cheese icing, so everyone could just grab one to enjoy while we watched a movie! Thank you so much Lisa. I truly appreciate all your recipes and have tried so many of them and everyone likes them a lot!! It’s always great when you can please everybody in a family of six! Lol. May you be Blessed with many more recipe ideas to share! I so look forward to your videos. God Bless you!

    • Hi Donna – I love how you made these into cupcakes! That’s something that’s been on my to-do list. But, I’m glad everyone in your family enjoyed this recipe and can’t wait to see what you make next from Downshiftology!

  15. Hi this looks delicious ! Wondering if I can use a GF flour instead of the almond/tapioca flour as that’s what I have on hand ? Love your website!

    • Hi Karen – I haven’t tried this recipe with a GF flour blend, but you’re welcome to give it a shot. Let us know how it turns out!

    • Hey, how did you get on with the GF flour? I just have buckwheat flour to hand and so wondered if i’ll get away with that, too!

      Love to know :)

  16. I made this for my son’s birthday with little tweaks. As it is impossible to get tapioca flour where I leave (I think that all the stores stopped sourcing it) I used corn starch instead 1:1 ratio and it worked perfectly. I can say it disappeared in a flash.

    • Hi Milica – That’s amazing! So glad to hear everyone enjoyed this cake for your son’s birthday :) And good to note on the corn starch, will keep that in mind if anyone asks!

  17. I’m not a huge carrot cake fan but this was a big hit with my family! The cake came out pretty like yours and was super moist and yummy! Thank you again for another awesome recipe!

  18. Hi! Can I use honey instead of coconut sugar or will this not work?
    Also can I just use one pan and make one cake?
    Looking for a cake recipe that is completely sugar, dairy and gluten free.
    I was also thinking to use Silk coconut cream as the frosting instead of cream cheese frosting.

    • Hi Tamara – unfortunately I haven’t tried this recipe with honey, so not sure how that will turn out. But do keep in mind that honey is still considered sugar (it’s just not refined sugar). And you could probably make this in one larger cake pan as well.

  19. Delicious! I made half the mixture (I used 2 eggs) and made the most light and lovely carrot cupcakes. Thank you Lisa – your recipes are faultless, well tested and so very appreciated :)

  20. Hi Lisa,

    I have made this recipe twice now.  It was my first time baking.  Recipe was very easy to make, and everyone at the parties complimented us for it.  It is very tasty and not excessively heavy, which is often my issue with desserts in America.  For the frosting, I actually put 2 cups of powdered sugar instead of 3 cups—seemed like a great balance, but possibly because I like a little less sweet in general.  We also added orange zest to the frosting.  Overall just such a great carrot cake recipe.  We’ll be making it again.  Thanks for sharing it on your website.

    • Hi Pierre – I’m so glad you loved this carrot cake! I personally don’t like my desserts too sweet, so I’m glad we have the same taste :)

  21. I absolutely loved this recipe and the chocolate cake one! I found the absolute best butter substitute is Miyokos butter made from cashews. Also do you happen to have a vanilla/white cake recipe? Or would you tweak this one or the chocolate one to make it vanilla? 

    • Hi Nikki – So glad you loved both cakes! They are definitely a crowd favorite :) I will keep in mind for a Vanilla cake down the road.

  22. This looks divine – do you have a metric conversion available? I see many of your recipes do and it is so helpful – especially as I am in the UK. It is rare to see the conversion option which is what attracted me to look at your website after coming across one of your recipes that supplied the conversion option. Thanks for the wonderful recipes I have so far discovered on your site – an avid fan from here-on!

    • Hi Mariel – I always get excited to hear followers from outside the country! Thanks for following along with Downshiftology :) And thank you for pointing that out! I have just added the metric conversions for this recipe. Please note that this was used with an automatic calculator, so I would use this as a guideline. Hope this helps!

  23. This recipe was amazing. Will be a favourite. Looking forward to trying some of your others now. 

    • Hi Catherine – I’m so glad you loved this recipe! Let me know when you try another recipe :)

  24. What does cream of tartar do? 
    Can it be substituted?

    • Hi Audrey – cream of tartar in conjunction with baking soda creates a form of baking powder. You may also use a splash of apple cider vinegar instead of cream of tartar for this recipe :)

  25. I am so excited  to make this recipe! Carrot cake is my favorite! I am just wondering if I could make this as a bundt cake?

  26. Well, I can also add this one to my list!! I’ve tried Lisa’s chocolate cake recipe several times (EVERYONE loves it!), but knew I needed to try the carrot cake recipe. I finally had the chance last weekend for small group. OH MY GOODNESS. Lisa, you have a gift! This cake has perfect texture, flavor and is so moist! I’m a bit picky when it comes to carrot cake in general, but this… ❤️.
    I will be making it for my mom’s birthday next month! Thank you again for yet another delicious dessert. xo

    • Hi Susannah – Thank you so much for the kind message! I’m so happy you loved the carrot cake (and my chocolate cake). You are so sweet! :)

  27. This looks wonderful as does your chocolate cake recipe. I am wondering if you can recommend a ratio of your 3 grain free flours (almond, coconut and tapioca) for a hummingbird cake that calls for 3 cups of all purpose flour. Thank you!

    • Hi Jennifer – Unfortunately, I don’t have a flour ratio recommendation for a hummingbird cake as I’ve never made one before. Baking can be a little tricky in terms of not only substituting flours but also getting the dry to wet ingredient ratios correct.

  28. This is absolutley delicious!  I swapped the palm sugar for stevia, my family couldn’t tell and everyone loved it!

  29. The cake looks delicious!   I have a nut allergy, what flour could i switch the almond flour without?

    • Hi Rose – unfortunately I haven’t tried this cake with any substitutions on the almond flour and given that there’s quite a large amount in this recipe it would need to be tested. If you happen to try any other flours and they work, please let me know!

  30. Hi! Just wondering if you know the nutritional information for the carrot cake? Thanks!! 

  31. Love your site, Lisa! Thank you for making such a beautiful site with wonderful recipes and information. You have such a chic style and I really enjoy your style of writing.I just made your Carrot Cake and wow is it amazing. Everyone in the family loves it. I realized that I really enjoy eating food that reminds you that you’re eating “real food” with nutrition and wholesomeness. I find I eat less because I’m satisfied. I’m wondering if you can recommend a recipe for pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. I stared at this carrot cake recipe for a long time trying to figure out how to adjust it into a pumpkin cake but couldn’t figure it out…do you think it’s possible?

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks so much for your kind words and I’m happy you love my recipes and videos! I’m also happy you loved this carrot cake recipe – it’s one of my favorites as well. I’ve actually been playing around with a pumpkin cake recipe and hope to have one soon. Stay tuned! :) x

  32. This looks divine!! I’m actually thinking about making it for my little boys birthday in a few weeks. Do you think the sponge layers would freeze well? If not, could they be made a day or two in advance? Thanks for such a yummy recipe!! :)

  33. Hello, i’m planning on making this cake on sunday for my graduation party but i can’t find cream of tartar where i live and i’m wondering if it’s essential or not or if i can substitute it for something else.

    It looks beautiful and i’m really excited to try it!


    • Hi Kajsa – the cream of tartar helps to add a little fluffiness to the recipe (and works with the baking soda). You could use 1 tbsp baking powder to replace both the baking soda and cream of tartar, if you can find that. Have fun at your graduation party! :) x

  34. What type of frosting can I use for this cake that contains no coconut?

  35. I am not a big sweet eater; however, have always enjoyed a piece of carrot cake on rare occasion. Thanks for coming up with a much more friendly recipe for those of us with autoimmunity.

    Rating: 5
  36. Hi Lisa. Have you ever made this recipe as cupcakes?

  37. hi lisa! what’s a good substitute for the applesauce? i’m not vegan, just paleo, so anything else works for me!

  38. I make my cream cheese frosting with tofutti vegan cream cheese, I use half a tub and it’s excellent. I will be making this cake this weekend. Looks outrageous!

  39. I plan to make this cake for my son’s upcoming birthday party! Just wondering does Almond Flour refer to Almond Meal (in Australia) – ground up almonds?

    • Wonderful! The almond flour I use is blanched almond flour (linked above) which is typically a finer texture than almond meal. But in this particular recipe because the cake is a bit of a chunkier texture, almond meal should work. Enjoy! :)

  40. I made the cake today and it is excellent – moist, just the right amount of sweetness, etc. My family did not realize it didn’t have wheat flour in it which made me happy because I like to eat gluten free and they all liked it. I’m really impressed with the recipe so plan to try others! Thanks

  41. Now I’ve tried it! Just a small version and only two layers, as a rehersal bake for an upcoming birthday in the family… It was amazing!!! And a good thing with a smaller version is that I could eat the whole cake hahaha. Pic on my instagram <3 :)

  42. It really looks just delicious! My biggest problem right now is that I’m out of tapioca and can’t get my hands on it until wednesday after easter… It’s a disaster! But after that I’ll definitely try the recipe :)

  43. I really do like the look of naked cakes, too, and it might be heresy to say this, but I don’t always want all the frosting on the cake, so the naked cake serves just the right amount. LOVE this cake!

  44. Love love love almond flour! Can I use coconut oil?

  45. Lovely images. It made feel like eating the cake. Looks delicious.

  46. This looks so delicious! I love the way you frosted it, too, and always love those attachments!

  47. Love the rustic look of a naked cake! This gluten free carrot cake is the perfect ending to any Easter dinner! I like that you only chose to use pecans in this. The wonderful carrots get to shine through!

  48. Yay, you’re back with another post and recipe! You’ve definitely been busy, but wow, such wonderful experiences! And thank you for sharing a lot of the trip via your Instagram stories – I had fun watching those (is that weird? Haha). Love all the chef/kitchen footage. And I love this upgraded carrot cake recipe – perfect for Easter (how is it almost Easter already?!). Hope you’re able to get some much-deserved rest/downtime soon!