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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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.

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.

Enjoy!

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 5 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. 

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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. 

Nutrition

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

  1. 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 :)

  2. 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 :)

  3. 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?

  4. 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! :)

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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

  10. 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!! :)

  11. 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!

    Thanks.

    • 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

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

  13. 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
  14. Hi Lisa. Have you ever made this recipe as cupcakes?

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

  16. 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!

  17. 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! :)

  18. 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

  19. 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 :)

  20. 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 :)

  21. 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!

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

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

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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!