Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This gluten-free carrot cake is a rustic naked cake, made with three layers of perfectly spiced carrot cake, and slathered with a luscious cream cheese frosting!

Gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand.

Your search for the best gluten-free carrot cake stops here. This triple layer carrot cake is unbelievably moist, and filled with your favorite spiced flavors along with a good portion of healthy carrots. Is the cake itself healthy? Well, that might be a bit of a stretch. But I did go light on the ultra creamy cream cheese frosting.

With how scrumptious this cake is, no one will even notice it’s gluten-free. I love to serve it up for the best Easter dessert (it always gets rave reviews), but don’t be shy enjoying it year round. It’s perfect for parties and get togethers as well!

Carrots on a table for carrot cake.

What’s In This Carrot Cake

While this may look like a long list of ingredients, please don’t be intimidated. It’s super easy to make, and the results are worth it. Here’s what you’ll need: 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • Almond Flour: I always use blanched almond flour for the finest texture.
  • Tapioca Flour: A little bit of tapioca flour helps to create that lighter, fluffier texture.
  • Coconut Sugar: The slight caramel undertones of coconut sugar are ah-mazing in this cake. 
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger are the ultimate carrot cake spice mix.
  • Baking Soda: A little bit of baking soda gives lift to the cake.
  • Cream of Tartar: This is the “acid” that activates the baking soda. You could always swap these two items with baking powder if you prefer.
  • Eggs: Grab a few large eggs and you’re good to go.
  • Butter: I’m using butter, but you can use ghee or coconut oil as well, if you’d like to keep it dairy-free.
  • Applesauce: A secret ingredient that helps keep this carrot cake super moist.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a smidge of sweetness to the overall base. 
  • Shredded Carrots: The star ingredients – loads of carrots! And I’ve got some tips below for how to grate them fast and easy.
  • Pecans: A sprinkle of chopped pecans on top adds a contrasting nutty crunch. 

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • Cream Cheese: It’s thick texture and tangy flavor makes it perfect for a lavish frosting. It’s my fave!
  • Butter: You can also use ghee as well. 
  • Powdered Sugar: I’m using organic powdered sugar to help create that classic sweet, and fluffy cream cheese frosting.
  • Vanilla Extract: For a little touch of sweetness.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Shredding carrots for carrot cake.

Ways to Shred Carrots

While I’m using my KitchenAid shredding attachment to grate the carrots quickly, there’s two other ways to shred carrots. 

  • Grater: Peel the carrots and use either a box or plane grater to grate the carrots. This method is a little more labor intensive, but it works just fine.
  • Food Processor: Peel and cut the carrots into 3″ long pieces. Attach the shredding blade to your food processor and shred away. This is a super quick and easy method.
The process of making the carrot cake.

Let’s Make the Best Carrot Cake Recipe

To get started, preheat your oven to 325F, grease your pans, and line them with parchment paper. Then follow along below. 

  • Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk them all together. 
  • Mix the wet ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix everything together with a whisk or hand mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. 
  • Blend it all together. Add the dry mixture into the wet and blend for one more minute until combined. Then fold in the carrots and pecans. 
  • Pour the batter into the pans. Note that the pans will only be ¼ full, and use a spatula to smooth out the top. 
  • Bake and cool. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the cake halfway through. Then pull out the cake, let it cool for 15 minutes, and remove it onto a cooling rack. 
  • Make the frosting and slather it on. Mix the frosting ingredients in a large bowl with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed. Then divide the frosting between the cake layers. 
Triple layer gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand.

Carrot Cake Tips & Substitutions

  • If you don’t do dairy. Good news, the cake itself can be made dairy-free. And I promise you this gluten-free carrot cake is abundantly delicious all on it’s own. So feel free to skip the frosting. 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).
  • Feel free to modify this cake with classic mix-ins such as raisins, shredded coconut, or even pineapple!
  • If you don’t have three 8-inch pans you can also do this recipe in two 9-inch pans. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.
  • If you want to make this cake in advance wrap the cooled, and unfrosted layers completely in plastic wrap. Then store in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Just add frosting to the thawed layers before serving!
  • If you want to store a frosted cake in advance you can do that too. Just be aware that since the sides have very little frosting, it may dry out more than a fully frosted cake. But you can store the cake completely frosted at room temperature or in the fridge for 2-3 days, and in the freezer for up to a month. Just place the cake in the freezer for an hour to let the frosting harden, then cover completely with plastic wrap.

How to Store Carrot Cake Leftovers

You can use the same methods mentioned above if you’ve got a large portion of leftovers. If you just have a slice or two, simply place them in an airtight container in either the fridge or freezer for up to a week.

A slice of carrot cake on a plate.

More Cake Recipes to Indulge In

Whether it’s for a special occasion or a treat yourself kind of day, these cake recipes are always a hit.

If you make this carrot cake, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand with frosting.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

5 from 41 votes
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
This gluten-free carrot cake is a rustic naked cake, made with three layers of perfectly spiced carrot cake, and slathered with a luscious cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup butter, ghee, or coconut oil, melted and room temperature
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ 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 325F. Grease three 8-inch pans and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. 
  • In a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and whisk together. In a separate large bowl, add the eggs, butter, applesauce and vanilla extract. With a whisk or hand mixer on medium speed, blend together for 30 seconds. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend for another minute, or until well combined. Fold in the shredded carrots and chopped pecans. 
    Carrot cake ingredients being mixed in a bowl.
  • 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. Once done, 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.
    Adding cream cheese frosting to carrot cake.
  • Divide the frosting between the layers and add a thin layer of frosting to the outside edge. Use a spatula to then scrape that off like a crumb coat. Top with a sprinkle of chopped pecans. 

Lisa’s Tips

  • 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 two 9-inch pans. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.

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: Carrot Cake, Easter Dessert, 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.

Recipe originally published April 2017, but updated to include new photos.

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168 comments on “Gluten-Free Carrot Cake”

  1. First of all, I’m a big fan! I have watched all your videos!
    Can you do pickles this spring/summer? :) 5 stars

  2. Hello, This cake looks great! Is there a flour that can be substituted for the almond flour? 

  3. 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!5 stars

  4. Love this recipe, made cupcakes since it was for a kids birthday and they turned out fantastic! Thanks Lisa!5 stars

  5. 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 Lisa5 stars

  6. 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?5 stars

    • 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.

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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. 5 stars

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

  10. The best recipe! I’ve made it for birthdays several times and it’s always amazing! 5 stars

  11. 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.5 stars

    • 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?

      Thanks,
      Melissa

  12. 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!5 stars

  13. 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.

    Thanks!

    Meg5 stars

  14. 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. :)

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

  16. 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!5 stars

    • 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!

  17. 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 :)

  18. 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.5 stars

    • 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!

  19. 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!5 stars

  20. 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.

  21. 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 :)5 stars

  22. 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.5 stars

    • 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 :)

  23. 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? 5 stars

    • 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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 :)

  26. 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 :)

  27. 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?

  28. 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. xo5 stars

    • 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! :)

  29. 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!5 stars

    • 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.

  30. This is absolutley delicious!  I swapped the palm sugar for stevia, my family couldn’t tell and everyone loved it!5 stars

  31. 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!

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

  33. 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?5 stars

    • 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

  34. 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!! :)

  35. 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

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

  37. 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.5 stars

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

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

  40. 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!

  41. 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! :)

  42. 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

  43. 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 :)

  44. 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 :)

  45. 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!

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

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

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

  49. 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!

  50. 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!

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