Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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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

4.95 from 68 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

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

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
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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213 Comments

  1. Looking to make this tomorrow! My Husband is newly gf and loves carrot cake….question on frosting….do you think I cN make it df with df cream cheese and butter or would it not hold up?

  2. Everyone has loved it. Made it 3 times in one week. Living in Sri Lanka and almond flour is astronomical here looking into substitutes. 🤔5 stars

  3. This carrot cake recipe is THE favorite cake recipe at our house. I love that it uses a good amount of carrots in it. Just made the cake again for a birthday celebration and everyone loved it. I’ve made it 4 or 5 times before and it is so reliable and delicious. I think it is better the 2nd or 3rd day after making so always make it ahead of time. This time, I stored the cake layers in sealed containers for a day and then made the frosting the next day and frosted the cake. Thanks for your reliable recipes!5 stars

  4. This is my second year in a row making this as my birthday cake. I love the moistness, the texture and how it isn’t too sweet. Thanks for creating the recipe!5 stars

  5. My daughters favorite cake is carrot cake. Before she learned about her allergies to tree nuts, including coconut I made this for her birthdays, whoops. Can I substitute the almond flour and the coconut sugar? And of course I’ll leave off the pecans also. ( poor girl )

    1. Hi Susan – I’m sure you can, but as I haven’t tested it with other flours I don’t know what those ratios might be. But yes, you can use another sugar. :)