Grain-free, paleo carrot cake made with almond flour and sweetened with pure maple syrup. Top it with cashew-based vegan cream cheese frosting for a healthier take on the classic dessert.

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake - made with almond flour, flax eggs, and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #dessert #brunch

By my calculations, there are two types of cake: carrot cake, and all the other cakes.

This is not to say I’m not partial to all the other cakes…I totally dig them.

But carrot cake? It’s an entirely different species of baked good in my mind.

It is, in a word, the dopest of all the cakes.

For this reason, I rarely bake carrot cake without close supervision.

For when I do so un-chaperoned, I eat half the cake in one standing (because the feeding is too aggressive to complete while peacefully seated).

Anyone know what 1-½ cups of almond flour + ¼ cup of pure maple syrup feels like in your stomach organ? Bliss. Heavy, heavy bliss.

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake - made with almond flour, flax eggs, and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #dessert #brunch

What’s the texture like? 

This vegan carrot cake recipe is not fluffy the way a regular carrot cake is.

It turns out dense, somewhat similar to a cookie bar (yet softer than a cookie bar). In essence, the texture is difficult to describe, but the flavor is on point with regular carrot cake.

I’ve been paying close attention to all the healthy carrot cake recipes out there, and I’ve observed a couple of things:

1.) When grain-free and paleo, the recipe usually includes eggs (which is totally fine for non-vegan folks such as myself), and

2.) Most of the vegan carrot cake recipes I’ve found usually incorporate all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour (which is totally fine for folks who eat grains).

I haven’t come across a recipe that is grain-free, vegan, naturally sweetened, and paleo. Which is how this cake was born.

There’s so much going on with this cake, I’m going to break the whole thing down. 

Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe Highlights:

  • Gluten-free and grain-free
  • Made with almond flour
  • Good source of protein and omega 3s
  • Refined sugar-free and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup
  • Topped with non-dairy, refined sugar-free vegan cream cheese frosting made with raw cashews and pure maple syrup
  • A healthful alternative to your standard cake

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake - made with almond flour, flax eggs, and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #dessert #brunch

The cashew-based vegan cream cheese frosting…this is nuts.


Get it? Because it’s made with nuts? I know, it’s a riot.

There’s no shortage of vegan cream cheese frosting recipes on the internet, but most of them use vegan cream cheese (which is typically soy-based) and powdered sugar.

To ramp up the health benefits of the recipe, a cashew-based “cream cheese” frosting sweetened with pure maple syrup keeps it ultra clean.

Do note, some paleo people object to cashews, so if you have allergies or are following a strict diet, you can omit the frosting or use a whipped coconut milk topping instead.

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake made with almond flour and flax eggs. Refined sugar-free, paleo, and healthy

Recipe Adaptations:

  • To make the cake vegan, I used flax “eggs,” but you can also use your egg replacer of choice.  Chia eggs, and/or applesauce will work marvelously.  
  • If you aren’t vegan, make my Paleo Carrot Cake or my Low-Carb Carrot Cake (for a keto version).
  • You can also use honey to replace the pure maple syrup in both the cake and the frosting if you’re fine with the recipe being non-vegan.

Also try my Paleo Strawberry Crumble, Paleo Cranberry Orange Vegan Scones, or my Paleo Apple Pie Bars, all of which are both grain-free and vegan!


Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake - made with almond flour, flax eggs, and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #dessert #brunch

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake

4.89 from 9 votes
Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake is perfect for grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free eaters!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 1 carrot cake


Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake


Prepare the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Soak the cashews in water overnight (or for at least 2 hours). Drain and transfer to a high-powered blender
  • Turn the blender on to break up the nuts and form a paste. You’ll need to stop the blender, scrape the sides and bottom, and re-start several times.
  • Leaving the blender on, slowly pour the pure maple syrup and lemon juice through the hole in the top of the blender cover (Note: if there’s no hole in the cover, you can simply pour the maple syrup and lemon juice into the blender when it’s stopped). Continue running the blender, stopping to scrape the sides, until a thick frosting results. I used a Blendtec Blender and let it run on the whisk setting for the full duration 6 times, scraping the sides between each time.
  • Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the flax eggs:

  • To make the flax eggs, combine 3 tablespoons of ground flax seed and 9 tablespoons of lukewarm water in a small bowl. Allow mixture to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very thick and egg-like.

Prepare the Grain-Free Carrot Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil a 9-inch spring form pan (or cake pan).
  • Add the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom to a large mixing bowl. Stir together until well-combined (dry mixture).
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, pure maple syrup, cider vinegar, grated ginger, vanilla bean scrapings (or vanilla extract), and shredded carrot (wet mixture).
  • Transfer the flax eggs and the wet mixture to the bowl with the dry mixture and stir well to combine. The batter should be very thick and pasty.
  • Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan, and smooth it out to create an even layer.
  • Bake on the center rack of the oven for 32 to 36 minutes, or until cake tests clean. Allow cake to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Release the mold from the springform pan and gently transfer cake to a cutting board. Spread the vegan cream cheese frosting over the surface and sides of the cake and decorate with chopped pistachios. Cut slices and serve.


*Use almond oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil in place of avocado oil
If using a smaller cake pan, you'll need to bake the cake longer until it is set up. Try baking it at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the cake tests clean.


Serving: 1of 10 · Calories: 512kcal · Carbohydrates: 40g · Protein: 14g · Fat: 34g · Fiber: 4g · Sugar: 22g
Author: Julia
Course: Desserts & Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert, egg-free carrot cake, gluten free, grain-free vegan carrot cake, healthy carrot cake, paleo vegan carrot cake recipe, refined sugar free
Did You Make This Recipe?I want to see it! Tag @the.roasted.root on social media!
Grain-Free Vegan Carrot Cake with cashew cream cheese frosting. Dairy-free, egg-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free

Julia Mueller
Meet the Author

Julia Mueller

Julia Mueller is a recipe developer, cookbook author, and founder of The Roasted Root. She has authored three bestselling cookbooks, – Paleo Power Powers, Delicious Probiotic Drinks, and The Quintessential Kale Cookbook. Her recipes have been featured in several national publications such as BuzzFeed, Self, Tasty, Country Living,, etc.

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Questions and Reviews

  1. This is perfect timing. I’m hosting Easter on Sunday for 14 people and really wanted to make a carrot cake. I’m supposed to be GF and DF for the next couple months so I was sad I was having a hard time finding a recipe that will work but this fits the bill! Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try it out!

  2. Carrot cake is so good- this looks super dense and delicious! I especially love that this is vegan gluten free 🙂 Pinning!

  3. Oh! Very interesting making a cream cheese frosting out of cashews. I love cream cheese frosting, but am always looking on how to make healthy tweaks!

  4. I couldn’t agree more- carrot cake is the dopest of all cakes and this one looks un-freaking-believable. I thought grain-free and vegan cake only happened in my dreams but then you went and proved me wrong, you sneaky little grain-free magician, you. I want a whole one to all to maself!!

  5. Totally agree with your carrot cake perspective! It’s by far my favorite of all the cakes. Love that this is not only grain free but VEGAN. Way to appeal to all the dietary restrictions and THEN SOME.

  6. I made this this past weekend and LOVED it! The only problem I had was that it didn’t bake all the way through, but was crispy on the top, so I’m wondering if I should maybe try a 9 inch pan next time? It might just be my oven. 🙁 Also, it caved in in the middle while cooling. Any tips on how to make sure this doesn’t happen? Bottom line though: while it didn’t look pretty, is WAS delicious! 🙂

      1. Hi Sonja,

        You could try baking it at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. I haven’t had that issue myself, so I can get back to you after I have tried to recreate it. Generally lower and longer can help with the sinkage, and possibly adding more almond flour. Hope this helps!

  7. I just want to let you know that I tried this today and absolutely loved it. I have been a vegan for almost 2 months and never knew this stuff could taste so good. While I still have cravings for a good steak once in a while, recipes like this keep me fro cheating so thanks so much :).

    1. You got it, David! I’m so happy you enjoyed the carrot cake! It’s definitely one of my favorite desserts. Thanks so much for the feedback! xo

  8. Hi Julia,
    Do you think I could replace the flax eggs with applesauce? I believe it would be 3/4 cup applesauce to replace the 3 flax eggs.

  9. Hi, the link goes to a 9 inch springform pan so I just wanted to confirm what size pan to use. Is it 6 inch or 9 inch?

    1. Hi Amy! Sorry about the confusion! You can use anywhere between a 6-inch to 9-inch spring form pie pan (I used a 9-inch, but I think the cake looks prettier when it’s smaller. 😉 A 6, 7, or 8-inch would look great!) Let me know if you have any other questions! xo

    2. @Julia,
      Well, unfortunately mine also didn’t cook in the middle. It looked beautiful, it rose wonderfully, browned well and crusty brown around the edges, checked with toothpick 4 times, came out dry and it felt nicely spongee on top. It did fall a bit, just down to level, when I took it out but let it rest for 1/2 hour and wham…it was completely raw inside. The outsides were perfect.

      Now that I have read all the blog messages, I see others had the same problem as me.

      I just read that you told Amy that YOU actually use a 9” spring form pan but your Recipe says to use a 6” or 7” spring form pan. There would be a HUGE difference in cooking time for a 6” vs a 9”. I used a 6” and it was a complete fail. Perhaps the same thing happened with the other people.

      PLEASE change your recipe Julie!!! Just stick with the 9”, don’t guess about the smaller sizes. Trust me the 6” cake is not cute when it’s raw in the middle.

      I cut it into 6 pieces and it has been baking for 2 more hours still raw in the middle. I may have to make a biscotti with it instead. Cut it in thin pieces and bake them again like a cookie.

      On a good note, the Cashew cream cheese is awesome 👏 Well done on that …so I can dip the carrot cake biscotti in it when they finally cook through. The flavour is there for the cake, so if you make that change hopefully everyone’s will work out. 👍

      1. Hi Lori,

        My sincere apologies the cake didn’t turn out! I made the necessary changes to the recipe and appreciate you pointing this out. I’m glad you were able to improvise given the situation. xo

  10. Hi! This is exactly what I’m looking for….except the almond flour. My babe has many aleried including almonds. Wanwa. Any reccomendations for a substitute?

    1. Hi Jennie, can he/she have hazelnut flour? If so, it’s a 1:1 replacement. If not, you may consider using coconut flour, although you’ll want to use about 1/5 to 1/4 of the amount, as coconut flour absorbs a great deal of liquid 😉 xo

  11. Do you think adding pineapple and walnuts would be fine or then the recipe would require more flour? Also do you think this cake would do well as a 2 tier?

    1. Hi Kaitlyn,

      Adding pineapple will necessitate more flour, but adding walnuts will not. For instance, if you add 1/3 cup crushed pineapple (drained), I would decrease the oil to 1/4 cup instead of 1/2, and I would add more tapioca flour – I’d start with an additional 3 Tbsp and work up from there. You can add up to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts without needing to change other components in the recipe.

      I love the idea of turning this into a layer cake! Because the cake itself does not fluff up, you won’t be able to easily slice it in half if you use a 6-inch or 7-inch cake pan. So what I would recommend is using two smaller cake pans (say 4 to 5 inches) and splitting the cake batter between the two so that you end up with two cakes to layer together if that makes sense. I hope this helps! Have a great weekend and a happy Easter! xo

  12. What if you’re not vegan but you are grain free, dairy free, sugar free? Can eggs be used? How would that change it? Also, given that cashews are high in lectins, which can create a gastro response in some of us, is there another frosting option? Thanks for all that you do Julia!!

  13. I’ve been vegan for more than 16 years and let me tell you, this is the best cake ever. For me there are two types of cake: chocolate cake and carrot/pumpkin cake. I am notoriously bad at baking and when I am feeling adventurous enough to try a new recipe I mostly fail. I’ve never eaten a cake with no grains but this one looked delicious, so I wanted to give it a try (without putting in jeopardy my cashews, therefore no frosting). I made some variations to lower the calories and increasing the proteins… and it turned out brilliantly! I love its flavour and texture. I can’t thank you enough for this recipe!

    1. This is such an encouraging and sweet comment, Anna, thank you! I’m so happy you like the cake and were able to make some changes to make it better fit your nutrient profile 🙂 Many thanks for the lovely comment! Hope you’re staying well! xoxo

  14. This carrot cake is delicious! I have made it several times. One time I added
    about 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut and it was delicious. My favorite additions are raisins and nuts – so good! However, I do not top it with frosting, but I may do that during the holidays.

    1. That’s so great to hear, Brenda! I find the cake to be so inviting without frosting too, so I’m thrilled you’re enjoying it. Thanks so much for the sweet note! xoxo

  15. Thank you thank you!! This amazing recipe helped make our Christmas so magical. As I added all the spices and the abundant amount of fresh ginger and carrots I thought, “the kids probably won’t touch this, but hopefully my husband and I enjoy it.“ Well, my kids devoured it! We all did! I’m just amazed at this recipe. I love the abundance of the spices and fresh ingredients and how it comes together to make for a true culinary experience. It’s a joy to make! I remember despising carrot cake in the past because it was so dry and had a strange spicy flavor, but not this one. It’s perfection. We served it with dairy free whipped cream. Muah! I’m making it again tonight and my kids jumped for joy! 🙂

    1. I’m so thrilled to hear you and your family enjoy the cake, Jenn! Thanks so much for the thoughtful note and the sweet words. I love the recipe as well – it’s just one of those feel-good treats! Much love to you and your family! 😀 xoxoxo

  16. All I can say is WOW! My friend is grain free and I’m vegan and I made this for her and was so shocked at how good it was! I added yellow raisins, nuts and coconut but stuck to the rest of the recipe. I will definitely make this again! It held together beautifully!

    1. Great success! I’m so thrilled to hear you and your friend enjoyed the cake! Love the addition of yellow raisins, nuts and coconut! Sounds magnificent! Thanks so much for swinging back around to let me know! xo