Dairy Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Whole dairy free carrot cake with frosting, two pieces cut and plated with forks.

The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
518 Calories
20g Fat
80g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 518
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 436mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 80g 29%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 52g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 290mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Carrot cake is not only a decadent and delicious dessert, it is also a versatile treat suitable for many occasions and can be adjusted to suit various dietary needs. Carrot cake can be served at holidays such as Easter, for birthday parties, or even showers and weddings. This version of carrot cake is dairy-free because it is made with vegetable oil instead of butter. It works so well because the other ingredients keep the cake batter rich and moist. Besides the grated carrots, there is a can of drained pineapple for additional flavor, texture, and moisture. It can be topped with your favorite frosting recipe, or you can use a dairy-free version of cream cheese frosting that tastes just as wonderful as the original. Instead of cream cheese frosting, carrot cakes can simply be topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired. The cake can even be made vegan by substituting the eggs for vegan egg substitute of the equivalent of 4 vegan flax eggs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 3-4 large carrots)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 3 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup raisins

  • To Finish: Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Dairy free carrot cake ingredients gathered.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. Pre heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

    Two round pans greased and floured.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. Combine the grated carrots and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside while preparing the rest of the cake batter.

    Brown sugar and grated carrots in a bowl.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristin Vanni

  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

    Dry ingredients in a mixing bowl for dairy free carrot cake.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  5. In another large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and eggs.

    Eggs and white sugar in a mixing bowl.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  6. Mix in the oil, crushed pineapple, and vanilla extract.

    Oil, crushed pinnapple, vanilla extract added to bowl with the eggs and white sugar for carrot cake.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, careful not to overmix.

    Dry ingredients in one bowl, combined wet ingredients in a second bowl.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  8. Fold in the carrot mixture and the raisins.

    Raisins and shredded carrot mixture being added to the cake batter for dairy free carrot cake.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  9. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    Dairy free carrot cake batter divided evenly into the two prepared pans.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  10. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes then invert and cool completely. Frost with dairy-free cream cheese frosting, if desired.

    Cooled cakes stacked on a plate with dairy-free cream cheese frosting being applied with a butter knife.

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

How To Store

Leftover cake can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you want to make the cake layers in advance, they can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost completely in the refrigerator overnight and then frost and serve as desired.

Variations

  • This recipe can also be made as a sheet cake. Bake in a greased and floured 9x13 pan for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You can also turn this recipe into cupcakes by spooning the batter into 12 lined muffin cups and baking for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. A single layer cake can also be made by halving all of the ingredients and baking it in one round or square 9-inch pan. 
  • This recipe includes 1 cup of raisins, but they can be omitted or 1 cup of your favorite dried fruit can be used instead. You can also use 1 cup of chopped nuts instead of the raisins, if desired. 
  • Carrot cakes are beautiful with just a decadent layer of frosting, but they can also be elegantly decorated in a variety of ways. Additional dairy-free frosting can be prepared and colored with orange and green food coloring. Using a piping bag, orange carrots and green carrot tops can be drawn around the edge of the cake so every slice gets a carrot decoration. Another option is to top the cake with thin ribbons of grated carrot, placed in beautiful swirls around the edge. 
  • To make this cake vegan, you will need to substitute the 4 eggs with the equivalent of 4 flax eggs. Combine 4 tablespoons of ground flax meal into 12 tablespoons of water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before combining into the recipe.



Tips

When grating carrots for a carrot cake, it is important to use a medium sized grater so the shredded carrots aren’t too thick or to fine. Also, don’t use pre-shredded carrots from the store because they are too dry for cakes and won’t provide the necessary moisture.

What is a good non-dairy substitute for cream cheese?

There are several non-dairy versions of cream cheese available nowadays in the grocery store. Some are made with nuts such as cashews, others are made with tofu. They whip up nicely with powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla to create a non-dairy cream cheese frosting.

What can you substitute for vegetable oil in carrot cake?

Vegetable oil can be substituted with the equivalent amount of any mild oil. Canola oil, grapeseed oil, or even a very light olive oil works well. 

Why is my carrot cake so dense?

Carrot cakes tend to be more dense than other cakes because of the shredded carrots, raisins, and sometimes nuts incorporated into the batter. However, make sure you use a medium grater for shredding the carrots to avoid an overly dense cake where the carrots are too large to incorporate properly.