“Healthified” Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

Spring is coming up and that means it’s time for some carrot cake! I’ve been testing out many recipes to share with you over the last few weeks and narrowed it down to two absolutely delicious carrot cakes. I’ve been having the darn hardest time deciding which to share first, but in the end I settled on this healthy gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free carrot cake going first since it’s a little less “unconventional” {starting you off easy, here! ;) }

"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

I’m not really sure how to qualify a “healthified” dessert to be honest, since everyone’s idea of “healthy” is so different. I do know, however, that I made this absolutely delicious carrot cake without the use of any gluten, dairy, eggs, oils {except some coconut oil in the frosting}, refined sugars, or other processed ingredients — that’s my idea of a carrot cake that is on the lighter and healthier side {and that is very allergen-friendly!}.

"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

As with most my desserts, I wanted this to be a no-fuss experience. I intentionally decided to make it in a rectangular pan to make it feel more “homely.” There are obviously some very stunning layer carrot cakes out there, but this time I just wanted a simple cake that I can just slice and tuck into. This cake was amazing as a snack on the go and as breakfast {yes, I totally eat cake for breakfast, and this one was a perfect breakfast cake!}. It’s got the perfect balance of a light base and a soft creamy frosting.

"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

I also filled it with my favorite carrot cake add-ins and, but have since learned some people feel VERY passionate about what goes into their carrot cake {I never realized raisins could be so unwelcome! A few of my friends were categorically opposed to me including the raisins. I on the other hand always thought they were an essential part and I absolutely love raisins in a carrot cake!}. Anyways, on this point, feel free to use whatever carrot cake add-ins make YOU happy and whatever is traditional in your family — I won’t judge ;)

"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}

Lastly, just wanted to share that by some strange coincidence, my friend Natalie @ Feasting on Fruit shared a delicious “healthified” gluten-free vegan carrot cake on her blog earlier today as well and I think her recipe is brilliant. Have a look if you want more carrot cake options {because making two carrot cakes is always better than one ;) }

5.0 from 3 reviews
"Healthified" Carrot Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free}
Prep time: 
Cook/Chill Time: 
Ready In: 
Makes: approx. 12 servings {easily doubles for a larger cake}
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup + 6 tbsp of my gf flour mix {1/2 cup brown rice flour, ½ cup tapioca starch, 6 tbsp sweet sticky rice flour/glutinous rice flour, ½ tsp guar gum}{or, if using a store-bought mix I recommend using 1¼ cups of Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend}.
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup maple syrup {or another liquid sweetener like agave, honey, etc.}
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce {for a homemade version, see here}
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup of add-ins of your choice: I used ½ cup raisins, ½ cup walnuts {other traditional add-ins you can try: other nuts or dried fruit, shredded coconut}
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups cashews, presoaked for at least a few hours {or for 15 mins in boiled water, if in a rush}
  • ⅓ cup water or non-dairy milk, warm or at room temperature {milk would give it a slightly whiter look}
  • ¼ cup maple syrup, at room temperature {or liquid sweetener of your choice}
  • 3 - 4 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional Carrot Hearts Topping:
  • a few extra carrots and a tiny heart cookie cutter {I used the one that came with my linzer cookie cutters set}
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter an 8" x 12" cake pan {or anything of a similar size} and set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add in sweetener, applesauce, and lemon juice and use a mixer to mix everything together. Add in the grated carrots mix through once more to incorporate. Fold in the add-in items. Transfer this batter into the prepared cake pan. Level the top using a spatula to even out the surface.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 23 minutes until the top becomes golden and a skewer inserted down the center comes out dry. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Prepare the frosting by placing all ingredients in a good blender and process until completely smooth {I used my Vitamix for this}. Adjust the sweetness to taste. Feel free to add a hint more water/milk to help blending as needed. Note that if your ingredients are not at room temp here, the coconut oil will begin to set before the frosting is blended through.
  5. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread the frosting over the top evenly. Place the cake in the fridge for at least an hour or two to help the frosting set a little {unless you don't mind a very soft frosting, of course ;) }.
  6. If using the carrot heart topping, simply slice the carrots into thin rounds {1/16" of an inch or so}, and then use a little heart cutter to cut out a heart out of each slice. Sprinkle the hearts over the top of the cake, cut the cake into slices and serve! {Note: the carrots will brown up after a few hours, so best to make them & decorate with them right before serving}. Enjoy!
Now your turn to share:

Raisins in carrot cake — yay or nay?
Was carrot cake a tradition in your family?

Happy Baking!


P.S. Have you seen this raw carrot cake yet?


This gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free “healthified” carrot cake recipe has been shared with Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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