This truly is the best gluten free carrot cake recipe! It’s made in one bowl, incredibly moist, full of fresh flavor and so easy to make. Top it off with a dairy free cream cheese buttercream frosting.
I told ya’ll I was on a major cake kick, so next up is this gluten free carrot cake! It’s seriously moist, full of fresh spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and finished off with a simple dairy free cream cheese buttercream.
I’m seriously obsessed with this recipe, and know you will be too. I probably say this about every gluten free cake I make, but you TRULY would never know this is gluten free.
It’s made with both gluten free all purpose flour to provide structure and a classic cake texture, plus a bit of almond flour for moisture and because it keeps the cake light and airy and not dense.
We’ll be using a generous amount of apple sauce to provide natural sweetness, and it pairs SO well with the spices in this cake.
Before we get started, how do you feel about nuts in carrot cake? Personally, it’s a no for me.
In carrot muffins or a carrot loaf, I can definitely see adding chopped walnuts, but I think it can ruin the texture and experience of cake! You are welcome to throw some into the batter, however, if that’s your thing 🙂
How to make gluten free carrot cake
GRATE CARROTS. Peel your carrots and cut into large chunks. Add to a food processor and process until grated, this should only take a few seconds, just make sure there are no large chunks in there.
You can also grate by hand, but I find the food processor makes it much easier! Set aside.
PREP PANS. Line two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper. I like using these parchment rounds.
MIX WET INGREDIENTS. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together all wet ingredients until well combined and the egg is completely broken up.
ADD WET INGREDIENTS. Beat in the dry ingredients (aside from the carrot), making sure to spoon and level the flours. Once combined, fold in the carrots until evenly incorporated. If you’re using walnuts or raisins, fold them in now!
BAKE. Divide the batter among your prepared cake pans and place in the center of the oven. For 8 inch pans, bake for 38-42 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cakes made in 9 inch pans will be a bit thinner, so bake time will be shorter, check around 35 minutes for doneness.
COOL. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
FROST. Make the cream cheese frosting and frost the cakes once completely cool. I usually use about 1 cup of frosting between each layer, one cup on top, then the rest for the sides.
How to keep gluten free cake moist
One question I get a lot is, “how do I keep my gluten free cake moist?” People seem to think that gluten free cakes are dry, but I promise, this cake is far from it.
The apple sauce, oil, sugars and almond flour in the recipe will keep it moist for several days, so you can easily prep it in advance.
With that said, please do not sub the almond flour for almond meal. Almond meal is made from whole almonds, whereas almond flour is made from blanched almonds and contributes to the light and fluffy texture of the cake.
How to store
Because this gluten free carrot cake is naturally so moist, it stores really well. Once made, frosted and sliced, just store it in a container for 3-5 days, or a bit longer if storing in the fridge.
Because of the generous amount of apple sauce in the cake, it doesn’t do well in a totally air tight container.
It can get a bit too moist if totally sealed off. Keep the lid slightly ajar or just cover with foil for best results.
You can freeze the cooked cake layers before frosting as well. Just be sure to let it cool completely, then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe bag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this vegan or dairy free?
This cake is naturally dairy free (as are all of my recipes!). But you can use regular cream cheese or dairy free cream cheese in the frosting.
Since this recipe uses 4 eggs, that is above my limit for safely subbing a egg replacer, so I do not recommend making this cake vegan. I’d recommend an already vegan and gluten free carrot cake like Gimme Some Oven.
Can I make a sheet cake?
Yes! This recipe makes a two layer 8 or 9 inch round cake, (I just made an extra layer for the photos), but you can easily make a sheet cake instead.
However, a sheet cake will require a longer baking time, probably about 45-50 minutes. If you try it, let me know!
Can I make it in advance?
Yes! I would suggest making this cake up to 24 hours in advance, letting the cakes cool completely, then carefully but tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to frost!
Can I make it nut-free?
This recipe does call for almond flour, but you can make it nut free if needed. You cannot swap almond flour for all purpose flour 1:1. However, you can swap the one cup of almond flour for 1/2 cup more gluten free all purpose flour.
Can I use store bought shredded carrots?
You can but I don’t recommend it! If you use a food processor the process of grating is SO easy. I promise it will be worth it in the final cake.
Can I make it refined sugar free?
You can swap the white sugar and light brown sugar for coconut sugar if you want a refined sugar free option.
However, the cake will be very dark and the texture may be slightly different. I do not recommend a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Try these cake recipes next!
Gluten Free Carrot Cake
by: claire cary
- 4 eggs
- 1 scant cup unsweetened apple sauce essentially, one barely level cup, make sure it's not over-flowing
- ⅔ cup oil any neutral oil will work
- ¾ cup granulated cane sugar
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cloves
- 3 cups finely grated/shredded carrots about 5 large carrots
- 1 batch cream cheese frosting click for recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel your carrots and cut into large chunks.
- Add to a food processor and process until grated, this should only take a few seconds, just make sure there are no large chunks in there. You can also grate by hand, but I find the food processor makes it much easier! Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together all wet ingredients until well combined and the egg is completely broken up.
- Beat in the dry ingredients (aside from the carrot), making sure to spoon and level the flours, don't pack them in.
- Once combined, fold in the carrots until evenly incorporated.
- Divide the batter among your prepared cake pans and place in the center of the oven.
- For 8 inch pans, bake for 38-43 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (I do 40 in my oven). Cakes made in 9 inch pans will be a bit thinner, so bake time will be shorter, check around 35 minutes for doneness.
- Remove from the oven, let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Make the cream cheese frosting and frost the cakes once completely cool. I usually use about 1 cup of frosting between each layer, one cup on top, then the rest for the sides.