Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted many cake recipes on my blog, save a few cupcakes and a pumpkin cheescake I made over Thanksgiving.Well, the reason’s not because I don’t like cakes: I do, in fact a little too much. There was a time years ago, when I was still in grad school and my favorite show on public television was one where Debbi Fields, the woman who owns Mrs. Fields’ Cookies, would bake all sorts of yummy cakes and other goodies.At the time I was new to the United States and also a new baker. And the cakes I’d had in India (always store-bought) were usually white slabs with thick, hard, sugary icing on top in all kinds of psychedelic colors that tasted very sweet but nothing else. In fact, even in the mid ’90s, when I left Bombay, the only passably decent cake one could buy was a heart-shaped chocolate cake at a store named Croissants opposite Churchgate station.Of course, things have changed dramatically since and now the easier availability of ingredients, equipment and know-how means even home bakers can turn out amazing great baked goods.

So fascinated was I with baking when I first moved here that on the days when I didn’t have any classes I’d get up in the morning all excited about the idea of plonking myself in front of the television and learning something new from Debbie Fields that I could then replicate in my kitchen.Many cakes and several inches on both our waistlines later, Desi told me it was time I got rid of my addiction to cake-baking.

Now although I try not to listen to anything he tells me to do, it was I that had the lion’s share of the extra inches. So I tried to cut down my cake-making by quite a bit, limiting myself mostly to cupcakes where it is easier to control portion size.Of course, if there was any potential to include a healthy ingredient in the cake, the baking gloves would go right back on. As with banana nut bread, or pumpkin bread. And, of course, carrot cake.

With an unbelievably moist texture, that rich-sweet carrot flavor and topped with a cream-cheese icing, the mighty carrot cake is easy to love. And the fact that it has plenty of carrots in it makes it an easy sell to even conscientious dieters.I make my carrot cake even healthier by using in it only unrefined ingredients: whole-wheat pastry flour and turbinado sugar. Then there are the carrots, the walnuts and the applesauce: yummy goodness all around.The cherries on top of the cake have nothing to do, by the way, with what’s in it. I just needed some color on the cake, and they were around, so on they went in the interests of making a pretty picture.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, everyone!

Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A moist and delicious whole wheat carrot cake that's completely vegan and even healthy, with a delicious cream cheese frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • For Carrot Cake:
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, then coarsely chopped.
  • For Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese, like Tofutti
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  1. To make cake, sift the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
  2. In another bowl mix the canola oil, applesauce, grated carrots, and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the oil-applesauce carrot mixture and stir everything to blend evenly.
  4. Add walnuts and mix.
  5. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, if posibble because this makes it far easier to unmold the cake. Oil the parchment paper as well.
  6. Now divide the batter evenly between the two pans
  7. and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Place the cake pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cakes gently and allow them to cool thoroughly on the rack. Frost when completely cooled.
  9. To make frosting, beat together all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl until very smooth.
  10. To frost, place one of the cooled cakes on a cake stand or plate. Smear the top with some frosting.
  11. Carefully place the other cake on top of the first one. Cover the cake with the remaining icing using a spatula.
  12. Make the Frosting:
  13. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until really smooth
  14. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or plate. Smear the top with icing.
  15. Place the second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining icing on top and over the sides of the cake using a spatula or ladle.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.


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  1. says

    Ah, for the love of cake! I tried to make a rolled carrot cake the other day, and it broke (boo!). I do love a good rich flavorful cake like this one… maybe I should make mine into cupcakes(haha!)

  2. says

    That looks super delicious Vaishali..I know what you mean by the extra inches on the waistline with baking cakes. Been there ;)..I have a weakness for cakes and eat the most myself when I do bake.

  3. says

    I hate cakes with icing even now.It started thanks to those cakes.Recently only I have started liking ‘normal’ ones withut icing.To tell you the truth,the icing removes my appetite.
    This looks perfect and yes,whole wheat is healthy and the walnut-apple sauce carrots is heavenly

  4. says

    Looks delicious! Isn’t it strange coincidence – I posted gaajar halwa today:)

    You’re right about the cake quality those days but now it is different. There are several bakeries offering world quality cakes. Bangalore and Hyd. always had good bakeries but I sorely missed them in Bombay. Now we have good bakeries in Thane itself! But I really prefer the ones I make at home now. I made carrot cakes sometime back too but not with Whole wheat pastry flour. We still don’t get that here:(!

  5. says

    Perfect, Vaishali.
    Its sweet carrot season and I’m going crazy making carroty stuff.:)

    Carrot cake with applesauce is what I’m making this weekend, though my recipe is a bit different.

  6. says

    I can’t believe cake can be this healthy.

    And I totally agree with you on the added inches – food blogging’s been not good for my weight watching self so far!

  7. says

    ooooohhhhh, that sounds marvelous! I am baking it today!! can’t wait, yummy… ;-))), thatnk you for that recipe, I’m sure it’s wonderful!

  8. Nirupama says

    Hi Vaishali,

    I just happened to come across ur blog while looking for a cake recipe. I am a recent vegan and am constantly on the lookout for recipes. I am a vegan too bcoz i love animals and realized a long time ago tat food didnt mix well with loving animals. I had been a vegetarian until about 3 months ago and then watched peta’s video about dairy farms. gave up on milk then. I am a big fan of PETA and PCRM. I never miss up on an opportunity to tell people about the benefits of a vegan diet. I am super glad I found an Indian who is vegan. Although most of our Indian dishes are vegan some do need alterations to make them vegan. And i am a novice in cooking and am glad I now have a blog to look up from. Your babies r cute. Hope lucy is doing better.

    tc and happy making people cruelty free

  9. Anonymous says

    I love your site, and just discovered.

    Regarding the Carrot Cake, check out Jane Brody’s Good Food Book recipe for Applesauce Carrot Cake. I’ve made this for years, the family loves, and it contains no oil at all. See what you think.

  10. says

    Thanks; this carrot cake recipe is excellent!
    1. For more goodness, instead of applesauce, I pureed some cooked carrot with fruit juice.
    2. I find that cooking the carrot prior to grating/baking keeps the carrot moist and plump. In this case, you might want to cut back on the liquid by a tablespoon or two.
    3. I personally prefer my cakes less sweet, so I think I’ll cut back the sugar to 2/3 cup the next time.

  11. Gauri Radha गौरी राधा says

    Oh my gosh that looks so fantastic!!!!!!

    (I am a huge fan of vegan desserts, hehe.)

  12. says

    Hi Vaishali!
    Just wanted to say thank you so much for this delicious carrot cake recipe. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday yesterday. She and everyone else loved it. I added fresh pineapples, shredded coconut (unsweetened), and golden raisin. Delish!

  13. Anonymous says

    This makes great muffins, don’t even need frosting. I didn’t have apple sauce so I used a whole cored apple, skin and all. Processed it with the oil and sugar.

  14. Anonymous says

    Vaishali a Question for you: For the icing beat together the cream cheese …do you reccomend using a fork or electric mixer ? And at what temperature.

  15. Jenny says

    Any ideas on how to substitute whole wheat flour for whole wheat pastry flour? I’ve heard of replacing two tbsp of flour with cornstarch for every cup of WW. Any thoughts or other ideas? Thanks all. I have a large bag of WW and no WW pastry flour.

  16. Monique says

    Hi Vaishali,
    I found your website a couple of weeks ago. This carrot cake was so awesome!! I didn’t use as much oil though. I juiced my carrots n used the juice in place of the oil. I also only used 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
    Thanks so much. Your recipes r great for my vegan family. Thank you!!

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