Create the Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake: Moist, Sweet and Delightful

Do you sometimes feel left out when you see all those sweet treats on the buffet table and you know none of them are for you?  Are you often disappointed by the gluten free versions of your favorite desserts?  This moist and delightful gluten free carrot cake is the answer.

A slice of frosted carrot cake with a fork cutting into it, on a fancy plate with gold decorative border.  Matching tea cup in right background, full cake in left background.

Why is This the Best Gluten Free Cake Recipe?

That’s a pretty lofty claim, so I guess I should back it up.  Why is this the best gluten free carrot cake?

  • It's unbelievably moist and delicious.
  • It's easy to make so you won't spend all day in the kitchen.
  • It's foolproof.  No sunken middle.
  • You can serve it to guests and they won't even know it's gluten free.
  • You can bake it in muffin tins to make cute and trendy gluten free carrot cupcakes.
  • You can take it with you to any holiday party or barbecue.
  • The carrots give it structure so don't need gums or other emulsifiers.

Why is Carrot Cake the Best Gluten Free Dessert?

If you’ve eaten in a restaurant or at an event that offers a gluten free dessert option, you’ll notice that it’s often gluten free carrot cake.  There is a reason.

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Pin Image - gluten free carrot cake, sliced on plate and whole.

One of the main challenges with gluten-free baking is the absence of gluten. 

Gluten is the “glue” that binds the batter or dough together.  It creates the structure that traps gas bubbles and causes the cake to rise. Without that structure, the gas just releases into the oven and your baked goods come out flat and dense as well as dry and crumbly.

With carrot cake, the carrot provide structure so your cake rises up and holds its shape.

bride feeding gluten-free carrot cake to groom.

What you end up with is a moist, rich, substantial cake that you can serve even to your non-gluten-free guests and I guarantee they won’t know it’s gluten free. 

I even used this gluten-free carrot cake recipe as the top layer for my daughter’s wedding cake.

NGF Tip:

Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins and shorten the time to about 20 min (check after 15) and you have beautiful, handy, grab and go carrot muffins.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Carrot Cake

Many of us who have celiac disease are also lactose intolerant.  This means we also need to avoid dairy products.  This gluten free carrot cake is also dairy free.  You don't even need to make any special substitutions.  Just follow the recipe.

To be sure your cake is dairy free, don't forget the icing.  Buttercream frosting is the most common frosting for carrot cake because its of it's full rich flavor and texture.  Be sure to choose a dairy free buttercream frosting recipe.  You can easily convert your favorite frosting to dairy free by using a vegan butter substitute and by using coconut milk instead of milk.

overhead shot of gluten-free carrot cake on fancy gold bordered plate with a fork.  Matching cup and saucer with coffee top left.

Vegan and Gluten Free Carrot Cake

It's easy to convert this gluten free carrot cake recipe to satisfy a vegan diet or an egg intolerance.

Eggs provide moisture and structure to gluten free baked goods, but it's easy to replace the eggs with vegan options.  Try a commercial eggs replacer like Bob's Red Mill, or make flax eggs.  Mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water and let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up.  Then add the mixture to your recipe. 

Decorating Your Gluten Free Carrot Cake

You are limited only by your imagination.


The traditional way of decorating a carrot cake is to frost it with a rich and silky cream cheese frosting and add little fondant carrots with green leaves. 

You can stay with the nut theme like I did with the one in the photo above.  I decorated with chopped walnuts around the base and top and pecans to mark the slices.  You could do lot’s of different patterns with the chopped nuts.  Maybe make a loop over the top and sides of the cake covering about a quarter of the surface.

You can frost the top and sides like I did, or for a more casual look, just use the frosting in the middle and on top, leaving the sides nude and the center frosting leaking out just enough to be irresistibly tempting.  Maybe sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.  

The wedding cake in this photo is frosted with a vegan (dairy free) buttercream frosting and decorated with pearl candies, ribbon and silk flowers.  The top layer is gluten free carrot cake, the middle layer is gluten free white cake and the bottom is Styrofoam.

The Recipe

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Create the Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake: Moist, Sweet and Delightful

By ,

Whole carrot cake decorated with buttercream frosting and pecans

Are you often disappointed by the gluten free versions of your favorite desserts? This moist and delightful gluten free carrot cake is the answer.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 mintues
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
Tags: Gluten Free, Dairy Free


  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs (substitute flax eggs or egg replacer to make it vegan)
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 8 ounces (225g) of carrots coarsely grated
  • 2 oz (60g) of raisins or finely chopped walnuts


  1. Method:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).

  3. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans and line with parchment, or 12 muffin tins and line with cupcake liners.

  4. Beat sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs with electric beater till smooth and thick.

  5. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan if using, cinnamon, and ginger. Fold in until well combined.

  6. Fold in carrots and walnuts or raisins.

  7. Divide the mixture between the pans. Bake 35 - 40 min for 2 round cake pans or 20 min for muffins. To test, insert a toothpick or skewer it should come out clean or with a bit of baked crumb. I like to use my thermometer. The temp should be about 200 ° F.

The Frosting

I've given you two wonderful frostings to choose from.  The first is the traditional rich, velvety cream cheese frosting.  To make your cake gluten-free and dairy free / vegan, scroll down to the dairy-free buttercream frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Note: This frosting is very rich so this recipe makes just enough to do the centre and top of the cake.  If you want to frost the sides then double the recipe.


2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 1/2 oz (75g) full fat cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 c icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)


Cream the butter and cream cheese together

Add the vanilla and mix.

Sift the icing sugar then add slowly to the cream cheese and butter mixture while blending with the electric mixer or stand mixer.

Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

Note: This is a lighter, fluffier frosting.  The recipe is enough to do the center, top and sides of the cake.  You can store leftovers in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month.


1/2 cup coconut oil (room temperature)

1/2 cup dairy free butter substitute (I like Crisco Golden Shortening)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups sifted icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

2-4 tablespoons unsweetened, unflavored dairy-free milk of choice (almond, soy, coconut)


Whip the coconut oil and butter substitute together with a hand mixer or in your stand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Add the vanilla and mix

Add the sugar gradually, continuing to mix

Add the milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

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