Filled with spices, grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and sprinkled with pecans; this vegan carrot cake is the most delicious, tender, full-of-flavor carrot cake you will eat. Iced with my super creamy refrigerator vegan cream cheese icing, this carrot cake is sure to please!
There is something special about a moist and tender carrot cake. It’s not a child’s birthday party super-sweet-without-substance cake. Nor should it be a brick-heavy, dry, and flavorless dessert.
Carrot cake is definitely a grown-up cake! If done right you have a mouthful of gooey slightly sweet and sticky, but definitely cakey substance. Vegan baking can be a bit of a mystery science. Vegan cakes are no exception. By the time I post a recipe, I’ve made it over and over again.
I started developing this carrot cake a few years ago when my daughter – now all grown-up – requested this vegan cake for her birthday. I’m happy to say it soon became her favorite birthday cake! A few years later and several iterations of carrot cake, I’m proud to present to you the best vegan carrot cake ever!
Reasons to love this easy vegan carrot cake recipe
- depth of flavor with the pineapple and brown sugar
- perfect for holidays or special events
- tastes even better the next day…if it lasts that long!
Table of contents
- Reasons to love this easy vegan carrot cake recipe
- Pin now to save for later
- Ingredients needed to make moist flavorful vegan carrot cake
- How to make the best vegan carrot cake recipe
- Serving suggestions
- For some other delicious vegan recipes and vegan cakes, try:
- The printable recipe card for the best vegan carrot cake
Pin now to save for later
Ingredients needed to make moist flavorful vegan carrot cake
- carrots, grated
- unsweetened plant milk- I used oat milk
- apple cider vinegar
- all-purpose flour
- brown sugar
- white sugar
- baking soda
- baking powder
- ground cinnamon
- pumpkin pie spice
- vegetable oil – use a neutral flavored oil, I use avocadao oil
- vanilla extract
- canned crushed pineapple with juice
- 1 cup chopped pecans – ½ cup for the cake recipe and ½ for decorating
How to make the best vegan carrot cake recipe
This is not a one-bowl carrot cake recipe and you will be making a pile of dirty dishes. But you will also be making the absolute best vegan carrot cake out there!
Step 1: prepare
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- grease and flour the pans and line with parchment paper circles if using
- chop the pecans
- wash and grate the carrots
- make the sour oat milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
Preparing the pans
This carrot cake recipe is a very moist cake. When preparing round cake pans for a layer cake it is important that you grease AND flour well so that the moist cake does not stick to the bottom of the ban. You can even use parchment paper cake circles to make it easier to remove the baked cake. (These are for a 9-inch cake pan. Make sure to choose the right size for your pan.) Set the prepared pans to the side.
The chopped pecans (or chopped walnuts)
I sometimes buy the pecans pre-chopped for ease of preparation. If you buy the pecans in halves then you will want to chop them before adding them to the carrot cake batter.
You can either chop with a knife on a cutting board, in a food processor, or use this handy little chopping gadget I found on Amazon. You just load the nuts, pull the string, and it does the chopping for you!
Some people prefer to use chopped walnuts instead of pecans. This is a personal preference. I do like the flavor of pecans much better than walnuts in this carrot cake recipe – or really almost every other recipe too!
Please grate whole carrots for this recipe – don’t cut corners by buying the pre-grated carrots. I’ve tried using the prepared carrots you can buy at the grocery store and did not have the same results. The grated pieces were too large, hard, and dry. You will have much better luck with this recipe if you grate the carrots fresh for this carrot cake.
You can always use the small grater attachment on your food processor. I prefer just setting my hand grater on a plate and grate away! It’s almost therapeutic!
I did not specify how many carrots were needed for three cups of grated carrot. This is because there is such a variation in carrot sizes, it would be impossible to say for sure. I think a good rule of thumb is about three largish carrots – give or take…
So wash, dry, and grate. Set the grated carrot aside for later.
Making the sour milk
Use any unsweetened dairy-free milk you’d like. I generally like to use oat milk in all of my recipes for its mostly neutral flavor and creamy texture. Almond milk or cashew milk would work as well. It doesn’t really matter as much with this recipe.
Stir the apple cider vinegar into the milk and set it aside while measuring out and preparing the other ingredients.
Step 2: The dry ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown and white sugars, baking powder, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix together well and set aside.
It’s important to mix the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding the wet ingredients. You will want to work out any clumps and lumps while dry so that you don’t over-stir once the wet ingredients have been added.
Step 3: The wet ingredients and the shredded carrots
In a separate mixing bowl, combine crushed pineapple with juice, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Once the plant milk has started to sour, add it to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined.
Next, add the wet ingredients along with the freshly grated carrots to the dry ingredients.
Stir well until the dry ingredients are well moistened and the carrots have been fully incorporated. Make sure the scrape the bottom of the bowl to get any remaining dry ingredients. Dry ingredients can be stubborn and sneaky and remain hidden at the bottom of your bowl. I have poured my cake batter into cake pans only to find extra dry stuff at the bottom of the bowl that was not fully incorporated. Frustrating!
Fold in the chopped pecans. We are now ready to bake!
Step 4: Time to bake!
Pour the mixed cake batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans. I have used both nine-inch as well as eight-inch pans for this recipe. You can also use a 9×13 cake/casserole dish – or even a couple of loaf pans. Refer to this handy baking chart by thespruceeats.com for baking times for different-sized cake pans.
If you have ever baked a layer cake, you know what a problem domed cake layers can be! You need to cut off the top domed part in order to layer and frost the cake. And that wastes cake! I wrap bake-even strips around my pans before baking for nice flat layers.
Remove from oven
Bake the carrot cake for 35-45 minutes. You’ll know your carrot cake is done with three tests:
- It bounces back when you lightly touch the top.
- A toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- The sides of the cake have started to pull away from the pan.
Set the cake pans on a wire rack for about ten minutes until you can easily handle the hot pans to turn. Carefully turn the pans and let gravity bring the cakes out onto the rack. I’m always paranoid about dropping the cakes when I’m turning so I place the rack on top of the cake pan and then flip the whole thing.
Allow the vegan carrot cake to completely cool before icing. Some cakes taste best a little warm. This cake actually improves with cooling and time. IF you can wait for the next day to have your slice of carrot cake, it will be worth it! (I’m just guessing here – I can never wait!)
Frost and decorate the sides with sprinkles or chopped nuts. Or you can make a “naked cake” and justice the center and top.
You could sift some powdered sugar on top or use vegan buttercream frosting to ice the cake. The classic frosting recipe for carrot cakes is definitely a cream cheese frosting recipe. I have my personal favorite vegan cream cheese frosting. It is made with powdered sugar, vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, a little oat milk (or milk of choice), and vanilla extract.
You can get my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting here. It works best for sheet cakes but can work for layer cakes as well if refrigerated and is oh so delicious!
For some other delicious vegan recipes and vegan cakes, try:
The printable recipe card for the best vegan carrot cake
Did you love this recipe? Want to share the love? It would thrill me to no end if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy
Vegan Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Pecans
- two 8-9 inch round cake pans or one 9×13 cake pan
- 3 cups shredded carrots see notes
Plant Milk and Vinegar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk I used oat milk
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Remaining Wet Ingredients
- ½ cup vegetable oil I used avocado
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple with juice
- 1 cup chopped pecans ½ cup for the cake recipe and ½ for decorating
- Preheat oven to 350° and prepare pans by greasing and flouring.
- Wash, peel, and grate the carrots. Set aside. See notes.
- Make sour milk by combining the plant milk and vinegar. Set aside while you are measuring out your other ingredients.
- In a medium/large bowl, combine the flour, brown and white sugars, baking powder, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix together well and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine crushed pineapple with juice, oil, and vanilla. Once the plant milk has started to sour, add to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients along with the shredded carrots. Mix until moistened and well combined. Don't overmix or your cake will be tough. This can be mixed by hand.
- Fold in chopped pecans.
- Pour into prepared cake pan/pans of choice. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. (See notes about bake-even cake strips.) You'll know your carrot cake is done when it bounces back with lightly touched and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Place on a rack to cool. If you are using round layer cake pans, remove from pans after 15 mintues to continue cooling. Allow to cool completely before icing – about two hours.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with your favorite icing. I recommend my vegan cream cheese frosting.