Gluten-free Carrot Cake

This gluten-free carrot cake is perfectly spiced, fluffy and doesn’t taste at all gluten-free!

First of all, if you prefer a grain-free recipe, try my paleo carrot cake cupcakes! They’ve always been a big hit and the reviewers love them. These paleo lemon bars would also be an excellent choice for Easter!

When it comes to carrot cake, I’m normally all about the cream cheese frosting but this cake is delicious enough to eat on its own. I’ve never had a better carrot cake and it tastes like it was made with all-purpose flour (which you can actually use if you don’t need it to be gluten-free!).

But a bit of cream cheese never hurt so of course I slathered it on! How could I not?

I don’t just make this at Easter. I make this gluten-free carrot cake year-round to bring to get-togethers. German cakes, at least the ones I’ve had, aren’t very moist, spicy, or fluffy [no offense to my lovely German readers ♥♥♥ To be fair, I should say that Germany does other stuff like bread WAY better than the US.].

This carrot cake is like the opposite of a German cake. And the Germans I’ve served it to have flipped for it. So have the Americans. Everyone can love this cake together!

I don’t know why (maybe sleep deprivation?) but I’m not feeling very wordy today. It’s one of my favorite recipes on the site – one that I’ve been making since before I even started the blog – and I really hope you’ll try it out. The end. :D

Questions about this gluten-free carrot cake?

Fat

  • Can you taste the olive oil? I used extra-virgin olive oil and you can taste it in the batter and while the baked cake is still hot. Once it cools, you can’t taste it. If you’re worried about it, use light olive oil (the light refers to the taste and not calories).

  • Can I use another oil other than olive? You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, etc. Anything neutral tasting. I haven’t tried coconut oil but if you do, I’d recommend using refined coconut oil unless you want some coconut taste in your cake.

  • Can I use butter? I bet you could use butter in this cake but it wouldn’t be as moist (butter is 80-82% fat and oil is 100% fat).

  • Flour

  • Can I use a different gluten-free flour mix? I used this 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour. If you have another brand that works as a sub for all-purpose flour, then you could probably use it here. I can’t say the texture would be as perfect as with the flour mix I used, though.

  • Does it taste gluten-free? This carrot cake honestly tastes like it was made with all-purpose flour. At least with the gluten-free flour mix I used and after it’s cooled a bit.

  • Can I use almond / coconut / other flours? Nope. If you want a grain-free recipe, check out the beginning of the post for another gluten-free carrot cake recipe (it uses almond and coconut flours). If you want to use other flours like rice flour, buckwheat, whatever – you’ll have to experiment. There’s no direct sub for gluten-free flour mixes.

  • Sweeteners

  • Can I use a liquid sweetener? Unfortunately not without experimenting! Sorry I’ve already said this three times in this post but it’s true.

    You could use a little honey or maple syrup for part of the sugar, but you’d have to reduce the liquid in the cake. I don’t recommend trying unless you’re ready for failure. Does that sound too negative? Just trying to be honest and save your time, ingredients and money. :)

  • Can I reduce the sugar? This carrot cake recipe already calls for less sugar than a regular cake. You can reduce it to 1 cup (from 1 1/2 cups) but I wouldn’t go further than that. Reducing sugar also reduces moist-ness so unless you want a dry cake, don’t go overboard and reduce it to 1/2 cup or some small amount.

  • Frosting

  • How can I make the frosting dairy-free? You could use dairy-free cream cheese and butter in the below recipe or you could make my vegan cream cheese frosting (it doesn’t actually use cream cheese!).

  • Does the cream cheese frosting pipe well? You can pipe it if you double the amount of butter.

  • Random

  • Can I use a different sized pan?

    Here’s a super handy pan conversion chart that should be able to help. Looks like a 9″x13″ should work well, though I haven’t tried it.

  • Can I make this recipe into cupcakes? Yes! This recipe will yield 24 cupcakes. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Use the smaller amount of frosting found in the recipe notes (the one that uses 12 ounces of cream cheese and not 16). This will yield about 2 cups so that means 4 teaspoons of frosting per cupcake.

  • Can I freeze the layers / frosted cake? Freezing the layers would definitely work. Freezing frosted layers, though? I’m not too sure about that. Does anyone know if freezing cream cheese frosting works well?

  • Can I add pineapple, walnuts, raisins, etc.? Walnuts or raisins wouldn’t be a problem but I’m a little doubtful of crushed pineapple or anything liquid-y. The cake is already so moist that I’d be afraid that pineapple would make it soggy. I could be wrong, though! If you try it out, please let us know in the comments and I’ll update this. :)

  • Click below for a how-to recipe video for this gluten-free carrot cake! (if you’re reading this from the newsletter, you have to visit the blog post to see it)

    Gluten-free Carrot Cake

    ♥♥♥♥♥
    Rated 5.0 by 6 readers
    Gluten-free Carrot Cake
    • Prep Time:
    • Cook Time:
    • Ready in:
    • Yield: 12 slices

    Ingredients

      For the cake:

    • 2 cups (272 grams) Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (or you can use 2 cups (250 grams) whole wheat or all-purpose flour for a non-gluten-free version)
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 4 large eggs (50 grams each, out of shell), room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup (183 grams) unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/2 cup (118ml) olive oil (another vegetable oil like canola oil would work but I don't recommend coconut oil)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 14.5 oz (410 grams – about 3 1/2 to 4 cups) grated and peeled carrots
    • For the frosting: (see note below)1

    • 18 ounces (510 grams) cream cheese, room temperature2
    • 4.5 tablespoons (63 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line the bottom of three 8″ pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla and mix until combined.
    4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined.
    5. Then fold in the carrots, again only until combined.
    6. Bake for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    7. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, and then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
    8. Frost when completely cooled.
    9. Prepare the frosting.
    10. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until well combined. It's okay if it looks a little crumbly.
    11. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally combined and then beat in the salt and vanilla. Frost the cake with about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup per layer and the remaining frosting on the sides. If you bake the cake and prepare the frosting in advance and want to refrigerate the frosting, note that it gets quite firm, like a cream cheese tart filling. If that happens, just bring it to room temperature, stir and then frost. The frosting firms up once refrigerated so if you want the softer frosting texture (rather than a cream cheese tart filling kind of texture), let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
    12. Store the iced cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the un-iced layers wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.

    Notes

    1. This is enough to frost it like in the pictures, with about 2/3 cup on top of each layer and some frosting for the sides. If you just want to frost the top of each layer, use 12 ounces cream cheese, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
    2. If you don't live in the US / Canada - We have a different type of cream cheese in the US than the rest of the world (as far as I know) that's firmer and meant for baking, rather than for toast, like in Europe. For 8 ounces (225 grams) of cream cheese, buy a 300-gram package (the stuff at Aldi, Lidl, etc. works just as well as Philadelphia), put it in the center of a clean tea towel or cheesecloth, and squeeze out the liquid until you have 225 grams of cream cheese. You can now make cream cheese frosting without issue. So for this recipe, buy 675 grams of cream cheese and squeeze out the liquid until you have 510 grams.

    Recipe by  | www.texanerin.com

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42 comments on “Gluten-free Carrot Cake” — Add one!

  • Jessica says
    September 2, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

    Could I substitute a combination of almond and coconut flour? If so, how much of each?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jessica
      September 2, 2018 @ 9:24 pm

      Nope! Please read the Questions section under Flour. :)

      Reply
  • Elisa San Souci says
    August 2, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

    is it necessary to refrigerate fro up to 3 days? What happens if you don’t refrigerate?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Elisa San Souci
      August 2, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

      If you don’t refrigerate cream cheese frosting, it’ll spoil quickly. I think it’d be fine for about 8-12 hours, depending on the temperature.

      Reply
  • Sharon says
    June 25, 2018 @ 1:09 am

    The recipe sounds yum! I do wish more folks would rate the taste and texture and not just the LOOK of the cake! I am wondering if you would make any adjustments for the ingredients at altitude-mile high? What are your thoughts on adding raisins, can’t believe no one asked (if they did, I missed it)! Also, wringing out the cream cheese..really?! Why? I have made carrot cake-gluten- for years with cream cheese frosting(one without butter) and never squeezed out the water. At any rate, thank you for all of your efforts in this blog!!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sharon
      June 25, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

      Hi there! I unfortunately have zero experience with high altitude baking but I think this guide might be helpful! Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. Adding raisins would be fine! The cream cheese note is for people outside of the US. Non-US cream cheese has more whey / liquid in it, which is why it needs to be wrung out. Thanks for your comment! Hope you’ll enjoy the cake.

      Reply
  • Cait says
    June 13, 2018 @ 2:02 pm

    Is all purpose flour what we call plain flour in the UK or self-raising?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Cait
      June 13, 2018 @ 8:42 pm

      Plain flour. :)

      Reply
  • Logan H says
    June 7, 2018 @ 4:16 pm

    Looking to make this cake for my dads birthday, he’s not GF but everyone else in the family is. I was wondering if anyone has tried making it with walnuts/pecans in the batter and how that worked/how much you used! Thanks I’m advance!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Logan H
      June 7, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

      Hi! I’d recommend 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Hope he has a nice birthday! I’d love to hear how you all like the cake. :)

      Reply
  • Jacquie says
    May 31, 2018 @ 4:58 am

    Has anyone tried this recipe at 8000 ft?

    Reply
  • Anna says
    May 14, 2018 @ 7:54 pm

    Looks delicious! Would it work without applesauce? Or what can I substitute it with?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Anna
      May 14, 2018 @ 8:15 pm

      Thanks! I think 2 cups of sugar + 1 1/4 cups of oil and no applesauce would work. I’d love to hear how it comes out for you!

      Reply
  • Katie
    ♥♥♥♥♥
    says
    April 1, 2018 @ 11:19 pm

    Absolutely amazing!!! This cake was definitely the star at Easter dinner!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Katie
      April 5, 2018 @ 10:55 am

      Yay! So happy to hear that! Thanks for your feedback. :)

      Reply
  • Jessica says
    April 1, 2018 @ 7:03 pm

    I’m just wondering why and how you line just the bottom with parchment paper?? Is this a spring form pan? Could just greasing the bottom work too? Excited to make this tonight for family dinner! My SIL is gluten intolerant so I hope she likes it!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jessica
      April 1, 2018 @ 8:17 pm

      You can just put the whole piece of parchment paper in there if you want. I just do the bottom (I cut out a circle) so that the sides look nice and not crinkly looking because of the paper. You can just grease it but I’m always paranoid about cake sticking so I use parchment paper. I hope you’ll all enjoy the cake! :)

      Reply
  • Miss Ana says
    March 27, 2018 @ 7:00 am

    Your cake looks wonderful I plan to make it for Easter. I Would like to know how you made the little round balls on the top of the cake, are they shaped carrots or something else? I cannot rate the recipe, I haven’t made it yet! ;)Thank you for sharing your recipes with us. ~Miss Ana

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Miss Ana
      March 28, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

      Thank you! I hope you’ll enjoy the cake. :) I’d love to hear how it comes out for you! We scooped the balls out of the carrots directly using one of these mini spoons for fruit decorations. Mine is like this: https://www.amazon.com/WMF-Profi-Stainless-Steel-Baller/dp/B00005O65M

      Reply
      • Miss Ana
        ♥♥♥♥♥
        replies to Erin
        April 17, 2018 @ 9:32 am

        I made the cake for Easter, it was a hit, everyone loved it. Thank you so much. I’ll be making it again this coming Sunday for a gathering. Thanks also for the link for the decorations on top. I haven’t gotten it yet but plan to. I just put on some ferns and laid a trimmed carrot on tt’s side, then crushed up some colored, candied nuts for the trim around the cake. It looked nice and tasted wonderful!!

        Reply
        • Erin replies to Miss Ana
          April 18, 2018 @ 8:01 pm

          I love your decoration ideas! What a pretty cake that must have been. Thanks for coming back to let me know how it turned out! I’m very happy to hear that it was a hit. :)

  • Shirley M says
    March 23, 2018 @ 2:46 am

    can you use half granulated sugar and half granulated stevia

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Shirley M
      March 24, 2018 @ 1:12 pm

      Is your stevia meant as a 1 to 1 sub for granulated sugar? If so, then it’d probably work! I’ve never used it before though so I’m not positive.

      Reply
  • amanda @ fake ginger says
    March 23, 2018 @ 1:06 am

    I was looking for a carrot cake recipe this morning! Totally making this one. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

    Reply
  • Catalina
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    says
    March 21, 2018 @ 8:40 pm

    This cake looks moist and delicious!

    Reply
  • Abeer
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    says
    March 21, 2018 @ 8:39 pm

    Always looking for new carrot cake recipes!

    Reply
  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says
    March 21, 2018 @ 5:14 am

    This cake is gorgeous, Erin! Perfect for Easter dinner!

    Reply
  • Sabrina says
    March 21, 2018 @ 4:41 am

    Perfect for Easter! It’s absolutely beautiful!

    Reply
  • Jen says
    March 21, 2018 @ 4:40 am

    Carrot cake is one of my favorites! Can’t wait to try this!!

    Reply
  • Delaney | Melanie Makes says
    March 21, 2018 @ 3:30 am

    This cake is so festive!

    Reply
  • Elizabeth Lorch says
    March 20, 2018 @ 7:20 am

    I don’t have three 8 in. pans, just two. Would it be okay to bake in a 13 by 9 in. Pan?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Elizabeth Lorch
      March 20, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

      Yes. Please check out the questions section where it says, “Can I use a different sized pan?” :)

      Reply
  • Christine says
    March 19, 2018 @ 4:23 pm

    Hi Erin, I love the decoration and will try the cake for Easter as we have some gf members in our family.
    Thanks for the recipe and the “cream cheese explanation”, too! Christine

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Christine
      March 24, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

      Hi Christine! I hope that you and your GF family members will enjoy it. :) What GF mix would you use, though? I’ve never tried any of the mixes here.

      Reply
  • Natalie
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    says
    March 19, 2018 @ 6:42 am

    What a beautiful cake! I love layered cakes – so festive and rich. This carrot cake looks amazing!

    Reply
  • Donna says
    March 19, 2018 @ 3:22 am

    Would it work if the sugar amount was cut down? Like 1 cup of coconut sugar?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Donna
      March 19, 2018 @ 10:00 am

      Yes. Please check out the questions section where it says, “Can I reduce the sugar?” :)

      Reply
  • Charlotte Moore says
    March 19, 2018 @ 2:27 am

    Looks very good. Cute too!

    Reply
  • Anna
    ♥♥♥♥♥
    says
    March 18, 2018 @ 11:55 pm

    This cake is absolutely beautiful!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Anna
      March 19, 2018 @ 10:01 am

      Thanks so much! :)

      Reply

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