This Vegan Carrot Walnut Cake is completely dairy-free, refined sugar-free, eggless, made with whole wheat flour, & without any complicated ingredients. Plus, it contains heart-healthy walnuts and creamy cashew frosting for the ultimate carrot cake recipe!
A healthier vegan carrot cake
Believe it or not, most commercial carrot cakes are WAY too sweet for me. That's why I LOVE this vegan healthy carrot cake that is level of sweetness!
Not only is this easy carrot walnut cake super moist and flavorful, but it can also be made in one bowl! I'm all for easy cake recipes, so I made this as a single-layer cake. However, the recipe can easily be doubled, stacked, and layered for a cake with two layers.
Even though this healthy carrot cake is refined sugar-free and dairy-free, it's still so easy, moist, and full of flavor!
Steps to make a vegan carrot walnut cake
Make the vegan buttermilk:
Normal buttermilk is essentially fermented milk that has a slightly tangy taste. It's usually used in recipes because the lactic acid it produces interacts with baking soda and helps the cake rise. Since we won't be using traditional buttermilk in this recipe, we have to create a vegan version.
While it's not exactly the same, mixing your plant-based milk with apple cider vinegar can provide a similar result. Basically, just add the milk and apple cider vinegar to the mixing bowl, stir, and let sit for about 10 minutes until the milk begins to curdle. While you're waiting you can grate the carrots and chop up the walnuts for the cake!
Make the one-bowl carrot cake batter:
This carrot walnut cake truly can be made in ONE BOWL! After the vegan buttermilk has formed, add in everything else including the carrots that were grated and the chopped walnuts.
I do like to add the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl via a flour sifter so there are no big clumps in the batter.
Bake the cake:
Now that the vegan carrot cake batter is ready, preheat the oven and add it to the baking pan. For this recipe, I choose to use an 8-inch springform baking pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.
I LOVE baking in spring-form pans because you can remove the cake SO easily from the pan and I don't even have to grease the pan at all. If you don't have a springform pan, a normal 8 or 9-inch pan still works. Just make sure to line it with parchment paper or grease the pan for easier removal.
I also made this recipe as an 8x8 carrot cake and it worked just as well- though it needed about 5 more minutes of cooking time.
After that just bake for 30 minutes, remove, and let cool completely before frosting!
How to make cashew frosting
I went a little outside of the norm here and made a vegan carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. Making cashew frosting takes slightly more time, but it's SO delicious and full of healthy fats and no processed ingredients.
To make this frosting, first, soak the cashews in warm water for 1 hour.
Then, remove the cashews and add them to a blender with the coconut cream (JUST THE CREAM, not milk), maple syrup, lemon juice, coconut oil, and vanilla. Blend until completely smooth! It does take a little time until this frosting is completely blended and you will need a good blender, but once it's done it's delicious!
The cashew frosting does have the consistency of icing vs. a thick frosting right after being in the blender, so at least 30 minutes in the fridge does wonders from the texture of this vegan frosting.
FAQ & Tips:
Yes! I knew I'd have a few carrot cake purists that would demand this vegan carrot walnut cake come with a recipe for cream cheese frosting. In that case, check out my Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes which have instructions on how to make a vegan cream cheese frosting!
As a best practice, please wait to frost the cake until you're ready to eat it. Even with the best storage, a frosted cake will become a bit soggier.
If you are planning to make the carrot walnut cake ahead of time, there are two ways to store it. Simply wrap in plastic wrap and store it on your counter if you are planning to eat the cake within 24 hours. In case you are waiting a few days to serve the cake, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. I do not recommend storing any cake in the fridge as it dries it out.
If you do have leftover frosted cake, it can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. Just let it defrost at room temperature before eating it!
This moist & delicious Vegan Carrot Walnut Cake is truly the best healthier version of the favorite classic recipe. Creamy vegan cashew frosting gives this carrot cake a new twist and makes it extra good.
Plus, it makes the perfect addition to an Easter brunch or Mother's Day brunch. I can't wait for you to try this delicious vegan cake recipe- enjoy!
More vegan cake recipes you will love:
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Vegan Carrot Walnut Cake
Carrot Walnut Cake:
- 1 cup oat milk or any plant-based milk
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- ⅓ cup grated carrot about 1-2 carrots
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 2 Tablespoons oil I used coconut, but avocado or olive oil also works- to make cake oil-free substitute with 2 Tbsp applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350F. To begin, add the oat milk and apple cider vinegar to a mixing bowl and let sit 5-10 minutes until the milk begins to separate & curde. While the vegan buttermilk is forming, grate the carrots and set aside.
- Once the vegan buttermilk is ready, add in the rest of the wet ingredients including the grated carrot, maple syrup, coconut sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gently whisk to combine.
- Next, use a flour sifter to add in the dry ingredients including the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently mix until a thick cake batter forms, but try not to overmix. Then, gently fold in the chopped walnuts using a spatula or spoon.
- Pour the carrot cake batter into a 8-inch springform pan or greased 8 or 9-inch pan and tap the pan to level the cake batter. Then, add the cake to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned on the outside and cooked through. Remove the cake and let cool before frosting.
- While the carrot cake is cooling, make the cashew frosting. Add the soaked cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice, and vanilla to a blender. Blend on high speed until the frosting is completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Then, place the cashew frosting into a container into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up before frosting.
- Once the cake has cooled and the frosting has firmed, frost the cake! Top with extra walnuts and carrots as garnish. Enjoy!
- Please note the cashews have to soak in warm water for at least 1 hour for a smooth frosting.
- If you are going to eat it within 1 day, simply wrap in plastic wrap and store it on your counter.
- In case you are waiting a few days to serve the cake, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. I do not recommend storing any cake in the fridge as it dries it out.
- Cashew frosting can be stored in a closed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. It actually is best when it's had at least 1 hour in the fridge, so I usually make it before I bake my carrot cake so it has plenty of time to set in the fridge.
- Leftover frosted cake can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. Just let it defrost at room temperature before eating it!
- Please make sure to use apple cider vinegar in this recipe as it's needed to interact with the baking soda. If you can't find it, lemon juice can be subbed 1:1.