Who says eating carrot cake can't be delicious AND healthier?! 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 a creamy cashew frosting for the ultimate carrot cake recipe!
This post is sponsored by Diamond Nuts. All opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for your support!
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 carrot cake that is the perfect level of sweetness. Plus, it is made with pantry staples for a truly easy recipe that is easy to make substitutions with.
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.
Most importantly, it contains the added benefit of heart-healthy walnuts from Diamond Nuts! I am in love with Diamond Nuts and use their nuts in many of my recipes including their almonds in my Maple Almond Butter Granola and their pecans in my Healthy Blueberry Nectarine Crisp.
I'm a huge fan of implementing heart-healthy ingredients like walnuts into my dessert recipes for a healthier twist on the classic. 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 carrot walnut cake
First, gather the ingredients:
Full amounts of the ingredients are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a quick snapshot:
- Grated carrots
- Oat milk (or any plant-based milk- I like oat because it's extra creamy)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil (I used coconut, but avocado or olive oil also works)
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Vanilla extra/ vanilla bean paste
- Whole wheat flour
- Diamond Nuts Walnuts
- Cinnamon & Salt
- Baking powder & baking soda
Then, 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!
Mix in one bowl:
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.
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 a 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 carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. Making cashew frosting is slightly more work than your average vegan frosting, 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!
How to store cashew frosting:
I like to store the frosting in a closed container in the fridge before frosting my cake so it's nice and cold. This also helps it firm up as the coconut cream and coconut oil will solidify in the fridge.
The cashew frosting does have the consistency of an 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.
But..you can also make a vegan cream cheese frosting
I knew I'd have a few carrot cake purists that would demand this cake come with a recipe for cream cheese frosting. Soo, I went ahead and made that too (though it's not pictured here)! Here are the steps.
First, whip ½ cup of butter until creamed and no "chunks" remain. Then, add in ½ cup of your favorite vegan cream cheese frosting. Whip together until smooth. As the last step, add in ¼ cup maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla to sweeten the frosting and whip until JUST combined (aka, don't overmix or the frosting will break up). My Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes have instructions on how to make a cream cheese frosting with powdered sugar too!
Now you have two delicious options for the ultimate easy Vegan Carrot Walnut Cake!
How to store leftover cake
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!
I truly believe this is the best vegan carrot walnut cake recipe out there! It's SO moist, full of heart-healthy Diamond Nuts walnuts, and is a healthier version of your favorite classic recipe. Creamy 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!
Looking for more vegan cake recipes? Check out these SGTO favorites!
Carrot Walnut Cake:
- 1 cup oat milk (or any plant-based milk)
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup grated carrot (about 1-2 carrots)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp oil (I used coconut, but avocado or olive oil also works- to make cake oil-free substitute with 2 Tbsp applesauce)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (188 grams)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 ½ cup cashews (soaked in hot water 1-2 hours)
- 3 Tbsp coconut cream (just the cream, not milk)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 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 extra. 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: ⅛ cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 426Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 4gSugar: 28gProtein: 8g
ShortGirlTallOrder occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although shortgirltallorder.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.