Wait until you try this incredible gluten free carrot cake recipe with cream cheese frosting! This homemade cake is light and fluffy, and it truly is an incredibly moist carrot cake! I share the recipe and lots of easy decorating tips.

I am excited to share this recipe with you. This is the birthday cake I make for Mr. Fearless Dining every year for his birthday. He is my cake tester, and if he says this is the perfect carrot cake, I believe him! Carrot cake is his thing, and I love the family tradition this cake has become.

Try it for any special occasion like a birthday, a wedding, or any time you need a tried and true dessert recipe! If you love cake as much as we do, you will want to see all of the yummy gluten free cakes on my blog :-).

Why this is the best gluten-free carrot cake recipe:

  1. You can make this delicious gluten free carrot cake without pineapple recipe as is, or include the healthy swaps I list below to make it healthier.
  2. The cake batter is so versatile! Not only does this make a tasty layer cake, but you can also use the gluten free carrot cake batter to make cupcakes, a log roll cake, or a sheet cake.
  3. This cake freezes beautifully if you need to make it ahead for your convenience. It will still get those rave reviews when it is thawed and topped with cream cheese frosting!
  4. One thing that is a little misleading is the size of the cake pictured. Believe it or not, this gluten free layer cake is small. I used these tiny layer cake pans to make this cake. This cake can feed 6-8 people, depending on how much they love the cake.

If you prefer a white cake for a birthday party, try this classic gluten free vanilla cake. If you prefer chocolate cake, this delicious gluten free chocolate raspberry layer cake is pretty incredible! made! You might also enjoy making this tasty Gluten Free Hummingbird Cake!

Allergen Information:

This homemade carrot cake recipe is gluten-free, oat-free, and soy-free.

It can also be made dairy-free by using plant-based butter and milk. If you are allergic to nuts, you can skip adding almond flour and substitute 1/3 cup more gluten-free flour blend.

Photos of the gluten free carrot cake ingredients.

Ingredient Notes:

For the full list of ingredients and amounts, please go to the recipe card below.

  • Gluten Free Flour Blend – I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF and Authentic Foods Multi Blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work; I just have not tested other flours.
  • If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, you will need to add 1 teaspoon.
  • Almond Flour – you could use almond meal, but the texture of your cake will be a little gritty.
  • I used Butter or Coconut Oil to keep the cake base dairy-free. You can substitute unsalted butter or another vegetable oil if you prefer.
  • You can use non-dairy milk or regular milk, but I do not recommend canned coconut milk.
  • Eggs – Use size large room-temperature eggs.

If you are new to cake baking, here is a good write-up of my favorite Kitchen Tools For Baking Cakes. I also have lots of Gluten Free Baking Tips to take your cake to the next level.

Try these recipe swaps:

You can control the ingredients in this cake by which you choose to use. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar.
  • Instead of a whole-layer cake, you can greatly reduce the sugar by making this a sheet cake and then dusting a light sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.
  • Swap half of the oil for applesauce.
  • Add 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal.
  • Try some fun mix-ins like caramel chips, white chocolate chips, or pistachios.

Step-By-Step Photos and Directions:

Step 1: Add the gluten-free flour and the rest of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk to blend them.

Photos of the carrot cake mixing up the cake batter.

Step 2: Add the grated carrots and the rest of the wet ingredients to a separate medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

Step 3: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and add raisins and nuts. You can use different kinds of nuts, including walnuts, pecans, or almonds, in this gluten free carrot cake.

👀 Sandi Says: Don’t overmix the cake batter. If you want your carrot cake to be fluffy, mix the ingredients until they are barely mixed. Overmixing destroys the air bubbles you get when you mix the ingredients. This is why I do NOT recommend using a standing mixer to make the cake batter.

How to shred carrots for cake:

There are two easy ways that you can shred carrots. One is to use a grater. (Just be careful of your fingers!) I like to use a food processor because it is a lot faster and easier to shred the carrots.

Photos of the carrot cake steps 4 and 6.

📢 Sandi says: Every gluten-free flour blend has a different starch-to-grain ratio. The brand of gluten-free flour you use will affect the moisture of the batter. If your cake batter is too runny, add more flour, and if it is too thick, add more liquids.
Read Why Gluten-Free Flour Blends Vary to learn more about this.

Step 4: Pour your batter into greased round cake pans. I use spray coconut oil to grease my pans, but you can prepare the cake pans however you like. Bake at 350º F for 30-40 minutes. The baking time will depend on what type of cake pan you use.

To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the cake needs to be baked longer.

Step 5: When the cakes are finished baking, gently tip the baked cake layers onto a wire cooling rack so the cakes can cool off.

The whipped cream cheese frosting in a bowl.

Step 6: Let’s make the frosting while the cake is cooling. You can use the cream cheese frosting recipe I provide, or try this gluten free frosting recipe for vanilla buttercream.

Add the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and milk, if needed for thinning, to the bowl of a standing mixer. You can also use an electric hand mixer. If you have one, use the whisk attachment. If not, the paddle attachment is okay to use as well.

Start the mixer at a low speed and slowly increase it. If you start with too high a speed, powdered sugar will fly everywhere! Whip the frosting ingredients until they are creamy.

👀 Sandi Says: Make sure the baked layers are completely cooled before you add frosting and assemble the gluten free carrot cake. If the cake is at all warm, it will melt the cream cheese frosting, making your layers slide around and possibly tip over!

Step 7: To frost the cake, add a small dollop of frosting to the cake stand and put down the first layer of cake. Frost the top of the cake and add the second layer.

Decorating ideas:

You can frost the sides the traditional way or leave them as a naked cake as I did. I topped my cake with shredded coconut, but you can also fill a frosting bag with the frosting and pipe some flowers or rosettes on top of the cake.

Read my Gluten Free Wedding Cake recipe post for detailed cake decorating instructions and photos.

Cake Troubleshooting:

Why did my gluten-free cake turn out dense or crumbly?

There is nothing more frustrating than having your gluten free cake turn out dense. This can be caused by a few potential issues.

  1. I always tell my readers not to use a stand mixer when they mix cake batter. They tend to overmix your batter, leaving you with a denser cake. Mix the gluten free cake batter only until the ingredients are combined, and avoid overbaking by checking the cake a few minutes before the suggested baking time.
  2. Another reason for a dense cake is that every gluten-free flour blend has a high starch-to-grain ratio. This will greatly affect the cake’s moisture level. If you are using a flour blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust the liquid or flour amount to get the right batter consistency.
  3. The same answer for #2 applies if your cake is crumbly. You may need to add more liquid to your cake batter to compensate for the grain-to-starch ratio of your flour blend.

Why did my gluten-free cake sink in the middle?

  1. I know opening the oven door and checking on your cake is tempting, but opening it while baking can cause it to sink in the middle. Cakes need a consistent, steady baking temperature. Opening the oven door lets cooler air into the oven, slowing baking.
  2. Always check the expiration date of your baking powder or baking soda before using it. An expired leavener can cause all sorts of issues in baking.
  3. Is the cake underbaked? Know that the cake bakes from the outside in, so if you take it out of the oven too soon, the middle hasn’t had a chance to finish baking. Do the toothpick test to ensure your cake is thoroughly baked. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the cake needs to bake longer.

For more cake troubleshooting help and tips, see my Gluten-Free Cake Troubleshooting Guide. I also have some favorite Cake Tools to make the job easier!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long will this cake keep fresh?

This cake will keep fresh for up to 4 days in an airtight container or up to 4 months in the freezer.

How do you freeze this cake?

To freeze the cake, it is best to freeze it without the frosting. Wrap a cooled cake layer in plastic wrap, then slide it into a large zipper bag.

A look at the top down view of this carrot cake.

More Cake Recipes:

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. Please include which flour blend you used. This will help others know this recipe is delicious. Thank you!

a 5 layer gluten free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting between the layers and on top. Garnished with fresh lavender

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sandi Gaertner
An easy homemade light and fluffy gluten free carrot cake recipe topped with cream cheese frosting. Dairy-free option.
5 from 12 votes
dairy free allergen icon
an egg free allergen icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Gluten Free Cake Recipes, Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people
Calories 614 kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free flour blend * see note
  • 1 ½ cups shredded carrot
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder aluminum free
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup almond flour * see note
  • 3 eggs large
  • 6 ounces coconut oil melted or another light oil
  • 6 ounces almond milk * see note
  • cup raisins
  • cup walnuts chopped

Frosting:

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spray the cake pans with coconut oil to prevent sticking.
  • Washed and peel the carrots. Use a grater to grate the carrots into fine shreds.
  • Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to blend.
  • Add wet ingredients and shredded carrots to a medium bowl and mix well. Add raisins and nuts, mix.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Don’t overmix the batter.
  • Important: Don't overmix the cake batter. If you want your carrot cake to be fluffy, you need to mix the ingredients until they are just barely mixed. Overmixing destroys the air bubbles you get when you mix the ingredients together. This is why I do NOT recommend using a standing mixer to make the cake batter.
  • Bake at 350º F for 30-40 minutes. The baking time will depend on what type of cake pan you use.
  • When the cake layers are finished. Let them cool on a cooling rack. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the donut. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the donuts need to bake longer.
  • Add the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and milk if needed for thinning to the bowl of a standing mixer. You can also use an electric hand mixer. If you have one, use the whisk attachment. If not the paddle attachment is okay to use as well. Start the mixer on low speed and slowly increase the speed. If you start with too high of a speed, powdered sugar will fly everywhere! Whip the frosting ingredients until they are creamy.
  • When the cake is cooled. Add a layer to a plate and add a little frosting on top of that layer. Top with the next layer and repeat until you get to the last layer. Add frosting to the top and then sprinkle with unsweetened coconut. (Feel free to frost the sides if you would like!)

Notes

  1. I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF and Authentic Foods Multi Blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work, I just have not tested other flours.
  2. If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
  3. To make this recipe dairy-free, you only have to make substitutions for the frosting since the cake itself is already dairy-free. For the butter,  use vegan butter and use dairy-free cream cheese for the frosting, or make a vegan buttercream.
  4. I highly suggest using almond flour and not almond meal. Almond meal is more coarse and will make your cake grainy.
  5. I used almond milk, but other milk types should be okay.
  6. To make this recipe nut-free, omit the almond flour and substitute an additional    1/3 cup gluten free flour blend.
  7. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the donut. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the donuts need to bake longer.
  8. This cake will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer.

SPECIAL NOTE

Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 614kcalCarbohydrates: 77gProtein: 7gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 300mgPotassium: 228mgFiber: 4gSugar: 57gVitamin A: 3583IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 2mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @FearlessDining or tag #FearlessDining!

Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

(*Note, this post was updated with new photos and added recipe tips from an older post I wrote in 8/2017.)

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Recipe Rating




20 Comments

  1. This layer cake looks beautiful. How many 6″ layer pans will I need? I see 5 layers in the photo. Do you possibly cut a layer in half horizontally and use only 2 layer pans? There are other 6″ layer pan cake recipes and I’m not sure how many pans I’ll need on those either–just made a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting which was delish! I cut the layers in half horizontally to get 4 layers of chocolate cake.

    1. Hi Vicky, I used the Wilton small 6″ layer cake pans, and I did use all 5. They are pretty shallow and I don’t think you can cut them horizontally. My recipe made enough batter to fill all 5 pans.

      1. Thanks for your speedy reply, Sandi, as I also plan to make this for a birthday in the next week. One more question: if you used 5 small 6″ layer cake pans, was the recipe enough to fill all 5 or did you maybe need to double the recipe to get the nice thick layers? Thanks a lot!

  2. Hi Sandi. This is a cake I will be making soon. But 3 questions:

    Can I add crushed pineapple?
    What size pan would work, if I want a one layer round cake?
    And since I will be using your DIY blend, that I added only 1 T Psyllium Husk to the entire batch, then how much XG do you think I should add?

    1. Hi Mary, If you are using my DIY blend, you don’t need to add xanthan gum. If you want to use xanthan gum, leave the psyllium husk out of the DIY blend. As for pineapple, you can, but I haven’t tested it in this recipe so I am not sure what you would need to adjust so it isn’t too wet. I have a really good Hummingbird Cake that uses crushed pineapple. I would say a 9 inch round cake pan is the right size.

  3. 5 stars
    I wanted to make this cake for my sister’s birthday, so I cut the recipe in half just to try it. It’s the best carrot cake ever! I omitted the raisins because I don’t love them in my cakes, but added walnuts to the cake and the frosting!

  4. Oh, my husband’s favorite carrot cake. I bookmarked this for reference, gonna try this recipe for him this weekend.