This gluten free carrot cake recipe has a delicate crumb and wonderfully warm flavors.
It's sure to wow guests — no one will notice that it's made with cassava flour instead of wheat flour!
What's in this carrot cake recipe
When I'm creating gluten free baking recipes, I like to use cassava flour as my wheat flour replacement.
Why? For many recipes, it can be used on its own as a replacement. I'm not a big fan of using store-bought gluten free flour blends, because none of them are the same so they'll get different results.
On the other hand, this carrot cake recipe uses ONLY cassava flour, not a blend of multiple flours. That makes gluten free baking just a little simpler, and overall less expensive.
Other than cassava flour, here's the major ingredients in this gluten free carrot cake recipe:
- coconut sugar
- melted butter OR olive oil
- freshly grated carrots
Along with those main ingredients, we'll use a blend of baking soda and gluten free baking powder as leaveners. Finally, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove add the warm, spiced flavor we all love in a good carrot cake!
How to make homemade carrot cake
I tested this cake recipe a few different ways to make sure it truly makes the BEST gluten free carrot cake. Here's what you've got to do!
Cream the butter and sugar
Lots of recipes out there don't call for creaming the butter and sugar for gluten free carrot cake. But I found it necessary for producing a light crumb and keeping the cake from being too dense.
Add the remaining wet ingredients
Once the butter and sugar have been mixed, add the eggs and applesauce. Blend again just until combined.
Combine the dry ingredients
With baking, you always want to combine the dry ingredients before adding to the wet ingredients. This prevents clumps of baking soda or spices that don't get evenly distributed.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the shredded carrot, walnuts, and raisins.
Let the batter rest
Gluten free cakes don't have gluten to help with stability, and gluten free flours are often dry. Therefore, many gluten free baking recipes benefit from letting the batter rest for 15-30 minutes before baking.
I picked this tip up from a cookbook and utilize it whenever I can! Letting the batter rest allows the wet ingredients to permeate the dry ingredients and usually results in a better texture.
Bake in two cake pans
This recipe is meant to create two cakes for a layer cake. Don't try to make just one cake — it definitely won't bake through without drastically overcooking the edges.
Before frosting, be sure to let the cake cool completely!
How to make cream cheese frosting
Making cream cheese buttercream frosting is easier than you think!
The key is starting with room temperature cream cheese and butter. If the cream cheese or butter aren't soft and spreadable, the frosting will end up clumpy.
Usually, I take the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge the morning of, or at the very least before I start the cake.
When you're ready to make the frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend on medium until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt, then gradually add in the powdered sugar.
Increase the speed to high and keep mixing for a few minutes until the frosting has increased in size and is nicely spreadable. It shouldn't be runny or soupy.
How to make this carrot cake recipe nut free
Easy — omit the walnuts as a mix-in or topping!
That's one of the reasons I love baking with cassava flour — it can often be used on its own or with arrowroot powder for gluten free baking, so most of my baked recipes are already nut free.
More gluten free dessert recipes
- Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (Paleo, No Bake)
- 3-Ingredient Sweet Plantain Cake
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten Free Apple Snack Cake
- Paleo Apple Walnut Bundt Cake
Did you try this recipe? I'd love to hear what you think! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.Print
Tender and full of flavor, this gluten free carrot cake is just as good as the traditional version! Feel free to use either pecans or walnuts in this recipe (or omit them entirely). Can't do cream cheese? Make a coconut cream frosting for a dairy free version!
For the Carrot Cake:
- 1 ½ cups coconut sugar
- ½ cup melted butter OR olive oil
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups cassava flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons gluten free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups freshly grated carrots
- ½ cup unsweetened raisins
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 oz full fat cream cheese
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts out on the baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans with a circle of parchment paper (this isn’t required, but does wonders to prevent sticking!). Grease the parchment paper and sides of the cake pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the coconut sugar and melted butter. Cream the butter and sugar together, starting on low and increasing to medium-high speed, until the mixture has lightened in color and is completely combined. Turn the mixer off and add the eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix again at medium speed until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and toasted walnuts (reserve ½ cup walnuts for garnish).
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack in the cake pans. The cakes have to be completely cool before assembling and frosting.
- While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, then gradually increase to high speed. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes until the frosting has increased in volume and is creamy. The frosting should be soft and spreadable, not runny.
- Finally, assemble and frost the cakes. Remove the cooled cakes from the cake pans. Use a large serrated knife or cake level to slice off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Carefully place the second layer on top. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with reserved walnuts. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to help the cake hold its shape when cutting.
Keywords: gluten free carrot cake, carrot cake, cream cheese frosting