Over the past few years, carrot cake has become my favorite cake on the planet. I love that it’s packed with spices, super moist, full of incredible flavor and plenty of texture thanks to carrots, coconut, raisins and nuts.
So I thought to myself, why not make a healthier, paleo-friendly and gluten free carrot cake that’s absolutely perfect for spring time and especially Easter. To make it healthier, I used natural unrefined sweeteners, gluten free flours and a few other special ingredients to make it absolutely amazing.
Healthy Gluten Free Carrot Cake ingredients
Almond flour: I recommend using a fine blanched almond flour. Make sure you pack the almond flour like you would with coconut flour.
Coconut flour: this is a great gluten free flour to help absorb moisture in recipes and also add fiber and nutrition. No need to pack the coconut flour though.
Finely shredded unsweetened coconut: in my opinion, this cake requires shredded coconut for texture. I haven’t made it without the shredded coconut so please don’t skip it, it’s crucial for texture.
Spices: no carrot cake is complete without the addition of cinnamon and a little nutmeg.
Vanilla extract: just an essential.
Eggs: this recipe uses four eggs to help with consistency and texture. I’ve added some notes below if you’re interested in making this vegan.
Pure maple syrup: WOW is all I can say. The maple syrup is just a nice touch to this recipe and adds so much flavor and additional moisture.
Tahini: while it’s only a small amount, the tahini is crucial to the recipe. I think you can add almond butter or cashew butter instead but tahini is INCREDIBLE and has a unique drippy texture unlike other nut butters. Just trust me and make the cake as is!
Coconut oil: If you don’t want to use coconut oil, you can always use melted butter.
Almond milk: any dairy free milk will work.
Carrots: this recipe uses 3 cups of grated carrots! I like small or medium grate for my carrot cake recipes.
Tips for making this gluten free carrot cake:
- You need a few essential kitchen tools for this recipe including: 6 inch cake pans, parchment paper, an offset spatula for the frosting, a good set of mixing bowls and a nice cake stand.
- Make sure you follow the directions as written, and wait until the cakes are completely cool before frosting them. After they are frosted, I recommend storing carrot cake in fridge for optimal freshness.
- Use medium grated carrots. You can grate the carrots in your food processor with the grated blade, or you can use a hand grater.
- Do a crumb coat for the frosting first. Frost the layers as you normally would and then coat the outside of the cake with a very thin layer of frosting then place in fridge for 10-15 minutes before you finish frosting. This is so that the crumbs stick to this layer of frosting and not your main layer.
- You can make this cake 1-2 days ahead of time and it will still be absolutely delicious!
How to make paleo carrot cake:
To make this cake paleo, simply use a dairy free cream cheese and a paleo friendly powdered sugar option. You can also use Simple Mills frosting.
See how to make this healthy gluten free carrot cake:
I know you’re going to love this healthy gluten free carrot cake, please let me know if you make it by leaving a comment and rating the recipe below. I’d love to hear from you and it helps encourage others to make the recipe too! xo.
P.S. feel free to listen to my cinnamon carrot cake playlist on spotify while you bake this!
The Best Healthy Carrot Cake You'll Ever Eat (gluten free & paleo-friendly!)
- Dry Ingredients
- 2 cups packed super fine blanched almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- ½ cup coconut flour (do not pack)
- ½ cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Wet ingredients
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup drippy tahini
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil
- 3 cups shredded carrots (medium grate)
- Optional mix-ins:
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- For the frosting:
- ½ cup salted butter, at room temperature (or sub vegan buttery stick)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (or sub dairy free cream cheese)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (any milk will work)
- For the topping:
- Extra pecans and shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper rounds. Spray parchment paper and sides of pan with nonstick cooking spray. YOU SHOULD USE PARCHMENT PAPER or the cake is likely to stick. Please do not forget.
In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pure maple syrup, tahini, almond milk, vanilla extract until smooth.
Slowly whisk in the melted and cooled coconut oil until it’s well incorporated, the stir in the carrots. Note: It is important that your eggs are at room temperature otherwise the coconut oil with coagulate. The coconut oil should be melted but not HOT, but rather closer to room temp.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in raisins and nuts, if using.
Divide batter evenly between pans and spread out with a spatula to smooth the tops. Bake for 22-32 minutes in the two 8-inch pans and 30-40 minutes for three 6-inch pans.
Cakes are done when a tester comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting or removing from the pans. The cake should be room temperature when you frost it. This is very important. Cakes can be made a day ahead if you’d like.
Make your frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the softened butter and cream cheese and whip on high until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat for 2-3 minutes more.
Now it’s time to frost the cake: place about 1 tablespoon down onto onto the cake stand and spread out. Invert cake onto the cake stand, add about ½ heaping cup frosting between each layer, repeat with each cake, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Decorate cake with pecans and shredded coconut on top. Once you are done frosting, place the cake to the fridge. Cake will stay good for 5-7 days in the fridge, and should be covered to ensure freshness. Serves 16.
To make dairy free/paleo: use vegan butter (I recommend Earth Balance) and a dairy free cream cheese such as Kite Hill. You may also need to use a paleo powdered sugar. You can also use Simple Mills Frosting as an alternative.
To make vegan: I haven't tried making this cake vegan, but if you want to try you can use 4 flax eggs (4 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 12 tablespoons water).