4.64 from 11 votes

The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake

 March 17, 2021

If you are looking for The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake recipe, then I’ve got you! This carrot cake is made with a gluten-free flour blend, so it’s naturally gluten-free, and is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and pineapple, so it’s also refined sugar-free as well! Each piece is loaded to the max with carrots, raisins, walnuts, and pineapple, and topped with a delicious, dairy-free cream cheese frosting that is truly irresistable. Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan, too? Say hello to your new favorite carrot cake recipe, because it doesn’t get better than this!

A sheet of parchment paper with The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake on top. The cake is covered with a gooey cream cheese frosting, and bits of toasted pecans.

When I was a little girl, I would avoid carrot cake like the plague. I mean, vegetables in cake?! No thank you. For me, I was a chocolate cake girl, all the way.

But thankfully, as I grew up, my taste buds slowly changed, and I learned that vegetables in cake really isn’t that bad. In fact, while I still love a decadent chocolate cake, I’ve come to find that a good carrot cake is truly the best thing in the world.

One of the best carrot cakes that I’ve ever had is from Susie Cakes, a local California-based bakery. Each slice of their carrot cake contains many layers of soft, moist cake with a decadent cream cheese frosting smothered in-between. My version is a take the Susie Cakes classic recipe, but made with more nutritious ingredients and no refined sugars. Of course mine isn’t a layer cake, so there’s that difference too, but the taste? In my opinion, it measures up!

An overhead image of all of the ingredients needed to make The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake: coconut sugar, carrots, pineapple, coconut oil, gluten-free flour blend, pecans, raisins, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar!

What You Need to Make this Delicious, Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

I bet you’ve never seen a carrot cake that was this easy to make! The ingredients for this recipe are surprisingly simple, and you might be surprised by how many you have already sitting in your pantry!

  • Carrots: This recipe uses 3/4 cup shredded carrots, packed. I like to use the small or medium grate, so that the carrot pieces are not too large.
  • Pineapple: This recipe also uses pineapple, both for texture and sweetness. I recommend purchasing canned pineapple (with no added sugar), because you will need some of the juice! 
  • Coconut oil: This cake is nice and moist thanks to coconut oil. I have also made this recipe with avocado oil, so I can vouch for that. I’m pretty sure you can go with butter, if you’d like.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract is a must in any baked good! It elevates the taste and you only need a little!
  • Apple cider vinegar: Because this recipe is vegan and doesn’t contain any eggs, the apple cider vinegar, combined with the baking soda, is what is going to make this cake rise. So don’t skip it, and don’t use any other vinegar. You need apple cider vinegar.
  • Gluten-free flour: I always use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 baking flour in my recipes, as it always gives me the perfect result. The Trader Joe’s gluten-free flour is a great one, too. If you want to use regular, all purpose flour, it will work, but just note, I have not tested any other flour.
  • Coconut sugar: I love the taste of coconut sugar in this recipe. It’s fantastic, and we are only using 1/2 cup in the entire recipe, and that’s because the cake also gets some sweetness from the pineapple and the raisins. 
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is probably my most favorite flavor of all in this recipe, so don’t skimp on it.
  • Ginger: I use ground ginger in this recipe. 
  • Baking soda: This is an essential ingredient in this recipe, needed to make the cake rise. 
  • Raisins: Now, I know some of you don’t like raisins, and if you are one of those people, just feel free to omit them all together. However, a traditional carrot cake includes raisins, and I love them, so here we are. 
  • Walnuts: I love the taste of walnuts in carrot cake, but if you are nut free, feel free to omit them all together. If you aren’t huge walnut fan, go ahead and substitute pecans for the walnuts. The world is your oyster!
A slice of The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake, sitting on a scalloped plate. A second slice can be seen in the distance.

How to make This Nutrient-Packed Carrot Cake Recipe

One of the things that I love the most about this cake, is the fact that it turns out perfectly moist and fluffy, every single time. This recipe has been tested time and time again, and as long as you follow the instructions exactly, it’ll be perfect – every single time.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 square baking dish very well, with either oil or dairy-free butter. Once the pan is greased, you can additionally choose to line the baking sheet with parchment paper, so that the cake slides out of the pan easily.

Next, mix together your shredded carrots, crushed pineapple, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar. Then fold in the flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, raisins and chopped walnuts. Once your batter is finished, transfer it to your baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Then, once your cake has fully cooled, top it with the homemade cream cheese frosting and slice into 12 squares. Store in the fridge for up to one week, and enjoy!

How to Make The Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

If you really want to take this recipe to the next level, then I highly recommend making this cream cheese frosting. Not only is it totally dairy-free, but it is so delicious and takes only a few minutes to make!

To make this frosting, simply beat together the dairy-free cream cheese and the vegan butter together in a bowl. I use a hand mixer to do this, but you can also do it in a stand mixer or by hand! Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, as you’re mixing.

Next, slowly add in the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until well combined. It might look dry at first, but the more you beat it, the creamier it will become. I promise!

Finally, add the vanilla extract and the lemon juice and beat all of the ingredients together until they are soft, fluffy, and fully smooth. That’s it! So simple and easy.

Of course, if you don’t want to make your own frosting, you can also use a store-bought cream cheese frosting. Do what works for you!

The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake, frosted and topped with chopped walnuts, and sliced into 12 even squares.

How to Store & Freeze this Healthy Carrot Cake

One of the reasons I like this recipe is because I can make it a few days before I’m ready to serve it. When I go that route, I just wait until I’m ready to serve it to add the frosting. And in fact, I actually think the cake tastes better after a day or so – the flavors really soak in and it become moister (I know we all hate that word, but it’s true!)

Storing your healthy carrot cake

Once you’ve made your carrot cake, cover it with foil or transfer it to an air tight container, and place it in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you leave it out on the counter more than a day or so, it definitely won’t last as long.

Freezing your healthy carrot cake

If you want to freeze this carrot cake, don’t frost it. Instead, wrap it in plastic and freeze, and when you are ready to serve it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and allow it to come to room temperature before frosting it and cutting it into squares.

Two slices of The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake, layered on top of one another on a scalloped plate.

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating below. This really helps other readers decide whether to make this recipe, and it also helps my recipe appear in Google searches! And if you are feeling especially kind, be sure to tag me in your creations on Instagram, so I can see them and repost on my IG stories!

Dairy Free/gluten-free/Paleo/Vegan

The Best Ever Healthy Carrot Cake

4.64 from 11 votes
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
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If you are looking for the best ever healthy carrot cake, I've got you! This carrot cake is made with gluten-free flour and sweetened with coconut sugar and pineapple. Each piece is loaded with carrots, raisins, walnuts, and pineapple and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. Say hello to your new favorite carrot cake recipe.


  • 1 8×8 Square Baking Dish This is an absolute kitchen essential for me! I love this one as a more affordable / introductory piece. If you want a bit more of an investment piece, I recommend this one.


Carrot cake:

  • ¾ cup finely shredded carrots packed
  • ½ cup crushed canned pineapple do not drain all of the liquid out. when measuring your 1/2 cup, be sure to include some of the liquid, too.
  • ¼ cup coconut oil melted (or avocado oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 8 oz container dairy-free cream cheese
  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


To make the carrot cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease an 8×8 square baking dish very well, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the carrots, crushed pineapple, melted coconut oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  • Next, add the flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, raisins and chopped walnuts.
  • NOTE: the batter should be thick, but NOT dry and crumbly. If it is, that is ok! Just add a few more tablespoons of the pineapple juice or a few tablespoons of water. It's all good, do not worry!
  • Transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool completely before adding the cream cheese frosting.
  • Cut into squares and enjoy!

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  • In a bowl, beat together the dairy-free cream cheese and the vegan butter. I use a hand mixer to do this. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.
  • Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until well combined. It might look dry at first, but the more you beat it, the creamier it will become, I promise.
  • Add the vanilla extract and the lemon juice and beat all of the ingredients together until they are soft, fluffy, and fully smooth.


NOTE: the batter should be thick, but NOT dry and crumbly. If it is, that is ok! Just add a few more tablespoons of the pineapple juice or a few tablespoons of water. It’s all good, do not worry!

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see what you made – tag @kalejunkie
in your posts and I’ll re-share!



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  1. 4 stars
    I made this cake this morning and it is delicious. However, it came out quite crumbly and I’m not sure why. I only had pineapple chunks on hand, so I used those and tried to crush them as much as possible as well as adding some extra pineapple juice. I also subbed brown sugar for the coconut sugar and almonds for the walnuts. The batter was thick but moist when I poured it in the pan, but the cake was crumbly when cut. However the frosting is absolutely amazing and the flavor of it all together is great!

    • Hi Ann! Unfortunately this recipe has not been tested with oat flour, so I cannot guarantee that it’ll turn out the same.

  2. 4 stars
    The first time I made this I didn’t have any gf flour in the house so I improvised with a mix of coconut flour, almond flour and arrowroot flour. It came out moist, fluffy and delicious. A perfect carrot cake. So good that as soon as it was gone, I wanted more. When I made it a second time I actually had gf flour so I followed the recipe exactly and it was a fail. As soon as I added the flour to the batter I could tell it was too dry so I added more pineapple juice and the batter seemed right but the cake itself came out flat, dry and crumbly. Nothing like my first version. The only difference in my methods was the flour. If you make this, definitely sub out the flour!

    • I’m sorry to hear that you had that experience, Gia, but I’m glad you found a variation that works for you!

    • I LOVE hearing that, Jeni!! Thank you so much for making this recipe (twice!) and for leaving such a kind review!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the best carrot cake! So moist and tastes like the real deal. I subbed the coconut oil for carrot baby food and it is still the best carrot cake I’ve had; you can barely tell its healthy. Thanks so much for sharing it, will become a regular for me.

    • I love hearing that!! Thank you so much, Nadine! I am so thrilled to hear this will be a new regular for you!

  4. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I am allergic to pineapple so I replaced that with mashed banana (very ripe) and some oat milk and it turned out great. I also chose to make them into cupcakes and they only needed about 10 minutes at 350F. Really appreciate the great GF vegan recipe!

    • Hi! Yes! But you might need to add a little more pineapple juice or water, to ensure the batter isn’t dry. The batter should be super thick, but not dry. Enjoy!

  5. Very nice recipe indeed! I tried making it yesterday and overall it came out great.
    Only, I used Tapioca flour for the gluten free floor which I think made it a little gooie. Which Gluten free flour would you recommend?
    Also, I didn’t have cream cheese at hand so just replaced with some sour cream in the frosting, which was delicious.

    • Hi! That’s definitely why – you can’t substitute tapioca flour for gluten-free flour 🙂 I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour, it’s awesome!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this today for Easter while dinner was cooking – SO good. Super easy to make, perfect texture, not too sweet. The only adjustment I made was omitting vegan butter in the frosting. This is probably one of my favorite desserts I’ve ever made! Thank you!!

  7. 5 stars
    I made this the day before easter and it turned out great! Not under-spiced or too sweet! I used regular sugar but that was the only sub I made. I was surprised I cant taste the pineapple in it at all. Everyone else in my house loved it too! Thanks for an awesome new regular I’ll be making!

  8. 4 stars
    Yum! This was really good, but like many of the reviews, the batter was really dry. I ended up adding about 2/3 cup extra pineapple juice and, because I am not vegan, added 1 egg for some more moisture + rise and it came out perfect!

  9. 4 stars
    Easy and really good flavor and not too sweet which was perfect with the creek cheese frosting. My one issue was the mix was super dry… I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be like but it certainly wasn’t like a batter so added some Greek yogurt to the mix and it turned out perf!

  10. Did the recipe used to say you could substitute applesauce for pineapple? I swore it did, but I also may be making things up? Hoping to make this today for Easter tomorrow, but may have to run to the store for pineapple 🙂

  11. Hi! This looks amazing and I would love to make this for Easter. I was wondering if it could be made in multiple round cake pans and served as a layered cake with frosting in between? Thanks so much!

    • Hi! Yes, if you double the recipe. This recipe makes square for an 8×8 pan, so if you double the recipe and bake in a round pan, it will be perfect as a layer cake!

  12. Thank you for this recipe! I’m not used to vegan baking and I followed this to a T except used white sugar instead as it’s what I had. The cake, while delicious, turned out dry and crumbly and didn’t rise. Any idea what could have gone wrong? I want to get it right and serve it for Easter!! (Will get coco sugar next time)

    • Hi! Thank you for letting me know. If the dough is dry, then it means you need to add a bit more of the pineapple juice, so that the batter is thick, yet still moist before the cake goes into the oven! That’s the only reason I can think of, because the fact that you used white sugar instead of coconut sugar doesn’t make a difference! 🙂 Give it another try and don’t be afraid to add more of the liquid to the batter. Enjoy!

    • Hi! I wouldn’t recommend it, because you do need some liquid from the can, so that the cake isn’t dry.

  13. 5 stars
    This cake is so damn good. I topped it with regular buttercream frosting and I swear I haven’t had a better dessert in recent memory. So freaking delicious.

    • OOOOH, I love a good buttercream frosting too!!! Thank you so much for reviewing this recipe!