A healthy carrot cake recipe with maple frosting. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened without refined sugars. Topped with our favorite dairy-free maple frosting. And yes raisins are optional but we are absolutely on team raisin!
This recipe is typically baked in a regular square baking pan and frosted in the pan. But for fun we added instructions for individual cut out cakes.
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Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
Let’s start this post by wishing Mr. Peel a very happy birthday… Now the birthday man despises red velvet cake, likes spice cake and obsesses over carrot cake. He wanted the real deal for his birthday so I whipped up a healthy carrot cake, free of dairy and gluten. But it is his birthday, we splurged with eggs and coconut sugar. We live dangerously around here.
And while Mr. Peel with devouring his healthy carrot cake the dogs got some birthday cake too. Yep, Pumpkin Pupcakes for my little guys. Now back to our cake at hand...
This recipe has all the standard cake ingredients with a few healthy substitutes!
Carrot Cake Ingredeints
- Gluten-Free Flour Blend- We used America's Test Kitchen gluten-free flour blend for this recipe. We have had good luck with both King Arthur's and Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour blends.
- Cake Stuff- Baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- Spices- Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla extract. You can always use vanilla paste or powder. Feeling cheeky? Add a little crystalize ginger chopped into small pieces.
- Eggs- I have not tried flax eggs but assumed they work fine for this recipe.
- Coconut sugar
- Molasses- You don't need much but a little molasses gives this cake a depth of flavor that most carrot cakes are lacking.
- Applesauce- Unsweetened applesauce adds extra moisture to the cake without the fat and calories of more oil.
- Coconut oil- Make sure it is melted so it doesn't seize up in the cake.
- Carrots- Pro tip, hand grate the carrots so they don't become watery.
- Walnuts- Don't have walnuts? Try pecans or even hazelnuts.
- Raisins- Optional but classic.
Maple Frosting Ingredients
- Coconut cream- Not coconut milk. Make sure you chill your can in the fridge before getting started.
- Maple Syrup- Use high-quality maple syrup for the best flavor.
- Crystallized Ginger- Optional but so worth it!
Making this carrot cake is baking 101. We mix the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients. Next, you combine. And into the oven to bake.
Unlike some gluten and dairy free baking, this carrot cake recipe is a cinch!
The walnuts and raisins are optional. You can add any mix totaling to one cup.
Personally, I like dried cherries and pecans but it wasn’t MY birthday so Mr. Peel insisted we stick with the classic carrot cake combination.
After the carrot cake has cooled, simply top with the maple frosting and serve right out of the pan.
🎂Dairy-Free Maple Frosting
Chill the can of coconut cream while prepping the cake.The colder the coconut cream the easier it is to work with.
Pour the entire can into a mixing bowl. Beat on high until light and fluffy. Be patient it takes a minute. Add the maple syrup and vanilla. I typically use at least the 2 tablespoons for max maple flavor.
I love adding the crystallized ginger but I can’t always find it. If you have some on hand, finely dice and hand fold it into the frosting.
Quickly get to work frosting the cake. If the frosting gets to warm place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes and start again.
🍰How to Make Individual Cakes
Make the carrot cake according to the recipe. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Cut around the edge and carefully flip the cake onto a baking sheet or large cutting board.
Use a bread knife to trim off the rounded top so that the cake is completely flat.
Keep the scraps for snacks or cakepops.
Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter (or a large glass). Cut out rounds. You will need two per cake.
Frost the minicakes directly on the serving plate. Place a small amoutn of frosting and place the first layer.
Pipe on frosting and place the second layer on top. Decorate as desired.
🧁More Healthy Desserts
We hoped you enjoyed our favorite carrot cake recipe! We try to keep desserts as healthy as possible around. Here are few we think you might like!
Healthy Carrot Cake with Maple Frosting
- Mixing bowl
- Stand or hand mixer
- 8x8 baking pan
- Round cookie cutter, optional for individual cakes
- 2 c gluten free flour blend
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- pinch clove
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 c applesauce
- 1/3 c coconut oil, melted plus more for pan
- 2 c carrots, grated
- 1/2 c walnuts, chopped optional
- 1/2 c raisins optional
- 1 can coconut cream 14 oz approx.
- 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 c crystallized ginger, chopped optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pan with extra coconut oil.
- Add dry ingredients (GF flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg) to a mixing bowl. Mix well to combine and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vanilla, sugar, molasses and applesauce. Mix on high until creamy. While the mixer is running slowly pour in the melted coconut oil.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly. Mix until the batter well combined and there are no big lumps.
- Gently fold in grated carrots, nuts, and fruit by hand.
- Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
- Chill the can of coconut cream while prepping the cake.
- Pour the entire can into a mixing bowl. Beat on high until light and fluffy. Be patient it takes a minute.
- Whip in maple syrup and vanilla.
- Gently fold in crystallized ginger, if using.
- Ice cake quickly. If the frosting gets to warm place in fridge to chill for 15 minutes and start again.
- Hand grate carrots, using a food processor makes them too moist.
- Sub 1 cup granulated sugar or 1/2 c granulated sugar + 1/2 c brown sugar for the coconut sugar and molasses.
- We used America's Test Kitchen gluten-free flour blend for this recipe. We have had good luck with both King Arthur's and Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour blends.