You can leave your mixing bowls in the cupboard for this healthy, gluten free carrot cake recipe! The batter gets whizzed up right in the Vitamix or food processor, and the result is seriously amazing. [New VIDEO below!]

I tested this gluten free carrot cake six times. In all honesty, this was one of those unicorns that hit the mark on the first test, but then I kept “testing” it for quality control. Okay fine, I just wanted to eat more cake. This is my new favorite carrot cake recipe, hands-down, and you’re not going to believe that it’s a healthy cake you can feel good about eating.

Close up of a piece of gluten free carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting on a spatula.

Gluten free carrot cake with almond flour

This healthy carrot cake recipe was inspired by my blender carrot cake muffins. I wanted to create a batter that was just as easy to make, but that would translate into cake form, with a super moist, classic carrot cake texture and flavor. 

Healthy gluten free carrot cake cut into squares on a platter, with a serving plate alongside.

The cake is made with almond flour and shredded unsweetened coconut, which give it a seriously tender texture (and make it gluten free and paleo friendly!). 

Blender carrot cake

Let’s face it, carrot cake can be a pain in the a$$ to make. It usually requires multiple mixing bowls, not to mention the dreaded “shredding of carrots” (which is quite possibly my least favorite kitchen task). You can forget all that, because this batter gets blitzed up entirely in a Vitamix blender or food processor! You don’t even need to shred the carrots—they get finely chopped right in the machine. You’re welcome. 

Process shot showing carrots in a Vitamix blender for the carrot cake batter.
Process shot showing chopped carrots in a Vitamix blender for the gluten free carrot cake recipe.

Healthy carrot cake recipe with applesauce

A few simple ingredients add flavor to this gluten free carrot cake recipe and lighten it up:

  • Unsweetened applesauce lends moisture, allowing us to cut back on the oil.
  • The cake contains more carrots than most carrot cakes, which provide natural sweetness and contribute more moisture.
  • Finally, a mix of warming spices, including cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg and ginger, as well as maple syrup, give the cake an incredible flavor. 

Paleo carrot cake

This carrot cake is made without grains or sugar, meaning it’s also paleo without the frosting!

Close up of the gluten free paleo carrot cake without frosting.

Can this carrot cake be made dairy free?

Yes! This healthy carrot cake recipe is dairy free as long as you use nut milk in the batter. You can omit the cream cheese frosting, or you can serve the carrot cake with a dollop of non-dairy coconut whipped cream (homemade or store-bought) instead.

How to make a healthy gluten free carrot cake:

  • Pulse carrots in a Vitamix or food processor until finely chopped. Transfer the carrots to a bowl.
  • In the same blender or food processor (no need to wash it!), add eggs, maple syrup, applesauce, milk, coconut oil (or vegetable oil), spices, salt and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  • Add almond flour, unsweetened dried coconut and baking powder. Pulse until just incorporated.
  • Add the shopped carrots, raisins and chopped nuts (if using). Pulse a few times to combine, then stir with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a cake pan, and bake!
Process shot showing the carrot cake ingredients in a Vitamix blender.
Process shot showing the final carrot cake batter in a Vitamix blender.
Healthy carrot cake batter spread in a cake pan.

Maple cream cheese frosting 

This maple cream cheese frosting might just be my favorite frosting (tied with this chocolate whipped cream frosting!). It’s made with just softened cream cheese and maple syrup, and it provides the perfect creamy counterpart to the spiced carrot cake. I go for a high ratio of frosting-to-cake, because we love the frosting so much.

Process shot showing a spatula spreading maple cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake.

How to make maple cream cheese frosting

  1. Using hand beaters, beat softened cream cheese until smooth (it’s really important to use room temperature cream cheese to prevent lumps from forming, so take it out of the fridge before starting the cake).
  2. Very slowly start drizzling maple syrup into the cream cheese while beating. It’s important to go slow, so that the syrup can fully incorporate. Stop and scrape the sides occasionally. Once all of the syrup has been added, scrape the sides again, then beat for a few more seconds. You’re done! Now who’s going to lick the beaters?
Process shot showing hand beaters beating softened cream cheese in a bowl.
Process shot showing hand beaters mixing the maple cream cheese frosting.

Gluten free carrot cake tips and ingredient swaps:

  • You’ll need a Vitamix blender or food processor to make this gluten free carrot cake recipe.
  • This cake gets baked in an 8-inch square pan. I prefer a metal pan, which allows for even browning (and sharp corners!), but you could use a glass dish—just start checking for doneness about 5 minutes early.
  • I always suggest using an inexpensive kitchen scale when baking, not only because it’s more accurate, but also because it’s much easier (no messing with measuring cups!).
  • Be sure to let the cake cool completely before slicing. Since the texture is very moist, the cake can benefit from refrigerating (and it gets even better with time!).
  • I prefer to use dried currants in this cake since they distribute evenly in the batter, but raisins work great as well.
  • You can use honey instead of maple syrup in the cake batter.
  • It’s important that the cream cheese is completely softened before making the frosting, so take it out of the fridge before starting the cake. (To soften the cream cheese more quickly, place it on or near the warm oven.)
  • For a dairy free cake, simply omit the frosting, or serve the cake with a dollop of non-dairy coconut whipped cream instead.
Close up of the carrot cake on a plate with a fork, with a bite taken out.

FAQ

Does carrot cake contain gluten?

Most carrot cakes are made with all-purpose flour, but this cake is made with almond flour, which is naturally gluten free and high in protein (this cake is also paleo!). 

How do I make a moist and tender gluten free carrot cake?

Almond flour gives this gluten free carrot cake an ultra moist and tender texture without any gumminess. Applesauce and maple syrup provide moisture. 

Can I use baking powder in gluten free cakes?

Yes! Baking powder is a leavening agent made with baking soda, cream of tartar and sometimes cornstarch. It’s naturally gluten free. 

Spatula picking up a piece of carrot cake.

Other healthy baked goods you might like:

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Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Carrot Cake Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (Gluten-Free, Grain Free, Sugar Free)

You can leave your mixing bowls in the cupboard for this healthy, gluten free carrot cake! The batter gets whizzed up right in the Vitamix or food processor, and the result is seriously amazing. It’s an ultra moist cake, and nobody will know it’s naturally sweetened. The cake is taken over-the-top with a maple cream cheese frosting (see that recipe below). Be sure to take the cream cheese out of the fridge before making the cake, as it needs to soften before making the frosting. Check out the notes for a dairy-free option!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Cooling Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy carrot cake recipe, Gluten free carrot cake recipe, healthy carrot cake recipe
Servings: 1 8-inch cake

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray or oil, for pan
  • 1/3 cup currants OR ½ cup raisins
  • 3 medium carrots (7-8oz /220g), peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup milk or nut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (or you can use butter or a neutral vegetable oil)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (165g) almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (38g) chopped walnuts or pecans, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below!)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan with coconut oil or cooking spray. Line the pan crosswise with parchment paper, leaving an overhang (this will make it easy to pull the cake out of the baking pan later, but you can skip this step and simply serve the cake in the pan).
  • Put the currants (or raisins) in a small bowl and cover them with warm water. Let sit.
  • Put the carrots in the Vitamix or food processor.  If using a Vitamix, turn the machine on and gradually increase the speed to medium (Variable 6 or 7), stirring with the tamper.  Blend until the carrots are very finely chopped but not pureed (it will only take a few seconds)—the carrots should look a bit bigger than rice. If using a food processor, pulse until very finely chopped. Scrape the sides and give the carrots one more pulse to make sure they're evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Put the container back on the base (no need to wash it—it’s ok if there are still some carrots around the edges and bottom), and add the eggs, maple syrup, applesauce, milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  • Add the almond flour, shredded coconut and baking powder. Blend on low (Variable 2 or 3) or pulse (if using a food processor) until incorporated.
  • Drain the currants (or raisins), and add them to the batter along with the chopped carrots and nuts (if using). Blend on low (Variable 1), stirring with the tamper, or pulse if using a food processor, until just incorporated (don't over-mix). Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and stir to fully incorporate all of the ingredients.
  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Set the pan on a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes. Run a thin knife along the sides of the pan then carefully use the parchment handles to transfer the cake to a rack (if you prefer, you can skip this step and serve the cake straight from the pan). Let the cake cool completely.
  • Spread the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting evenly over the top of the cake. If you’d like, sprinkle the top of the cake with chopped nuts. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, or until you’re ready to serve.

Notes

Do Ahead: The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The unfrosted cake can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months. 
Tips:
  • You’ll need a Vitamix blender or food processor to make this carrot cake.
  • This cake gets baked in an 8-inch square pan. I prefer a metal pan, which allows for even browning (and sharp corners!), but you could use a glass dish—just start checking for doneness about 5 minutes early.
  • I always suggest using an inexpensive kitchen scale when baking, not only because it’s more accurate, but also because it’s much easier (no messing with measuring cups!).
  • Be sure to let the cake cool completely before slicing. Since the texture is very moist, the cake can benefit from refrigerating (and it gets even better with time!).
  • I prefer to use dried currants in this cake since they distribute evenly in the batter, but raisins work great as well.
  • You can use honey instead of maple syrup in the cake batter.
  • It’s important that the cream cheese is completely softened before making the frosting, so take it out of the fridge before starting the cake. (To soften the cream cheese more quickly, place it on or near the warm oven.)
  • For a dairy free cake, simply omit the frosting, or serve the cake with a dollop of non-dairy coconut whipped cream instead.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This irresistibly light and creamy frosting is made with only 2 ingredients! It’s important that the cream cheese is completely softened when making this frosting, otherwise it could turn lumpy. Also, be sure to add the maple syrup very slowly—start with just a few drops, then add it slowly in a steady drizzle (patience is key!). If you go too fast the frosting could develop lumps (but don’t worry, it will still taste great).
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy cream cheese frosting, healthy cream cheese frosting, maple cream cheese frosting
Servings: 1 8-inch cake

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • Using hand beaters, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Start the beaters again and very slowly add the maple syrup in a thin drizzle while beating (if you add it too quickly, it might get lumpy). Continue beating on high until completely smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. Use the frosting right away.

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