December 8, 2022

Canadiannpizza

Cooking Is My World

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake – Chelsea’s Messy Apron

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is ridiculously tasty, perfectly spiced, ultra moist, and tastes completely indulgent. It can be our secret this cake has no refined sugars, is dairy-free, gluten-free, and needs no flour.

Try some of our other favorite gluten-free treats like these Gluten-Free Zucchini Muffins, Gluten-Free Apple Muffins, or Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake.

Image of Gluten-Free Carrot Cake on a plate

A Healthy Carrot Cake

Don’t get me wrong–a sugar-filled and butter-laden Carrot Cake has every part of my heart. But with the amount of carrot cake consumed in my house (have I told you it’s my oldest’s all-time favorite dessert?!), I thought it was time to create a more nutritious alternative. Of course, with the parameters that all the flavor and texture elements were still intact. And wow, does this cake deliver! It took countless batches to perfect, but I am elated with the result and can’t wait to hear what you all think of this recipe!

So while this recipe is naturally gluten-free*, it’s also filled with nutritious ingredients. Let’s break it down:

  • No flour. We use old-fashioned oats instead.
  • No refined sugar. Really, there is none in there! We’re sweetening this cake with carrots and pure maple syrup — a natural sweetener from the sap of trees.
  • One full cup of carrots.  They’re a very nutritious vegetable–just ask Buggs Bunny!
  • Cashews. We thicken the cake with cashews, the “secret” ingredient in this cake! Cashews are loaded with good-for-you fats and nutrients among other benefits.
  • Protein. This recipe is packed with protein, thanks to the nuts and eggs.
  • Dairy-Free. We use plant-based milk (almond milk).
  • Anti-inflammatory spices. This recipe uses cinnamon and ginger, which are surprisingly full of health benefits!

*While the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten-free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to be sure they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.

Process shots-- images of the cashews, oats, maple syrup, oil, milk, vanilla, and eggs being added to the blender and blending together

How To Make A Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

While I don’t know of any gluten-free carrot cake mixes, you’ll never want to use one when you see how quick and easy this recipe is to make. No fancy mixers or even bowls are needed for that matter.

All we use is a blender!

We make the entire batter in the blender in different stages. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides frequently (or as needed) to ensure all the ingredients are blending and incorporating well. 

Once the batter is fully blended and smooth, transfer it to a baking pan and bake. While it’s baking, you can whip together the optional frosting and then frost the completely cooled cake.

QUICK TIP

This recipe is quick and easy to make, but you do need a good, powerful blender (think Blendtec® or Vitamix®) to break down the cashews and oats.

Process shots of gluten-free carrot cake--images of the spices, baking agents, and finely shredded carrots being added and blended together

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe Ingredients

Below are a few ingredient-specific notes:

  • Pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener (unlike corn syrup or pancake syrup) made from the sap of a maple tree, which is boiled down to a thicker consistency. Maple syrup has no added ingredients and is all natural — the best way to sweeten this cake and add the perfect amount of moisture.
  • Cashews. We love dry-roasted and lightly salted cashews best — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. (Here’s what we use in this cake).
  • Old-fashioned oats. Although it would make sense that any oats would work since they’re getting blended anyways, it’s important to use old-fashioned to ensure you get the right measurement. Both quick and steel-cut oats are smaller, denser, and more compact so measurements would be off and the cake would end up too dry.
  • Almond milk. Any milk will work in these bars; we tested them with cow’s milk and plant-based milk. The recipe is written with plant-based milk to keep these bars as nutritious as possible, but use whichever you prefer.
  • Corn starch. This is an important ingredient since we aren’t using flour and need some additional support and thickness.

Process shots-- images of the batter being poured into the pan, then being baked, and finally being frosted

How To Make A Moist Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

The moisture secret in this recipe is the carrots

Avoid packaged pre-shredded carrots; they are hard, dry, and far less flavorful. When you grate your own carrots you’ll notice how much more moisture the carrots have–and that’s a must for the recipe to properly work (we’re relying on that moisture!).

Grab large carrots, peel ’em, and grate them on the small holes of the grater.

Process shots of Gluten-Free Carrot Cake-- images of the cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar being beat together for the frosting

Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

The cream cheese frosting, while somewhat healthier than most cream cheese frostings, does have dairy and quite a bit of refined sugar. If you’re looking to avoid both/either or simply want the most nutritionally-sound cake, leave off the frosting. Or try this Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting instead.

If you plan to make the frosting, here are a few tips:

  • Set cream cheese out at room temperature: We want the cream cheese to have plenty of time to soften, so start the process of making this cake by pulling it out of the fridge early. 
  • Don’t forget the flavor enhancers. Salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract add nuance and flavor to the frosting — even though these are small amounts, they make a big difference!
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add more or less powdered sugar, according to personal taste preferences. More sugar will make the frosting sweeter and firmer, and less sugar will leave the frosting tangier and softer.
  • Only frost the cake once it has completely cooled. Otherwise, the frosting with change textures from the heat of the cake.

Overhead image of the dessert ready to be served

Recipe Tips

  • Use a light-colored 8×8-inch pan and line it with parchment paper for easy cake removal. It may sound silly but the light-colored pan reflects heat differently than a dark one.
  • Line the pan. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal of the cake. Leave an overhang of parchment paper so you can pull up on the overhang to remove all the cake — it’s so much easier to cut cake squares out of the pan rather than in the pan.
  • Use fresh ingredients. For the softest and most tender cake possible, use fresh baking agents and don’t reduce the amount of maple syrup. We tried less and the cake was not as moist!
  • Doneness cues. You’ll know this cake is done baking when it’s no longer glossy looking on top, the edges are firm and lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Image of the Gluten-Free Carrot Cake on a plate ready to be enjoyed

More Nutritious Baked Goods:

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is ridiculously tasty, perfectly spiced, ultra moist, and tastes completely indulgent. It can be our secret this cake is actually free of refined sugars, dairy-free, gluten-free, and there’s no flour needed.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is ridiculously tasty, perfectly spiced, ultra moist, and tastes completely indulgent. It can be our secret this cake is actually free of refined sugars, dairy-free, gluten-free, and there’s no flour needed.

Ingredients

Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside for now.

  • CAKE: Add the cashews, oats, maple syrup, and coconut oil (measured when melted) to a large powerful blender (Blend-tec/Vitamix) and blend until fairly smooth, 60 seconds. Add in the rest of the cake ingredients EXCEPT the carrots. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 6-90 seconds. Stop and scrape down edges as needed. Meanwhile, grate carrots on the small side of the grater and measure to get 1 full cup. Gently stir the carrots into the batter in the blender and then pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to scrape out every bit.

  • BAKE: Smooth the top with the spatula and bake for 28-34 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned at the edges and set in the middle (toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). (32 mins is perfect in my oven!)

  • OPTIONAL FROSTING: Meanwhile, place softened cream cheese in a large bowl. (Give it ample time to warm to room temperature so your frosting isn’t chunky.) Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar (beating in between additions) until smooth and creamy and to your desired consistency. Add milk and beat until smooth.

  • DECORATE: Frost the completely cooled cake evenly with the frosting. If desired, top the frosting with chopped pecans.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Blender: You’ll need a good, powerful blender (think Blendtec® or Vitamix®) to break down the cashews without over-heating the machine.
Note 2: Cashews: We love dry-roasted and lightly salted cashews best — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. (Here’s what we use in this cake.)
Note 3: Oats: Although it would make sense that any oats would work since they’re getting blended anyways, it’s important to use old-fashioned to ensure you get the right measurement. Both quick and steel-cut oats are smaller, denser, and more compact so measurements would be off and the cake would end up too dry.
Note 4: Pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener (unlike corn syrup or pancake syrup) made from the sap of a maple tree, which is boiled down to a thicker consistency. I don’t recommend any substitutes. 
Note 5: Corn starch: This is an important ingredient since we aren’t using flour and need some additional support and thickness.
Nutrition information does not include the optional cream cheese frosting. With the frosting, one serving of this cake is 241 calories.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 183kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.6g | Protein: 3.1g | Fat: 11.3g | Cholesterol: 23.3mg | Sodium: 171.7mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 9.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.