This is the best healthy low sugar carrot cake made with fresh carrots, warm sweet spices and a vegan cream cheese frosting. The moist gluten-free crumb has no dairy, no refined sugar, no wheat and the perfect level of sweetness.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This low sugar carrot cake recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly and sweetened with natural sweetener. It's made with an almond flour and coconut flour mixture, keeping it free from refined white flour, all purpose flour, or whole wheat flours like whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour.
- The carrot cake batter is made dairy free by swapping greek yogurt for creamy tahini, maintaining a moist cake.
- This super moist healthy carrot cake recipe has melt-in-your-mouth texture from the finely grated carrots and a decadent tasting vegan frosting made from soaked cashews. Favorite dessert perfect for Easter, a Spring occasion like mother's day, birthday cake or any time of year you want delicious cake!
- With rich beta-carotene from the carrots, protein and dietary fiber from the almond and coconut flour, this gluten-free carrot cake will become your favorite go-to cake recipe.
If you love wholesome decadent tasting desserts, try my paleo banana bread with coconut flour, fresh ginger apple muffins with crumble topping, Easy 4-Ingredient Chocolate Bread Banana Chip Loaf and my easy fudgy homemade brownies. Or other carrot dessert or snack recipes like my Double Chocolate Carrot Zucchini Muffins or my yummy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Nut Breakfast Bars!
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Eggs: help with structure and moisture, especially important when using coconut flour. I have not tested this recipe with flax eggs to make it a vegan carrot cake.
- Pure maple syrup: adds natural sweetness and a nice maple flavor. You can substitute with honey in this carrot cake recipe. This cake has no refined sugar and only half a cup of natural sweetener makes this a great low-sugar carrot cake.
- Tahini: adds moisture, making this best carrot cake creamy and rich tasting. Any creamy seed or nut butter will do, but tahini works really well in this recipe.
- Coconut oil and almond milk: adds moisture and keeps this carrot cake recipe dairy free. Use any nut or seed milk.
- Shredded carrots: are the star of the show. I grate them on a box grater which is the perfect size and texture for the best carrot cake. Avoid using pre-shredded carrots as their texture is too coarse and don't taste as good.
- Almond flour and coconut flour: works well together giving the cake a moist and tender crumb. Make sure to choose almond flour and not almond meal which is much coarser.
- Unsweetened shredded coconut: adds a little texture. Make sure not to use desiccated coconut as it lacks moisture and may have a dryer mouth-feel in the cake.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger: give this favorite cake recipe the warm spices expected in this gluten-free carrot cake. Feel free to use a larger amount of cinnamon or only a little bit if you prefer.
- Chopped nuts: make a great add-in. I used pecans but you can also substitute in walnuts, sliced almonds, pistachios, or any nuts you like.
- Raw cashews and full-fat coconut milk: make a great base for a vegan cream cheese frosting. Make sure to soak the cashews up to 24 hours (the longer the better) to get a really smooth consistency when blended.
See recipe card for all ingredients and quantities.
How to make the best healthy low sugar carrot cake
- Preheat oven and prepare pans: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of three 6-inch round baking pans with a traced and cut-out round of parchment paper. If you wish, you can also cut out 2-inch parchment strips and line the walls of the pan. Grease bottoms and sides of pans and parchment with coconut oil, make sure to get the edge of the pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add eggs and whisk until well mixed and slightly fluffy. Add maple syrup, tahini, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.
- Add almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Stir until combine.
Mix ingredients in one bowl!
- Fold in shredded carrots and nuts or raisins if using.
- Divide batter evenly between baking pans. Bake for 20-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few small crumbs.
- Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before removing from pans or frosting.
- Make frosting: Meanwhile, prepare the frosting in a separate bowl. Add cashews, coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, ginger and salt to a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and fluffy. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
- Frost cake: Frost the cake by adding a dollop of frosting to the top of the first cake, smooth out and add the second cake on top. Repeat with the second and third cake layers. Frost the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Expert tips and variations
- Line pans - make sure to line pans with parchment paper or the cake may stick. Trace the outline of the pan with a pencil on the parchment and cut out three circles. I also like to use parchment strips to line the sides of the pans. Don't forget to grease the edges of the pan. Secure in place with a smear of coconut oil and a thin smear of coconut oil or olive oil where the parchment meets the batter.
- Freshly grated carrot - fresh grated carrot is best for uniform texture. I like to grate my carrots on the medium holes of a box grater. They grate nice and thinly and almost melt into the carrot cake. Pre-grated carrot is often thicker and course and will be noticeable in the finished cake.
- Use a kitchen scale - precisely measure your ingredients with a kitchen scale if you can. It's much more accurate when baking, especially with gluten-free ingredients. And, you'll have less dishes to clean.
- Try grated zucchini - try replacing half the carrots with grated zucchini or combine other spices such as allspice, cloves or pumpkin spice. You can top the cake with simple ingredients like chopped nuts, grated carrots, coconut flakes or a scrape of orange zest.
This recipe works well for healthy carrot cupcakes. Use paper liners in the muffin tin. I prefer using unbleached parchment muffin liners. Baking time will reduce to approximately 12-18 minutes, depending on how much you fill each cup. Allow to cool slightly in the muffin tin before removing and placing each carrot muffin onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting your healthy carrot cake cupcakes. If you like chocolate, try my Double Chocolate Carrot Zucchini Muffins too!
I have not tried this low-sugar carrot cake recipe with pineapple but my suggestion would be to drain the pineapple and squeeze out some of the moisture. Use about ½ cup. You may need to reduce some of your moisture by a few tablespoons. Try reducing the coconut oil. Let us know how they turned out!
It depends! Traditional classic carrot cake is loaded with refined flours and refined sugars like many cake recipes. This low-sugar carrot cake recipe is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and made with high fiber and high protein almond flour and coconut flour. It's also filled with beta-carotene rich carrots to boost this nutrient-rich dessert. You'll get rave reviews from family members, friends and any carrot cake lover!
- three 6-inch cake pans, or two 8-inch cake pan, or 12 cup muffin tin, lined
- Large bowl, spatula and whisk
- High-speed blender (preferred) or food processor for vegan frosting
- Countertop: The cake can be left at room temperature the day it was made then it should be put into the fridge. Note that if the cake has been frosted, the frosting may melt if not refrigerated.
- Fridge: Store the carrot cake covered for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: Store the carrot cake for up to 2 months. It can be stored frosted but is best left unfrosted, with each individual cake wrapped separately. For best results to avoid freezer burn, cake should be wrapped in a layer of plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, then placed in a freezer bag or air-tight container.
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Best Healthy Low Sugar Carrot Cake
- 3 6-inch round baking pans or, 2 8-inch round baking pans
- 1 large bowl and whisk
- 1 high-speed blender or food processor
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ - ⅔ cup (156 - 208 grams) pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup (86 grams) tahini (slightly runny) or nut butter
- ⅓ cup (72 grams) coconut oil, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup (60 grams) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (260 grams) shredded carrots
- 2 cups (192 grams) almond flour (blanched, super fine)
- ½ cup (64 grams) coconut flour
- ½ cup (27 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
- ½ cup dried fruit (raisins, currents)
- 2 cups (280 grams) raw cashews (soaked in water for one hour or more, drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup (120 grams) full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup (104 grams) pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of three 6-inch round baking pans with a traced and cut-out round of parchment paper. If you wish, you can also cut out 2-inch parchment strips and line the walls of the pan. Grease bottoms and sides of pans and parchment with coconut oil. Set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients: In a large bowl, add eggs and whisk until well mixed and slightly fluffy. Add maple syrup, tahini, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.
- Add dry ingredients: Add almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Stir until combine. Fold in shredded carrots and nuts or raisins if using.
- Fill pans and bake: Divide batter evenly between baking pans. Bake for 20-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a few small crumbs. If using two 8-inch pans, bake for 18-25 minutes.
- Cool on rack: Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before removing from pans or frosting.
- Prepare frosting: Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Add cashews, coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, ginger and salt to a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and fluffy. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
- Frost cake: Frost the cake by adding a dollop of frosting to the top of the first cake, smooth out and add the second cake on top. Repeat with the second and third cake. Then frost the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.