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 and whole wheat flours.
- This cake is made dairy free by swapping greek yogurt for creamy tahini.
- 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. Perfect for Easter, a Spring occasion, or any time of year!
- With rich beta-carotene from the carrots, protein and fiber from the almond and coconut flour, this gluten-free carrot cake will become your favorite healthy go-to cake recipe.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Eggs: help with structure and moisture, especially important when using coconut flour.
- 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 the vegan 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 healthy 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.
- 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. Set aside.
Mix ingredients in one bowl: 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. Fold in shredded carrots and nuts or raisins if using.
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: Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before removing from pans or frosting.
Make 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. Frost the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Tips, tricks and variations
- 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. Secure them in place with a smear of coconut oil and a thin smear of coconut oil where the parchment meets the batter.
- 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.
- 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 replacing half the carrots with grated zucchini or combine other spices such as allspice, cloves or pumpkin spice.
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 rack. Cool completely before frosting.
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. 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.
- three 6-inch cake pans
- Or, two 8-inch cake pans
- Or, 12 cup muffin tin, lined
- Large bowl, spatula and whisk
- High-speed blender (preferred) or food processor for 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.