Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This Gluten Free Carrot Cake is moist, fluffy, and covered in a dreamy cream cheese frosting. Filled with pineapple and coconut, this cake is perfect for spring celebrations!

The Search for the Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has long been a favorite dessert in our family. I grew up with this Carrot Sheet Cake, which is one of the most popular recipes on our site. It’s super moist, flavored with pineapple, covered in a delicious cream cheese frosting, and also…filled with gluten.

When my mom had to switch to a gluten free diet years ago, this carrot cake was one of the many recipes we wanted to make gluten free. When you’re first making the switch to gluten free, it can feel like speaking another language. So many new flours! And what the heck is guar gum?

We sought recipes that were both delicious AND could be made with ingredients that you could find in most grocery stores. We had great success with Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake, Gluten Free Linzer Cookies, and GF Berry Crisp.

A few simple swaps, like gluten free graham crackers or gluten free flour, also made favorites like Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping and Pecan Pie Bars easy to convert.

And yet, the perfect gluten free carrot cake still alluded us…until now. We found a recipe that stands up to our old family favorite. Whether you or someone you love follows a gluten free diet, we think you’re going to love bringing this recipe to your next celebration!

Here’s why this gluten free carrot cake recipe is the best!

  • It’s moist! Is there anything worse than a dry carrot cake? Ugh. So disappointing. Thankfully this gluten free carrot cake is anything but dry!
  • It’s easy to make. This is a pretty standard cake recipe you can whip together in your mixer in no time!
  • It uses common ingredients. The only semi-unusual ingredient on this list is the gluten free flour blend, which thankfully is found in most grocery stores these days!
  • The cream cheese frosting. My version is full of tangy cream cheese flavor and not too sweet. I adore it and believe it’s the only frosting that should ever go on carrot cake. Forever and ever. Amen.

Key Ingredients

Bowls filled with ingredients for carrot cake- shredded carrots, pineapple, baking soda, vegetable oil, salt, , walnuts, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, and flour.
  • Gluten free 1-to-1 flour blend– I tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Flour Blend. If using King Arthur’s GF Flour Blend, you will need 2 cups. I also included the weight in the recipe card in case you want to try another brand of flour. While this cake is wonderful gluten free, you could easily use regular white flour in place of gluten free flour. Just add about 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the 2 cups of regular white flour. 
  • Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg– All three of these ingredients are *essential* for that gently spiced flavor carrot cake is known for.
  • Carrots– We couldn’t have a carrot cake without carrots! You’ll want to use finely grated carrots so that your cake has a smooth texture. I usually use a food processor to make short work of this.
  • Pineapple-Pineapple adds just the right amount of sweetness. Make sure that your crushed pineapple is room temperature and drained well. We don’t want a soggy cake!
  • Yogurt- Yogurt keeps this cake nice and moist.
  • Coconut- Flaked sweetened coconut works best for this recipe.

How to Make Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil and light brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 60 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

  1. Combine the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and stir well. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the yogurt and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
  1. Add the carrots, coconut, pineapple and walnuts. Fold together with a spatula until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  2. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Let sit for 10 minutes before baking.

  1. Bake in a preheated oven for 50-55 minutes until the top springs back when gently poked in the center. The cake should also start to pull away from the sides of the pan when it is done. If the cake is underbaked, it will sink once it cools.
  2. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.
  3. Frost with cream cheese frosting and serve.

To Make the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and the sifted powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Turn your mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy and doubled in size.
  4. Spread over the cake. Sprinkle with additional chopped nuts or coconut.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spatula spreading cream cheese frosting onto a carrot cake.

Tips & FAQs

Storage

The completed cake should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I like it best served at room temperature, so remove it from the fridge 1-2 hours before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare carrot cake a day ahead of time and wrap the unfrosted layer of cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. The frosting can also be prepared a day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. Let the frosting sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before decorating the cake.

Freezing

You can freeze this cake unfrosted. Bake according to the instructions, then once it has cooled completely wrap the cake in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap. Place inside a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, move the cake to the refrigerator to thaw and then frost as directed above.

Hand sprinkling walnuts onto a frosted gluten free carrot cake.

Is gluten free carrot cake healthier than regular cake?

I wouldn’t call this cake healthy, but it does have fruits AND veggies in it, so just think of that as a little bonus nutrition with your dessert.

Are raisins good in carrot cake?

This is a very polarizing question. I don’t love raisins in carrot cake, but if you’re a fan, feel free to add about 1/2 cup.

What can I substitute for crushed pineapple in carrot cake?

If you don’t want to use pineapple, substitute it with the same amount of apple sauce.

Round carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a chopped walnut border.

Can I use different kinds of nuts or leave them out?

If you don’t like coconut or other nuts, you can omit them. I also like the taste of pecans with carrot cake if you prefer that instead of walnuts.

How do you know when carrot cake is done?

Carrot cake should have a spring texture when done. Pull it out of the oven and gently give the top a tap with your finger. If it springs back when touched, it’s done. If it’s still jiggly, or if the imprint of your finger remains, give it a little more time.

If the cake is starting to pull away from the sides, that’s another good sign its done.

Slice of gluten free carrot cake on a white plate.

More Easter Desserts

Why not go all out for your Easter celebration this year? Alongside this Gluten Free Carrot Cake, you can make my Ultimate Easter Brunch and Mini Egg Cookies or Chocolate Bird’s Nest Dessert, which has a gluten free option.

We also love this Pineapple Sunshine Cake, Pineapple Coconut Cake, and The Best Orange Cake.

Slice of gluten free carrot cake on a white plate.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Moist and flavorful Gluten Free Carrot Cake is filled with pineapple and coconut and topped with the best cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cup (259 grams) gluten free 1-to-1 flour blend*
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup vanilla yogurt, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups finely grated carrots
  • ⅓ cup crushed pineapple, room temperature & drained well
  • ⅓ cup flaked sweetened coconut (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon whole milk or cream

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil and light brown sugar.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  4. Combine the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and stir well.  Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the yogurt and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined. 
  5. Add the carrots, coconut, pineapple and walnuts.  Fold together with a spatula until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Let sit for 10 minutes before baking.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 50-55 minutes until the top springs back when gently poked in the center. The cake should also start to pull away from the sides of the pan when it is done. If the cake is underbaked, it will sink once it cools.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Frost with cream cheese frosting and serve.

For the frosting:

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and the sifted powdered sugar.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Scrape down the sides.
  3. Turn your mixer to high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Spread over the cake.  Sprinkle with additional chopped nuts or coconut, if desired.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

See above for ingredient notes and substitutions.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 364mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 2gSugar: 38gProtein: 6g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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