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Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in dairy free, dessert, gluten free, Holidays, homemade for the holiday, paleo | 36 comments

Grain-Free Carrot Cake with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting



Grain-Free Carrot Cake with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Icing from

A delicious Paleo friendly, Gluten & Dairy Free Carrot Cake. perfect for your holiday get-togethers.

This was my birthday cake back in April.  It’s about time I shared the recipe with you! I adore carrot cake; even as a child, it is what I asked my Dad to make for my birthday every year. Who needs chocolate or vanilla when you have carrot cake!?

To make this grain-free carrot cake, I adapted my Chocolate Zucchini Muffin recipe. I have really missed cream cheese frosting, so I am really excited about this recipe. Using dairy-free yogurt really gives this frosting that slight taste of sour one would expect from a traditional cream cheese icing.

Paleo and Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting on

Carrots are one of those root seller veggies that last into winter, making this a seasonal favorite dessert around the Holidays. I am not big on dried fruit or nuts in my cake, but I am sure you could add that into this mixture without any trouble.

Be sure to check out the rest of my Homemade For The Holidays Recipe Collection.

Paleo Carrot Cake with dairy free cream cheese frosting


4.5 from 4 reviews

Grain-Free Carrot Cake with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

  • Cake Ingredients
  • Dry
  • ½ cup ground Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground vanilla
  • Wet
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup apple butter
  • ½ cup sunflower seed butter
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 pastured eggs
  • Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut yogurt (or other dairy free yogurt option)
  • The cream from the top of one full fat can of coconut milk (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 tblsp ground vanilla
  • 3 tblsp maple Syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans and line their bottoms with unbleached parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the eggs until frothy and loosened.
  5. In a large bowl combine the carrots, apple and sunflower seed butter. Add in the eggs and combine.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with wet ingredients. Stir until combined.
  7. Divide between the 2 cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. NOTE: The cake pictured has 4 layers, I made the cake recipe twice.
  9. Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions:
  10. Place all ingredients in your blender. Blend smooth and allow the mixture to set in the fridge for several hours or over night.
  11. Once icing has set, spread a thin layer on the top of each layer of cake. Chill and serve.


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  1. What are pepitas & wet?

    • Pepitas are a type of seed (pumpkin seeds) Wet I used to title all of the wet ingredients

  2. Can vanilla extract be used instead of ground vanilla?

    • Yes! I would use more than 1/2 a teaspoon. The ground is stronger in flavor. Try 1 teaspoon of the extract.

  3. Do you double the recipe of the icing since you doubled the cake recipe?

    • Thanks for asking Emily! I should have clarified that. No I did not double the icing recipe. It was enough for a thin layer on each layer and on the top. If you wanted icing all over the outside of the 4 layer cake I would suggest doubling. If you make a small 2 layer torte, it should be enough icing to do inside and all over the outside.

  4. I am going to make this cake for Thanksgiving! And it’s my friends birthday.

    Do you think it would be ok to add some chopped walnuts and raisins to the recipe? Also I am going to use homemade apple sauce instead of the apple butter, and homemade ginger syrup for half of the maple syrup!

    Also, could I use ground walnuts or ground almonds instead of the ground pumpkin seeds? What do you think? :)


  5. What type of coconut oil do you use? I use Wilderness Family Naturals raw cold processed extra virgin and it leaves such a heavy taste to everything I add it to. Any suggestion’s for a very mild flavored or even a no flavor one?

    • I get mine from Costco in Canada made by Carrington Farms.

  6. Grammar Nazi here. It’s ‘root cellar’, and holidays isn’t capitalized as you’ve used it, unless it’s a salutation on a greeting card (i.e., “Happy Holidays!), it’s at the beginning of a sentence, or you’re German.

    Great recipe!

    • I am so happy to know I’m not the only Grammar Nazi running around out here. (Former English teacher…..sorry)! And fresh4five, this does look like a good recipe. I have a question, though: Has the word “pasteurized” actually been shortened to “pastured” eggs? I didn’t know that. If,indeed, it has. Or is it a shortened texting word?

      • Not being an English teacher myself, you might have a better understanding.

        From my limited knowledge pasteurized is the sterilizing of foods ( eggs included) pastured means they ate out on a pasture.

        I realize spelling is important to many people…I also wish the same people realized it is NOT important to others…not a flaw. I am creative, 0 desire or energy for words. Let us each do what we do best. With that I have an editor hubby who is the polar opposite of me. Geeky, High IQ, sexy nerdy type whom I adore and admire. The same way he, in his brilliance is able to appreciate and admire my gifts. He edits every word I write (clearly besides comments) Editors exist for a reason. I know he will appreciate that he missed Seller…

        We live in a word with wildly different people. My son included, he is non verbal and uses his ipad to make basic requests with pictures. I wish he could text talk/type to me. If we understand one another and *get* what a person is trying to say…isn’t that what’s most important? a human connection… I create food…you make/eat the food. Perfect relationship. I don’t worry about spelling shit as a hobby.

        Now tell me my recipe is GROSS or the best thing you ever tasted…offer criticism or encouragement in that area of my life… that would be appreciated.

  7. What is apple butter? Where do I get it or how can I make it?

  8. From Australia here, love the recipe, about to try it out, but what is apple butter?

    • I buy Apple butter at the grocery store. It is apple sauce that is cooked down longer, so it is thicker. However I have made this cake with apple sauce one time because I didn’t have the butter on hand and it turned out fine :)

  9. Can i use another seed or nut instead of pumkin seeds?

    • yes you can, any other seed or nut should be just fine. Pumpkin seeds have a great Fat profile, so I use them often :)

  10. I’m tempted to make this soon. Has anyone recommended it?

  11. This looks delicious! When you say coconut yogurt, do you mean coconut-flavored yogurt or coconut milk yogurt? If coconut milk yogurt, what flavor? Plain?


    • I used plain So-Delicious Coconut milk. HTH

  12. root cellar unless it is a seller of roots. Then it would be a root salesman.

  13. Not impressed, the cake fell apart and the icing was extremely runny even after cooling overnight. Not a good recipe

    • Sorry to hear you did not have success. One of our favorite recipes

      • After setting and cooling the flavour came out and although it didn’t taste like carrot cake it did taste like pumpkin pie and I ended up enjoying it despite the fact that it fell apart. My husband however spat it out. Overall I re rate it to 3/5

  14. I am a blogger and teacher as well but pointing out grammar on a food blog? Really? Well answered Danielle!

  15. Hi!

    I had great success with the cake. To comment toward a previous poster’s question, I used ground sunflower seeds (because it was what I had available) and it worked out just fine. Everything held together well; it came out of the pan easily (greased and parchment paper) and stayed together while frosting, too. I haven’t tasted it yet as it was baked for someone else’s birthday, but soon! It smelled divine, though… :)

    That being said, I did have trouble with the frosting, but I have a feeling that may just be my inexperience with a dairy-free frosting/baking/cooking. I had the coconut oil, non-dairy yogurt (I could only find coconut flavored almond yogurt), cream of coconut, and maple syrup. I didn’t have ground vanilla, so I used some liquid extract. This appeared grainy as I was putting it together, though the actual texture was relatively smooth. I chilled overnight and when I took it out to frost in the morning, it was hard as a rock and not spreadable. I let it thaw a little, at which point it started to separate liquid and solids. I ended up frosting with the solids (which tasted fine) because, at that point, I had no choice; I am now chilling the cake to make sure it stays frosted for the party later. Do you have any insight on what may have gone wrong here and how I can fix it for next time? Maybe it was the extra bit of liquid by using the extract instead of ground vanilla? Or perhaps my cream of coconut wasn’t fully separated and some of the water ended up in there? Maybe almond yogurt really isn’t an appropriate substitute?

    Thanks for your help; I am very new at non-traditional baking and cooking!

    • HiKaty, thanks so much for the review. This icing using coconut oil can become gritty. The trick is to have it emulsify. I tried to rush it once putting it in the freezer and it turned completely hard then when it thawed it separated. I had to re-blend it after the oil warmed up again. I am going to make it this weekend for Thanksgiving. I will see if I can take more step by step pictures. It is a thin frosting… Not something one could pipe onto a cake.

  16. Great recipe. I love veggie desserts. Regarding the apple butter, I know you pointed out Apple sauce could be substituted. Is the apple butter included as a sweetener or as a ‘butter’? I only ask as I also have nit butter handy and wondered if that would also work (it wouldn’t obviously if the apple butter is fir sweetness). Sorry for the odd question. I’ve never seen or heard of Apple butter before!!

    • Really the apple sauce/butter is to add moisture. Coconut flour recuires a lot, it is just another way to achieve moisture without having a recipe with coconut flour require 6+ eggs. There is already sunflower seed butter in this recipe that could be replaced with nut butter . I am not sure how it would turn out adding more . Adding another egg in place may work , I have not tried

  17. I just made this recipe for the second time, the first it came out PERFECT. To die for. For some reason, the carrot cake is turning GREEN this time. It almost looks like food coloring because it’s so bright all throughout the cake. Has this happened to you? I added walnuts into the batter but that’s the only thing I did different. Ideas?

    • I just answered my own question – my cake turned green because I used baking soda instead of baking powder. So fascinating, the batter became too alkaline and turned color. Gonna give it another shot in the morning!

      • So sorry Amanda, sunflower seeds do that. Sometimes even with a little more baking powder in there. Adding lemon juice can also help balance things out… I add that in some of my other recipes. Baking with fresh garlic (like in rolls) does it also.

  18. I made the cake and the icing according to the directions. I havent eaten the cake part yet because the icing is like soup, cant frost the cake. It tastes good, but its more like a runny sauce. (Even after refrigerating for 12 hours.) I’m going to have to freeze the cake part and try the frosting again without the yogurt. (Or use my old standby of vegan creamcheese frosting). Will try cake then!

    • Thank you for the review! Hmm I think I am going to have to test the frosting recipe again having several failed reviews. I have not made it myself since posting… Though I tested the recipe at the time like 5times. (sometimes the reason food bloggers never make a recipe again! ) I make this recipe into muffins all the time so I know the cake works for certain. I just don’t ice them. Maybe there was a typo when I blogged the recipe from paper. I will get on it this week!


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