If you are like me, a fan of baking with almond flour, you are in for a treat because we are putting my favorite flour to good use and making a paleo-diet friendly almond carrot cake.
Upon making this for the first time, my husband and I couldn’t resist. We both had a slice, his slice a bit larger than mine, but then I had to go in for a sliver of a second slice because it was that delicious!
It’s also a wonderful, one-layer cake you can make for the upcoming Easter celebration and throughout the spring season. This healthy spin on carrot cake is gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and Paleo.
For the icing on top of the cake (literally!), the maple frosting is inspired by my Maple Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. It’s a Vegan Paleo Cream Cheese Frosting that transforms this into a completely dairy-free dessert!
Ingredients For Paleo Carrot Cake
The ingredients for healthier flourless carrot cake are broken down into the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and last-minute additions (aka the goodies).
- Almond Flour / Meal – My favorite brand is Blue Diamond Almond Flour since it is sweet and nutty, but Bob’s Red Mill is another great option. If you have the time, homemade almond flour is even better.
- Ground Golden Flaxseed – I specify golden flaxseed here because you don’t get the little specks of flaxseed throughout the grain-free cake, but the golden version can sometimes be hard to find in stores. Simply use regular ground flaxseed, if that is all you have on hand.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda + Fine Sea Salt – For lift, color and flavor, make sure you don’t leave them out! Almond flour needs that extra bit of insurance from the chemical leaveners.
- Cinnamon + Ginger + Cardamom – This is my favorite part! Cinnamon and ginger are traditional, but it’s the cardamom that takes this carrot cake mix above and beyond – trust me, it makes all the difference!
- Coconut Oil – I used refined coconut oil, which is milder in flavor than unrefined, but either will work. Make sure to melt and cool completely before mixing it into the wet ingredients.
- Eggs – Three large eggs help bind the wet and dry ingredients together. Make sure to bring to room temperature for easy whisking.
- Coconut Sugar – Delicately sweet and fruity, coconut sugar is a paleo-friendly sugar that is (most of the time) an easy 1:1 substitute for refined white sugar.
- Orange Juice – A mere teaspoon goes a long way here, adding a pop of acidity. You will need more orange juice in the vegan frosting recipe, so make sure to keep it on hand.
- Vanilla Extract – The vanilla is an extra bit of sweetness you just can’t get from sugar.
- Carrots – I personally like to peel my carrots, but if yours are organic, feel free to skip that step, and instead, thoroughly scrub the surface. Grate on the smallest holes of your box grater for the best texture.
- Chopped Walnuts – For that extra bit of crunch and classic flavor. If you have a few minutes, while you gather the rest of the ingredient, toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in the preheated 350-degree F oven for 5-7 minutes and cool completely.
- Golden Raisins – A bit more sour and sweet than regular raisins, be sure to use the golden variety if you can find them.
- Shredded Unsweetened Coconut – The coconut is optional, but I find it adds that extra layer of texture and flavor.
- Diced Fresh Pineapple – The pineapple is another optional ingredient. I like to add it to get those small pockets of golden sweetness throughout the carrot cake recipe.
Ingredients For Dairy Free Carrot Cake Frosting
Inspired by my Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, this vegan version is just as satisfying.
- Unsalted Vegan Butter – Remove the butter from the fridge while you are preparing the cake recipe. This will be enough time to bring the butter to cool room temperature.
- Vegan Cream Cheese – I personally enjoy Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese for all my icing needs.
- Pure Maple Syrup – Another paleo-friendly sweetener, purchase Grade A golden or dark amber.
- Vanilla Extract – The vanilla makes it taste like a homemade cake frosting recipe.
- A Squeeze of Orange/Lemon Juice – That extra pop of fresh citrus flavor takes this frosting to the next level.
How To Make Almond Flour Carrot Cake
This grain-free carrot cake can easily be mixed by hand, no mixer required! Simply:
- Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, place the oven rack in the center of the oven and grease an 8” or 9” cake pan with coconut oil (or you can use a cooking spray as well) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Mix the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
- Mix the wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining coconut oil, coconut sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract until well combined, silky smooth and emulsified.
- Make the cake batter! Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the grated carrots, walnuts, golden raisins, pineapple, and coconut (if using). Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
- Bake! Bake for 1 hour if using an 8-inch cake pan or 50-55 minutes if using a 9-inch cake pan, or until golden brown and the center springs back to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently remove from the pan, peeling off the parchment paper bottom and place on the cooling rack to cool completely. This is a good time to make the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting or Dairy Free Icing!
How To Make Paleo Cream Cheese Frosting
The icing will whisk together much better with an electric stand mixer or hand mixer. Simply:
- Whisk the butter and cream cheese. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment or a large bowl and handheld mixer, beat the vegan butter and cream cheese on medium-high heat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Sweeten it up! Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and orange/lemon juice. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through. If the frosting is too soft, chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to stiffen slightly to a spreadable consistency.
Cream Cheese Vs. Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
If you are avoiding all dairy, the vegan cream cheese frosting is a great alternative. I personally used Earth Balance Vegan Butter (affiliate link) and Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese. Note the texture will be a bit more grainy and not as thick as regular frosting since the vegan products are looser in terms of consistency. But this makes the entire carrot cake recipe completely Dairy-Free!
The Vegan Cream Cheese recipe makes just enough to frost the cake, but you can double the recipe and use throughout the week to slather on anything from bagels to paleo pumpkin muffins to almond meal banana bread to low carb almond flour bread!
If dairy is not an issue, try my Maple Cream Cheese Frosting recipe for a more traditional flavor.
The Correct Cake Pan Size
This is a one-layer carrot cake recipe, which is much easier to bake and assemble than a layered cake. Feel free to use either an 8 or 9-inch cake pan. Note the baking times and thickness will vary based on which size you use.
- 8” Pan: Bake the cake for 1 hour. The cake will be smaller and thicker.
- 9” Pan: Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes. This will produce a cake that is longer and thinner.
How To Use This Recipe To Make Cupcakes And Muffins
If you prefer individual low carb carrot cakes, divide the batter into a 12-cup muffin tin lined with parchment paper liners. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
For paleo carrot cake cupcakes, pipe swirls of dairy-free frosting (or maple cream cheese frosting) on top with a piping bag and decorative pastry tip.
For almond flour carrot muffins, top the unbaked batter with extra chopped walnuts, gently pressing into the top of each muffin so they stick.
How To Store Leftovers
If you happen to end up with leftovers, you can store this low sugar carrot cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. After about 4 days, the cake will begin to dry out, so I would recommend freezing it after the 4-day mark.
To freeze, place a piece of plastic wrap over the entire opening of your container, seal tight, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month.
A Few Helpful Tips for The Best Cake:
- Use room temperature ingredients for the cake, but cool room temperature ingredients for the vegan frosting. I know this sounds confusing, but cake mix ingredients that are warm-room temperature combine better, whereas frosting ingredients that are a bit colder whip to a better consistency.
- Bake this flourless carrot cake in the center of your oven. There is where the heat is most even. I tested one cake with the convection setting on my oven, but I still placed my oven rack in the center for added insurance.
Paleo Carrot Cake with Almond Flour
For The Almond Flour Carrot Cake:
- ¼ cup (56g) Coconut Oil, plus 1 teaspoon for greasing the pan, melted + cooled
- 1 ½ cups (180g) Almond Flour
- 3 Tbsp (21g) Ground Golden Flaxseed
- 1 tsp (4g) Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp (1g) Baking Soda
- ¾ tsp (3g) Fine Sea Salt
- ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground Ginger
- ½ tsp Ground Cardamom
- 3 large Eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons (125g) Coconut Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Orange Juice freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 6 oz Carrots about 2 large, scrubbed, grated on the smallest holes of a box grater (1 ¼ cups packed)
- ¼ cup (40g) Diced Fresh Pineapple, optional
- ¼ cup (25g) Toasted, Chopped Walnuts
- ¼ cup (40g) Golden Raisins
- ¼ cup (25g) Shredded Unsweetened Coconut, optional
For The Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 Tablespoons (20g) Unsalted Vegan Butter, cool room temperature
- ½ cup (113g) Vegan Cream Cheese, cool room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (42g) Pure Maple Syrup
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Squeeze of Lemon/Orange Juice about ½ teaspoon
To Make The Paleo Carrot Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8 or 9-inch cake pan with 1 teaspoon coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paperIn a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, remaining coconut oil, coconut sugar, orange juice and vanilla until well combined, silky smooth and emulsified.Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts, golden raisins and coconut (if using).Fold in the carrots, pineapple (if using), and walnuts.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour (8-inch) or 50-55 minutes (9-inch), or until lightly brown, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center springs back to the touch.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove from the pan, discard the parchment paper and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Top with the frosting.
To Make The Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment or with a large bowl and hand held mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and lemon/orange juice.
- Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through.
- If needed, chill for 10 minutes in the fridge to stiffen slightly to spreadable consistency.
- How To Store: If you happen to end up with leftovers, you can store this low sugar carrot cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. After about 4 days, the cake will begin to dry out, so I would recommend freezing it after the 4-day mark. To freeze, place a piece of plastic wrap over the entire opening of your container, seal tight, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month.
- To Make Muffins (or cupcakes): If you prefer individual low carb carrot cakes, divide the batter into a 12-cup muffin tin lined with parchment paper liners. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes. For paleo carrot cake cupcakes, pipe swirls of dairy-free frosting (or maple cream cheese frosting) on top with a piping bag and decorative pastry tip. And sprinkle it with walnuts.
- If you do not mind a frosting with dairy, you can also use my Maple Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.
- The prep time below does not include the cooling time of the cake. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, I would recommend adding at least 30 minutes for cooling time.