Grandma’s Best Dairy-Free Carrot Cake


Everything that comes out of my kitchen is dairy-free, but for my family, at special events, I like to bake things that are as “normal” as possible. To do so, I often peruse the recipes that grandma clips from the newspaper or dog-ears in her favorite magazine, Taste of Home. Though I’m not completely sure of the original source, this dairy-free carrot cake recipe was born from one that I found at my grandma’s house.

Grandma's Best Carrot Cake - still one of our most popular dairy-free recipes! A staple.

My grandma, father, and I are big carrot cake fans, and it took just a few minor tweaks to develop a dairy-free carrot cake recipe that we all loved. I surprised her with a big slice of it for her 6th 75th birthday (you do the math).

I topped it off with the dairy-free cream cheese frosting recipe that I created for Allergic Living magazine, but this one is also quite delicious. To maintain the thickness of the frosting, start with just a cup of powdered sugar and only add as much as needed for your tastes. I find that adding the full amount does make it a touch runny when using dairy-free cream cheese alternative.

This dairy-free carrot cake recipe is also naturally peanut-free, tree nut-free and soy-free. To make it egg-free and vegan, I believe Ener-G egg replacer would work quite well, though I haven’t tested it. For gluten-free, well, my recipe for that is also in Allergic Living (sorry, I can’t reprint as of yet! But you can buy the issue online), but I can tell you that a basic gluten-free flour blend, without xanthan gum, works nicely. I use brown rice flour + potato starch + tapioca starch, and do keep the eggs whenever possible for the gluten-free version. I offer all types of allergy-friendly options for that one, and they really do look like this…

Allergic Living Spring 2012 - Gluten-Free & Vegan Cupcakes with Dairy-Free Pineapple Creamy Cheese Frosting

Note that I do grate the carrots for this dairy-free carrot cake recipe by hand – that is the only time-consuming thing about baking this dessert. If you have a food processor to help make fast work of the carrots, this cake will come to together quite quickly.

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Grandma’s Best Dairy-Free Carrot Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I adapted this recipe from one of my Grandma's favorites. Grandma’s original version used a simple sugary glaze rather than frosting, but for a more festive touch, I frosted the cake with a dairy-free “cream cheese” frosting - see notes on that frosting in the comments.
Serves: 16 - 20 servings
  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped raisins
  • 4 eggs (see notes in the post for egg-free suggestions)
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (see notes above on my gluten-free recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Combine the grated carrots and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside for an hour. After the two have had some good mingling time, stir in the raisins.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and grease and flour two 10-inch cake pans, three 8-inch cake pans, or two 8-inch cake pans +8 cupcake tins.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and briefly set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Stir the flour mix into the wet mixture, being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the carrot mixture and nuts.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pans. Bake as follows: 10-inch pans – 40-50 minutes, 8-inch pans – 30-35 minutes, Cupcakes – 20-22 minutes, or for all, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10-20 minutes before removing them from the pan.
  6. Once the cake is completely cool, then you can frost it or drizzle with icing.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


    • Tasha, I believe someone mentioned in the comments here that they successfully made it without the pineapple. All brown sugar would change it a little, but I can’t imagine brown sugar ever ruining anything 🙂

    • There’s a link in the recipe intro to the cream cheese frosting recipe I originally used Nicole. It isn’t my main cream cheese frosting recipe anymore, but still works well!

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