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Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

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.

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).

Grandma's Best Carrot Cake Recipe

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.

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.
Author:
Serves: 16 – 20 servings

Ingredients
  • 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)

Instructions
  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 Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, 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.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

14 Comments

  1. MelissaMarch 24, 2013 at 12:32 pmReply

    Wow, I’m impressed. I haven’t had carrot cake in ages, but this gluten-free version of yours in Allergic Living (thanks for the link) sounds doable. And delicious. The frosting looks like the “real” thing and the cake part looks perfect. I’m definitely giving this a try.

  2. reneeMarch 30, 2013 at 11:44 amReply

    These are so moist and delicious. I only had enough carrots to make 4c. Still enought tho. Will definatly make again

  3. MJApril 9, 2013 at 6:30 amReply

    Great recipe thanks for sharing! Made these for a family get together everyone raved about them.

  4. VanessaApril 20, 2013 at 10:17 amReply

    This cake was absolutely amazing! Better than any other recipe I have ever used.

    • Alisa FlemingApril 20, 2013 at 10:21 amReplyAuthor

      Fantastic, so glad you enjoyed it Vanessa!

  5. Michelle EdwardsMay 6, 2013 at 2:01 pmReply

    As a Breastfeeding mama I have recently gone dairy-free, my 15 week old baby has a dairy intolerance. After several weeks with very few treats I decided to have a go at this recipe. Having never made carrot cake before, I was a little nervous … but it turned out ok :-) Going to have a go at the ‘overnight oatmeal cookies’ next. Thanks for the great, easy, recipes.
    Michelle, South Yorkshire, England

    • Alisa FlemingMay 11, 2013 at 6:46 amReplyAuthor

      Sod glad that you liked the recipe Michelle! I hope the oatmeal cookies hit the mark, too.

  6. TerriMay 15, 2013 at 11:14 amReply

    This is the best recipe. I made it gluten-free by using Tom Sawyer’s Multipurpose Gluten Free Flour (www.glutenfreeflour.com) which can be used cup for cup replacement in any recipe. I first made this cake for Easter and my mom loved it so much she requested it for Mother’s Day. So I made it for her and it turned out just as good or better the second time. Thanks for sharing.

  7. eliseSeptember 8, 2013 at 1:01 amReply

    Great recipe! Turned out really moist and beautiful. I cut everything in half and I could make 12 cup cakes out of this. Everyone loved it! :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 8, 2013 at 10:21 amReplyAuthor

      Marvelous! Thanks for offering the cupcake ratio for the recipe, too!

  8. Davinnia FonsecaFebruary 24, 2014 at 2:34 pmReply

    Hello, I just tried this recipe and it is delicious. My whole family loved it. Thank you for posting it. I’m definitely going to try this one again.

  9. Sarah RoweMarch 12, 2014 at 3:22 pmReply

    I made this recipe as cupcakes for my work one morning – they went down a treat! I’ve since made it into a cake (two layers, with cream cheese icing in-between) and am about to whip up another cake for my husband’s colleagues. It’s become my go-to! I left out the pineapple as the dairy-free girl in my office also doesn’t like pineapple and I’ve found the recipe to be perfect regardless – I was concerned it’d affect its moistness but it was just perfect. Thanks heaps for a brilliant recipe :)

    • Alisa FlemingMarch 12, 2014 at 7:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Thanks so much for your feedback Sarah and excellent to know that it is great without the pineapple, too!

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