Richly Satisfying Carrot Crumb Cake


There is never a bad time for carrot cake, as far as I’m concerned, but something about the gentle sunshine, fresh air, and renewed hints of warmth particularly call for this earthy sweet treat. Cream cheese frosting, slathered with abandon in thick, creamy flourishes is the topping de rigueur, but for the tender beginnings of spring, the more delicate, if no less rich, finishing touch on this carrot crumb cake makes for a more contemporary approach.

Impress and delight with this moist, sweet and tender Carrot Crumb Cake Recipe. It is naturally dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan!

Incorporating the very best part of another garden party favorite, the venerable coffee cake, a nutty almond-infused topping crowns this tender orange-hued carrot crumb cake. Five-spice powder lends a unique warmth to each bite, instantly erasing thoughts of any chill that may remain from a lingering winter breeze. As a complete package, it’s an ideal balance of elements to bridge the seasonal gap.

And although each moist slice manages to pack in a generous serving of shredded carrots and the recipe “just happens” to be vegan, there’s certainly no mistaking this satisfying carrot crumb cake dessert for rabbit food.

Special Diet Notes: Carrot Crumb Cake

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.

For nut-free carrot crumb cake, omit the slivered almonds and substitute coarsely ground oats for the almond meal.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Richly Satisfying Carrot Crumb Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10 - 12 Servings
Vegan Carrot Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or white-wheat flour
  • 2½ teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup slivered, toasted almonds
  • ½ cup pitted, chopped dates or raisins
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage (almond milk or your choice of type)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crumb Topping
  1. For the carrot cake, preheat your oven to 325ºF and lightly grease and flour the interior of a tube pan (approximately 10 inches in diameter).
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, five-spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Add the shredded carrots, almonds, and dates, tossing to thoroughly coat and incorporate.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk beverage, oil, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla. Once the liquid mixture is fairly smooth, pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients. Use a wide spatula to bring the batter together with as few strokes as possible, being careful not to over-mix. Just stir until only a few lumps remain.
  4. Transfer the cake batter into your prepared pan, spooning it evenly around the ring. Smooth out the top with your spatula so that it rests in one even layer.
  5. For the crumb topping, simply combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while stirring with a fork, just until the mixture comes together into big clumpy crumbs. Go slowly so as not to fully saturate the dry ingredients; a little bit of oil goes a long way.
  6. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over your unbaked batter before gently sliding the pan into your preheated oven. Bake for 60 - 75 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake pulls out cleanly, with just a few moist crumbs clinging to the sides at most.
  7. Let cool completely before removing from the pan, slicing, and serving.

Want More Dairy-Free Recipes? Enjoy Eat Dairy Free!

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About Author

Hannah is the author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, and Vegan a la Mode. She is a professional photographer, food stylist and recipe creator. Hannah blogs many of her crafts, photos, and food creations at Bittersweet.


  1. This was a huge hit for my Easter brunch last year so I’m planning on making it again this year! This year I may have a guest with a gluten intolerance. Has anyone had any success converting this recipe to gluten free? I did see the recommendation above to try a GF flour blend.

  2. Shruthi Achut on

    Hi Alisa ,
    Greetings ! I was wondering if I could use whole wheat flour / millet flour instead of white wheat flour ?

    • You can use whole wheat flour (white wheat flour is whole wheat flour, it’s just a lighter wheat berry, but the same structurally). I haven’t tested with a gluten-free flour like millet though. It would be more fragile with millet since the recipe also doesn’t use eggs.

  3. Hi alisa! I’m planning to make this for a birthday and saw that cupcakes would be a substitute for a tube pan. do you have any idea how long they may need baking? I’m assuming less than the 60-75 minutes that the tube pan would need?


    • I haven’t tested it gluten-free, so I unfortunately can’t give you a definitive answer on that Dee. My best guess would be to swap in your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Preferably one that had at least a bit of binding, like gums.

  4. What is 5 spice powder? What would be a good spice substitute? I am making this for a friend who has a milk allergy soon. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Karen, 5 spice is a spice blend that’s sold among the other spices, you can find it in most grocers, even Walmart! Here are some brands for reference: 5 Spice Powder. It’s a Chinese blend that you can make at home, but though it’s simple, it does use a couple spices not always found in western households. If you want, you can simply substitute mostly ground cinnamon, and some ground fennel or anise and cloves, if desired.

  5. I just made this using coconut oil instead of olive and it was amazing! A bit hit with a largely non vegan dinner crowd. Will definitely make again

  6. Pingback: Vegan Recipes to Impress a Carnivore Part III

    • Hi Carolyn, butter isn’t traditionally used in carrot cake – it’s traditionally oil-based – but you can try if you would like. I suggest using just a different baking oil if olive is the problem for you. Butter will change the outcome a bit, but you might like it.

    • A whole weekend? That’s a lot of carrot cake! But I know how it goes. I had to make gluten-free and top allergen-free carrot cupcakes (no eggs, gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, etc.) with frosting for a magazine a few years back. I tested them 16 times and ended up back on a minor tweak to my original recipe! Carrot cake can be so awesome but so particular!

  7. Hannah,
    What a great idea for a cake! I’m a fan of both carrot cake and crumb toppings like on coffee cake, so I know marrying the two would be a wonderful match.
    Great job!

  8. I like this variation of using a crumb topping instead of a cream cheese based one – what a great idea! I’ve been cravin’ a good carrot cake these days but have thought better of making one because of the calories…using a crumb topping like this will change my mind! 🙂

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