This Almond Flour Carrot Cake is moist and fluffy while naturally a grain free and gluten free carrot cake recipe. Loaded with carrots, nuts, raisins and topped with healthier rich and creamy cream cheese frosting.
Table of contents
- Ingredients You Will Need
- How To Make Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- How to Store, Freeze and Make Ahead
- More Tips for Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- More Healthy Dessert Recipes
If it’s not obvious enough from my previously shared healthy carrot cake bars, carrot cake truffles and even carrot baked oatmeal bars – I’m slightly obsessed with all things carrot cake. So, this almond flour carrot cake was inevitable.
I’ve really been enjoying cooking various almond flour recipes. Though almond flour is naturally heavier and denser than traditional flour, this gluten free carrot cake is still wonderfully light and fluffy.
And the almond flour adds flavor without tasting like almonds. When topped with thick and tangy healthy cream cheese frosting, this gluten free carrot cake is to die for.
Once baked and frosted, enjoy this crowd pleasing carrot cake for Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, a healthy birthday cake, or just a treat!
Ingredients You Will Need
For The Almond Flour Carrot Cake:
- Eggs: You’ll need 5 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
- Sweetener: You can use maple syrup or honey. Other liquid sweeteners (i.e., rice syrup/ a keto sweetener) will also work, but the flavor will vary.
- Oil: Use a mild tasting oil like melted coconut oil, light olive oil, avocado oil, or butter.
- Milk: Use any milk – including dairy free options.
- Leavening agents: This gluten free carrot cake relies on baking soda and baking powder to provide lift and texture.
- Almond flour: Use super fine blanched almond flour for this cake recipe. If you use almond meal, then the texture will be very different – though it may work. You could sub cashew flour or sunflower seed flour for a nut-free option ( I haven’t tried either, so I can’t guarantee results).
- Carrots: Use finely grated carrots without squeezing out any excess moisture. Pre-shredded carrots will likely be too dry. Use leftover carrots to make carrot cake baked oatmeal!
- Butter: For greasing the cake tin. Cooking spray is not enough to prevent sticking.
- Salt: Just a pinch for flavor.
- Flavorings: I used vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. You can enhance the flavor with a dash of ginger, clove, cardamom, and/or nutmeg. But no need to use them if they’re not already in your pantry.
- Nuts: Use pecans or walnuts, finely chopped. Feel free to omit them if preferred, but I prefer with!
- Coconut flakes: I used unsweetened long coconut flakes – some within the cake and some for the topping. If you want the cake to be sweeter, then feel free to use sweetened.
- Raisins: Omit these if preferred, but I love the sweet flavor and slight chew texture they add to the cake.
For The Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Cream cheese: Use plain cream cheese that has been softened to room temperature. Lower fat options will be tangier in flavor and less creamy.
- Greek yogurt: Use a minimum of 2% fat just like with Greek yogurt cheesecake. Don’t sub plain yogurt as it won’t be thick enough unless manually strained (refer to FAQs).
- Powdered sugar: Or a powdered sugar alternative like erythritol. You could also make powdered sugar (check FAQs). For a powdered sugar free frosting, use healthy cream cheese frosting with Greek yogurt!
- Vanilla extract: An excellent addition to any frosting.
- Almond extract: This is optional, but I love the additional flavor it adds to the cream cheese frosting.
Optionally top this gluten free carrot cake with healthy buttercream frosting!
How To Make Gluten Free Carrot Cake
To Bake Carrot Cake
- Prepare the cake pans: If you don’t have pre-cut parchment rounds, then first, place your cake pans over the parchment paper and trace the shape, then cut the rounds. Place the cutouts in the two cake pans and then grease the pans’ bottom and sides well with butter and set aside.
- Preheat the oven: To 350F/125C, making sure one of your oven racks is just below the middle and one just above the middle.
- Toast the nuts and coconut flakes: In a large skillet, add the pecans and dry toast over low heat until fragrant, stirring often. Be careful, as they will burn quickly. Once ready, transfer the nuts to a cutting board. Then, add the coconut flakes to the now-empty skillet and toast until golden, stirring often. Then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Beat the egg whites: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (or manual mixer) until soft peaks form, then set aside.
- Mix the cake batter: In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Then add the maple syrup, oil, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Whisk well until there are no lumps. Then add the almond flour and gently fold it into the batter. Finally, add the egg whites and carefully fold them into the batter, trying not to knock out too much air from the egg whites.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Chop the nuts and add 1 cup (half) to the cake batter. Then add carrots, 1/2 cup of both the toasted coconut flakes and raisins and fold in gently.
- Divide the batter: Add the almond flour carrot cake batter to the two cake pans evenly. Then bake for 30 minutes on the lower rack, moving to the top shelf for the last 5 minutes – or so, until an inserted toothpick to the center of each cake comes out clean (or with a few crumbs but not wet!) and the cake is light and springy.
This method prevents the almond flour from burning and helps the gluten free carrot cake to cook through.
- Allow the cakes to cool: Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the pans’ edges and flip upside down to release the cakes onto a cooling rack. Carefully peel the parchment paper off the bottom of each and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
To Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Mix the batter: In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and well combined, pausing and scraping the sides occasionally.
- Chill the frosting: Place it in the fridge until the cake cools off.
To Assemble The Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- Combine the decorative toppings: In a small bowl, add the reserved toasted pecans, coconut flakes, and raisins and mix. Then set aside.
- Frost the cake: Place one cake top side down on a cake platter and add 1/2 cup of frosting, spreading evenly. Place the second tier top-side up topping with almost all the remaining frosting, reserving around 1/3 cup for the cake sides, which you can frost last. Make sure to fill the gap between the two cakes and when the cake touches the plate.
- Garnish the cake: Add the decorative mix (nut, coconut, and raisins) around the entire circumference of the top and bottom of the gluten free carrot cake (just on the edges at the top).
Cut the almond flour carrot cake into twelve slices before serving. You can either serve the cake immediately or chill it for later.
How to Store, Freeze and Make Ahead
Storing: Refrigerate leftover almond flour carrot cake, covered, for up to 5 days. For best results, allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
Can you freeze gluten free carrot cake? Yes. You can freeze leftover cake whole or as individual slices, in an airtight storage container, for up to 2 months.
Remove and thaw slices as desired – on the counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight.
You can also freeze the unfrosted cake layers for between 2-3 months. Defrost them in the refrigerator overnight, then frost a few hours before serving.
Make ahead? Yes. Bake, cool, and tightly wrap the unfrosted gluten free carrot cake layers in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place for up to a day in advance.
The frosting can also be made and refrigerated a day in advance. Assemble the cake a few hours before serving.
If you have plain yogurt in your fridge, you can strain it through a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or even within a colander lined with coffee filters to thicken it into Greek yogurt consistency.
Though this process may take several hours so plan ahead. You can do the same process with lower-fat Greek yogurt if needed.
There’s no need to make a trip to the grocery store. You can make powdered sugar at home using any granulated sugar of your choice.
I use cane sugar and blend it in a high-speed blender until powdery. Sieve the mixture through a sieve for super-fine results and re-blend any leftover chunky bits.
I haven’t tried either option, but they should work. For a sheet almond flour carrot cake, I suggest using a 9×13 pan, check the cake at 30 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter (with a toothpick inserted in the center).
For muffins or cupcakes – bake for between 15-25 minutes. This will vary based on your oven so check at 15 minutes. Or make these low sugar cupcakes, instead!
Yes, feel free to omit coconut flakes, raisins or nuts. You can also use short grain coconut flakes and chopped dates.
Yes, you can add crushed pineapple. Use 1/2 cup, squeezed well, and omit the milk from the cake.
More Tips for Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- For paleo carrot cake: Stick to paleo sweeteners like coconut sugar, raw honey, maple sugar/syrup, etc. Whether or not you add the vanilla extract is also up to you.
- If you have a small grating disk with your food processor: You can use it to grate the carrots in seconds!
- To reduce the oil content: You could substitute half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce. I haven’t tried this sub for this recipe, but it has worked well for others.
More Healthy Dessert Recipes
If you enjoyed this almond flour carrot cake recipe, then you might like some of these other healthy baked goodies!
Almond Flour Carrot Cake
For Carrot Cake:
- 5 large eggs separated
- 1 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup mild tasting oil Like avocado, melted coconut oil or butter, light olive oil
- 1/4 cup any milk
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 2/3 cups super fine blanched almond flour
- 2 cups carrots grated
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts divided
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes divided (I used long ones)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp raisins divided
- Butter for greasing
- Place 2 cake pans bottoms down on parchment paper, circle around with a pen and cut out each circle with scissors. Place cut outs inside each cake pan and grease the bottom and sides with butter really well. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position one rack just below the middle of the oven and another rack closer to the top.
- In a large skillet, add pecans and cook on medium heat until toasted and fragrant, stirring often. Transfer to a cutting board.
- Return skillet to low heat and toast coconut flakes, stirring often. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Add maple syrup, oil, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk very well until no lumps.
- Add almond flour and stir gently until well combined. Add egg whites and stir gently until incorporated.
- Chop toasted pecans and add 1 cup (half) to the cake better. Also add carrots, 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes and 1/2 cup raisins, stir gently until well mixed.
- Divide batter between 2 cake pans evenly. Bake for 30 minutes on lower rack then move to the top rack for additional 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and cake springs back. This method prevents almond flour from burning and helps cakes to cook through.
- Remove from the oven and let cakes cool off for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge of pans, flip cakes upside down on a cooling rack, carefully peel off parchment paper and let them cool off completely before frosting.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese, Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and well combined, pausing and scraping the sides. Place in the fridge until cake cools off.
- In a small bowl, add 1 cup reserved toasted pecans, 2 tbsp toasted coconut flakes and 2 tbsp raisins; stir with a spoon. Set aside for decor.
- Place one cake top side down on a cake platter. Add 1/2 cup frosting and spread evenly. Then place second cake top side up on top of frosted first cake, topping with almost all frosting and reserving about 1/3 cup for the sides. Spread frosting evenly on top, then frost sides with remaining frosting just to cover them, filling the middle gap and bottom gap where cake is touching the plate.
- To garnish, place spoon fulls of nut/flake mixture around the edge on top and bottom of the cake.
- You can serve cake immediately or chill for a few hours. Cut into 12 slices and serve.
- Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze leftovers in one piece or as individual slices in an airtight storage container for up to 2 months. Remove and thaw slices as desired on the counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight. You can also freeze wrapped in plastic cake layers.
- Can I use almond meal? Probably but cake will be more dense.
- Can I use erythritol? I have not tried. However, you can use any liquid sugar free syrup.
- Can I use shredded carrots? I have not tried so I am not sure if they would make cake moist with pleasant texture like grated carrots do.
- Can I use regular not Greek yogurt? Unfortunately no because it is more runny and less rich.
- Can I add crushed pineapple? Yes 1/2 cup, squeeze it well and omit milk then.
- Can I omit coconut flakes or raisins? Yes. Short grain coconut flakes will work too.