This easy vegan no-bake carrot cake comes together in a food processor in 30 minutes. It's super moist, spicy and covered with the best vegan cashew frosting. It's the perfect vegan Easter recipe and definitely one of our favorite gluten-free spring recipes. If you have very little time, you can make these carrot cake energy bites.
This no-bake version has all the ingredients you would find in a traditional carrot cake but is a lot easier to make. It's a fool-proof recipe that is perfect if you don't want to bake a vegan carrot cake from scratch. Serve a slice of carrot cake on Easter alongside vegan lemon muffins and lemon pudding. It will be a guaranteed success!
Why you'll love this recipe
- This no-bake carrot cake is a dream come true for carrot cake lovers. It has that perfect combination of spiciness and creaminess.
- The recipe calls for very simple ingredients that can be found at any grocery store.
- Unlike many vegan carrot cake recipes, this frosting is made without vegan cream cheese.
- The frosting is totally optional, you can leave it out and turn the carrot cake base into no-bake carrot cake bars.
- It makes an incredibly healthy dessert that can actually be eaten with other midday snacks.
Key ingredients and substitutions
For the carrot cake
Oat flour makes up the body of the carrot cake. It has a relatively neutral taste and makes a great base for no-bake cakes. You can either grind gluten-free oats in a blender or buy gluten-free oat flour (e.g., from Bob's red mill).
Almond flour helps retain moisture and prevents the carrot cake from being too dry. You can make your own flour by blending whole almonds in your food processor. This is often a lot cheaper than buying almond flour. It's not a problem if there are remaining almond bits as they add texture.
Carrots are the key ingredient. Preferably use freshly grated carrots for them to be moist and juicy. For time-saving purposes, you could however use store-bought grated carrots and rehydrate them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. If doing so, drain the excess liquid before adding the carrots to the other ingredients.
Date syrup is used to naturally sweeten the cake. It's very sticky and helps hold all the ingredients together. You can substitute it with 100 grams of pitted Medjool dates that you soak in warm water and blend to obtain a paste.
Spices add that characteristic carrot cake flavor. We use a blend of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg that adds warmth and is a tiny bit spicy. You can make your own carrot cake spice blend from loose spices, or buy a carrot cake mix. Alternatively, use pumpkin spice. Don't forget to add a pinch of salt to intensify the overall flavors of the cake.
Walnuts add some crunch and pair really well with the warming spices of carrot cakes. You can replace them with sunflower seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut or leave them out completely.
For the frosting
Cashews that are soaked in hot water for 2 hours can be blended into a really creamy mixture. They are full of healthy fats to make a frosting that's actually good for you.
Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature and allows the frosting to solidify when cooled. Plus, it tastes like vegan white chocolate! You can replace it with coconut oil. We recommend using refined/unflavored coconut oil to prevent the frosting from tasting like coconut.
Pure maple syrup is used to sweeten the frosting. You can replace it with powdered sugar if you want. The frosting is very lightly sweetened, so feel free to add more.
Vanilla extract adds a subtle vanilla flavor that pairs incredibly well with the cocoa butter and the carrot cake.
Lemon juice adds acidity and makes this frosting taste like regular cream cheese frosting. For a stronger lemon flavor and a zesty frosting, you can add more lemon juice.
- Start by grinding the oats and almonds. You can grind them before you start the recipe. Personally, I like to always have some oat flour and almond flour on hand for baking. I usually grind them myself as it's much cheaper and store them in an air-tight jar.
- Use a small brownie tin. If you use a larger cake tin, the cake will be very flat and you won't have that thick and juicy bite. Don't forget to press the cake mix very tightly into the brownie tin for best results.
- Don't keep the cake at room temperature for too long, as the frosting will soften too much.
3 ways to grate carrots
- You can grate them with a manual vegetable grater. A cheese grater with large openings works, too! Be careful not to cut yourself with the grater (we've been there!).
- If you have a food processor, you can use the grating blade that comes with it. It's really simple to use, grates your carrots in a few seconds and doesn't make a mess. Once you secured the blade, close the lid and press a whole carrot through the feeder while the processor is turned on. If the carrot shreds are a little too large, remove the grating blade and pulse several times until they are finely shredded.
- The third option is to chop the carrots in a high-speed blender or food processor with the regular S-blade. Cut the carrots into medium-sized pieces and blend on medium speed until they are finely chopped.
How to make the no-bake carrot cake (+ pictures)
Grate the carrots. Start by washing and peeling your carrots. You can do so manually or in your food processor (see tips above). If you want to use your food processor to grind the oats and the almonds, make sure to clean and dry it thoroughly before pursuing (or blend them in a separate small blender).
If you're using rolled oats and whole almonds, blend them until you obtain a fine flour.
Add the oat flour, almond flour and grated carrot to the food processor and pulse several times to combine. Alternatively, combine everything with a spatula in a large bowl.
Mix the date syrup with the vanilla extract and the spices in a smaller bowl. This helps evenly distribute the flavors. Roughly crush the walnuts with a knife.
Pour the spicy dates syrup into the food processor and pulse until well combined. Fold in the crushed walnuts. The mixture should be sticky and hold its shape when pressed between two fingers.
Line an 8" square pan (20 cm) with parchment paper (e.g., a brownie pan). This will help you remove the cake easily when it's set. Press the carrot cake mixture firmly into the pan. Place it in the fridge while you make the frosting.
How to make cashew frosting (+ pictures)
Soak the cashews in warm water for 2 hours. When the time is up, drain the cashews and add them to a powerful blender or food processor.
Blend the soaked cashews with the other frosting ingredients (cocoa butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and plant-based milk). You can add in lemon zest, orange zest or orange blossom flower extract. Increase the speed and blend until the frosting is perfectly smooth.
Pour it onto the carrot cake and spread it evenly with a palette knife or tap the pan a few times against the kitchen counter. Place it in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. The longer you refrigerate it, the firmer the frosting will be, which is why we recommend letting it sit overnight.
The next day, remove the cake from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Cut it with a dessert knife into squares.
Check out this post for the full video on how to make this vegan carrot cake icing without cream cheese.
Frequently asked question
You can keep the cake in the square pan and cover it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap (or a sustainable alternative). Alternatively, cut it into squares and place them in an airtight container. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 4 days.
More no-bake desserts
- Vegan lemon pudding (no coconut milk)
- Carrot cake energy balls without dates
- No-bake lemon cookies
- Homemade Easter eggs
- Vegan chocolate truffles
- Healthy peppermint chocolate truffles
- 2-ingredient vegan chocolate mousse
- Apple and cinnamon energy bars
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No-Bake Carrot Cake (Vegan, Gluten Free)
For the cake
- 1 cup (120 g) gluten-free oats
- 1 cup (150 g) whole almonds
- 2 handfuls of crushed walnuts
- 3-4 medium carrots 200 g when grated
- 100 g date syrup
- If you're making the frosting, put the cashews into a bowl with boiling water for at least 30 minutes (we recommend 2 hours).
For the cake
- Blend the oats and the almonds in a blender or food processor until finely ground. Roughly crush the walnuts with a knife.
- Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them using a grater or the grating blade of your food processor.
- Combine the oat flour, almond flour and grated carrots in your food processor by pulsing several times. Alternatively, add everything to a large mixing bowl and combine with a spatula.
- Add the date syrup, spices and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. Combine with a spoon.
- Pour the date syrup into the food processor and pulse until combined. The mixture should be sticky and hold its shape when you press it between two fingers.
- Line an 8" square pan (20 cm) with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture into the pan and press down firmly with a spoon or spatula. If you want, you can smooth the surface with wet fingers. Place in the fridge to set while you make the frosting.
For the frosting.
- Melt the cocoa butter over low heat or in the microwave in 30-second intervals at 650W.
- Drain the cashews.
- Blend the cashews with the melted cocoa butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and plant-based milk until perfectly smooth (it can take up to 3 minutes). Run it through a sieve if necessary.
- Pour the frosting over the carrot cake. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
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