This lightened up easy vegan carrot cake loaf is a perfect snack when you want something a little sweet, but don't want to feel guilty about it. And it's SUPER simple.
And let's face it: there's nothing like the smell of fresh carrot cake coming out of the oven on a crisp fall day. Whether you're in a beach house coming in from a surf sesh or a cabin in the mountains with crisp leaves blanketing the yard, this moist carrot cake loaf turns a house into a home. (It's also a great easter recipe!)
This easy carrot cake loaf recipe received rave reviews from family and friends - they love this carrot cake alternative.
There are a few key groups of ingredients in this vegan carrot cake bread.
- brown sugar for rich molasses-y sweetness
- vegetable oil for a moist crumb
- unsweetened applesauce for gentle flavor, pairs perfectly with our fall spices. It's also one of our two egg replacers.
- grated fresh carrots will soften and complement the deep caramel flavors from brown sugar
- aquafaba (aka juice from a can of chickpeas) - this is our second egg replacer.
- all purpose flour - keeping it simple
- baking powder - one leavener...
- baking soda - another leavener....works well with the acid in the brown sugar and applesauce
- walnuts or pecans
- golden raisins (use extra caution if you have dogs - raisins are VERY dangerous for dogs)
- vegan butter (such as Miyoko's) - keep in mind this melts faster than dairy butter...
- room temperature vegan cream cheese spread (such as Violife) - I find this cream cheese tastes the most like the real deal in the frosting
- powdered sugar (aka confectioners' sugar)
First, heat oven to 350 F.
To make this super simple quick bread, mix brown sugar, vegetable oil, apple sauce, grated carrots, vanilla and aquafaba together in a mixing medium bowl. If you're using a hand mixer, low to medium speed works. DO NOT over-mix. These are the wet ingredients.
Don't forget to peel your carrots before grating!
The key ingredient here is aquafaba - aka the juice from a can of chickpeas. It's my favorite egg replacer for baking, especially in a thicker batter like this one.
Then we'll move on to dry ingredients. Combine flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together in a separate large bowl. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir gently to combine. Think pancake batter - this doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, and we definitely don't want to over-mix.
Now we'll prepare our pan. If you have vegan butter (such as Miyoko's), smear a tablespoon or two around the bottom and sides of the pan. A butter wrapper works well, but you can use your hands too. Then add a Tbsp or two of extra flour and tap to spread around the pan.
Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake. When a toothpick comes out clean, it's ready!
Let the cake cool completely and remove from pan. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Meanwhile, set out cream cheese icing ingredients - vegan cream cheese (such as Violife) and vegan butter (such as Miyoko's). They'll need to soften for 30-60 mins. Vegan butter and cream cheese have much lower melting points than dairy products, so definitely don't leave them out for more than a couple hours.
When you're ready to frost your loaf, beat cream cheese and butter with powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a tiny pinch of cinnamon.
Finally, frost the carrot loaf cake. The icing will be a little looser than regular cream cheese icing - that's ok! It's between a glaze and a frosting. This is fine - we aren't dealing with cake layers here.
Top the cake with pecans or walnuts if desired. Enjoy a slice, and good luck not having a second one. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Substitutions and Variations
This carrot cake loaf is naturally vegan and dairy free. It is nut-free without the nuts and frosting, as vegan butter and cream cheese alternatives often contain nuts.
Walnuts and pecans are welcome additions to this sweet bread. They're also great toppings!
You can substitute the spice blend for pumpkin spice - personally, I prefer the carrot cake flavor.
If you try olive oil instead of vegetable oil - let me know in the comments! It should work, but olive oil can be a little bit "heavier" than vegetable oil.
Not much fancy equipment required here. You can make this without any electricity if you have the right tools, and do fewer dishes in the process. It's a win/win!
- Whisk or electric mixer for combining the batter in a medium mixing bowl
- Separate large mixing bowl for dry ingredients
- Grater or food processor for grating carrots, and vegetable peeler for peeling
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Rubber spatula for scraping batter out of bowls
- Loaf pan - 1 or 1 ½ lb loaf pan. You might have to cook a little longer in a 1 lb loaf pan - add 3-5 minute increments to start
- Vegan butter and flour OR parchment paper for greasing loaf pan
- Electric hand mixer for whipping icing
- Wire rack for cooling loaf
- Offset spatula for icing loaf (knife will work in a pinch)
Store iced loaf in the refrigerator in an airtight container or sealed in plastic wrap for up to 5 days. Unfrosted loaves are ok on the counter, covered for 3-5 days.
Frequently asked questions
Instead of butter, carrot cakes and loaves typically use oil. This makes a super moist cake that is good for a bit longer than a butter-based cake. There's also something about the way that shredded vegetables interact with oil that is simply divine.
Let's say it's healthier than traditional carrot cake given the lower sugar and fat content, but not as healthy as something without added sugar. This is still a sweet treat and has some fruits and veggies, but not healthier than noshing some carrots on their own. Treat yourself!
In my experience, 2-3 medium to large carrots will grate into a cup. Don't forget to peel your carrots first!
To keep icing from melting, make sure your cake or loaf is completely cool. Cool completely on a cooling rack, and then place into the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Then when you ice your loaf, there's no residual heat to melt the icing.
Vegan icing has a lower melting point than dairy icing. When using vegan butter or cream cheese to make an icing, warm to room temp for no more than 2 hours, instead of 3-4 like dairy butters.
For best results, let the loaf cool before icing. It makes a huge difference!
Not into vegan carrot cake bread? Check out these plant-based fall comfort foods:
- Cornflake french toast
- Easy cornbread muffins
- Kitchen sink cookies
- Classic baked mac and cheese
- Butternut squash bisque
- Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy
- Twice baked potatoes
- Chickpea curry
This lightened up vegan carrot cake bread is a perfect snack when you want something a little sweet, but don't want to feel guilty about it. And it's SUPER easy.
- 1 ½ cups grated carrots
- ¾ c brown sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- 6 Tbsp aquafaba (juice from a can of chickpeas)
- ⅓ cup chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts (optional)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
Cream cheese icing
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter (such as Miyoko's)
- 4 oz vegan cream cheese (such as Violife)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp good vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven & prepare pan: preheat oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, grease the inside of a loaf pan with a Tbsp of two of vegan butter. Then add a Tbsp or two of flour and shake around until inside of the pan is covered. Set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients: in one bowl, combine all wet ingredients and whisk gently until combined.
- Combine dry ingredients: in a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk gently.
- Add dry ingredients to wet: add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whick until combined. Pour into loaf pan, and bake for 35-40 mins.* When a toothpick comes out of the middle clean, it's ready!
- Cool carrot loaf: cool carrot cake loaf in pan for 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove from pan, running a dull knife around the edges before turning onto a cooling rack. Cool completely (45-60 minutes) then store in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Prepare icing: while the loaf is cooling, let butter and cream cheese soften on the counter in a mixing bowl, covered. When your loaf is sufficiently cool, beat with other icing ingredients, and gently ice top of the loaf. There might be some icing left - drizzle some on top of your slice if desired for extra sweetness and enjoy!
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction's Carrot Cake Loaf
*35-40 mins is the benchmark for a 1 and ½ lb loaf pan. For a smaller loaf pan, add 3-5 minutes then test with a toothpick. For larger loaf pans, subtract 3-5 minutes.
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