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a slice of gluten-free carrot layer cake on a white plate

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Emily Dixon, Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This two layer gluten-free carrot cake is perfect for all kinds of special occasions! It has all the warm spices & fluffy texture you love, finished with an easy cream cheese frosting that’s perfect for decorating.



Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free measure-for-measure flour,* weighed or scooped & leveled (300 grams
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil or canola oil (240 ml) 
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (300 grams)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce* (133 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 3 cups peeled, grated carrots* (260 grams) – lightly packed
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans* (130 grams)

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 pound full-fat cream cheese (2 blocks/452 grams), softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup butter butter (1 1/2 sticks/170 grams), softened to room temperature 
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (600 grams
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

To Decorate (Optional)

  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans (130 grams)


First, Bake The Cakes:

  1. Preheat Oven & Prep Pans. To start, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans then line with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Whisk until well blended, then set aside.
  3. Combine Wet Ingredients. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), combine oil, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Mix until evenly blended.  
  4. Add Dry Ingredients to Wet Ingredients and mix until almost fully combined (just a few floury/dry patches left). 
  5. Fold In Carrots & Pecans and mix just until evenly blended throughout the batter. (You don’t want any large clumps of carrots!)
  6. Divide Batter evenly between your two prepared pans. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-32 minutes rotating pans halfway through baking, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The cake should just be starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and if you gently press the center of the cake with your finger, it should spring back fairly quickly)
  8. Let Cakes Cool 10 Minutes Then Turn Out onto a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY before frosting. The cakes need to be completely, totally cool or they’ll melt the frosting. Don’t rush this step! (Once completely cooled, the cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled overnight in the fridge.)

When The Cake Is Cool, Make The Frosting:

  1. Start With Softened Ingredients. Before you start the frosting, it’s important that the butter and cream cheese have both been softened so they’ll blend well. If they’re cold, you’ll end up with chunks in your frosting, which is NOT what we want! 
  2. Combine Butter & Cream Cheese in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (which I prefer). Beat butter and cream cheese 2-3 minutes or until fluffy, smooth, and well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  3. Add Powdered Sugar 1/2 Cup At A Time, until all of the powdered sugar has been added. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla then mix on medium speed 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is well incorporated and smooth. 
  4. Check The Texture. At this point the frosting should be smooth and soft, but not runny or gooey. If the frosting is very loose (it doesn’t hold it’s shape when you put it on a spatula and rotate the spatula), consider chilling the frosting for 5-10 minutes to help it firm up. (Adding more powdered sugar can give the frosting more structure, but it will also add more sugar, which can get too sweet.)

Frost & Decorate The Cake

  1. Build The Bottom Layer. Place the bottom cake layer flat side up (the side that was on the bottom in the pan should now be facing up on the cake stand). Add about 3/4 cup frosting on top of the cake layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the frosting to the edges of the bottom layer. 
  2. Build The Top Layer. Repeat this process with the second layer, adding it flat side up on top of the bottom cake layer. Top with another 3/4 cup or so of frosting and spread to the edges of the top cake layer. 
  3. Add A Crumb Coat (Optional). For an extra pretty cake, do a crumb coat. Add another 3/4-1 cup of frosting to the top layer and use an offset spatula to spread the frosting to the edge of the top layer and down sides of the cake. Your goal is to make a very thin layer of frosting to just coat the outer layer of the cake. You’ll be able to see the cake through the crumb coat. Chill the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes before frosting the rest of the cake. (Pop the frosting back in the fridge during this time so it doesn’t get too warm!) 
  4. Finish Frosting & Decorating. After chilling the crumb coat, remove the cake and frosting from the fridge, and use the remaining frosting to coat the outside of the cake. If desired, decorate with chopped pecans, either adding a bottom “skirt” of pecans around the bottom edges of the cake, or adding them in a border around the top of the cake. 
  5. Chill cake until ready to serve and store leftover carrot cake covered in the refrigerator 3-4 days. Since cream cheese frosting doesn’t do well at room temperature, cake should be out of the fridge no longer than about 1 hour at a time (less if it’s hot!).  


  • Gluten-Free Flour. We used King Arthur Measure For Measure gluten-free flour for this cake and highly recommend it. If you use another brand, be sure it contains xanthan gum or the texture will not work properly. Do not use almond flour or coconut flour for this recipe. To avoid packing extra flour into the cake (which can make it dense, dry or gummy) weigh the flour or use the scoop and level method to spoon flour into the measuring cup. 
  • Salt. If using fine table salt, start with half of the amount and adjust to taste. 
  • Applesauce. If you prefer, you can use drained crushed pineapple in place of the applesauce. Just keep in mind this will slightly alter the texture, will change the taste, and will yield a slightly less moist cake. 
  • Carrots. Do NOT use shredded carrots from the grocery store as these tend to be too thick and dry to work properly in the cake. Use a box grated or a food processor to finely grate fresh carrots for the best taste and texture. 
  • Pecans. You can use pecans or walnuts in this cake. To toast pecans, bake WHOLE PECANS in a single layer on a sheet pan at 350 degrees F for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Watch carefully and do not use if you burn them. (If you bought pre-chopped pecans, you’ll only want to toast them for 2-4 minutes since they’ll cook much faster)
  • Frosting. The amount of frosting provided will be enough to cover and decorate the cake. If you want just enough to cover the cake (no extra for decorating), you can use 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. 
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
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