Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Icing

Gluten-free carrot cake recipe made with Pamela's Baking Mix
Lovely and classic gluten-free carrot cake 
with coconut, iced with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Karina's Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe with Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

Recipe posted June 2006.

Once in a blue moon I get a hankering for this old school classic. Lucky for me it translates well to gluten free. This recipe is based on one of my own [pre-gluten free] standbys. I changed it very little, except for the flour.
Please note: This recipe has no added leavening because it is using a leavened baking and pancake mix.

3 large organic free-range eggs
1/2 cup light vegetable oil or Spectrum Organic Shortening
1 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup plain yogurt or coconut yogurt
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey or agave (for added moisture)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice, or Apple Pie Spice [or a mix of nutmeg, clove, ginger, allspice]
2 cups Pamela's Gluten-Free Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix *see notes
3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups processed or finely grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1/2 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch Springform cake pan.

In a mixing bowl beat the eggs; add the oil and beat; add the brown sugar and beat till smooth. Beat in the yogurt, vanilla, honey, cinnamon and spice. Add in the baking mix and beat till combined. The batter should be a bit thicker than wheat flour batter. Add in the coconut, carrots, raisins and nuts; stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan; and place the pan in the center of a preheated oven. Bake until the cake is firm, and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean, about 40 to 45 minutes or longer if necessary - I baked mine at high altitude. Cool on a wire rack.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese icing and sprinkle with coconut, if desired.

Cream Cheese Icing


4 oz. softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste
3 cups powdered cane sugar- or more, if needed

A squeeze or two of fresh citrus, to taste- lemon, lime or orange


In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time; squeeze a little lemon or other citrus juice into the frosting and beat till smooth. Taste test. Add more sugar, if needed, to thicken; add more juice to thin.

Frost the cake.

Makes one nine inch cake.

Recipe Source:

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Karina's Notes:

For replacing Pamela's Baking Mix, I used to say just try another leavened GF baking mix or GF pancake mix- but I no longer believe all GF mixes/GF flour blends behave the same way. You'll need to experiment.
Gluten free cakes tend to dry out quickly. If you are not serving this cake the day you bake it, I'd advise chilling it to firm up the icing; wrap well and chill. For more than a day ahead, I would wrap and freeze it; thaw the day of serving (remove the wrap so the icing doesn't stick!) and served slightly chilled.



bess said...

beautiful recipes! I can't wait to try glad to have found your blog.

Michelle said...

Another beautiful, scrumptious recipe! If I have lite unsweetened coconut flakes, would it work to substitute them for the sweetened coconut flakes? Would I need to add some sort of sweetener to compensate? Or should I really invest in the sweetened coconut flakes variety (so many of your recent desserts feature it). Thanks, as always!

nancy said...

your recipes have made my transition to gf so delicious (diagnosed 3 months ago)! i can't wait to try this one . . . carrot cake is a fall-time favorite of mine! thanks so much!

Ivonne said...

You had me at coconut! The carrots and frosting are "icing on the cake".

It's beautiful. I'd love to have been there to enjoy it with you!

lucette said...

The melty icing made it look extra-good.
I was just lamenting yesterday that I had to take a picture of dinner inside, and with a flash. My boyfriend found this hilarious, of course.

Rad Fanny said...

This recipe couldn't have come at a better time - we were craving something sweet and comfort-foody. I used Bob's A/P flour with extra baking soda and powder, and? Yum! Doesn't even taste gluten-free!

Thanks again for another great recipe!

Gluten-Free By The Bay said...

This looks simply incredible! I just linked to you from my brand-spankin' new blog, btw...

reginae said...

karina, you have outdone yourself. i made this cake for my brother's 21st birthday, and baby -- no one could believe it was gf.

[as best i could with what i had in the pantry, i approximated the content of Pamela's -- 1 c. brown rice flour, 1/2 c. tapioca starch, 1/4 c. sweet rice flour, 1/4 c. white rice flour, 1 t. xanthum, 1 t. salt . . . plus the leavening you suggested.]

this link shows the final result. . .

thank you, thank you, thank you! =D

GrewUpRural said...

Carrot cake is the only dessert I truly miss since going gluten free. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thank you.

Gluten-Free By The Bay said...

Thanks for the linkage!

aioseh said...

this sounds soooo good - and my husband loves coconut!

and thanks for the comment! i feel like a celebrity posted in my blog!!

veuveclicquot said...

coconut & carrot?! What a great idea! My roommate loves carrot cake. I love coconut cake. This sounds like a match made in heaven. Thanks for sharing!

April said...

Cake was one of the things I missed terribly when I was diagnosed with Celiac. I rushed out and bought GF cake mixes and was sadly disappointed and gave up the idea of eating cake anymore.

Yesterday I baked your cake. Karina, it was wonderful! So moist and delicious and I even made the frosting! I was so proud and it restored hope to me that I can have cake again!

Thank you for your blog. I have been reading it faithfully for quite a while now and I so enjoy your thoughts and views, and now, your carrot cake!

GrewUpRural said...

Karina, once again this recipe was a hit with my gluten family, friends, and co-workers. Carrot cake was one of my favorite cakes and it still is even though it's gluten free. Thanks!

Karina said...

Hey, GrewUpRural! Thanks for posting back your success with it. I'm so glad it turned out yummy. Yay.

NuttyMeatfruit said...

This recipe is a testament to The Goddess's divinity! Mmmm!

Anonymous said...

I made this for my birthday and it was spectacular! Even my glutinous friends loved it, and no one missed the wheat.

Tricia said...

This recipe rocks! I will make it in cupcake form next time as I think a lot of gluten free things keep longer that way.
I REALLY liked that you used the Pamela mix...for us GF newbies I just feel more confident using the mix opposed to the numerous flours you put together yourself.
WE are currently 3 for 3 with your recipes being fantastic!

Kat said...

This cake looks AMAZING! I'm going out to buy the ingrediants right now. I can't wait to taste the delicious-ness!

Have you ever experimented with cinnamon rolls? I have yet to find a good gf/cf/df recipe.

Claire said...

I definitely enjoyed this recipe! I made this recipe into cupcakes, and it worked very well. It makes 18 regular-sized cupcakes baked for about 20 minutes in a convection oven (add more time for other ovens). There was even enough icing to generously cover every cupcake. My family loved them!

Betsey Sorensen said...


Any suggestions for a GF/CF alternative for the icing? I haven't read all of your intro articles yet and am still pretty new at doing this for my son whose birthday is this month :).

Karina said...

Betsey- This cake is fabulous without the cream cheese frosting, don't worry!

Try using one of my other frosting recipes- look up my Banana Spice Cake recipe; you can use coconut milk for the liquid. Or Rice milk and a dash of lemon juice.

Simple frosting can be made with icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) and liquid, and a spoonful of your favorite vegan margarine; beat till smooth. See my recipes for more detail.

And Happy Birthday to your son!


Anonymous said...

fabulous website. the only HUGE obstacle i am having is how to have a gluten free and sugar free wedding cake alternative....I was hoping for the coconut carrot cake, and tried it with pineapple/coconut juice from concentrate and hoped that it would be sweet enough but it didn't quite work. I might be dreaming doesn't have to be dairy free.......although that would be nirvana. thanks for you great contribution to the gf world. xo cara santa monica

cara said...

fabulous website. the only HUGE obstacle i am having is how to have a gluten free and sugar free wedding cake alternative....I was hoping for the coconut carrot cake, and tried it with pineapple/coconut juice from concentrate and hoped that it would be sweet enough but it didn't quite work. I might be dreaming doesn't have to be dairy free.......although that would be nirvana. thanks for you great contribution to the gf world. xo cara santa monica

Gwen said...

Hola Karina,
We are wanting to make the coconut carrot cake, but we already have Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil and are wondering if we can use it. How do you think it will affect the flavor/consistency? Also, neither one of us owns a springform pan. I see someone made cupcakes from this recipe, so I think it would be OK to adapt. Do you have any hints or adaptatations for using standard cake pans?

Karina said...

Cara- Yeah- I know! Carrots aren't that sweet. Make sure they're processed super fine. How about using agave? It's low glycemic, natural. Like mild honey.

Gwen- I have not tried this recipe with coconut oil. If you *like* the taste of coconut oil in baked goods (I don't) then it ought to be fine.

And as for pans- use a large cake pan- like 9-inch and line it with parchment paper for easier removal. Though you still might have a tad too much batter if it's too shallow a pan.


Gwen said...

My friend and I made the carrot cake using two 8" coated cake pans (we could have used one, as it didn't rise much). We had parchment paper, but we chose to use cooking spray instead since the pans were non-stick and the layers popped out perfectly with no fuss. We used sunflower oil, not the coconut oil I had asked you about. We were unable to find the Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix, and we can't even locate it on their website, so we used a Pamela's all-purpose baking mix. It tasted great, and it was so beautiful that we even took photos of our "creation!"

CDM said...

I just made this cake and it is delicious, as is everything I've tried on your site. There are 3 recently GF girls at work. So lately, I've been testing out all your recipes (now that I have friends to share with who appreciate good GF food).
I replaced the yogurt with pumpkin but other than that left the recipe along-GREAT JOB!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the GF biscuit and baking mix from bob mill with this recipe?

Karina Allrich said...

Anon- I am allergic to soy/legumes, so no bean flours for me. I have not. If you like baking with it, however, I'd give it a try. Pamela's mix worked beautifully, so- why not?

Do stop back and fill us in.


Anonymous said...

I just made this, and pulled it out after 40 minutes (and stuck toothpick in the middle which came out clean) but after sitting I cut into it, and it wouldn't even cut it was so gummy! Very unusual texture I've never experienced. I used Bob's Red Mill all purp flr. and egg replacer.

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Anon- The all purpose flour mix you used- was it a baking/pancake mix like Pamela's? Pamela's Baking Mix contains leavening, salt and xanthan gum.

If your mix was simply a flour blend (I don't use Bob's Red Mill mixes, so I don't have a label to compare) and not a baking mix, that could explain it. You'd need to add leavening, etc. If you did add leavening, etc, it might be the different flours. It has bean or chick pea flour, doesn't it?

I haven't tried converting this recipe to egg-free, but it's on my To Do List for 2009.


Trillian said...

This cake is divine! I made it for DH's birthday. All guests gobbled it up, the best carrot cake I've ever eaten GF or no GF :-)

I used applesauce in place of yoghurt, and added 1 x 450g can of drained crushed pineapple (its gotta have pineapple!). I used my own flour blend - 3 parts rice, 3 parts constarch, 1.5 parts tapioca, 1.5 parts potato flour, plus the leavening. Cooked perfectly and tasted wonderful.

Stayed moist for a week - yup, it lasted a week, it was a big cake! I had doubled the recipe and used two 8" square cake pans (not springform) lined with baking paper (what did I do before baking paper!?) Iced with lemon cream cheese icing and topped with toasted coconut - it looked great!

Thank you for your wonderful creations, I've made several of your yummy cakes, and they're always well received by all.

Anonymous said...

I just made cupcakes and they turned out AMAZING! It's going to be hard keeping the family away from these.... thank you!!

Sonya said...

Your carrot cake recipe looks awesome! I am going to try it tomorrow. My husband is a celiac so I have been gradually re-learning to bake. Very glad to have found this blog and will definitely be a regular.

GlutenFreeD said...

Hi Karina,

I really want to make this recipe but can't use the Pamela's mix because it contains buttermilk and I am VERY allergic to dairy. Do you have a suggestion for what ingredients I should put in if I make my own mix? I see in some of the comments that we need leavening like Xanthan gum but I am not sure how much to use of other ingredients. Thanks so much... this recipe looks really great!!

Larissa said...

Great recipe! You have a nice blog. My sister, Kalinda from referred me to your sight when I was looking for gf birthday cake ideas.

The carrot cake was a huge hit! I skipped the coconut and substituted 1 1/3 TBSP orange juice. Thanks for the inspirations and recipes.

Guest said...

Karina, do you think the eggs could be subbed or does the cake just require too many eggs?

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livingwell said...

This looks simply delicious. My challenge, gf, queen size dairy allergies, on top of which allergic to balsam of peru, which includes vanilla and all spices!!!! Any suggestions to enhance the flavor without using the spices?

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Alice said...

I made the coconut carrot cake this past weekend for my husband's birthday --it was just delicious and there were no leftovers!

Guest said...

Wow Karina, that looks unreal!

jeannerunning said...

i have been trying to avoid refined sugar. At one point, i was only doing agave nectar, but the consistency of my baked goods was not coming out right. So, I have now tried cooking with sucanat instead. Thoughts on that?

Also, anyway i can use sucanat in the frosting instead of the powdered sugar?


I have made your banana snack cake, muffins, choco cip cookies, hummus, mozarella/tomato pie...etc. You are my new cookbook :)

Guest said...

Karina, May your sojourn in NM be gentle and rewarding - who knows what will come next. Something wonderful? Something unexpected? A pleasing offer, perhaps?

all the best to you. Diane B.

Megan said...

I made this recipe... it is AMAZING!!!

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Karina said...

I honestly have not tried this recipe without eggs. My concern would be that it would produce a very dense, flat cake. If I tried it I would try it as cupcakes. Vegan baking seems to work best in small sizes.

Karina said...

Any baking/pancake mix could work; have you tried Arrowhead Mills baking mix? It's nut and dairy-free. If you use your own straight flour mix I would increase the leavening.

Karina said...

Sucanat is coarse and very strong tasting. Can you locate an organic powdered sugar?

Sophie said...

This is really beautiful. The crumb is lovely and it looks like it has a nice, moist texture.

I like the new header :)! Very pretty.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

You had me at coconut, but add in the carrot and now I'm getting my vegetables, too. ;-) Gorgeous cake. As soon as I feel comfortable using the oven heavily again, I'll bake this cake. It will make many in our family happy for sure!


Recent blog:=- Glorious Fruit Easily

Anonymous said...

Dear Karina,
I accidentally stumbled upon your blogsite I'm from the Philippines trying my hands on gluten-free baking. Your baking tips will surely be of big help to me.
Fragrant Kitchen

David said...

Have you been able to create any success for this recipe in a rice cooker? We have no oven.
Can you explain steps and settings for the rice cooker and time it takes?
In HCMC Vietnam dreaming of 'real' carrot cake.

Anonymous said...

Just made a batch of cupcakes and they're delicious! I used a combo of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch (forgot the xanthan gum, but it didn't seem to matter). I substituted pumpkin seeds and choc chips. Thanks so much for the recipe :)

Theresa from ME said...

I tried these out - I love carrot cake, and can't eat my once fav recipe - I was willing to try another! I made mini cupcakes - I need to bring to a celiac support group - needless to say, I will be baking more of these little darlings to bring! These are absolutely amazing! I have to eat egg-free - and I am so excited! Will be making more of your wonderful vegan recipes! Thank-you for giving me hope!

Grok said...

Whoa! This one is getting made! You had me at "carrots, coconut, cream" ;)

Rachel Gum Problems said...

This is great! I can add a few chocolate chips and for sure my kids would crave for more! Thanks for postng this.

Angelica said...

I made this recipe a few hours ago! I never thought coconut and carrot will taste good! Thanks for sharing this idea.

i-geek said...

Oh, this recipe is wonderful. I served it to my gluten-eating husband and parents last weekend and received unanimous raves. I also took along the orange cream cupcakes to our friends' house a few weeks ago. The adults loved them and the two toddlers went silent for a bit while enjoying them. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us GF newbies. Your blog has made my transition a lot easier.

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