Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten Free Carrot Cake recipe is made with toasted coconut and crushed pineapple and the crumb is so wonderfully tender and moist, your guests will never guess it’s gluten free!  Use any decorations of your choice or make our super easy homemade marzipan to make these quick and adorable marzipan carrots!

For more delicious gluten free goodies be sure to try our Gluten Free Baked Donuts, Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins, Gluten Free Crepes, and Gluten Free Treacle Tart!

gluten free carrot cake recipe best moist tender coconut pineapple marzipan

Several years ago when our son turned 7, his request was a carrot cake, something he had never requested before.  Not only that, he specifically wanted a carrot cake decorated with marzipan carrots like he had seen me make a couple of years prior.  For him to have remembered those from age 5, they obviously made an impression on him!  I had been experimenting with gluten free baking at the time and so I went ahead and developed a gluten free carrot cake.  One that would be so perfectly tender, moist, and flavorful, that no one would guess it was gluten free.  The verdict:  Success!

Everyone loved it, had seconds, and our son ate his fill of the marzipan carrots including the leftover extras.  This gluten free carrot cake recipe remains my go-to when I need to make a GF version.

gluten free carrot cake recipe best moist tender coconut pineapple marzipan

I’m using the same method that I use to make my Old Fashioned Carrot Cake in that instead of grating raw carrots, I cook and puree them.  Cooking them not only brings out their flavor and sweetness, it also makes the crumb wonderfully moist.  Once you try this method you’ll be sold.

I’m including a tutorial for the homemade marzipan carrots but these are optional.

Alternatively this cake can also be made into a 9×13 sheet cake instead of a layer cake.  Simply pour the cake batter into a 9×13 inch cake pan and bake at the same temperature until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

How Do I Make Gluten Free and Dairy Free Carrot Cake?

If you prefer a dairy-free carrot cake, simply substitute the milk for a non-dairy alternative of your choice such as almond or rice milk.  You can substitute the cream cheese for dairy-free/plant-based cream cheese sold in most well-stocked grocery stores or health food stores nut or you can skip a few steps altogether and use a store-bought non-dairy cream cheese frosting.

gluten free carrot cake recipe best moist tender coconut pineapple marzipan

Can you Freeze Carrot Cake?

Yes!  Either with or without the cream cheese cheese frosting!  If you prefer to decorate the cake later, simply let the cake cool completely and wrap it well in plastic wrap, slip it into a freezer bag or container, and freeze for up to 2 months.  Let it defrost before frosting it.  If you’d like to freeze your completed gluten free carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting on it, let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the frosting to firm up, then carefully wrap it and freeze it for up to 2 months.  To thaw it place it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight (do not try to speed it up by thawing at room temperature).

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Let’s get started!

To make the cake: 

Boil the carrots until they’re soft, then drain, puree them, and let them cool a little.  Set aside until ready to use.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a larger bowl, add the sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

cooking the carrots and placing the dry and wet ingredients into separate bowls

Add the milk, pureed carrots and pineapple and stir to combine.

Add the toasted coconut (if using) and flour mixture and stir just until combined.  Be careful not to over-stir.

adding the carrots and pineapple and combining the wet and dry ingredients

Grease two 9-inch baking pans (or a 9×13 inch baking pan if using instead) and pour equal amounts of batter into the pans.

In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

baking the cake in two round cake pans

To make the cream cheese frosting:

Place the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

making the cream cheese frosting

Frost the top side of the bottom layer and set the second layer on top of it.  Frost the rest of the cake.

frosting the cake

To make the marzipan carrots:

Make one batch (a half batch is adequate) of our homemade Marzipan (or use storebought).

Use a ratio of 2:1 yellow to red food coloring to make orange-colored marzipan.  Use green food coloring to color a little bit of marzipan green for the leaves.  Check out this all-natural food coloring.

Shape the orange marzipan into small carrots and set them on wax paper or other non-stick surface.

making the marzipan carrots

Break of tiny bits of green marzipan, shape them into foliage, and press them to the carrots.  Set aside until ready to use.  These can be made several days in advance, just keep them covered/airtight so they don’t dry out.

making the marzipan carrots

Arrange the marzipan carrots on the cake.

gluten free carrot cake recipe best moist tender coconut pineapple marzipan

Your cake is ready to serve!  Cut the cake into wedges so that each slice has at least one marzipan carrot on it.


gluten free carrot cake recipe best moist tender coconut pineapple marzipan

For more delicious gluten free goodies be sure to try our:

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet April 12, 2017

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