A scrumptious gluten-free carrot cake full of flavour and never dry topped with a silky cream cheese frosting to die for! Made with almond and coconut flours and absolutely zero sugar!
While I don’t necessarily do well following any type of diet or way of eating I do try and cut the sugar whenever I can. Lately I have been turning to keto recipes because for me I feel much better when I eat higher fat and lower carb. For me I feel this way of eating gives me more energy and I feel full longer so I end up eating less.
So while I wouldn’t say I am a hard-core keto eater I have been turning to this way of eating more often and love the fact that it is so easy these days to replace the sugar in my favourite treats. Like this carrot cake. Carrot cake is my absolute favourite cake on earth!
The combo of all the fall spices and the creamy cream cheese frosting that a good carrot cake is known for – a combination as good as peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese and ketchup!
Can you have carrots on a keto diet?
Surprisingly yes! Carrots get a bit of a bad wrap because they are a veggie that is higher than sugar than the green leafy vegetables but carrots are loaded with fibre. The keto diet is based on net carbs which are calculated by taking the total amount of carbohydrates and subtracting the fibre and sugar alcohols. Because carrots are so high in fibre when you subtract the fibre from the total carbs carrots come out as a keto-approved veggie.
Now they are still higher than the green leafy, celery and the like but eaten in moderation they are just fine on a keto diet.
Plus this keto carrot cake recipe only uses 1 cup of shredded carrots for the whole cake which works out to only 7.8 carbs from the carrots for the whole cake!
Ingredients & substitutions
- Eggs – works as a binding agent to hold the cake together and they add moisture to the cake.
- Unsweetened coconut milk but you can also substitute with almond milk or dairy as you wish.
- Safflower oil that reads high oleic on the label or high oleic sunflower oil is both good keto-approved oils because they are very neutral in taste and have a similar fat profile to avocado or olive oil. Or if you prefer you can also replace the oil with this recipe with light flavoured olive oil.
- Salt – salt amplifies the flavour in most foods.
- Powdered stevia blend – Presidents Choice makes a great blend or there are many on the market. Pyure and Swerve at two other great brands that can be found in most organic food aisles.
- Coconut flour – made solely from coconuts and has a low glycemic index. Be careful to measure accurately by levelling off the measuring cup. This flour is quite dense so also be sure to spoon the coconut flour into the measuring cup vs scooping it out from the bag. Scooping will cause the flour to become more packed than spooning into the cup and will result in a larger measurement than required.
- Almond flour – Made entirely from almonds. Look for a fine grind almond flour where possible.
- Baking powder – the agent that helps the cake rise.
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg – I prefer to finely grate a whole nut on the fine grate of a cheese grater so that the nutmeg is as fresh as possible.
- Orange zest – One large orange will do.
- Ground ginger
- Chopped pecans – Lightly pan-roasted to bring out a soft buttery flavour. You can also use chopped walnuts or no nuts at all if you prefer.
- Carrots – shredded finely.
We will talk about the Carrot Cake Frosting a little later… hold tight!
How to make gluten-free carrot cake
In a large bowl add the eggs, milk, oil, orange zest and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Place a large fine-mesh sieve over top of the bowl and then add the dry ingredients which are everything listed above but the carrots. Use a spoon to coax the dry ingredients through the sieve into the egg mixture. This helps to break up any larger lumps and to evenly distribute the ingredients into the liquid. My grandma taught me this trick! I use this method for my Grandma’s gingersnaps as well. Mix until just combined.
In a small pan add the chopped pecans over medium heat and toast till they are slightly browned or roasted. Toss them around a few times to make sure they are toasted evenly. Do not overdo it.
Fold in the nuts and carrots. Don’t overmix or the cake may become heavier once baked.
Lightly grease two cake pans and flour with gluten-free flour or rice flour if you have some or line the pans with parchment paper instead to avoid sticking. Pour the batter evenly into both cake pans and use a spatula to level the top of the batter out flat.
Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then carefully turn the cake pans over to release the cakes onto a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely.
carrot cake cream cheese frosting ingredients & Substituions
- Cream cheese – Softened to room temperature. Regular full fat cream cheese works best because lower-fat types contain a higher water content and do not work as well.
- Butter – Softened to room temperature. Unsalted butter is always used in baking because baking recipes are much more delicate and unsalted butter allows bakers to control the salt by adding it as only necessary.
- Powdered stevia – I like to use the Swerve brand. It works so well you can’t tell the difference between it and regular icing sugar one bit.
- Vanilla – because vanilla is always needed in baking… I dare you to find a baking recipe that doesn’t include vanilla. Except maybe pastry but then vanilla is in the filing!
how to make keto carrot cake frosting
- Add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla to a large bowl and whip on high with a hand-mixer until it become smooth and creamy.
- Gradually add in the powdered stevia continuing to mix with until well combined and smooth.
Once the cakes are completely cool it is type to assemble this soon to be devoured homemade carrot cake!
- Place one of the cakes top side down on a cake pedestal or flat plate.
- Spread about a 1/2″ layer of the carrot cake frosting over the top of this bottom later.
- Add the second cake top side down on top of the frosting.
- Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting
Carrot cake decorating ideas
There lots of ideas for how to decorate a carrot cake. Here are some of my favourites.
- Add chopped pecans or walnuts to the top either in the centre of the cake in a small mound-like I show in this recipe. Or along the edge of the top and/or bottom of the cake.
- Add shredded coconut in the same fashion described for the nut above or you could also add shredded coconut all over the cake to be part of the icing itself. Just evenly sprinkle over the top. And for the sides add a small amount to the palm of your hand and gently press along the side of the cake evenly into the frosting.
- I used some fall leaves from the trees in the backyard to decorate this cake but gave them a quick rinse first and then made sure they were well dried. by leaving them out overnight before using them.
- If you are feeling very artistic you may even want to make some additional cream cheese frosting and colour some green and some orange. Then using a piping bag pipe baby carrots along the edge or a few in the centre of the cake to look decorative.
I am no cake decorator so you will never see me attempt this but if you are a crafty or brave soul have at her and then send me a pick so I can see your lovely design!
How to store carrot cake
Because this cake is covered in cream cheese frosting it can’t really sit out on the counter like other cakes. It will be ok on the counter for about 2 hours but after that you will need to put it back in the fridge.
There are two ways to store this cake in the fridge.
- You can cover the cake with foil. But first, insert a few toothpicks over the top of the cake and possibly the sides if needed to push keep the foil from getting stuck to the icing. I use foil because the toothpicks seem to break through the plastic wrap and then you will have a sticky icing mess. And trust me you don’t want one bit of this frosting to be sacrificed!
- Place the cake in the fridge uncovered but instead add two slices of bread to exposed cake. Attached these two slices of bread to the cake with toothpicks. The bread will dry out before the cake will. You can use this trick with other cakes you leave on the counter too.
Can you make this cake into a sheet cake instead?
Sure, can! Just pour the batter into a 9″ X 11″ sheet pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or again until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait until it has cooled completely and then frost and decorate as you like.
Keto & Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- 8" Round Cake Pans (2)
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Hand Mixer
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large wire mesh sieve
- Icing knife
- Spatula or spoon
Keto & Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup safflower oil or olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 2 1/2 tbsp Stevia blend
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup carrots finely shredded
- 1/4 cup pecans chopped and toasted (optional)
Keto Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/4 cup Powdered Swerve or powdered stevia
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two 8" cake pans. I like to dust with a little gluten-free flour or rice flour or you can line the pans with bottoms with parchment to reduce sticking.
- In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and orange zest.
- Place a large wire sieve over the bowl and add the almond flour, coconut flour, stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and baking powder. Using a spoon stir until all of the dry ingredients fall through the sieve into the egg mixture below.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until blended. Fold in the carrots and pecans.
- Evenly fill the cake pans with the batter and use a spoon or spatula to even out the batter in each pan. Baked for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then gently flip them over out of the pans on to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.
- Beat with a hand mixer on high until smooth.
- Gradually add in the powdered stevia or Swerve and continue mixing until well blended and smooth.
- Once the cakes are completely cooled place one of the cakes top side down on a cake pedestal or flat plate. Frost the top of this cake with about 1/2" of frosting.
- Place the second cake top side down on top of this icing layer. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you wish and serve.