Carrot Cake Recipe - Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free & Sugar-free

Author: Dr. Alexis McNeil

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Time to read: 13 min

Paleo carrot cake featured 1
Finished carrot cake baked with Detox Desserts ingredient swaps

Carrot Cake Recipe - Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free & Sugar-free

Prep time

45 min

Bake time

45 min

Servings

14 servings

Category

Cake

Why you will love this sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan carrot cake recipe

I made this cake for Easter and it was a huge hit with my friends and family. A proper carrot cake is ALL about the texture which is why I loaded it with walnuts, coconut, raisins and shredded carrots. I added cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves to get a warming, spicy flavor but rest assured, it’s not overwhelming. 


I love this cake grain-free (paleo, keto) but remember not to add the raisins if you’re on a strict diabetic or keto diet. If you eliminate the raisins in this recipe you’ll reduce the net carbs to 6 grams per slice which makes it the perfect diabetic carrot cake recipe! That’s the most effective way to make this cake diabetic and keto friendly without sacrificing the authentic carrot cake texture, color and flavor. The small amount of shredded carrots shouldn’t raise blood sugar but if you’re worried, shredded zucchini is an AWESOME substitution for the carrots (just squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini before folding into the batter). Two medium sized carrots have about 10 grams of carbohydrates so they aren’t the best food to eat if you’re on a very low carb diet, but they do have plenty of redeeming health benefits. Carrots get their bright orange color from the antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts in the body to vitamin A which protects our vision and supports the immune system. Diets rich in carotenoids help protect against certain types of cancer and the big dose of vitamin A can prevent night blindness and macular degeneration. Bring on the carrots…in moderation!! 


One slice of this cake made grain-free serves up 10 grams of fiber and only 11 net carbs…so even with the raisins and carrots, it’s fairly low carb😉.

Recommended products for the best sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan carrot cake

How the carrot cake made with Detox Desserts measures up

Nutritional information about Detox Desserts carrot cake
Paleo carrot cake featured 1
Paleo carrot cake featured 3
Paleo carrot cake featured 4

How I crafted the perfect gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan carrot cake recipe

To construct this detoxed cake recipe, I carefully reviewed a few 5-star traditional recipes online. I used my favorite baking blogs like ‘Sally’s Baking Addiction’, ‘Preppy Kitchen’ and ‘Handle the Heat’ to examine the wet to dry ratios and fat to protein ratios and the variations of leavening that pro bakers use for this type of cake. These ratios are important to ensure the detoxed cake will turn out moist and flavorful just like a proper carrot cake. For a simple cake like this, I could have used a highly rated online traditional recipe and made the 1:1 Swaps for Flour, Sugar, Eggs and Butter, but I thought I could do better than what’s currently out there. And, I hate following recipes, lol:) 


I used my intuition on the ratios and my love of bold flavors to modify the recipe slightly by adding more spices, and additional fold-in ingredients to enhance the flavor/texture profile. Most traditional recipes call for white and brown sugar, but brown sugar isn’t needed in the detoxed cake. If you really want a brown sugar “swap” and aren’t on a strict keto or diabetic diet, you can always add 1 tablespoon of molasses to the cup of Sugar Swap.

The best ingredients & substitutions for the perfect low-carb & diabetic friendly carrot cake

Ingredients for paleo & keto carrot cake recipe
Detox Desserts ingredients for the paleo & keto carrot cake recipe
Detox Desserts ingredients for the paleo & keto carrot cake frosting
Detox Desserts ingredients for the paleo & keto carrot cake frosting

Dry ingredients:


  • 2 cups Grain-Free Flour Swap
  • 1 ½ cups Granular Sugar Swap
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (double for Grain-Free)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves (OR substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
  • ¾ tsp salt

Wet ingredients:


  • ½ cup Butter Swap
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or avocado oil
  • 4 Egg Swaps
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Wet fold-in ingredients:


  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup raisins

Keto frosting ingredients:


  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar Swap
  • ⅓ cup Butter Swap
  • 1- 8 oz container plant based cream cheese (I use Miyoko's Brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1-4 Tablespoons plant milk (if needed to consistency)
  • Optional ½ cup shredded coconut to ⅓ of the frosting (for center frosting)

Most low-carb dessert recipes out there are loaded up with the most common food allergens like dairy, eggs and sometimes even gluten (vital wheat gluten is often used in keto baked goods, so you must read labels!).


Detox Desserts not only creates the most delicious, clean, nutritious, gluten-free, low-carb cakes; they’re also free from animal products making them safe for your vegan friends and family members with cardiovascular disease. Beware of most coconut flour carrot cake recipes, eggless carrot cake recipes and almond flour carrot cake recipes, because the finished cake won’t have the taste and texture of a proper carrot cake. 


Remember, Detox Desserts is the only gluten-free, vegan, paleo AND keto baking system out there. Baking with the Swaps makes it easy to accommodate pretty much every dietary restriction imaginable (except people with tree nut allergies, sorry nut sensitive friends!).


I love this cake made with Whole-Grain and Grain-Free Flour. The Whole-Grain Swap cake will have a few extra healthy carbs, but I love the earth flavor this version has. The Grain-Free will give you a keto/paleo version and is slightly more dense, but equally delicious. Although I didn’t bake this cake using both flours in equal parts (for this recipe it would be 1 cup Whole-Grain plus 1 cup Grain Free Flour to equal the full 2 cups of Flour Swap the recipe calls for), that is usually my favorite taste/texture preference and I bet the flour combination would turn out amazing.


For most of my patients, I’m a big advocate for balanced macro meals breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here is an easy way to know what type of Flour Swap to choose to create a balanced macro dinner. If your dinner consists of just protein and veggies, I recommend eating Whole-Grain Swap cake for dessert to serve as your healthy carb for that meal. Conversely, if you already had a healthy carb with dinner (quinoa, sweet potato, beans, etc), I would recommend the Grain-Free Swap cake for dessert so you don’t overeat carbs at that meal. Easy, right! Balanced macro meals are the best thing you can do to keep your metabolism firing optimally, create blood sugar stability and keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout your day (or night). If you’re a diabetic or need to stay in ketosis, always bake using the Grain-Free Flour Swap.

Try our gluten-free, vegan, paleo AND keto baking system

Step-by-step: How to make a paleo, keto, sugar-free and gluten-free carrot cake

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line the bottoms of two 9” round cake pans with parchment paper, then grease well.

3. Make the cake by mixing dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add wet ingredients and blend well with a spoon or hand mixer until smooth cake batter is formed and no lumps remain. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while the fiber in the Flour Swap absorbs the extra moisture. Then mix for 1 more minute.

Paleo carrot cake Step 3 Mix Wet and Dry Ingredients
Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 3 GF Batter

4. Fold in the shredded carrots, chopped walnuts and shredded coconut until the ingredients are well incorporated.

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 4 Fold-in Ingredients
Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 4 GF finished batter

5. Distribute the batter equally between the 2 well-greased/parchment lined cake pans and smooth the tops.

Distribute the batter equally between the 2 well-greased/parchment lined cake pans and smooth the tops.

6. Bake for about 45 minutes for Whole-Grain Flour (about 50 minutes Grain-Free) until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cupcakes bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before inverting the cakes to release them from the pans. 

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 6 GF baked cake
Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 6 Cupcakes

7. Make the frosting by using a hand mixer to blend all ingredients except the plant milk.

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 7 Frosting Ingredients

8. Then add plant milk 1 Tbsp at a time until thick and spreadable frosting consistency is achieved.

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 8 Frosting

9. If you want the center frosting to have shredded coconut (highly recommended for additional texture), scoop about ⅓ of the frosting into a separate bowl and mix with ½ cup shredded coconut.

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 9 Center Frosting

10. Build your cake by spreading the portion of frosting mixed with coconut on top of your first layer then stack the 2nd layer and completely frost the top and sides using the remaining two-thirds of frosting.

Paleo carrot cake recipe Step 10 frosting center of cake

11. Decorate with some chopped walnuts and/or toasted flaked coconut if desired.

11. Store in the fridge overnight before indulging, the texture and flavors will enhance overnight. The frosting will firm up after the overnight chill but will get soft at room temperature.

How to make your sugar-free carrot cake stand out

I highly recommend this carrot cake recipe with coconut. I love decorating with toasted coconut flakes or toasted walnuts to add texture and beautiful sophistication. Simply spread your coconut or walnuts on a small baking tray and place in a preheated 300 degree oven. Watch closely so they don't burn. Remove the coconut flakes when they turn golden in color and remove the walnuts when they become fragrant, this only takes a few minutes. They will get crispy as they cool and make a deliciously nutritious topping for your healthy carrot cake.


Another easy flavor variation is to use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the ginger, nutmeg and cloves. I made it this way when I was running low on spices and it turned out wonderfully. If you use the pumpkin pie spice, don’t skip the extra cinnamon. I’ve used as much as a tablespoon of cinnamon in addition to the other spices and it adds a delightfully warming burst of flavor to the cake. This cake has so many fold-in ingredients in addition to the Swaps that the flavor of the spices will diffuse dramatically and won’t overpower the cake. Even the pickiest eaters have been a fan of this decadent cake.


To make this a diabetic carrot cake recipe don't forget to eliminate the raisins as a fold-in ingredient. The ½ cup of raisins in this recipe contains about 65 grams of rapidly digesting carbohydrates which is too much for a diabetic or anyone who follows a low-carb diet. One big slice of this detoxed carrot cake made with Grain-Free Flour Swap and raisins has about 11 g of carbs, most of which are slowly digesting. By eliminating the raisins, you’ll shave off almost 5 grams of carbs per slice! The small amount of carbohydrates in the Detox Desserts Swaps are healthy and SLOWLY digesting making them perfect for anyone following a diabetic or ketogenic and low carb diet. Remember to make this diabetic carrot cake recipe using the Grain-Free Flour Swap to keep the carbs as low as possible.

How to store your paleo, keto, gluten-free and sugar-free carrot cake

Store your frosted carrot cake sealed in the fridge for up to 5 days. For longer term storage, wrap unfrosted cakes tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Then unthaw at room temp and frost prior to serving. 

Tips for making the best paleo carrot cake

A few tips to make the best detoxed, sugar free carrot cake:


  • Make sure your Butter Swap is well stirred and at room temperature before making your cake.
  • Use a neutral flavor, healthy oil like unrefined avocado oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil works fine but the flavor slightly comes through in the finished cake. I’ve made this cake with both oils and my family enjoyed them equally but you know your family's taste preferences better than anyone.
  • Use HOT water in your Egg Swap, the warmth is needed to help the psyllium husk in the Flour Swap open up, relax and absorb the moisture.
  • Let your dough rest for about 5 minutes after you’ve blended the wet and dry ingredients, then mix for another minute. This resting period gives the fiber a chance to relax and absorb the moisture in the Egg Swap.
  • Don’t use pre shredded carrots from the store as they are too thick. Use the fine shred setting on your food processor or shred by hand which is my preferred method. Consider the shredding process as part of your daily workout because it takes some elbow grease;)
  • Line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper and grease the bottoms and sides of the pan well. This allows for easy release of your carrot cakes when they are cooled.
  • Press the Grain-Free batter evenly into the pan. It’s normal for the Grain-Free batter to be thick so it needs to be pressed evenly to ensure proper baking.
  • Add the plant milk SLOWLY to your frosting so it sets up firm in the fridge. Too much milk will cause your frosting to become runny, it won’t properly harden and will make a mess. I only needed 1 Tablespoon of plant milk in my frosting to create the perfect consistency.
  • Consider cutting the frosting recipe in half if you don’t like things too sweet. If you make this recipe as cupcakes, you’ll only need a half portion of frosting unless you really want frosting piled high on your cupcakes.
  • Always let Detox Desserts chill in the fridge overnight before indulging. The flavors and textures will change dramatically with an overnight chill. Plus, it slows carbohydrate absorption making the finished dessert healthier and tastier. Weird, but it works!

Recipe Card: Carrot Cake - Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free & Sugar-free

Prep Time  Bake Time Total Time
45 minutes 45 minutes 90 minutes

Servings: 14

Calories per serving: 430 kcal


Although not guaranteed, we have gone above and beyond to provide you with the most accurate nutritional information for this recipe.




Dry Ingredients


  • 2 cups Grain-Free Flour Swap
  • 1 ½ cups Granular Sugar Swap
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (double for Grain-Free)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves (OR substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
  • ¾ tsp salt

Wet Ingredients


  • ½ cup Butter Swap
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or avocado oil
  • 4 Egg Swaps
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Wet Fold-In Ingredients


  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup raisins

Keto Frosting Ingredients


  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar Swap
  • ⅓ cup Butter Swap
  • 1- 8 oz container plant based cream cheese (I use Miyoko's Brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1-4 Tablespoons plant milk (if needed to consistency)
  • Optional ½ cup shredded coconut to ⅓ of the frosting (for center frosting)




Instructions


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 


2. Line the bottoms of two 9” round cake pans with parchment paper, then grease well. 


3. Make the cake by mixing dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add wet ingredients and blend well with a spoon or hand mixer until smooth cake batter is formed and no lumps remain. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while the fiber in the Flour Swap absorbs the extra moisture. Then mix for 1 more minute. 


4. Fold in the shredded carrots, chopped walnuts and shredded coconut until the ingredients are well incorporated. 


5. Distribute the batter equally between the 2 well-greased/parchment lined cake pans and smooth the tops. 


6. Bake for about 45 minutes for Whole-Grain Flour (about 50 minutes Grain-Free) until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cupcakes bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before inverting the cakes to release them from the pans. 


7. Make the frosting by using a hand mixer to blend all ingredients except the plant milk. 


8. Then add plant milk 1 Tbsp at a time until thick and spreadable frosting consistency is achieved. 


9. If you want the center frosting to have shredded coconut (highly recommended for additional texture), scoop about ⅓ of the frosting into a separate bowl and mix with ½ cup shredded coconut. 


10. Build your cake by spreading the portion of frosting mixed with coconut on top of your first layer then stack the 2nd layer and completely frost the top and sides using the remaining two-thirds of frosting.


11. Decorate with some chopped walnuts and/or toasted flaked coconut if desired. 


12. Store in the fridge overnight before indulging, the texture and flavors will enhance overnight. The frosting will firm up after the overnight chill but will get soft at room temperature.



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Nutritional information

Paleo Carrot Cake Nutritional Value

*An important note on carbs:


Net carbohydrates are the sum total of carbohydrates that convert into glucose (therefore raise blood sugar) in the body. Anyone following a keto or diabetic diet should count net carbs NOT total carbs. To determine net carbs, simply subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates on the nutrition label. If you count macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) you should always count net carbs, not total carbs. 

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