This gluten-free carrot layer cake is so incredibly moist and fluffy. The easy recipe is also dairy-free and mixes up in one bowl for fast clean up.
Be sure to check out more of my gluten-free layer cake recipes including my incredibly moist gluten-free red velvet cake, luscious fluffy gluten-free vanilla cake and my personal favorite gluten-free lemon layer cake.
How to Keep Gluten-Free Cake Moist
The best way to keep gluten-free cakes moist over a few days is to use oil instead of butter. Butter has excellent flavor but it is 80% fat and about 18% water. That water evaporates and can leave a cake dry over a few days. Oil is 100% fat so it keeps the cake moist for longer.
Another benefit of using oil, is that cakes rise better and are more airy. Light and fluffy can sometimes be an issue in gluten-free cakes so oil helps quite a bit.
Many carrot cake recipes include ingredients like crushed pineapple and walnuts. I prefer to keep my carrot cake nut-free and replace the pineapple with applesauce.
Gluten-Free Flour Blends
Gluten-free flour blend – My preferred flour for gluten-free baking is King Arthur Measure-for-Measure Flour. It works consistently in almost all of my baked goods and it’s the most affordable of the gluten-free flour blends I’ve tested.
Pamela’s All Purpose Artisan Blend and Cup4Cup (contains milk powder) are two other flour blends that will work in this recipe. All of these flours are certified gluten-free. I do not test with Bob’s Red Mill one 1-to-1 because it is not certified gluten free.
I also have a DIY gluten free and rice free flour blend. It works extremely well in cupcakes muffins, quick breads, pancakes and cakes including this gf carrot cake. I’ve had a huge increase in readers looking for gluten-free recipes that are also rice-free.
Shredded carrots – I highly recommend using store-bought shredded carrots. It’s a huge timesaver and it works just as well as shredding them yourself. One of the 10 oz bags that you usually find in the grocery store will give you enough for this cake.
Otherwise, if you prefer to shred the carrots yourself, you’ll need about three medium-sized carrots.
Apple sauce adds moisture and fruity flavor to this cake without making it greasy like oil can. I use oil in this cake but If you’re not a regular user of applesauce, buy the snack size and use two for this recipe.
Brown sugar – The molasses flavor in brown sugar is so yummy with the flavor of carrot and cinnamon.
Cinnamon – You can use straight cinnamon or an equal amount of a pumpkin spice blend. If you like the flavors of cinnamon, cloves and other warm spices, the pumpkin spice blend is an easy sub.
Oil – I prefer oil over butter in gluten-free cakes. Even though butter has more flavor, oil does a much better job of making the cakes moist especially over a few days. Use a neutral flavored oil like avocado, canola, sunflower etc.
Eggs – It is best that the eggs are at room temperature. Cold eggs in the batter means that the cake will have to bake longer. A longer baking time risks the cake coming out dry.
So, before you get the other ingredients out, place the eggs in a bowl of warm water to bring them to room temperature – it takes 5-10 minutes max.
The rest of the ingredients are just the basics – sugar, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Carrot Cake Toppings
This cake is super yummy with a slathering of cream cheese frosting. But if you want to take it to the next level, here are a few toppings that will make this an even more memorable gluten-free dessert.
- Drizzle the cake with my homemade apple caramel sauce or any prepared caramel sauce.
- Top with my sweet and spicy candied pecans
- For a little boozy flavor top with my brandy white chocolate sauce.
Moist, Fluffy Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- 4 large eggs, room temperature1
- ½ c oil – avocado, sunflower, canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
- ½ c unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tsp vanilla extract, powder or bean paste homemade gluten-free vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 c sugar
- ¾ c light brown sugar
- 2½ c gluten-free flour blend2 gluten-free rice-free flour option
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 3 c (about 8 ounces) shredded carrots, store bought shreds work well or use about 3 medium sized carrots
- This cake can easily be mixed by hand with a silicone/rubber spatula and a wire whisk or with an electric mixer.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Parchment line and grease two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. The parchment is optional but will make removing the baked cake much easier.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, apple sauce, vanilla and salt.
- Add the sugars and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Fold in the dry ingredients with a silicone spatula (or beat on low if using electric).
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then switch to a whisk to to smooth it out or mix on high with electric mixers for 10-15 seconds.
- Fold in the shredded carrots.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Use a spatula to smooth out the top. For super even layers, use a measuring cup and use just over 2½ cups batter per pan.
- Bake 42-47 minutes for 8" layers and 35-40 minutes for 9" layers or until the top is set and bounces back from a very gentle tap. If it leaves an indent, keep baking.
- Cool the layers in the pan for 10 minutes. Then invert them onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with my cream cheese frosting.
- Place cold eggs in a bowl with warm water to bring them to room temperature. It takes 5-10 minutes.
- Add 1 tsp xanthan gum only if you are using a flour blend that does not contain xanthan gum, guar gum or inulin. All of the 1-to-1 flour blends like Cup4Cup, King Arthur Measure for Measure, Pamela’s All Purpose Artisan Blend, Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 and Namaste Perfect Gluten-Free Flour already contain one of these ingredients.