This Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake is beautifully moist, subtly spiced, and bursting with fragrant tropical flavours!

A carrot cake with white frosting decorated with dried mango, chopped pistachios and coconut flakes on a green cake stand against a grey background

Why you’ll love this Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake:

  • it’s undetectably vegan and gluten-free
  • it’s full of flavour
  • it’s moist and spongy 
  • it’s subtly spiced
  • it’s fruity and fragrant 
  • it’s covered in a tangy “cream cheese” frosting
  • it’s refined sugar free 
  • it’s easy to make
  • it’s made in one bowl!

This Tropical Carrot Cake has such a great mixture of flavours and textures: coconut adds fragrance, dried mango adds gummy bursts of nectar-like sweetness and pistachios add a nutty crunch, whilst cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and cloves add a touch of warming spice.

How to make this Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

Tip: Use a box grater to grate the carrots.

Raw tropical carrot cake mixture in a glass mixing bowl against a marble background

Tip: Line them with greased baking paper to make the sponges come out easier.

Raw carrot cake batter in two silver baking tins against a marble background

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Carrot cake sponges in two silver baking tins against a marble background

  • Leave the sponges to cool down on a cooling rack once they’re out the oven.

Two carrot cake sponges on a silver cooling rack against a marble background

  • Make the frosting using an electric whisk to whip up the coconut milk.
  • Place one half of the cake on a cake stand or a plate and apply just less than half of the frosting onto it.

A carrot cake sponge on a green cake stand with a silver palette knife spreading white frosting over it

  • Place the other half of the cake on top and apply the frosting on the top and sides of the cake – you can use a palette knife for frosting for this.

A carrot cake topped with white frosting decorated with dried mango, chopped pistachios and coconut flakes on a green cake stand

  • Decorate the cake with pistachios, dried mango and coconut flakes, if desired.

Substitutions you can make to this recipe:

  • you can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
  • you can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc
  • you can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc
  • you can substitute the ground walnuts with ground almonds (almond meal)
  • you can substitute the dried mango/papaya with any other dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates or dried pineapple 
  • you can substitute the pistachios with any other chopped nuts
  • for a nut-free version: substitute the ground walnuts with ground sunflower seeds or use 30g (1/4 cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 1/4 cup) ground walnuts and omit the pistachios
  • you can use plain flourwholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you’re not gluten-free.

How long does this Tropical Carrot Cake keep for?

This cake tastes best fresh on the day it’s made, but it does keep covered in the fridge for up to a few days.

A carrot cake sponge cake with white frosting decorated with dried mango, chopped pistachios and coconut flakes on a green cake stand against a dark brown background

More vegan cakes:

If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.

A carrot cake sponge cake with white frosting decorated with dried mango, chopped pistachios and coconut flakes on a green cake stand against a dark brown background

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake with coconut, mango, pistachios and cream cheese frosting!

Print Pin Rate

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: gluten-free carrot cake, tropical carrot cake, vegan carrot cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 8

Calories: 455kcal


For the cake:

  • 60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
  • 230 ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice *
  • 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
  • Pinch salt
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) carrot , peeled and grated (about one medium-sized carrot)
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried mango or papaya (ensure refined sugar free if necessary)
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) shelled pistachios , roughly chopped
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds (almond meal) **
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

For the frosting:

  • 400 g (14 oz) tin full-fat coconut milk ***
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To decorate (optional):

  • Coconut flakes
  • Shelled pistachios , roughly chopped
  • Dried mango or papaya , chopped into smaller pieces if necessary


For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)

  • Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, mixed spice, salt, grated carrot, dessicated coconut, dried mango, chopped pistachios, and ground almonds

  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda

  • Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry

  • Transfer mixture between two small greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins)

  • Bake in oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean

  • Once out the oven, immediately remove cakes from baking tins and transfer onto a wire rack to cool

For the frosting:

  • You’ll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won’t happen and you won’t be able to make this cream!

  • Open the tin upside down – the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to soups or smoothies)

  • Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl

  • Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract

  • Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy

To decorate:

  • Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and cover with half of the frosting

  • Place other sponge on top and use remaining frosting to cover the top

  • Decorate with coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried mango, if desired

  • Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days


*The lemon juice is crucial as its acidity needs to react with the alkali bicarbonate of soda to make the sponge fluffy. If you don’t want to use lemon juice, substitute with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar instead **You can alternatively use almond flour ***You can alternatively use 200g (7oz) coconut yogurt

Nutrition Facts

Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake

Amount Per Serving

Calories 455 Calories from Fat 270

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 30g 46%

Saturated Fat 17g 85%

Sodium 90mg 4%

Potassium 276mg 8%

Total Carbohydrates 42g 14%

Dietary Fiber 5g 20%

Sugars 20g

Protein 8g 16%

Vitamin A 55.1%

Vitamin C 6.4%

Calcium 14.5%

Iron 19.6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Disclosure: This posts contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you click through and purchase any of these films, a small percentage will come to me, with no extra cost to you! This income will go towards the running of this blog – thank you.

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