This easy-to-make pumpkin carrot cake is extra moist, pumpkin-spiced, and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. Topped off with a homemade healthy cream cheese yogurt frosting, this fall-time cake has the softest crumb and is packed with toasted walnuts, grated carrot, and shredded coconut.
The best pumpkin carrot cake you’ll ever eat
This super moist pumpkin-spiced carrot cake is the best cake you’ll ever eat. It’s dense with a soft, moist crumb and topped with a lighted-up healthy cream cheese yogurt frosting. It’s the perfect FALL dessert for Thanksgiving or, honestly, any occasion like Easter if you’re in the mood for pumpkin spice. Plus, I left a step-by-step video below for beginner bakers to follow – this recipe is super easy!
The pumpkin cake is full of fall spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all-spice. It’s perfect for your Thanksgiving menu, Halloween, or any event. Plus, I have made this carrot pumpkin cake in both two layers and one layer; both are delicious.
To make this carrot cake better and healthier than other recipes, we use oat milk, maple syrup as the sweetener, and coconut oil. It’s the best dairy-free pumpkin carrot cake.
My favorite part is that this cake is only sweetened with maple syrup! It helps make the crumb dense and extra moist, along with the freshly grated carrots. This is truly the BEST pumpkin carrot cake you’ll ever eat!
Why you’ll love this cake recipe
- Insane Texture: It’s extra moist crumb, slightly dense, and super soft.
- No Refined Sugar: This cake is naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
- The BEST Healthy Frosting: Out of all my frosting recipes on my blog, you all LOVE this healthy creamy-cheese frosting.
- Easy to Bake: This recipe is easy to follow, and there is a step-by-step video.
- Loaded with Flavor: We add shredded coconut and toasted walnuts.
- Fall Baking: It’s perfect for Fall, Thanksgiving, and Halloween.
- Dairy-Free: This pumpkin carrot cake is dairy-free with one ingredient swap.
- Try these pumpkin oatmeal bars for another flavorful pumpkin recipe!
Ingredients you’ll need
This pumpkin carrot cake has two parts: the cake and the healthy cream cheese frosting. You’ll need basic ingredients like flour, pumpkin puree, grated carrots, eggs, maple syrup, and cream cheese. Trust me when I say that this cake is the BEST pumpkin carrot cake you’ll ever eat. Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared:
Pumpkin Carrot Cake:
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour and do not substitute with almond flour, coconut flour, or oat flour.
- Baking Soda: To help the cake rise. Please don’t confuse this with baking powder – they are different!
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: For the most delicious fall pumpkin flavor. It also gives this cake that classic zing.
- Pumpkin Puree: Not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling. This helps with the soft and moist crumb.
- Coconut Oil: This is the fat we use to make this cake soft and moist. It also makes this pumpkin carrot cake dairy-free.
- Oat Milk: I love oat milk because it is most similar to creamy 2% or whole milk. You can use any other dairy-free milk or even 2% cow’s milk.
- Carrots: You’ll need 1 – 2 medium carrots that you’ll shred with a box grater.
- Maple Syrup: This cake is refined-sugar-free, meaning it is naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
- Eggs: You need 2 eggs to help with consistency and texture. The eggs also help hold the cake’s crumb together.
- Vanilla Extract: For the best flavor.
- Walnut: For crunch and flavor!
- Shredded Coconut: I used finely shredded coconut for texture and flavor. I have not tested it with large shreds of coconut, but it will change the texture.
Healthy Cream Creese Yogurt Frosting:
- Cream Cheese: You can use regular cream cheese or lighten up this healthy frosting with reduced-fat Neufchatel.
- Vanilla Greek Yogurt: Use vanilla, not plain! This adds the best flavor and helps with the soft consistency a frosting needs to have. You can also use 0%, 2%, or 5% – all will work.
- Maple Syrup: This healthy cream cheese frosting is refined sugar-free, so we use maple syrup to sweeten it.
Kitchen tools needed
You don’t need any fancy or special kitchen utensils for this cake recipe. Here is a list:
How to make moist pumpkin carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
This pumpkin carrot cake is easy to make, but let’s walk through the process together. Here are step-by-step directions with pictures for visual reference:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line two 6-inch cake pans or one 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Then, whisk all the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and set it to the side while you prepare the rest. Meanwhile, whisk all the wet ingredients together, excluding the carrots, in a large mixing bowl.
Now, add dry ingredients to wet ones and fold the shredded carrot, walnuts, and shredded coconut in. Then, evenly divide the cake batter between the two greased and lined cake tins.
Bake for 40 – 50 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. TIP: Do not overbake the cakes, or they will be dry – they will continue to cook a little as they cool. Let cakes cool for 10 minutes, then carefully flip them out onto a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before frosting!
While the cake cools, make the frosting by placing all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beating with a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for 1 – 2 minutes until fluffy and smooth. It’s super important to make sure the ingredients are at room temperature.
Now, frost the cooled cake by spreading about ⅔ – ¾ cups of frosting on the first layer, then gently place the second cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the frosting around the sides and over the top of the cake. Then, you can decorate your pumpkin carrot cake with crushed walnuts and/or shredded coconut.
Expert baking tips for the perfect carrot cake
- Line your cake pans with parchment. This guarantees that your cakes won’t stick to the pan when you turn them out to cool. I recommend placing your cake pan on top of a sheet of parchment paper, tracing the edge with a pencil, and cutting out the circle. Then grease and line your pan with the parchment paper cut-out.
- Use freshly grated carrots. This ensures that your cake is extra moist. Store-bought shredded carrots are usually very dry.
- Spoon and level the flour or measure in grams. This ensures that you don’t add too much flour to the cake batter. If you do, your carrot cake will be dry.
- Keep the cake super moist: There are two things that make carrot cakes extra moist: (1) adding freshly shredded carrots and (2) using oil to the cake batter. In this recipe, we use melted coconut oil to make this carrot cake moist.
- Let the cakes cool for 30 minutes. Do not frost the cakes until they are cooled! If not, the frosting will melt. To speed this process up, you can place the cakes in the refrigerator after allowing them to cool for 10 minutes on the counter.
- Easily make ahead. One of the BEST parts about carrot cake is that it tastes even better the next day, similar to banana bread. You can bake a carrot cake and frost it up to 1 day in advance. Simply keep it covered in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before serving.
What does this pumpkin carrot cake taste like?
This pumpkin carrot cake is super moist and full of shredded coconut and toasted walnuts. Most of the flavor comes from the added pumpkin spice (made from a combination of cinnamon, ginger, all-spice & nutmeg) and the carrots. The pumpkin spice adds the most delicious zing, but it’s not overwhelming.
This pumpkin carrot cake is also dense from the maple syrup and sweet from the homemade cream cheese yogurt frosting. Every bite melts in your mouth!
Ingredient substitutions & variations
I only recommend substituting 1 or 2 ingredients since the original recipe for this pumpkin carrot cake is so delicious! Here are my recommendations:
- Oat Milk: You can use 2% or whole cow’s milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk too.
- Coconut Oil: I used melted coconut oil as the fat in this cake recipe, but you can use melted unsalted butter or melted vegan, dairy-free butter too.
- Cream Cheese: You can use Neufchatel cream cheese instead, which is reduced fat. or you can use dairy-free cream cheese.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Easily make your own pumpkin pie spice if you need to by mixing together 3 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Just make sure you use 1 tablespoon.
- Walnuts: You can substitute the walnuts for toasted pecans.
- Maple Syrup: Feel free to use honey or agave nectar as a substitute for the maple syrup.
- Pumpkin Puree: You can use butternut squash puree, sweet potato puree, or acorn squash puree.
- Add Raisins: Feel free to add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of raisins to the cake batter in the same step you add the walnuts and shredded coconut.
- Make it Nut-Free: Just leave off the walnuts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use pumpkin pie filling in place of the pumpkin puree?
No, pumpkin pie filling and pumpkin puree are not the same things. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugar and flavors, so the cake will not taste the same.
What is the best substitute for pumpkin puree?
There are three great substitutes for pumpkin puree: butternut squash puree, sweet potato puree, or acorn squash puree.
How do you make homemade pumpkin pie spice?
You can easily make your own pumpkin pie spice by mixing together 3 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Then, simply measure out to the correct amount you need for the recipe. You need 1 tablespoon for the pumpkin carrot cake.
Can I make this pumpkin cake gluten-free?
If you want to make this pumpkin carrot cake gluten-free, substitute the all-purpose flour with this 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
Is this pumpkin carrot cake dairy-free?
This pumpkin carrot cake is already dairy-free; you just need to make the cream cheese frosting dairy-free. To make the frosting 100% dairy-free, substitute the cream cheese with dairy-free cream cheese and the vanilla Greek yogurt with almond milk yogurt or coconut milk yogurt. I recommend adding 1 – 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract in this case for flavoring.
Can I substitute honey for the maple syrup?
Yes! You can substitute the maple syrup in both the pumpkin carrot cake and the cream cheese frosting with honey. You can also use agave nectar.
What’s the best substitute for Greek yogurt in baking?
The best dairy-free substitute for Greek yogurt is almond milk yogurt or coconut yogurt.
What’s the best temperature to bake carrot cake?
You should bake carrot cakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for between 40 – 50 minutes, depending on the size of your cake pan.
Can you freeze carrot cake?
Yes! First, allow it to cool completely. Then, wrap the individual cake slices or the whole cake tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place it in an airtight container or resealable freezer bags, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to store leftover pumpkin carrot cake with frosting:
For best results, cover leftover frosted pumpkin carrot cake tightly and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can serve it cold or bring it to room temperature an hour before serving.
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Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Pumpkin Carrot Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice, yes Tablespoon!
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
- ½ cup shredded coconut
Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese or Neufchatel, room temperature
- ¼ cup vanilla greek yogurt, room temperature
- ¼ cup real maple syrup, room temperature
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. Set it to the side.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together, excluding the carrots.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ones and fold the shredded carrots, walnuts, and shredded coconut in.
- Then, evenly divide the cake batter between the two greased and lined cake tins.
- Bake for 40 – 50 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake the cakes, or they will be dry – they will continue to cook a little as they cool. Let cakes cool for 10 minutes, then carefully flip them out onto a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before frosting!
- While the cake cools, make the frosting by placing all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beating with a handheld electric mixer for 1 – 2 minutes until fluffy and smooth. Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature. You can also you a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Frost the cooled cake by spreading about ⅔ – ¾ cups of frosting on the first layer, then gently place the second cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the frosting around the sides (if desired) and over the top of the cake. Decorate with crushed walnuts. Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can serve it cold or bring it to room temperature an hour before serving.
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