Egg-Free Carrot Cake: Which came first, the carrot or the egg?

Hold on to your horses, Nellie, I’ve been thinking again.

We all know that some recipes are created with specifics for serving times in mind. Chocolate Chip Cookies? Snack time. Ditto brownies. Pumpkin cheesecake? Strawberry-Filled Angel Food Cake?  Dessert all the way.

I’m sure, too, we’ve all heard that pie was invented as a breakfast food, or a portable lunch. Biscuits are served all day long, baked fresh each meal by Grandma, if you’re lucky.

But there are some baked goods that defy Father Time, deny the clock, and don’t deign to conform to just one time slot. Pizza is ubiquitous as both a dinner and breakfast in the under-20 college crowd. Banana Bread: breakfast, brunch, dessert? All of the above? What role does icing play?   Carrot Cake too, amirite?

This Egg-Free Carrot Cake is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s based on a recipe from a heart-healthy cookbook my mom had in the ’70s, which surprisingly did not include any whole grains. I’ve substituted whole wheat flour; bumped up the spices, and eliminated the baby-food carrots. Egg- and dairy-free, it’s a great option for vegetarians and vegans.

Come on to the kitchen, I can’t wait to make another batch!


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a medium-sized saucepan, place:

2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter (use soy margarine for dairy-free)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cloves, to taste (allspice makes a good substitute)


Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.


Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. The whole house will smell like carrot cake at this point, so be prepared for tummy-grumblings.

Remove the pan from the heat and place in the fridge to cool to lukewarm. You can transfer the mixture to a bowl at this point, but I’ve always made the cake batter right in the saucepan. Saving dishes is always a bonus, in my book.


Once the carrot mixture has cooled, the “sauce” will be slightly syrupy and very fragrant. Add:

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


Stir just until you have a thick batter with no streaks of flour left. If you’re using nuts, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

Scrape the batter into a well-greased and floured 9″ x 2″ round pan. The pan must be at least 2″ deep to avoid overflow in the oven.

If you only have an 8″ x 2″ pan, fill the pan halfway and bake the rest of the batter in ramekins or as cupcakes. Other options for the batter are 12 cupcakes; a 9″ x 2″ square, or mini loaves. OH, yes, you can double the recipe for a two-layer cake or a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake. 


Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake is dense and moist, and without icing it makes a great breakfast. Of course, if you want to add Cream Cheese Frosting, I’m here to cheer you on for that, too.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Egg-Free Carrot Cake.

Print just the recipe.

Let’s play book club, shall we? Question: Do you think carrot cake was originally designed for breakfast, or for dessert?  Discuss.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Sigrid

    Hi there! If the original recipe didn’t use any grains, what did it use in place of the wholewheat flour used here? Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It was all purpose flour Sigrid. Hope you like this new version! Elisabeth@KAF

  2. Lilypad

    I really think you need to make it clear in the text of the blog post that this cake is only vegan IF VEGAN MARGARINE IS USED instead of butter. It says ” Egg- and dairy-free, it’s a great option for vegetarians and vegans” in the text but the recipe as written calls for butter (with a note about soy margarine for dairy-free but not making it clear for the uninitiated that for a “vegan” cake you need to use this “dairy-free”option). I’ve been cooking and baking vegan food for many years and there is A LOT of ignorance about what “vegan” means so you need to write to the lowest common denominator here and over-explain things.
    Thanks, and please keep the vegan recipes coming, it would be better for the planet (and the animals!) if more people would choose this option even occasionally.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I apologize for the lack of clarity regarding the vegan version of this cake and thank you for the suggestion regarding a more detailed explanation of the vegan variation of this recipe. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  3. Robyn5

    OK, my turn to run to the kitchen! I tend to make the breads but windowshop the desserts, since I’ve agreed to leave butter and eggs on the shelf.

    This is going to be fun! The only change I plan to make is to sub coconut oil for the margarine. Thanks so much for bringing an old favorite back to my table!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Glad you enjoyed the recipe and let us know how you like it with the coconut oil, sounds like a great alternative! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  4. Lydia

    Looks delicious! Can you substitute gluten-free flour for the regular and wheat flour? Would I have to add xanthum gum? My son is allergic to eggs and wheat (a double whammy!). Thanks.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’ve consulted with our gluten-free baker and she says you certainly can try, using equal parts flour and adding 1/4t xanthum gum per cup of flour. However, without eggs to help with the conversion, we’re a little worried it may end up being a bit dense and potentially gummy. A better route might be to try our gluten free carrot cake using egg substitutes ( Feel free to give us a call if you have any further questions at 1-855-371-2253 and we’d be happy to help you out at that time. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  5. Phyllis Courtney

    I want to save the recipes by pinning them and when I hit the pin icon, it takes me to your boards. I cannot ever find the recipe. Sometimes I don’t think they are there. I’m finished trying unless it become easy like other pins.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I just checked through all the links and they seem to be working for pinning on our end, so if you are on the blog, you can click the “Pin It” that appears over the top photo or the “Pinterest” icon that appears in the bar an the side of the window. You should also be able to click on the link to “Egg-Free Carrot Cake” within the recipe, which will take you just to the recipe page and the “Pinterest” icon in the sidebar should work as well. If you need further help, feel free to give our customer service department a call (1-800-827-826) and we can try to help you out over the phone. Thank you for following our blog and I hope that some of those suggestions help. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  6. scc101

    I’m so glad to see there are some vegan options appearing on the KAF site! I know I can make modifications to other recipes (like using margarine instead of butter here), but it’d be great to have those substitutions already included. A search for vegan recipes doesn’t turn up many options, so please keep presenting more vegan-friendly recipes.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love the feedback scc101 and are pleased you enjoyed this blog. Elisabeth@KAF

  7. Tom

    and if I want to skip the raisins, a bit more flour? (In my book raisins are grapes that dried up before they had the chance to become wine.)

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you prefer to drink your raisins instead of eating them in your carrot cake, just feel free to leave them out without making any other adjustments to the recipe. Feel free to substitute 1 cup of another mix-in instead like chopped nuts, dried pineapple, or even white/milk/dark chocolate chips. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you are going to add crushed pineapple, please try to drain it as much as possible before mixing it into the batter. You should also add an additional 1/4 cup flour for every cup of crushed pineapple you add to account for the additional moisture of the fruit. The crushed pineapple will make the cake more heavy and dense, but if you are looking for that sweet pineapple taste, go ahead and give it a try! Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  8. Jen

    Hi 🙂 Is there a way to sub coconut flour, flax meal, and add extra carrots and maybe shredded squash/zucchini?

    Thanks! Love KAF. Appreciate the expertise.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’ve never tried to, Jen. I will pass on the suggestions for a future recipe though! Jon@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jackie, we don’t test our recipes with sugar substitutes so I’m not sure how to advise you. I would recommend following the directions on the Splenda package for substituting for sugar in baked goods. Barb@KAF

  9. Natty Nat

    What if I am in a rush (or just impatient) and add the dry flour mix to the wet cooked carrot mix before the cooked mix cools to room temperature? What if the cooked mix is still quite hot? Will it ruin the cake somehow? Will it deactivate the baking powder prematurely or something? I’m confused about the requirement to cool the carrot mix, since the whole thing is going into the oven to get hot for a while anyway…

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi there Nat,
      If you add the flour mixture to the batter while it’s too hot, the flour will clump up and you’ll end up with balls of uncooked flour in your final cake. I *may* have been known to use a fan to speed up the cooling process myself, never having won any awards for patience. 🙂 ~ MJ

  10. Gracie

    I followed all directions, baked in a bread loaf for an hour and a half and it’s still smushy and thick. Is this normal??

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am sorry it did not work out! Due to the absence of eggs, this recipe does not do well in a deep pan such as a loaf pan. Please stick with cake pans or a 9 x 13 next time you need an egg-free version of this classic cake. Elisabeth@KAF

  11. Julia

    I made this today and it was fantastic! I like pineapple in my carrot cake so I used the juice drained from an 8oz can of sliced pineapple (about half a cup) for part of the water and substituted chopped up pineapple for the raisins. I also added about half a teaspoon of ground ginger with the other spices. I followed the rest of the recipe as written and it was just enough batter for a dozen cupcakes which took about 30 minutes in the oven. I think they fall somewhere between a cupcake and a muffin and they are a fantastic vehicle for cream cheese frosting.
    I decided to try this recipe because I was out of eggs and I don’t miss them. The carrots and pineapple simmered in brown sugar and spices adds great depth of flavor and doing it all in a single saucepan is so clever this might be my new go-to carrot cake recipe!
    I only use King Arthur flour. It really does make a difference in the quality of my pizza dough, bread, cake, etc. and I appreciate the inclusion of more whole grain recipes.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can indeed, Leigh. This recipe should be enough for roughly 12 muffins or cupcakes. You can keep the baking temp the same, but since they’re much smaller, we’d recommend checking them early and often, starting around 20 minutes. Mollie@KAF

  12. Msa

    Instead of all purpose can you use all white whole wheat if you add some wheat gluten or something? If so, how much?

    Also, can you replace butter with applesauce 1:1?

    I’d like to use all when wheat, no oil, and replace brown sugar with date sugar.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can use white whole wheat flour to replace the all-purpose flour in this recipe, but it will likely be a bit more heavy and dense than it otherwise would be. You can use applesauce to replace 1-2 tablespoons of the butter, but it will be noticeably drier without any fat added to it at all. As for the sugar, date sugar behaves differently than brown sugar does in baking so we can’t guarantee your results. Date sugar isn’t something we experiment with here in the test kitchen, so you’ll have to be sure to let us know how it turns out if you give it a try! Kye@KAF

  13. Anna

    Can you please tell me if butter in this scrumptious can be replaced with oil? Since i dont have butter or soy margarine at hand right now. 🙂

    1. PJ Hamel

      Anna, go ahead and replace the 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons of any kind of vegetable oil — that should work just fine. Enjoy! PJH

  14. LH

    Hi, this looks wonderful! Another substitution question: I can’t find white whole wheat, so what do you think about whole wheat pastry flour? Or all-purpose? And if I need to cut out the raisins (it’s for my daughter’s first birthday, I dunno) do I need to adjust the liquid or anything? Thanks!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi LH, feel free to omit the raisins. You can substitute additional nuts, shredded coconut, or another dried fruit in its place if you like, but we’re guessing you’ll probably just want to leave it out. (There’s no need to change anything else in the recipe.) As for the flour, you can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour or use 1 cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour in place of the White Whole Wheat Flour. We actually love using that flour in cakes to add whole grain flavor without making it dense or heavy. Happy baking, and happy birthday to your daughter! Kye@KAF

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