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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

    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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

    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

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