These are the most moist, soft, and delicious secretly vegan carrot cake bars ever topped with the fluffiest cream cheese frosting! Naturally vegan, gluten free, and dairy free, these healthy carrot cake bars are the perfect Easter dessert or Mother’s Day brunch treat for all eaters!

BEST Ever Vegan Carrot Cake Bars (Gluten Free!)

The easiest carrot cake bars ever!

You’re just going to absolutely love these amazing and super moist, fluffy carrot cake bars. They’re the epitome of an easy dessert recipe, only require a few simple ingredients that happens to be naturally vegan, gluten free, eggless, and easily nut free, and bake so beautifully, no one will ever know how simple they are.

These carrot cake bars are moist, soft, sweet, and full of wonderful spice and a slight tang from the fluffiest cream cheese frosting. These bars are incredibly easy to make: much easier than a layer cake, and you don’t need any equipment either.

Just one bowl and a whisk will work!

Perfect for Easter dessert, Mother’s Day brunch, or any spring time party, these carrot cake bars are loved by all eaters: whether or not you’re vegan and/or gluten free!

What type of flour are we using to make these carrot cake bars?

Traditionally, you would use all purpose flour to make carrot cake bars. For this particular recipe, you still can- they would just be considered vegan carrot cake bars!

However, I’ve designed this carrot cake bar recipe to be naturally gluten free as well, and not with using a gluten free 1:1 baking flour. For this vegan gluten free carrot cake recipe, we’ll be using oat flour. I used store bought organic oat flour here, but you can also use homemade oat flour!

What kind of frosting goes on carrot cake?

Carrot cake in general is typically paired with a creamy cream cheese frosting, so of course, we’re also pairing our vegan gluten free carrot cake bars with the same!

If you’ve never made a dairy free cream cheese frosting, not to worry- it’s actually just as easy and simple, in terms of ingredients, as making regular dairy cream cheese frosting. 

slices of carrot cake bars

Ingredients for healthy carrot cake bars

We discussed some of the main ingredients above, but let’s do more of a deep dive into the ingredients you need to make healthy carrot cake bars:

  • Oat flour: Again, if you don’t need gluten free carrot cake bars, you may also use all purpose flour in the same measurements.
  • Granulated sugar: Not all sugar in the U.S. is vegan. Make sure that you’re using organic granulated sugar and/or certified vegan sugar, such as Florida Crystals. If you’d like to make these carrot cake bars entirely refined sugar free, however, you may use coconut sugar for both the granulated and brown sugar (and it will naturally be vegan as well).
  • Brown sugar: Most carrot cakes use brown sugar for a richer flavor.
  • Spices: We’re using a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves to create the classic spice found in carrot cake!
  • Carrots: Grated carrots are essential to carrot cake. I highly recommend hand grating the carrots rather than purchasing shredded. The shredded carrots create too much texture in the cake.
  • Vegan butter: If you are not dairy free, you may use regular dairy butter. However, if you are vegan, I recommend using Miyoko’s (which is what I used here), Flora Plant Butter, or Earth Balance sticks.
  • Applesauce: You can also use dairy free yogurt instead, such as Forager Project. This is our egg replacement.
  • Cream cheese frosting: This is a combination of vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and powdered sugar (again, look for organic and certified vegan!).
carrot cake bar ingredients

How to make gluten free vegan carrot cake bars (overview)

For the full written instructions and ingredient measurements, see the bottom of this post in the recipe card. You can also hit the “jump to recipe” button at the top of this post! Here, we’ll go over a brief overview of the steps, along with providing visuals for a better understanding of the recipe.

To make these easy vegan carrot cake bars:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

    In a small bowl, make sure to whisk together the oat flour, spices, arrowroot starch, and leavening agents. Then set aside.

  2. Mix together the wet ingredients.

    In a large bowl, use a whisk to mix together the vegan butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Then add in the dairy free yogurt or applesauce, vanilla extract, carrots, and optional walnuts or raisins if desired. You can also use an electric mixer as well, if that’s easiest.how to make gluten free carrot cake bars

  3. Add in the dry ingredients.

    Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to create the carrot cake batter. how to make gluten free carrot cake bars

  4. Bake the carrot cake bars.

    Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared squared baking dish and bake until the toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bars to fully cool before frosting.how to make gluten free carrot cake bars

how to make gluten free carrot cake bars

How to make vegan cream cheese frosting:

If you’ve ever made a cream cheese frosting before, or even my favorite vegan buttercream recipe, then the process is very similar.

You’ll simply cream together the vegan butter and vegan cream cheese together, either in a medium bowl with a hand mixer or using a stand mixer. Then add in the powdered sugar, along with the vanilla extract and dairy free milk in increments, mixing in between until light and fluffy.

If you’d like to pipe little carrots onto the top of the carrot cake bars, as I did, simply set aside about 2/3 cups of frosting total for the coloring.

I used a vegan orange and vegan green liquid food coloring by Nomeca to create the carrots. However, I’ve also used a combination of turmeric and beet powder for the orange, and moringa powder for the green (caffeine free!). 

decorated carrot cake bars

Can I freeze carrot cake with cream cheese icing?

Yes, you actually can freeze the carrot cake bars with the cream cheese icing already on them! If you have any leftover vegan carrot cake bars, simply freeze the bars in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

To thaw without ruining the frosting, allow the carrot cake bars to sit on the counter at room temperature, covered and sealed still, for a few hours. 

Why is my carrot cake so flat?

The most common culprit of a flat vegan cake that didn’t bake is expired baking powder and soda. If you think it might be this, you can quickly check to see if your baking powder or soda is still active by trying this quick kitchen trick

Another reason why a gluten free vegan cake might not rise (and a traditional one too!) is using ingredients that aren’t fully room temperature. Too hot ingredients mixing with too cold will result in a gummy texture that will be very hard to rise in the oven.

vegan carrot cake bar

Can Carrot Cake Bars Be Made Into A Layered Cake?

Lucky for you, we actually already have an award-winning vegan carrot cake that’s absolutely amazing! You can even use oat flour to make the layered carrot cake entirely gluten free as well. It’s actually the cake these carrot cake bars were based off of!

bitten carrot cake bar

You’re just going to absolutely love this easy and absolutely delicious vegan carrot cake bar recipe! Absolutely no one will guess these carrot cake bars are gluten free either.

Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!

BEST Ever Vegan Carrot Cake Bars (Gluten Free!)

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

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BEST Ever Vegan Carrot Cake Bars (Gluten Free!)

Best Ever Vegan Carrot Cake Bars (Gluten Free)

  • Author: Britt Berlin
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 32
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 9
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These are the most moist, soft, and delicious secretly vegan carrot cake bars ever topped with the fluffiest cream cheese frosting! Naturally vegan, gluten free, and dairy free, these healthy carrot cake bars are the perfect Easter dessert or Mother’s Day brunch treat for all eaters!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Vegan Carrot Cake Bars

  • 1 cups (90 g) grated carrots, about 1 large carrot or 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 1 3/4 (220 g) cups oat flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) dairy free milk plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (130 g) brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) unsweetened applesauce or dairy free yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) salted vegan butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) vegan cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) vegan butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp dairy free milk

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease and line an 8″ square baking pan with cooking oil and parchment paper. Make sure the carrots are grated, and mix together the dairy free milk with the apple cider vinegar.
  2. Prep the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, and leavening agents. Set aside.
  3. Make the carrot cake batter: In a large bowl with a whisk, whisk together the vegan butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla extract, and carrots. Whisk until combined. Sift in the flour, leavening agents, and spices in about 3 increments, alternating between pouring in the vegan dairy free milk mixture as well. Whisk just until there are no more dry streaks. Be careful not to over mix.
  4. Bake: Pour the batter  into the cake pan, and spread the batter to touch the edges of the pan. Bake the carrot cake bars for about 28-32 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool: Allow the cake to cool in its pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer them to cooling rack to fully cool. Do not frost until the cake is cool to touch, and there is absolutely no heat coming from it. This will take about 30-40 minutes.
  6. Make the vegan cream cheese frosting: To prepare the frosting, cream together the vegan butter and cream cheese with a stand mixer or using a hand mixer and a large bowl. Sift in the powdered sugar in increments of 1 cup, beating the mixture between each cup until combined. Add in the vanilla extract, and 1-2 tbsp dairy free milk if needed to achieve a smooth texture.
  7. Assembly: Spread the frosting onto the top of the baked carrot cake bars, reserving about 1/3 cup of frosting each for the orange and green frosting (if you’d like to pipe the carrots on top of the carrot cake bars). For the carrots, I used a Wilton Decorating Tip 4 and a Wilton Open Star Decorating Tip 18.
  8. Slice and serve! Store any leftovers in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes

Not gluten free? Swap in all purpose flour for oat flour for an equal amount.

Keywords: carrot cake bars, vegan carrot cake bars, gluten free carrot cake bars, healthy carrot cake bars