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Amazing 1-Bowl Carrot Cake Loaf Recipe

carrot cake loaf

This carrot cake loaf has quickly become a new favorite in our house. While this is definitely still a cake and meant to be a dessert, my 1-bowl healthier carrot cake that is made from a highly nutritious vegetable (such as a carrot) may likely top the list.

Like zucchini bread, carrot cake (or a carrot cake loaf) isn’t necessarily considered a healthy food. However, it certainly offers a lot more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than your average pound cake or cheesecake.

If you’re looking for a healthy cheesecake, check out my No-Bake Raw Vegan Raspberry “Cheesecake”.

How do you make the best carrot cake from scratch? To make the best carrot cake, you must use the freshest ingredients possible and make sure not to overcook it, so it turns out nice and moist. Since our carrots are the star here, be sure to buy fresh carrots and grate them yourself instead of buying pre-shredded carrots. The pre-shredded variety will give you a dry, unappealing carrot cake.  You’ll also want to make your own decadent cream cheese frosting rather than using pre-made frosting.

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing quite like a perfectly balanced cream cheese frosting made at home—and there’s certainly no better topping for this carrot loaf. It’s an infamous combination for a good reason.

Is Carrot Cake Loaf technically bread or cake?

Technically, my carrot cake loaf is both. You can say it’s carrot bread because you’re cooking it in a loaf pan, but when you taste it, it’s definitely a carrot cake through and through.

This recipe is like making a loaf of carrot cake, especially if you include the cream cheese frosting.

If you want to make it more on the bread side, make a carrot cake loaf by leaving off the cream cheese frosting.

carrot cake loaf

Why This Carrot Cake Loaf is the Best

This 1-bowl carrot cake loaf ——is the best because it’s:

  • Extremely flavorful and moist (no dry carrot cake here!)
  • Delicious with or without the cream cheese frosting (and the frosting can be made vegan if you prefer)
  • Sweetened with maple syrup rather than conventional sugar
  • Customizable—leave out the nuts, use different nuts (like chopped pecans), add in raisins, use less or more maple syrup… it’s totally up to you!
  • You can use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour (just make sure it’s an equal exchange flour substitution)
  • Quick and easy to make

carrot cake loaf

How to Make 1-Bowl Carrot Cake Loaf

Set out two mixing bowls before you get started: one large bowl for the wet ingredients and a medium bowl for the dry ingredients.

Once you have the wet ingredients mixed together, you’ll add the dry ingredients. The last step will be to fold in the carrots and nuts.

Can you use store-bought shredded carrots for carrot cake? I don’t recommend using store-bought carrots because pre-shredded carrots are often dried out and hard. Doesn’t sound ideal, right?

Using freshly shredded carrots in this carrot cake loaf recipe, you get the most amount of carrot flavor, the best moisture level, and the most ideal consistency.

Is carrot cake better with oil or butter? Carrot cake is typically made with oil rather than butter. If you don’t have any oil on hand, melted unsalted butter can be substituted for vegetable oil. I used olive oil, and it turned out perfectly in terms of moisture, density, and flavor.

How fine do you grate carrots for cake? Carrots for this cake should be shredded on the finer side, so they are well distributed throughout the loaf or cake.

Like my banana bread, this carrot bread recipe is perfect for brunch… or Easter… or any time of day or year! You can also use the batter to make frosted carrot cake cupcakes.

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can use 2 teaspoons total of a combination of cinnamon/cardamom/ginger. You can also use just cinnamon if that’s all you have.

Is your carrot cake too dense? To avoid a carrot cake or carrot cake loaf that is too dense, you mustn’t overmix the batter. Whisking the batter for too long can increase the likelihood of a cake or loaf that is too dense.  

I don’t believe in feeling guilty when having treats like this, but don’t forget that this carrot cake recipe is somewhat healthy. Each slice of this carrot cake loaf comes with a little boost of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, thanks to its star ingredient (the carrot). 

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carrot cake loaf

1-Bowl Carrot Cake Loaf [Frosting Optional]

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 65
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12 Pieces 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: America

Description

This recipe is a hit in my house because it is both delicious AND healthy! Double win. This carrot loaf can be eaten by itself or topped with my favorite frosting.


Scale

Ingredients

For my 1-Bowl Carrot Cake Loaf

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup healthy oil (I used extra virgin olive oil; avocado oil or grapeseed oil also work), plus a little more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice* (see additional notes for substitution, if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt

Dry Ingredients: 

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredients to fold in:

  • 1 ½ packed cups freshly grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots; grate fresh, don’t buy pre-shredded)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup chopped raisins (using both makes the loaf too heavy, use one of these or omit them both)

For the frosting:

[To make one loaf]

  • 1/4 cup butter (or vegan butter) at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (or plain vegan cream cheese) at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
  • About 1/2 cup powdered sugar (AKA confectioners’ sugar)

Instructions

For the carrot cake loaf:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan with a healthy cooking spray or oil (such as coconut oil) and parchment paper fit to the middle with overhang on both sides.
  3. Shred the carrots on a box grater and set them aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth, which should take about 90 seconds (or whisk if you don’t have a hand mixer). You want it smooth, but don’t whip too much air into the egg whites.
  5. Add the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients. 
  6. Mix on low until the flour mixture is incorporated but not overly mixed. Scrape the flour off the sides of the bowl if needed. Mixing should take about 60 seconds on low.
  7. Fold in the carrots and nuts with a rubber spatula. The batter will be thick.
  8. Pour the mixture into the 9×5 inch loaf pan. 
  9. Firmly tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. 
  10. Baking time is about 55-65 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. If you did not add any walnuts or raisins, it will take 50-55 minutes, if you use the add-ins it can take up to 65 or 70 minutes. All ovens are different, you’ll know it’s done when the toothpick comes out the center clean.
  11. Store in an airtight container once cooled. 

For the frosting:

  1. Combine equal parts vegan butter (I used Earth Balance) and cream cheese (vegan or not) with vanilla and milk (or almond milk).
  2. Beat on medium-high with a hand mixer until very smooth, and the vanilla is incorporated. 
  3. Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired sweetness is achieved. The frosting will be thick, which allows it to set on top of the cake. If it seems too thick, add milk (or unsweetened almond milk), ½ tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. 

Additional note:

The butter and cream cheese must be at room temperature. I leave them out the night before, or early in the morning, at least 4-5 hours. 


Notes

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can use 2 teaspoons total of a combination of cinnamon/cardamom/ginger. You can also use just cinnamon if that’s all you have.

Is your carrot cake too dense? To avoid a carrot cake or carrot cake loaf that is too dense, you mustn’t overmix the batter. Whisking the batter for too long can increase the likelihood of a cake or loaf that is too dense.  

I don’t believe in feeling guilty when having treats like this, but don’t forget that this carrot cake recipe is somewhat healthy. Each slice of this carrot cake loaf comes with a little boost of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, thanks to its star ingredient (the carrot). 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 330 [with frosting]

carrot cake loaf

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  1. Elayne Benjamin says:

    The first instruction for ‘one bowl carrot cake’
    Is take two bowls……..

  2. Sarah says:

    This looks delish. Any suggestions for making it gluten free? I really want to give it a try.

  3. Elle says:

    This is delicious. It’s moist and full of flavor. I didn’t use frosting and I used 3/4 cup of maple syrup instead of one cup. Everything else I used and did as the recipe was written. I’ll make it often. Thank you Miss Elizebeth 😋

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