Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cupcakes

October 11, 2012

These gluten-free vegan carrot cupcakes are from Erin McKenna.

When Erin McKenna opened her first bakery in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side in 2005, “it helped propel the gluten-free and vegan baking movement into a new stratosphere.” Erin then received the prestigious “Best Cupcake” Award in 2006 from New York Magazine. Since then, Erin and Babycakes have been featured in hundreds of the world’s biggest publications including the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Food & Wine, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Lucky, and InStyle. McKenna has also appeared on all of the top TV Shows such as Today, Good Morning America, Cooking Channel, Food Network, and Martha Stewart Television. In 2011, Veg News Magazine named BabyCakes as Best Vegan Bakery, and Company Of The Year! So, I couldn’t host a gluten free vegan celebration without including Erin and her incredible Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Muffins with Vanilla Frosting. Trust me, her allergy-friendly, whole foods creations are to die for!

After discovering she suffered from wheat, dairy, and sugar sensitivities, Erin spent years experimenting with gluten free flours, dairy free milks, and alternative sweeteners to perfect the recipes that we now enjoy. The success of her bakery with it’s quirky, hip, retro branding was so huge with a loyal and far-reaching clientele, that she published her first cookbook, Babycakes in 2009 sharing her trade secrets.

This gorgeous book really is a step-by-step lesson in gluten free vegan baking. Erin shares detailed information about the ingredients she uses such as: coconut flour, coconut oil, agave nectar, dry soy milk, and arrowroot. She also offers her recommendations on “must have” kitchen equipment; as well as allergy-friendly substitution tips and tricks she has learnt along the way. I love how she encourages every baker to “replace any nervousness with courage” reminding readers that, “mistakes only make successes all the more delicious.” Amen! I love all of the entertaining anecdotes too.

But the recipes are the star of this book! Every page offers a wave of pleasure. Decadent Pumpkin-Spice Muffins meet Strawberry Shortcakes, and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. The Banana Chocolate Chip Bread is a standout; as are the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches. Her Brownies and Volcanos are also coveted. But I had to feature these Carrot Cake Cupcakes that are my favorite recipe in the book. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to celebrate Erin’s famous vanilla frosting!

I am not even a huge fan of frosting, but I have contemplated “death by BabyCakes frost shot” along with many others I am sure. This recipe produces a thick creamy frosting that is rich and versatile. You can top cakes, or use it as a whipped topping for other desserts. You can also leave at a room temperature for a delicious sauce that goes on everything! Or you can just do what hundreds of others do every week — cut the cake out altogether and squeeze a shot right into your gob! LOL!

You should also check out Erin’s second book, Babycakes Covers the Classics where there is an entire section devoted to her show-stopping Donuts which Mark Bittman has gushed, “Vegan or not, gluten-free or not, Erin McKenna’s donuts are the best I’ve had in twenty years, without exception.” High praise indeed. Erin also shares her incredible allergy-free spin on favorites such as Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Thin Mints, German Chocolate Cake, S’Mores, Whoopie Pies, Snickerdoodles, Pancakes and Waffles. All delivered with the original BabyCakes charm and humor.

If you are not inclined to bake and don’t live near any of the BabyCakes locations, you can order online and check out the blog. You can also buy pre-packaged cake and cookie mixes in their online store.


Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cupcakes

These gluten-free vegan carrot cupcakes from Erin McKenna of Babycakes NYC rock!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 24 cupcakes
Author Tess Masters


vanilla frosting:



  1. To make the frosting, combine the soy milk, soy powder, coconut flour, maple syrup, and vanilla in your blender.
  2. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes.
  3. With the machine running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated.
  4. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or for up to 1 month.
  5. If you are using this mixture as a sauce, store the mixture at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  6. To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 325 F.
  7. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  8. In your food processor, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  9. Add in the oil, agave nectar, rice milk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients just until a thick batter forms.
  10. Slowly add the hot water and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
  11. Using a plastic spatula, gently fold in the carrots just until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  12. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.
  13. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 25 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 14 minutes. The finished cupcakes will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the centre will come out clean.
  14. Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. 
  15. Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon of vanilla frosting over each cupcake.
  16. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

Recipe from Babycakes by Erin McKenna, copyright © 2009. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photo by Trent Lanz; styling by Alicia Buszczak


Comments 18

  1. YUMMO! This looks SO delectable!! I don’t know if you’ve heard of Forks Over Knives but I made the raw vegan carrot cake from that book and it is absolutely delicious! But I think I will make your recipe for my cousins wedding reception next weekend. I’ll let you know how that goes. Thanks again for your wonderful recipes, all of them that i’ve made are absolutely delicious!

    1. Thankyou for your lovely words Aubrey! I LOVE Forks Over Knives, and YES, their reicpe is DELICIOUS! This one is really good too. I am so glad you are enjoying the recipes. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  2. As a Life Coach and Raw foodie I really appreciate getting these recipes as I get to share your site with some of my Clients who are changing to a healthy lifestyle. I also get to substitute some ingredients and prepare some wonderful meals for myself and son. But can I use nut flour instead of the Bob Red’s vegan flour as in the cupcake recipe?

    Namaste, Roxanne

    1. Thankyou for your lovely comment. I really appreciate it. As for substituting the flour, I am pretty sure you could use another proprietary gluten free flour blend like Kind Arthur or another. However, I do know that all of BabyCakes recipes are tested using only Bob’s Red Mill. So you might get a slightly different texture etc. But that happens with different ovens, altitudes etc anyway. Just make sure it is a blend of starchy and fibrous GF flours. That always yields the best results with Gluten Free baking. ENJOY 🙂

  3. We are a gluten free household and these cupcakes were very popular when we made them for a party on the weekend. I purchased this book a while back, even though there were some negative comments about the recipes not turning out. I have made two recipes so far, including this one, and they both turned out really well. I look forward to visiting the bakery one day when I get to New York.

    1. Wonderful. I am so glad these were a hit. Yes, I agree. I also read the reviews on Amazon, and all of the recipes have turned out for me as well. The bakery in NYC is SO cute. They also have locations in L.A and Orlando if that helps 🙂

  4. I have made these and they are DIVINE! Didn’t have the BRM flour, so I used my Jen’s Blend (shameless plug for Be Free Bakers), and they turned out BEAUTIFULLY! Took them to a Super Bowl party and all 50 mini cupcakes were GONE. Now I own her cookbook. SWEET!

    Seriously, I keep trying so many of these recipes you’ve posted, Tess, and am just THRILLED that every single one turns out so very well. Sometimes I tweak them here and there, depending on the ingredients in the house, but they’re always delicious. Keep them coming! The world needs you.

    1. Oh, you are SO sweet. I am so glad that you are enjoying all of the recipes. I really test every recipe several times before I post to make sure they will turn out for everybody. I am happy that they do. Yes, Erin’s book is AMAZING, and your fabulous flour blend would be great for her recipes! xxx

  5. I love baby cakes..I kind of forgot about the place until I saw this post 🙂 Haven’t been there since I first moved to NYC in 08..will be saving this!

  6. Hi,
    I’m using this recipe for my Home Ec assignment and I wans wondering if you had the nutritional value of the cupcakes without the icing? Or just for per serve?

    1. So sorry I missed this comment until now. I’m sure your assignment is done now. I apologize. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nutritional profile for this recipe. You can plug it into Nutrition Data, Cronometer, or others.

  7. These looks delicious, can’t wait to try making them! I’m wondering if there is any substitute for the dry soy milk in the frosting. We don’t do soy, and nobody carries dry non-dairy milk of any other kind in the store. Could I just add more coconut flour to make up for it? Or left over nut pulp from homemade almond milk? Need to make these tomorrow for my daughter’s birthday party on Sunday. Thanks!

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