Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Packed with dried fruit and coconut and frosted with the most luscious brown butter cream cheese frosting, this is the BEST EVER gluten free carrot cake!

whole gluten free carrot cake on stainless steel cake stand with green towel in the forefront.

Are you a carrot cake purist or do you like extra goodies added to your carrot cake? I’m in the extra goodies camp. Pack it full with plenty of dried fruit, nuts, or both. This gluten free carrot cake is loaded with a whopping pound of grated carrots and has a few unusual, but delicious, add-ins that make it better than all the rest.

I found this recipe a while ago on Zoe Bakes and made cupcakes with it, substituting the cream cheese frosting for Italian meringue buttercream. They’re nontraditional, but still as tasty as ever. You’ll find that version here if you’d prefer to make Italian meringue buttercream.

For those of you who aren’t in the extra goodies band, no worries. Just leave them out. The cake will still be soft, tender, and delicious and will satisfy all your carrot cake cravings.

why you should make this carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting

  • It’s dense, but super soft and luscious at the same time.
  • The blend of spices awaken your tastebuds.
  • It’s deeply moist and filled with bursts of dried fruit that add even more to the depth of flavor.
  • Carrot cake is perfect for make ahead as the flavor gets better with age and the cream cheese frosting seeps into the layers for extra yumminess.
slice of gluten free carrot cake on white plate with whole cake on cake stand in the background.

Gather all Your Ingredients

When I read Zoe’s recipe, I was so intrigued by the addition of not only dried cherries, but also apricots! How could it be that my two favorite dried fruits were in this ONE cake? I knew I just had to make this cake into a gluten free version and put my own spin on it. Here’s what you’ll need:

carrot cake ingredients measured and labeled in individual bowls.
  • Finely grated carrots — I use the small holes on my box grater to grate my carrots so they are more finely chopped.
  • Canola or vegetable oil — or any other neutral flavored oil.
  • Kim’s gluten free flour blend — I have not tested this recipe with anything other than my blend, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a store bought blend.
  • Orange zest
  • Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom — I really like the cardamom in this, but if you don’t have cardamom or don’t care for it, use cloves.
  • Sweetened shredded coconut — optional, but so good.
  • Chopped dried apricots and cherries — or any other dried fruit blend. Dried fruit is optional, but it offers such a wonderful texture and flavor to the cake that can’t be duplicated without it.
mixing the batter for carrot cake

My Frosting of Choice

Back when I made this cake into cupcakes, I chose to make Italian meringue buttercream. Which is a fabulous frosting. But I decided to not break tradition this time around and went for my new go-to brown butter cream cheese frosting. It’s luscious, smooth and not sickeningly sweet and the brown butter makes it extra special.

brown butter cream cheese frosting ingredients measured out and labeled.
  • Cream cheese — go for the full fat blocks here. No low fat or fat free. You won’t get the same results and the frosting will be too runny.
  • Brown butter — you can make this recipe with regular softened butter, but please, PLEASE try it with the brown butter at least once. You will never want it another way!
  • Powdered sugar — the sugar to cream cheese/butter ratio is so low in this recipe, which makes it a perfect foil for all the sweetness from the dried fruits in the cake.
dollop of frosting on top of cake layer

let’s make this gluten free carrot cake, shall we?

  1. Combine all wet ingredients and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
  2. Add dried fruits, carrots, and coconut and stir.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients.
  4. Pour batter evenly between three 8-inch round cake pans.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes, OR until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pans on wire rack for at least 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.
  7. Brown butter in saucepan or skillet. Cool until room temperature and spreadable.
  8. Beat brown butter with cream cheese until smooth.
  9. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium high until creamy.
  10. Fill and decorate cake as desired.
cutting out slice of gf carrot cake and holding it up on cake server.

Carrot Cake FAQs

Do I Have to Add the Fruit and Coconut?

You certainly don’t need to add any of the fruit or the coconut and this cake will be stellar. If not adding dried fruit or coconut, increase the shredded carrots by the same amount in weight.

I Don’t Like Apricots/Cherries/Coconut. Can I Substitute Them?

Don’t like apricots? Sub with dates. Don’t like cherries? Use raisins or dried cranberries. Not a coconut fan? Leave it out completely.

Is it necessary to brown the butter for the frosting?

The brown butter in this cream cheese frosting is what takes it to a level way above regular cream cheese frosting. It’s nutty and toasty and unlike any other cream cheese frosting, but you can use regular softened butter if you don’t want to brown the butter.

big thick slice of gf carrot cake on white plate with green tea towel and whole cake in the background.

If you’re a carrot cake lover like I am, you MUST make this best ever gluten free carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting. It will blow you away!!

slice of gluten free carrot cake on white plate with whole cake on cake stand in the background.

Best Ever Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Packed with carrots and dried cherries, this truly is the best ever gluten free carrot cake. It's frosted with the most luscious cream cheese frosting!
3.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 slices



  • 1 pound (454g) finely grated carrots (using the small holes of a box grater)
  • cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (225 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • cups (300 ml) canola or vegetable oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 2 cups (280 g) Kim's all purpose gluten free flour blend (a store bought blend may be substituted, but hasn't been tested)
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom, optional
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • cups (145 g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 6 oz (170g) ***chopped dried fruit (I used apricots and cherries)


  • 4 8-ounce blocks (907g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (226g) butter
  • 1 lb (454g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (optional)



  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by spraying with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment (or greasing and flouring). Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices). Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugars, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Add the carrots, dried fruits, and coconut and stir until well combined.
  • Gently fold in the dry ingredients.
  • Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and place cakes (in pans) on wire racks to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans to cool completely.


  • In a (preferably light-colored) skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Stir frequently until completely melted and bubbly and milk solids fall to the bottom. While constantly stirring, pay attention to the color of the milk solids. When they have completely browned, immediately remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl or container, making sure to scrape all the bits of brown, toasted solids from the bottom. Cool at room temperature (or refrigerate) until of a spreadable consistency.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer), beat the brown butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and continue beating until well combined and smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, a little at a time (I like to "pulse" the mixer on and off so the powdered sugar won't fly out of the bowl), vanilla, and orange juice (if using). Increase the speed to medium high and beata for 3-4 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy.
  • When ready to assemble the cake, place one cake round on a turntable or serving platter. Top with roughly one cup of frosting and smooth to edges. Add the second cake layer and top again with another cup of frosting, smoothing to the edges. Place the final cake layer on top. Add frosting on the top and sides and decorate as desired. (For carrots, tint ¼ cup frosting orange and ¼ cup green and place each in decorating bags fitted with small round writing tips {I use Wilton #3 or 4}. Pipe carrot in zigzag fashion coming to a point at the end. Pipe 3 short lines on top of each carrot for carrot tops).
  • Serve cake cold or at room temperature, but store cake in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cake can also be frozen whole or sliced (well wrapped in double layers of plastic or one layer of plastic and one layer of foil) for up to three months.


***To make cake without added fruit, substitute the same amount of fruit (6 oz or 170g) with an additional 6 oz (170g) finely grated carrots.
Keyword best ever, carrot cake, Gluten Free
Tried this recipe?Tag @letthemeatglutenfreecake on Instagram so we can see!

Adapted from Zoe Bakes’ Ultimate Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake was originally posted in April 2020 and has been updated with a new frosting recipe, new pictures, some new steps, and a video.

14 thoughts on “Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting”

  • Could this be made in a sheet cake pan? It’s easier to control serving size (for kids) that way. Of course, I realize it will be minus the “wow” factor, but I’m okay with that.

    • It might be able to be made into a sheet cake. I’ve never tried it, but I would bake and start checking early on because sheet cakes don’t bake too long.

  • Made this as a 3 layer wedding cake for my daughter. Not one person at the wedding knew it was gluten free except me and the bride. Everyone loved it!

  • Oh My, this looks absolutely divine! Could this be cooked in a bundt pan instead of separate layers? And if so, how would adjust the time?

    • I bet it would work fantastically, Alison! I’m thinking in a Bundt pan, it would need to be baked for at least 50 minutes and then begin checking it at that time.

  • Just finished baking and cooling . Tastes amazing, but was an absolute disaster trying to get out of the tins – they basically split into quarters. I KNEW I should have used parchment instead of greasing and flouring. Now I’ll be doing reconstructive surgery to try to get something that I can actually frost 🙁

  • Kim, we love all your recipes and not a single one has disappointed! Can you leave the coconut out? I want to make this for Easter but have some coconut haters!

  • Hi. I messed up making the all purpose flour. I mix in potatoe starch at 126 grams and arrowroot starch at 21 grams. Ugh. Is this flour totally messed up ??? Can’t believe I did that. Thank you

  • Oh my goodness!!!… This is the BEST carrot cake I have ever tasted!!!!… being gluten free is no longer a bummer!!.. woo hoo!.. thank you, thank you, thank you!!!… trying the coconut cake next!

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