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Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

November 1, 2022
Recipes - Dairy-Free - Dessert - Vegan Dessert
This dreamy dairy-free Carrot Cake + Chai Buttercream is fluffy and moist in all the right places. Bursting with fall-spiced flavor!

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

This Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream is the best + perfect rendition of traditional carrot cake with a dairy-free twist! Not only is it completely soft + fluffy, but it’s utterly delicious! Loaded with carrots and nutty pecan goodness making it rich and dense in flavor + layers of velvety chai-infused buttercream, a magical fall combo! Absolutely irresistible and family-friendly, everyone will be fighting over the last slice! Vegan + Nut-Free options.

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

I don't ever say the word 'Best' lightly. I honestly meant it when I say it! This is THE Best Dairy-Free Carrot Cake + Chai Buttercream it really is the bee's knees.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this cake. It's just SO GOOD, ya'll. I mean, the layer of flavors in just one bite will leave you absolutely obsessed, and even our cream-cheese lovers won't even be able to tell it's a dairy-free carrot cake. You know how it is here at Orchards + Sweet Tea we like to be inclusive of the whole family's dietary requirements without missing out on the flavor, and trust me, the entire family will LOVE this fall-inspired carrot cake recipe!

I’ve been loving chai spiced fall flavors lately (Haha, ok, I always love them), and if you're in the same boat and want to try more cozy, warming, spiced fall recipes, try my Apple Cider Cake + Cinnamon Maple Buttercream - Its another delicious cake flavor combo! Or if you're wanting something a little more bite-sized and love using pumpkin during this time of year as much as I do, try my Pumpkin Chai Spiced Cupcakes! 

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

Lover of Chai? These Are a Must Try!

Okay, I didn't plan on that rhyming but hey, why stop a good thing? Here are some of my most loved CHAI-infused recipes!

If you’ve been an avid reader of Orchids + Sweet Tea, then you’re aware of my fear of baking cakes. Granted, I do make them for special occasions, however, when it comes to making them for a blog (and professional and all), I am completely terrified that it won’t be perfect.

But this cake came out PERFECT. I can’t even stop raving about it. Haha.

Ingredients for Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

Here's what you need to make this Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream:

  • All-purpose flour. I use organic flour from Bob's Red Mill. You can also use cake flour.
  • Carrot. Simply peel + grate a medium-sized carrot.
  • Baking powder to help the scones rise in the oven.
  • Cane sugar. You can ensure that this is vegan-friendly by it being certified organic.
  • Eggs. These act as a binder. You need them to be at room temp.
  • Ground spices. In this recipe, I use cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground ginger.
  • Brown sugar. This adds nice color and caramelization to the flavor of the cake.
  • Vegan Butter. If you aren't restricted to a specific diet, you can sub with unsalted butter.
  • Vanilla extract. This complements the flavors.
  • Dairy-free Buttermilk. You can use regular (if you're not restricted to a vegan diet)! This includes your fave plant-based milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  • Powdered sugar. If you use granulated sugar, your glaze might have a gritty texture.
  • Chai spices. The buttercream is all about the spice blend, which includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper.
  • Almond milk. Choose unsweetened. Feel free to use a different plant-based milk if you like. I recommend making easy homemade almond milk (my recipe doesn’t require soaking!)

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

SO, WHAT’S MY SECRET TO THIS SOFT, MOIST CAKE?

The butter (or oil) + use of cake flour. This combo of ingredients definitely creates a beautifully soft, fluffy, + moist bite of any cake, including this dairy-free carrot cake.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE MOST ABOUT THIS DAIRY-FREE CAKE?

  • It’s super fluffy and moist
  • Sweet but not too sweet
  • Totally dairy-free
  • Versatile
  • Loaded with cozy fall spices
  • Delicious and comforting in every bite.
  • Melt in your mouth goodness!
  • Can be made as a traditional 2-layer cakesheet cake, or cupcakes. Your choice!

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

HOMEMADE CHAI SPICE BLEND

While you can purchase chai spice blends, it’s definitely a blend that is easy to find, but also easy to make. Your dairy-free Carrot Cake will taste amazing, whichever you use.

If you do plan on making your own spice blend, you will need:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground ginger
  • Allspice
  • Ground cardamom
  • Ground cloves
  • Black pepper

HOW LONG WILL THIS CARROT CAKE LAST FOR?

Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.

WHY ARE THE INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

When it comes to ingredients, especially in baking, it’s always best to have cold ingredients at room temperature to ensure that the mixing process is more seamless and even. Please note that microwaving your butter last minute if you forget to leave it out at room temperature isn’t recommended. Microwaving often changes the consistency of the butter which doesn’t create a nice ‘creaminess’ when mixed.

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

CAN I MAKE THIS GLUTEN-FREE?

Yes absolutely. This dairy-free carrot cake can be altered to suit the whole family's dietary needs! To make this cake GF, I recommend using a GF Flour Blend (Bob’s Red Mills has a great version!). FYI If the batter mixture is too ‘thin + runny’, simply add additional GF flour, ¼ cup at a time.

CAN THIS CAKE BE MADE AHEAD OR FROZEN FOR LONGER?

Absolutely! You can always bake this cake the night or day before and let it cool, tightly wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. The frosting/buttercream can also be made prior and tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge as well. When ready to serve, let cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, frost, and enjoy!

To store frozen (frosted or unfrosted), simply tightly wrap and cover cake and freeze for up to 2-3 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature.

CAN THIS CAKE BE MADE INTO A 2-LAYER OR CUPCAKES?

Absolutely! You can always divide the batter into two 8-inch cake pans for a nice double-layer cake or into cupcake pans. The bake time will be a little less, therefore, keeping your eyes on them is super important. Also, with the cupcakes, you can use the frosting as a filling inside the cupcakes and top with the remaining chai cream cheese frosting to get double the ‘indulging experience’. Once cupcakes are baked, simply create a hole in the centers, fill them with the frosting and frost them per usual.

CAN I MAKE THIS NUT-FREE?

Yes, as long as you sub-out the pecans and use nut-free plant-based milk, this cake is very allergy-friendly! Many seeds have a crunchiness that is reminiscent of pecans with a similar earthy flavor as well.

NUT FREE ALTERNATIVES

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Hemp seeds

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

CAN I USE ANOTHER PLANT-BASED MILK FOR THIS CARROT CAKE? 

Yes, you can use any dairy-free milk you like to make this Carrot Cake + Chai Buttercream. Here are some easy recipes to make your own milk that is cheaper and so easy to whip up!

Tips & Tricks For The PERFECT Cake!

TIP #1: Have the right tools. As a basic—-you should have a cake stand (preferably one that has a turnstile table), spatulas (big + small), piping bags + tips, correct baking pans and parchment paper, and if you need to get a bit more fancy—Bake Even Cake Strips (Wilton has some awesome quality ones!), which are such a genius invention.

Have no clue what these are? Whelp, you basically soak them in water before wrapping them around your cake pan while baking. These stripes ensures that your cakes don’t bake with a funny “dome” or anything. Just flat and even.

Of course, if you don’t have these strips, you can simply butter your pan and use liners along with an old trick that I’ve always done when baking—–add a small pot of water to the oven to keep things moist. Yup. It works EVERY. TIME.

TIP #2: One of the essential ingredient combos for a light, silky cake texture is baking soda and acid ingredient (usually vinegar or buttermilk if the cake calls for it). When acid and baking soda reacts, it creates bubbles and helps to create a nice rise for your baked goods, leaving an airy texture.

In the case of vegan cakes, this is usually done by adding apple cider vinegar to your milk and letting it sit for a few minutes and then later combining it with the dry ingredients (which includes baking soda). Wallah!

TIP #3: One of my latest tricks to a perfect cake has been to ensure that ALL of my dry ingredients are sifted. Trust me, ya’ll—-this works!

Making all the dry ingredients fully sifted makes things airy, as you’ve guessed it and allows everything to combine faster.

TIP #4: Never Over-mix! When creating a cake, it’s so important to add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately and as soon as everything is combined very well, THAT’S IT!

Over-mixing creates a more dense cake.

LOOKING FOR A HEALTHIER SWEETENER OPTION?

The Best Healthy Sugar Alternatives + Substitutes list is all about finding better ways to enjoy your favorite sweets without compromising your healthy lifestyle. For those who follow a vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyle, this lists offers a few great ideas to incorporate healthy sweeteners into your diet.

Warming Fall-Inspired Recipes To Try!

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you make this Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream, tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Chai Buttercream

5 from 1 vote
This dreamy dairy-free Carrot Cake + Chai Buttercream is fluffy and moist in all the right places. Bursting with fall-spiced flavor!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • 4 cups organic all-purpose flour (See Notes!)
  • 2 ½ cups freshly-grated carrots (That's about 4-5 medium carrots)
  • 2 ½ tsps baking powder
  • 1 ¼ cup organic brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar 
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large organic eggs, at room temp.
  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened at room temp. (See Notes!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Dairy-free 'Buttermilk" (1 cup Almond milk + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)

CHAI BUTTERCREAM:

  • 5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon chai spice blend, homemade or store-bought (See Post for Ingredients)
  • 2-3 Tbsps Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk)

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Your fave chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CARROT CAKE:

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of TWO 8-inch cake pans (for thicker layers) or THREE 6-inch cake pans.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk".
  • In a large bowl, whisk together both the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt until combined.
  • In a bowl, add the butter and both sugars, beating them together using a hand-mixer (on high-speed), until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs (one at a time) followed by the vanilla and grated carrots, mixing until combined. On low-speed, add in the dry ingredients followed by the 'buttermilk' and continue to mix until combined and the batter is smooth, about 3-4 minutes. NOTE: The batter should be thick, yet slowly run off the whisk once lifted.
  • Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.

TO MAKE THE CHAI BUTTERCREAM:

  • Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, chai spice blend, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).

ASSEMBLY:

  • Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with buttercream. Now, top with 2nd layer and add more buttercream atop that layer, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: If making a 3-layer, be sure to repeat step 1 of assembly once again before getting to the final layer.
  • Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure that buttercream sets. Top with chopped nuts and/or cinnamon sticks, if desired. NOTE: For a fancy moment or occasion, add florals or greenery atop cake for a Fall vibe!
  • When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
  • FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture. 
  • CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES: This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean.
  • BUTTERMILK: For a dairy-free 'buttermilk', use 1 cup Almond milk + 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make this cake entirely dairy-free + vegan, simply omit the eggs and replace with 3 'flax eggs' (3 Tbsps flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsps water). 

Nutrition

Calories: 858kcal | Carbohydrates: 179g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 735mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 6871IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 4mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Best Dairy-Free Carrot Cake + Chai Buttercream.

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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