Classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a timeless favourite. Most recipes feature pecans or walnuts, but I sub them for toasted seeds. My nut-free carrot cake with sunflower and pumpkin seeds is as good as the original and suits people with a nut allergy as a bonus. Toasted seeds give the same crunch and flavour as nuts. Plus, you can use some to decorate the cake, too!
I’ve been loving carrot cake since I came to Sweden as a student. The library café at the university had carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting that were so epic I still remember them today. One thing I learned when I first arrived in Sweden was how highly conscious most eateries are when it comes to food allergies. There is always something that is gluten- or dairy-free, and often nut-free, too!
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food allergies, so if you have a large party to cater to it’s useful to have a couple of allergy-friendly recipes up your sleeve. This nut-free carrot cake is one of my favourites. Honestly, you don’t miss the walnuts one bit.
Nut-free carrot cake ingredients
This nut-free carrot cake features most of the ingredients found in classic carrot cake, minus the nuts. For detailed quantities, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This recipe is for the cake only, for the frosting head over to my zesty cream cheese frosting.
Step by step instructions
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Spread out the seeds over an oven-safe dish and when the oven has reached temperature place it in. Toast the seeds for about 4-5 minutes, tossing them halfway. If your oven is fan-forced or particularly good, you may want to keep them a minute less or they may burn too quickly. Take out and let cool.
- Peel and grate the carrots. Set aside. When the seeds have cooled, crush and set aside.
- Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and frothy. Keep mixing at medium speed and gradually add the sugar, this will make the mixture thicken. Add the vanilla, then pour in the oil in one slow stream. When incorporated stop the mixer.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt (the dry ingredients).
- Add half of dry ingredients mix to egg mixture and mix at slow speed. Once incorporated, add the second half and mix in.
- Lastly, fold in the grated carrots and ground seeds. Pour batter in a springform cake pan lined with baking paper and bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Let the carrot cake cool completely before adding any frosting. Carrots give this cake some wonderful natural moisture, and the use of oil makes this cake incredibly light and fluffy. You can enjoy it as it is, maybe just top it with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Unfrosted, this cake is excellent breakfast material, as it’s not too sweet. I just cannot label a proper cake made with sugar as “healthy”, but this nut-free carrot cake is, after all, a supply of carrots and healthy nuts. By skipping the frosting you are avoiding the extra sugar and dairy fat that comes with it.
However, a cream cheese frosting is the classic finish on carrot cake, and as you can see in these pictures I just couldn’t not have it on my cake. My frosting of choice is made with a combination of cream cheese and whipping cream and is flavoured with freshly zested lemon. My cream cheese frosting recipe yields just enough to top this nut-free carrot cake with a nice and thick layer of frosting.
How to store
In order to keep the cake from drying out, always store it in an airtight container or wrapped with cling film. Unfrosted, this cake can stay at room temperature for a couple of days. After that time, it is advised to store it in the fridge, as the moisture from the carrots may make it go mouldy.
If you are topping your carrot cake with frosting, you need to store it in the fridge from day 1. In either case, make sure to consume your cake within 5 days. The addition of extra seeds (either toasted or not) over the frosting is a nice decorative element that adds a touch of colour and visual texture to the white topping.
You may also like
Here are some more cakes for your baking inspiration:
- Italian Almond and Carrot Cake
- Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake
- Polish Apple and Cocoa Cake
- Austrian Chocolate Cake
- Spiced Pear Crisp with Ginger and Cardamom
- Small Tiramisu Cake
If you enjoyed this nut-free carrot cake recipe, leave a comment below. If you’re planning to make this recipe at a later time you can pin it to Pinterest. Please subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Pinterest. Until next time!
This post was first published in September 2015 and has been updated with new pictures, improved recipe, better wording and a recipe cardin August 2021.
Nut-free Carrot Cake with Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
- 350 g carrots
- 35 g pumpkin seeds
- 35 g sunflower seeds
- 4 eggs
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 250 ml vegetable oil
- 260 g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 batch cream cheese frosting frosting recipe link
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place mixed seeds over an oven-safe dish spreading them out well. When the oven has reached temperature toast the seeds for about 4-5 minutes, tossing them halfway. If your oven is fan-forced or particularly good, you may want to keep them a minute less or they may burn too quickly. Take out and let cool. When the seeds have cooled, crush and set aside.
- Peel and grate the carrots and set aside. If you are using a food processor, you may consider to first crush the seeds, set aside, then grate the carrots.
- Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and frothy. Mixing at medium speed gradually add the sugar (this will make the mixture thicken) and the vanilla, then pour in the oil in one slow stream. When incorporated stop the mixer.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt (the dry ingredients). Add half of dry ingredients mix to egg mixture and mix at slow speed. Once incorporated, add the second half and mix in, then set mixer aside.
- Fold in the grated carrots and ground seeds. Pour batter in a springform pan lined with baking paper and bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before adding the frosting. Here's a cream cheese frosting recipe that yields just enough to top this cake with a nice and thick layer.