Gluten free carrot cake cookies are the perfect healthy snack or dessert! You could even make these for breakfast!
These vegan carrot cake cookies with cashew frosting are everything you love about carrot cake but in cookie form!
Made with shredded carrots, oats, chopped pecans and warm spices, these soft, chewy and thick vegan carrot cookies are filling enough for breakfast but sweet enough for an afternoon snack or dessert. Top them with this simple 3 ingredient cashew frosting to take them to the next level!
Why you will love this recipe
- If you are anything like me, you LOVE carrot cake (it’s my go-to birthday cake) but I don’t always want to go through the work of baking a cake and waiting for it to cool to frost it. Plus, what do you do with all those leftovers? The perfect solution is cookies! These healthy carrot cake cookies are so easy to make and any leftovers you have freeze really well too!
- Made with healthy ingredients, you can feel good about eating these for breakfast, as a snack (they are great with coffee or tea) or as a yummy dessert! You could even mix them in dairy free ice cream or yogurt for an extra decadent treat!
- The 3 ingredient cashew frosting is so simple to make and it’s perfectly creamy and luscious! You can make this in just 5 minutes time and it’s perfect on top of these cookies or on top of any recipe where you would normally use cream cheese frosting. It’s thick, sweet (but not too sweet) and so creamy!
- These vegan carrot cake cookies are gluten free, dairy free and egg free! Omit the pecans and they are also nut free! They are great for parties or to send as gifts as well!
- Ground flax +Water: This creates a flax egg which replaces the eggs in a traditional recipe.
- Applesauce (unsweetened): this adds moisture to the dish and adds a touch of sweetness. You could also use mashed banana but I like the applesauce because it’s more of a neutral flavor that doesn’t compete with the carrot cake.
- Maple syrup: I like to use maple syrup to sweeten these cookies. They are not too sweet though. You could also use date syrup or honey (not vegan) in place of the maple syrup for sweetness.
- Gluten free flour: I use cassava (it’s what I keep on hand) but you could use any 1:1 gluten free flour. I do not recommend oat flour because the cookies get a little “cakey” but if you like a cakey cookie, it could work. I have not tested this with almond flour and do not recommend coconut flour (as it will absorb too much liquid).
- Rolled oats (gluten free): you want old fashioned or rolled oats. The oats add fiber and texture and help bind everything together.
- Spice: Ground cinnamon, ground ginger: I am a firm believe in the more spice the better when it comes to carrot cake. If you don’t love ginger or cinnamon in your carrot cake, you can reduce or omit them.
- Baking powder: this helps the cookies to rise when baking. If you don’t have it on hand, you can omit and they will still turn out great.
- Tahini: I use this to add healthy fats to the cookies, without a fat, the cookies are bland and don’t have a great texture. You could also use sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter or peanut butter (may change the taste).
- Grated carrots: I like to use the food processor with the grater attachment to make this a quick process. You could also use a hand grater or place store bought shredded carrots in the food processor to break them down more (or use a sharp knife to break them up).
- Chopped pecans: I love the combination of carrots + warm spices and pecans in cookies. You could also use walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or omit the nuts completely.
How to make gluten free carrot cake cookies
- Grate the carrots and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Combine the ground flax, water, applesauce and maple syrup in a bowl.
- Add the gluten free flour, rolled oats, spices and baking powder to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Stir well.
- Add the tahini to the bowl and stir well to incorporate.
- Add the grated carrots and pecans. Stir well to fully incorporate the carrots into the batter.
- Add parchment paper to a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil or avocado oil spray.
- Use a spoon, spoon out even 2 tablespoon portions of batter onto the parchment paper. This will make 12 cookies.
- Use your fingers (it’s best if they are wet) to shape the cookies. This may mean that you need to press them into circles or press them down with your hands. They do not rise much in the oven so be sure you like the shape before baking.
- Bake in the oven at 350F for 14 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before enjoying. They will be soft right out of the oven.
How to make cashew frosting
- Raw cashews: I like raw cashews because they get super soft when soaking, which creates a very smooth frosting.
- Water: this helps to thin out the frosting.
- Maple syrup: I like to sweeten the frosting with maple syrup. It adds sweetness without overpowering the flavor. You could also use 1-2 dates (pitted), date syrup or honey in place of the maple syrup.
Step by step instructions
- Start by soaking the cashews. I like to add boiling water and let the cashews sit in boiling hot water for 5-10 minutes. You could also cook them in the microwave, on the stove or let the cashews sit in room temperature water for about 8 hours. See tips below.
- Drain the liquid from the cashews and discard the liquid from soaking.
- Add the cashews, ¼ cup clean water and maple syrup to high speed blender. Blend on high 1 minute. You may need to blend up to 2-3 minutes depending on your blender. I use a bullet blender and find that it’s powerful enough for just 1 minute.
- Once the frosting is smooth, carefully spoon it into a plastic bag or piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag.
Note you want to cut a little bigger hole in the tip for this, as the cashew frosting may not be 100% smooth and can get stuck if the hole is too small (trust me).
- Use the plastic bag to squeeze out the frosting over the cookies, drizzling it back and forth. Alternatively you could just slather it on the top of the cookies if you like a more rustic look.
- Enjoy now or store on the counter a few hours or in the fridge up to 5 days.
Recommended kitchen tools
- Make Ahead: Once these carrot cake cookies have been frosted, they are tough to store in the fridge. The frosting will not ever “set” while in the fridge, meaning it stays wet and sticky.
If you are making these ahead of time for a party or get together where you want them to look great, make the cookies and frosting ahead and keep them separated until right before serving.
- Freezing: These cookies are so yummy and perfectly sweet, you may want to make a double batch! They freeze really well too so you can make a double or triple batch and freeze the extras.
You can freeze them with the frosting, but you will want to freeze them solid on a baking sheet first before stacking them. Just be sure to separate the carrot cookies before defrosting or the frosting will get all over the other cookies.
- Pre-Shredded Carrots: If you want to use store bought shredded carrots I find that they are a bit too large to add directly to the cookies but are a very convenient option.
To make them work for the cookies, you will want to chop them down using a knife or pulse them in the food processor to break down. I typically use the mini food processor attachment to my immersion blender for small tasks like this.
- Frosting: If you don’t want to make your own cashew frosting, you can also combine maple syrup with coconut butter and melt it in the microwave together for 20 seconds to combine.
Once melted, drizzle over cookies and put them in the fridge for a few minutes to set up (the coconut will begin to harden in the fridge). After it’s set, you can store them at room temperature for a few hours or in the fridge 5 days.
Oatmeal carrot cake cookies common questions
Other add-in ingredients
I wanted to keep this recipe pretty simple so I only added the ingredients that I always have on hand. But you can make these cookies your own! You can add your favorite carrot cake mix ins! Some great options include:
- Raisins or dried cranberries
- Crushed pineapple (be sure to drain off as much of the liquid as possible)
- Toasted or dried coconut flakes
- Other spices like nutmeg or cardamom
Ways to serve these oatmeal carrot cake cookies
These oatmeal carrot cake cookies are amazing on their own, especially with the cashew frosting. You could also use these cookies to take your breakfast or dessert to the next level.
Here are some fun ideas:
- Crumble the cookies up into yogurt for a carrot cake parfait.
- Crumble the cookies into vanilla ice cream for carrot cake ice cream.
- Use extra frosting and top one cookie with frosting. Add a second cookie (top side down) and make a carrot cake cookie sandwich.
- Make carrot cake ice cream cookies by layering ice cream between two cookies.
What makes these healthy carrot cake cookies
These vegan carrot cookies are naturally sweetened, packed with vegetables, fiber, some protein and healthy fats! They are the perfect filling snack.
- Naturally sweetened: Sweetened lightly with maple syrup, these cookies are on the less sweet side, which is why they could be great for breakfast too. The added sweetness from the cashew frosting makes them more like a dessert though!
- Fiber: Oats, carrots and ground flax add fiber (both soluble and insoluble) to the cookies. Fiber helps to fill you up and helps move things through the body.
- Protein and healthy fats: the tahini (which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds) adds some protein and healthy fats. You also get some protein from the oats and more protein and healthy fats from the cashews as well.
Pour boiling water over the cashews: Use a tea kettle or boil water on the stove and pour over cashews in a large cup. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes before draining and discarding the water.
Microwave: Add just enough water to cover the cashews in a large bowl or cup. Microwave 2:30 minutes and carefully remove from microwave with oven mitts. Carefully drain and discard the water.
Stove: Bring cashews and water to a boil. Boil together for 2-3 minutes. Drain and discard the water after boiling.
Countertop: Cover the cashews with fresh water and sit on the counter for 8 hours. Drain and discard the water after soaking.
How to store oatmeal carrot cake cookies
Fridge: Store leftover cookies in the fridge up to 5 days. The frosting will stick to other cookies so store them in a single layer or frost them as you eat them.
You can store the frosting in the plastic bag in the fridge (be sure to put it in a small ramekin in case any leaks out) for 5 days as well.
Freezer: Store cookies in the freezer up to 3 months in an freezer safe bag. If you will be frosting the cookies, freeze the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
Once frozen solid, you can stack the cookies in a freezer safe bag. Defrost in a single layer in the fridge or on the counter so frosting doesn’t spread to other cookies.
- Ground flax + water: You could also use chia seeds + water in place of the ground flax to make the egg replacement. If you are not egg free, you could use 1 egg + 1 egg white in place of the ground flax + water.
- Unsweetened applesauce: The applesauce adds moisture and a bit of sweetness. You could also use mashed banana or canned pumpkin but these will change the flavor slightly. I imagine you could also use dairy free milk in place of the applesauce but I have not tested this.
- Maple syrup: Use your favorite liquid sweetener as a substitute. You could use honey (not vegan), date syrup or your favorite low sugar sweetener.
- Gluten free flour: You can use any all purpose gluten free flour you have. If you are not gluten sensitive, you could use all purpose flour here as well. I tested these cookies with oat flour and they got a little too cakey and dense so I don’t recommend that as an alternative.
I have not tested this recipe with almond flour and do not recommend coconut flour as it absorbs liquid differently.
- Rolled oats: The rolled oats add texture and provide structure. You could try quick cooking oats but I cannot guarantee the results.
- Spices (ground cinnamon and ground ginger): Personally I love these spices and think they elevate the cookies. If you don’t have them on hand or don’t love them, you can omit the spices.
You could also use fresh grated ginger (you will want about ½ tablespoon fresh). You could also add nutmeg (1/2 tsp) or cardamom (1-2 tsp) in place of the cinnamon or ginger.
- Grated carrots: It wouldn’t be carrot cake without carrots. I don’t have a substitute here!
- Tahini: This helps add some moisture and gives the cookies the right texture, I did not enjoy the texture without adding some fat. You could use sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter or even peanut butter in place of the tahini.
Note: the peanut butter may change the flavor slightly.
- Pecans: I love pecans with carrot cake, they pair perfectly with the warm spices. You could also use chopped walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or omit the nuts completely.
- Baking powder: If you don’t have baking powder on hand, it’s ok to omit it. The cookies don’t rise much when baking but it does help to make them a little less dense.
- Cashews: You could use raw sunflower seeds or hemp hearts but for this recipe I would recommend instead using coconut butter in place of the cashews.
Combine 1/3 – 1/2 cup of coconut butter with maple syrup, microwave them together for 15-20 seconds to make it easy to combine. Add the coconut frosting to the plastic bag and drizzle over cookies.
To help the frosting “set” place the cookies in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. They can be stored at room temperature once the frosting is set.
Try these other carrot based recipes
If you love this recipe, you should try
Oatmeal Carrot Cake Cookies$5.74 Recipe/$0.48 Serving
- 3 tbsp. ground flax - $0.21
- 1/4 cup water - $0.00
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce - $0.20
- 1/4 cup maple syrup - $1.25
- 3/4 cup rolled oats - $0.30
- 1/4 cup gluten free flour - $0.36
- 2 tsp. cinnamon - $0.20
- 1 tsp ground ginger - $0.10
- 1 tsp. baking powder - $0.06
- 1/4 cup tahini - $0.82
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots - $0.38
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans - $0.62
Cashew Frosting (optional)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews - $0.93
- 1/4 cup water - $0.00
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup - $0.31
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Peel and grate carrots (use food processor, hand grater or chop shredded store bought carrots). Reserve carrots to the side.
- In a large bowl, combine ground flax, water, applesauce and maple syrup.
- Add the gluten free flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, ground ginger and baking powder to the wet ingredients. Stir well.
- Add the tahini to the batter and stir to combine.
- Add grated carrots and chopped pecans. Stir well to ensure carrots are well incorporated.
- Place a piece of parchment to a baking sheet, spray with non-stick spray (olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil). Add carrot cake batter 2 tablespoons at a time to the baking sheet to form cookies. This makes 12 cookies.
- Take a minute to form the cookies – you may need to press down the batter and clean up the edges to they are well formed. The cookies don't rise or change much when baking.
- Bake at 350 for 14 minutes. After baking, allow to cool at least 15 minutes to fully set the cookies and before frosting.
- Soak the cashews (I like to add boiling water to the cashews and soak 5-10 minutes).
- After soaking, drain the water from the cashews and discard the soaking water.
- Add the soaked cashews, 1/4 cup water and maple syrup to high speed blender.
- Blend on high 1 minute. Check the frosting and blend again 1-2 minutes if needed depending on your blender.
- Add the frosting to a plastic bag, cut off the tip (cut more off the tip than you think so that small chunks from the cashews can easily pass through). Drizzle the frosting over the cookies. Alternatively you can just frost the top of the cookies with the frosting without drizzling it.
- Store on the counter 3-4 hours or store in the fridge up to 5 days.
- Pour boiling water over the cashews: Use a tea kettle or boil water on the stove and pour over cashews in a large cup. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes before draining and discarding the water.
- Microwave: Add just enough water to cover the cashews in a large bowl or cup. Microwave 2:30 minutes and carefully remove from microwave with oven mitts. Carefully drain and discard the water.
- Stove: Bring cashews and water to a boil. Boil together for 2-3 minutes. Drain and discard the water after boiling.
- Countertop: Cover the cashews with fresh water and sit on the counter for 8 hours. Drain and discard the water after soaking.
Thursday 2nd of April 2015
I can't tell you how excited I am about this recipe! I love carrot cake and so does my husband. But I haven't had it in years.
I don't use protein powder or keep it on hand. Do you have any suggestions for a substitute for it? I'm thinking just cinnamon and a bit more stevia? Which I know will reduce the protein content, but I am OK with that.
Thursday 2nd of April 2015
Amanda, the protein powder acts like the flour in this recipe. I would add 1/2 cup of oat flour (gluten free if you have a sensitivity), cinnamon and stevia. Since this is vegan you can taste it for sweetness since the protein powder often has stevia in it. Let me know how they turn out!!
Wednesday 1st of April 2015
What a great snack!! Thanks for Linking Up on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday - Link Party! Hope to see you again tomorrow! Pinned
Joy @ Joy Love Fod
Tuesday 31st of March 2015
I love carrot cake, these sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend? :)
Tuesday 31st of March 2015
Carrot cake and cookies all in one? Oh my!! Sounds amazing
Thanks for linking up to Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning.
Kendra @ www.joyinourhome.com
Monday 30th of March 2015
Thanks so much for sharing these at Your Turn To Shine! They look delicious! I want to try them for the kids' school snacks! Hope you're having a great week! :)