Vegan Lemon Pistachio Carrot Cake

I am sooo ready for spring and all of the things that come with it.  It has been snowing for a few days here in Minnesota right now so it doesn't feel like spring quite yet.  Yesterday we went to a flower show just to escape the snow and cold and forget about the fact that we aren't quite in the green grass and flowers blooming stage here and it was nice to enjoy flowers even if they weren't outside.  Until I can enjoy spring I figure I might as well enjoy spring flavors!  So I made a Vegan Lemon Pistachio Carrot Cake last weekend!  Carrot cake is essential for spring as far as I am concerned!

For the Cake, I used whole wheat pastry flour because it is what I prefer and have on hand but if you wanted to use AP flour instead that would work as well or even a gluten free all purpose flour like Bob's Red Mill gluten free baking flour (I have used this brand with good results in my cakes before).  It has avocado oil for the fat, which I like because it has kind of a buttery flavor to it.  I used carrot cake spices in this cake, a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and nutmeg.  I love this aromatic blend!  I have been sprinkling this mixture on my oatmeal lately.  I stirred pistachios into the batter for crunch before baking as well.  I love pistachios, especially in spring baked goods!

This cake smelled amazing while baking!  I could not wait to try it, but of course it needed a delicious frosting first which is where the lemon came in. I debated in my head whether or not I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting for this but ultimately I decided on a lemon vanilla scented buttercream and it was perfect with the carrot cake and pistachios.  I sprinkled pistachios on top as well because they are so pretty and the cake looked fabulous without much effort needing to be put into decorating.

This cake turned out sooo good!  I think this is one of the best carrot cakes I have had!  It was moist but light with aromatic spices, crunchy pistachios and a hint of lemon in the luscious smooth buttercream frosting!  My husband Eric even liked it so much he asked if he could have more cake and he isn't even a cake person!  If you are in the mood for something springy give this Vegan Lemon Pistachio Carrot Cake a try!

Vegan Lemon Pistachio Carrot Cake

Makes one 2 layer 6 inch cake



  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder (1/2 tsp plus 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp golden ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp filtered water, allowed to sit 15 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup plant based milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios



  • 1 1/2 cups vegan butter, I used Earth Balance (at room temperature)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp oat milk (I used Oatly, but you can use what you prefer), add 3 then if needed add another if frosting comes out too stiff
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar



1/4 cup chopped pistachios



  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees, and line 2 6 inch round cake pans with parchment on the bottom and oil the sides.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, spices and lemon zest, baking powder and sea salt and whisk to blend.
  3. Add the flax eggs, avocado oil, oat milk, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer for about a minute (or 3 minutes if doing it by hand with a whisk).
  4. Fold in the carrots and pistachios.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly.
  6. Place the cakes in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the cakes are done in the center (you are able to insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs).
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans by cutting around the sides, placing a plate on top then inverting it and tapping on it.  Allow them then to cool completely once they are out of the pans.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the butter with the milk, lemon, and vanilla and lemon extracts until fluffy.
  9. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, and beat until completely mixed and light and fluffy (if the frosting is too stiff add that other Tbsp of milk).
  10. When ready to frost, Place one cake layer on a plate, spread about 1/2 inch thick layer of the frosting over it.
  11. Place the next cake layer on top.
  12. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and down the sides of the cake evenly.
  13. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the cake, then place the rest of the frosting in a pastry bag and use it to decorate the top.  This frosting recipe makes enough that you should be able to do some generous piping decorations on top, because I like a lot of frosting!
  14. Serve the cake and enjoy!
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