Carrot Cake

5 from 2 votes
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This is the best homemade carrot cake made from moist, spiced cake layers loaded with fresh carrots and crunchy pecans, filled and frosted with sweet cream cheese frosting.

A slice of frosted carrot cake on a white plate next to a fork, with the rest of the cake in the background.

 

When it comes to cake recipes, you can’t beat the classics. This perfect homemade carrot cake is an oldie, but definitely a goodie! It’s a simple, flavorful cake made from thick layers of tender spiced cake loaded with sweet carrots and pecan crunch. Filled and frosted with rich and creamy cream cheese frosting, the flavors in this carrot cake positively sing. This recipe is quick to make and easy to customize. You’ll always find an occasion to serve it!

Why You’ll Love This Easy Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Full of flavor. This cake recipe is subtly spiced and filled with tender shredded carrots and crunchy pecans in a rich, buttery crumb.
  • Easy recipe. If you’re new to baking layer cakes, this classic carrot cake is the best place to start. The cake is filled and topped with my favorite cream cheese frosting, which happens to be SO easy to make.
  • Ultra-moist. Every slice is soft and moist thanks to key ingredients like oil and melted butter. It’s the little things that make all the difference in the best carrot cake.
  • Occasion-worthy. Winter, spring, summer, fall – carrot cake never goes out of season. The cozy spices make this cake at home on a holiday table, and the fresh carrots make it a classic Easter dessert.
Ingredients for homemade carrot cake.

Carrot Cake Ingredients

The secret to stick-to-your-fork moist carrot cake lies in a few key ingredients. I’ve included notes below. Remember to scroll to the recipe card for the full measurements and recipe instructions.

  • Flour
  • Sugar – This recipe uses both granulated sugar and brown sugar for added moisture.
  • Spices – Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You can also use pumpkin pie spice, which contains many of the same spices.
  • Baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  • Vegetable oil – Or another neutral oil, like canola oil, for an ultra-moist cake.
  • Butter – Melted. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla
  • Carrots – About 3 medium-sized carrots, or enough to make 3 cups when shredded.
  • Pecans – Chopped pecans to add to the batter, plus more for garnishing the finished cake. They can be raw or toasted. Walnuts are another good option.
  • Raisins – Optional, if you’d like the added texture.
Ingredients for cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Butter – Softened to room temperature. 
  • Cream cheese – When making frosting, it’s important to use full-fat cream cheese that comes in bricks, rather than the spreadable tub kind.
  • Vanilla
  • Powdered sugar – Also called confectioner’s sugar.
  • Milk – You can use whole milk or 2% milk.

How to Make Carrot Cake

You’ll begin by baking your carrot cake layers. Here’s a quick and easy step-by-step:

  • Combine the dry cake ingredients. Start by mixing together the flour and both sugars, along with the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients. Next, beat in the oil and melted butter, followed by the eggs, one at a time. Finally, mix in the vanilla. 
  • Add carrots and pecans. Fold the grated carrots and chopped pecans into the cake batter, making sure that they’re distributed throughout.
  • Bake. Transfer the batter to two greased and lined 8” cake pans. Bake the carrot cake layers at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes, then let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes.
  • Cool. Remove the cakes from the baking pans, and move them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before you frost them.

Assembling and Frosting the Cake

Once the cakes are cool, you’re ready to make a batch of velvety, spreadable cream cheese frosting:

  • Make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, then add vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk. Whip the frosting until it’s light and spreadable.
  • Assemble. Top the first cake layer with an even layer of frosting, and place the second cake layer over top. 
  • Frost the cake. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with extra pecans, then serve!
A whole carrot cake frosted with cream cheese frosting and garnished with chopped pecans.

Tips for the Best Carrot Cake

Follow these tips and tricks for carrot cake success every time:

  • Use freshly shredded carrots. The #1 tip for making carrot cakes? Grating the carrots fresh at home. Just like making zucchini cake, this is the best way to ensure a moist, flavorful crumb. Avoid pre-grated, packaged carrots as they’re harder and drier.
  • Grease and line your cake pans. Lining the pans with parchment paper and giving them a spritz with cooking spray makes removing the cakes so much easier.
  • Make the cakes ahead of time. For the absolute best flavor, make your cake layers a day ahead and assemble the cake the following day. This allows the flavors and spices to mingle, and the moisture to distribute. See the section below for make-ahead details.
  • Test the cakes for doneness. The easiest way to do this is to stick a toothpick into the center of the carrot cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are done! If the toothpick comes out streaked with batter, the cakes will need a little longer in the oven.
A slice of frosted carrot cake is lifted from the rest of the cake with a cake server.

Can I Make This Recipe As Cupcakes?

Yes! This recipe makes enough cake batter for approximately 24 carrot cake cupcakes. Grease and line your cupcake tin with paper liners and fill each about ⅔ of the way full with carrot cake batter. You’ll need to shorten the baking time to about 20 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness using the toothpick test (see the tips section above), and let them cool completely before frosting.

A slice of frosted carrot cake on a white plate.

Variation Ideas

This carrot cake is incredible as is, but there’s always room for a personal touch. Try some of these simple recipe variations:

  • Make a carrot cake with pineapple. This will add moisture, so I recommend using fresh pineapple wherever possible. If you’re using canned diced pineapple, make sure that you drain it well and pat the pineapple dry before adding it to the batter.
  • Coconut. Stir a handful of shredded toasted coconut into the batter, and press additional toasted coconut over the outside of the frosted cake.
  • Chocolate chips. Stir white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips into the batter.
  • Different frosting. Instead of cream cheese frosting, try easy vanilla frosting or stabilized whipped cream.
Frosted carrot cake with a slice missing.

Ways to Serve Carrot Cake

Homemade carrot cake is wonderful to serve as dessert, or as a snack with coffee or tea. It’s also a staple at Easter brunch, washed down with sparkling blueberry lemonade! Serve slices of moist carrot cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream or try this homemade pistachio ice cream for something different. You can top this cake with homemade whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce or hot fudge sauce for extra indulgence.

A slice of frosted carrot cake on a white plate with forkfuls missing.

Make-Ahead and Storage

  • Make-ahead. Get a headstart on this cake recipe and bake the cake layers in advance. Unfrosted carrot cake can be kept airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze the cake layers for up to 2 months.
  • To Store. Properly stored, this frosted carrot cake will stay fresh for about 1 week in the fridge. I recommend storing it tightly covered, or in a cake carrier for best freshness. Serve the carrot cake at room temperature.

Can I Freeze Carrot Cake?

As mentioned, the unfrosted cake layers freeze well. I don’t usually recommend freezing a frosted cake. If you absolutely must freeze it, store the carrot cake airtight or double-wrapped in plastic wrap, and keep it frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge and bring the cake bake to room temperature for serving.

More Homemade Cake Recipes

A slice of frosted carrot cake on a white plate next to a fork.
5 from 2 votes

Carrot Cake

By Erin
Moist homemade carrot cake loaded with tender carrots and crunchy pecans, filled and frosted with tangy cream cheese frosting.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup raisins, optional

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, spray and grease well. Set aside. 
  • In an electric stand mixer mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger until well combined. 
  • Add the oil and butter and mix until combined, it will form a stiff, almost cookie-dough-like batter. 
  • Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next. Add in the vanilla until incorporated. 
  • Using a spatula fold in the carrots and pecans until evenly combined. 
  • Divide equally into the prepared pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by beating cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add in vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk and beat until combined and a spreadable consistency. Adjust the milk and powdered sugar if necessary to get the right consistency. 
  • To assemble, place one layer of the cake onto a plate, top spread a thin layer of frosting evenly over the top. Place the next layer of cake over, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Use the pecans to decorate as desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 1682kcal | Carbohydrates: 293g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 37g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 698mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 261g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Erin
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Cake Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 1682
Keyword: carrot cake, easy carrot cake recipe, homemade carrot cake
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About Erin S

Welcome to Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts where my love of food meets my busy life. My name is Erin and I’m a casual home cook who loves to feed people. On this blog, you’ll find hundreds of quick and easy recipes made mostly from scratch. My days are spent in the kitchen, creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

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5 Comments

  1. This is JUST like the carrot cake my grandma used to make. I know because I made it last night. It’s almost gone already. LOL

  2. It was absolutely divine. The cake was moist, the spices were perfectly balanced, and that cream cheese frosting was to die for!