This amazing moist and flavorful Carrot Cake is so easy to make, it will quickly become your favorite cake. Carrot Cake is packed with freshly grated carrots, nuts, and spices and frosted with soft cream cheese frosting.
Carrot cake also makes wonderful cupcakes like these Salted Caramel Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Another great version of this classic cake is this Caramel Apple Carrot Cake that combines great classic flavors.
Table of Contents
Carrot cake is one of my absolute favorite cakes. It’s impossible not to love because the cake is so moist and flavorful. Freshly grated carrots is the main ingredient of the cake and it give the cake its soft, almost spongy texture. I also like to use a combination of oil, brown sugar, and white granulated sugar for a little extra moisture.
This is a great cake to make year-round. Carrots are always in season and widely available at grocery stores. And while I make it any time of the year, I do change the flavor pallet of the cake a little bit for different seasons.
Cinnamon and carrots give great flavor to this cake but in the fall, I like to add some more spices like allspice and nutmeg. The additional spices almost give the cake a feel of fall holidays. You can also add pumpkin and make great pumpkin carrot cake baked doughnuts.
For Easter, I sometimes add a cup of sweetened coconut flakes to the cake batter. I also use some coconut flakes to decorate the cake on top. Coconut adds somewhat of a warm, summery feel to the cake. Try adding a little orange zest during spring and summer months too.
Carrots – make sure to use the fine side of the box grated to grate the carrots, otherwise the carrot pieces will be too big.
Flour – all purpose flour will work well in this simple cake.
Sugars – use white granulated sugar and brown sugar to balance out the moisture in the cake.
Eggs – remember to take the eggs out 30-45 minutes before baking to let them warm up to room temperature.
Oil – use a neutral oil for the cake, like vegetable or avocado oil.
Baking powder and baking soda – yes, you should use both because they each have their own job to do. (See Recipe FAQs)
Cinnamon – this is a great spice to add to the carrot cake because it brightens and compliments the natural flavor of carrots and pecans.
Cream Cheese – For the best results, make sure to use full fat cream cheese and remember to pull it out of the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before making frosting.
Butter – use unsalted butter and pull it out 30-45 minutes before making frosting just like cream cheese.
Powdered Sugar – it will bring the best smooth and consistency to the cake frosting.
Vanilla extract – for the best flavor and aroma of your baked goods, always use pure vanilla extract and not imitation.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
This is one of the easiest cakes you can make because all you have to do is whisk the ingredients together and bake. Frosting is a breeze as well.
Step 1: Whisk first set of ingredients together: grated carrots, eggs, oil, and sugars. Whisk until everything is evenly combined.
Step 2: Add in the dry ingredients and whisk until just fully incorporated and smooth. Fold in chopped nuts into the batter.
Step 3: Prepare the 9-inch round baking pans. Grease cake pans with some cooking spray and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour in each. Shake the pan gently to spread flour around evenly on the bottom and the sides. Turn the pans over and pat the excess flour out of the pan.
Step 4: Divide the batter among the two prepared pan as evenly as possible!
PRO TIP: use a kitchen scale to measure each baking pan with batter in it to make sure that the batter is divided equally among the pans.
Step 5: Bake the cake at 350° for about 30 minutes. Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Gently tap the corners of the cake pan to loosen the cake a bit. Turn the pan over to take the cake layers out of the pans onto a cooling wire rack.
PRO TIP: Do a toothpick test to check if the cake is baked through: insert a dry toothpick into the very center of the cake and pull it out. It the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out with some unbaked batter on the end, it needs more bake time.
Let them cool for 45-60 minutes.
Step 6: Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting. While the cake is cooling down, make the frosting. Combine softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of the electric mixer and for 3-4 minutes on medium-high speed. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Starting on low speed and then gradually bringing it up to medium-high, beat for another 3-4 minutes.
Step 7: Frost the cake. First you want to even out the cake. Use a long serrated knife to even the bottom of top layer and the top of the bottom layer by off a very thin layer (1). (KEEP the dome that you sliced off and crumble it to use for decorating the cake.)
Frost the bottom cake layer on top (2), spread another 1/2 cup of chipped pecans if you wish, and stack the second layer on top. Then frost the second layer and the sides (3). Use the cake crumbs to decorate the sides (4) and you can spread a few more pecans on top.
Tips For The Best Carrot Cake:
- 3 cups of finely grated carrots packed in a cup is about 1 pound of unpeeled carrots. Use a fine grater side of the box grater to finely grate carrots.
- Nuts can be an optional ingredient depending on personal taste. If you wish, add a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter and use some more nuts to decorate outside of the cake. I like to add some nuts to the frosting in the middle of the cake as well.
- It’s always best to use a scale when dividing the batter among baking pans. Making sure that the batter is divided evenly among the baking pans will ensure that both layers are cooked the same.
- Make the frosting fresh, right before frosting the cake. Cold frosting will be too hard to spread on the cake. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting!
- When cutting off the raised dome of the cake layer to make it even, make sure to SAVE the pieces that you cut off. Crumble those pieces and use it to decorate the outside of the frosted cake.
Baking powder and baking soda have their own, distinct job to do. They are not interchangeable or a similar substance. Baking powder is a leavening agent, which is responsible for rising of the cake and crumble texture. Baking soda does some of the leavening but mainly it neutralizes the acids and affects tenderness and flavor.
Oil adds a lot more moisture to the cake than creamed butter. Cakes made with oil instead of butter will be more moist what the ones made with creamed butter base but sometimes can be more dense at the same time.
This cake can easily be made ahead of time by baking the cake layers the day before and frosting it the next day. Just cook the layers according to the recipe and let them cool to room temperature. Wrap each cooled cake pan with plastic wrap until ready to frost. You can store them in the fridge or leave them wrapped on the counter.
Another option is to make the cake completely and store it in the refrigerator, in an air-tight cake storage container. Take the cake out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before serving to let it warm up. (Do store leftovers in the refrigerator.)
No, not really! Even though it is full of carrots, which are a heathy vegetable, it is also full of sugar, flour, and oil. Depending on the size, a slice of carrot cake can be between 500-800 calories.
Yes, you can easily freeze a carrot cake.
Freeze With Frosting: Prepare the cake completely, frost, and decorate it. Refrigerate the cake for about 6 hours to cool it completely and let the frosting solidify. Then, wrap the whole cake with a few layers of plastic wrap, air-tight. For extra protection, place it inside a freezer container, large zip-top bag, or give it another layer of foil wrap. Label and freeze for up to 4 months.
Freeze Without Frosting: You can also bake just the cake layers and freeze those. Cool the cake layers completely and wrap each one in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap. Wrap them all together with a layer of aluminum foil, label, and freeze.
To thaw: make sure to do it slowly, in the refrigerator. It might take 24+ hours for the whole cake to completely thaw.
Since this cake is made with cream cheese frosting, I do not recommend storing it at room temperature for more than a coupe of hours. It’s best to store the cake in the refrigerator, either covered with plastic wrap or in an air-tight cake storing container.
If you like to have your carrot cake at room temperature, cut off a slice 30-45 minutes before you want to eat it and let it warm up on the counter.
More Cake Recipes To Make In The Spring:
If you’ve made my Carrot Cake recipe and found a lot of good information here, PLEASE leave a 🌟 star rating! Let me know how you liked it by leaving the 📝 comment below as well. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter!
- 3 cups finely grated carrots (about 1 lb. unpeeled carrots) gently pack each cup
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 3/4 cup vegetable or avocado oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) *optional
- 12 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2-1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) toppings
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans with some cooking spray. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour in each greased pan. Shake the pan gently to spread flour around evenly on the bottom and the sides. Turn the pans over and pat the excess flour out of the pan.
- Grate carrots on a fine grater and add it to the large mixing bowl.
- Add eggs, sugars, and oil. Whisk very well until completely combined.
- Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Whisk together well.
- If using nuts, fold in the chopped walnuts or pecans.
- Split the batter between two cake pans evenly. If available, use a kitchen scale to make sure batter amount is even in each pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, check with a toothpick to make sure it's done. Be careful not to overcook or the cake will be dry.
- Let cakes cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edge of the cake layer to help separate it from the pan. Gently tap the corners of the cake pan to loosen the cake a bit. Turn the pan over to take the cake layers out of the pans.
- Cool cake layers for 45-60 minutes on the wire rack before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Combine softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of the electric mixer. Beat for 3-4 minutes on medium-high speed.
- Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Starting on low speed and then gradually bringing it up to medium-high, beat for another 3-4 minutes.
- Use a long serrated knife to even the bottom of top layer and the top of the bottom layer by off a very thin layer. KEEP the dome that you sliced off and crumble it to use for decorating the cake.
- Frost the bottom cake layer on top and stack the second layer on top. Add about 1/2 cup of chopped nuts over the frosting if you wish. Then, frost the second layer and the sides of the cake.
- Use the cake crumbs to decorate the cake and add some more nuts of top. (You can also use the crumbled cake pieces to make cake pops.)
- Make sure your cake batter is divided evenly: use a kitchen scale to measure each baking pan with batter in it to make sure that the batter is divided equally among the pans.
- Toothpick test: Do a toothpick test to check if the cake is baked through: insert a dry toothpick into the very center of the cake and pull it out. It the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out with some unbaked batter on the end, it needs more bake time.
- Make sure to make the frosting fresh, right before frosting the cake. Cold frosting will be too hard to spread on the cake. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting.
- Storing the cake: Since this cake is made with cream cheese frosting, I do not recommend storing it at room temperature for more than a coupe of hours. It’s best to store the cake in the refrigerator, either covered with plastic wrap or in an air-tight cake storing container. If you like to have your carrot cake at room temperature, cut off a slice 30-45 minutes before you want to eat it and let it warm up on the counter.
This post has been UPDATED. Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on November 4th, 2011.