Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Featuring moist layers with a hint of spice topped off with a classic cream cheese frosting, this is truly the Best Carrot Cake Recipe. Simple, delicious, and always a crowd pleaser.

A slice of carrot cake on a plate

Decadent Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m a huge fan of carrot cake – not just as actual cake but also reimagined in things like carrot cake pancakes, carrot cake cupcakes, and more. I’ve tried many different carrot cake recipes, some good, some not-so-good, but I can honestly say that this is the BEST carrot cake recipe I’ve ever made.

It’s moist, it’s perfectly spiced, and it features a whole lot of cream cheese frosting. What more could you ask for in a carrot cake recipe?

A corner of a frosted carrot layer cake

Why This Is The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

So what exactly earns this recipe the title of the BEST carrot cake recipe? Here are just a few reasons…

  • Perfectly spiced. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger give this carrot cake just the right amount of warm flavor, which compliments the carrots and frosting.
  • Thick cream cheese frosting. You can’t have a good carrot cake without a good cream cheese frosting! This carrot layer cake features a nice layer of frosting between the cakes and a thick layer all around the cake too.
  • Moist texture. Using freshly shredded carrots is one of the secrets to baking a perfectly moist carrot cake.
Overhead view of ingredients needed to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

What You’ll Need

Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Scroll down to the recipe card below for measurements.

For the Cake

  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar – Both granulated sugar and brown sugar are used to sweeten this cake.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – Help the cake layers rise in the oven.
  • Salt – To balance out the other flavors.
  • Spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger add a warm flavor to this carrot cake recipe.
  • Vegetable oil – You can use other neutral oils like canola or grapeseed oil as a substitute for vegetable oil.
  • Grated carrots – While you can use pre-shredded carrots, freshly grated carrots generally yield a moister texture and robust flavor.
  • Crushed pineapple – Adds moisture and flavor to the carrot cake.
  • Chopped walnuts – You can omit nuts or replace them with chopped dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, or dates.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese – Softened so it’s easier to mix.
  • Butter – Unsalted and softened.
  • Powdered sugar – Sweetens the frosting.
  • Vanilla extract

How to Make Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This decadent carrot cake recipe is easy to prepare and assemble – just be sure to leave plenty of time for the cakes to chill. Scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed instructions.

  • Make the batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the oil and eggs then add them to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, and walnut.
  • Bake. Distribute the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Allow the carrot cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
  • Make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract then beat until creamy.
  • Assemble. Use a serrated knife to level off the tops of the cakes to create an even surface. Spread a thick layer of frosting on one cake layer then place the second cake on top.
  • Add the crumb layer. Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting to create the “crumb layer”. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Decorate. Frost the entire cake with a thick layer of frosting. Decorate the sides with chopped walnuts and get creative with designs using any leftover frosting.
The best carrot cake on a cake pedestal

Tips for Success

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you prepare the best carrot cake recipe possible.

  • Bring the eggs, cream cheese, and butter to room temperature before starting. This ensures better incorporation and a smoother batter.
  • Use fresh carrots for the best flavor. Grate them finely for a moist texture. If the carrots are very fresh and have a lot of moisture, you can drain the extra liquid by placing the grated carrots onto a paper towel or cheesecloth and squeezing them.
  • Ensure even baking. Be sure to distribute the batter equally between both pans and that the oven is fully preheated. If your oven has uneven heat distribution, you can rotate the pans halfway through the bake time.
  • Mix the batter until just combined to prevent a dense texture. This will keep the cake light and moist.
  • Adjust powdered sugar quantity for your preferred frosting thickness. Remember that you do want it on the thick side, so that it adheres easily to the cake and does not melt.
  • Make the frosting in advance. You can prepare the cream cheese frosting ahead and store it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before frosting the cake.
A slice of carrot cake being served

Carrot Cake Variations

While I am pretty partial to this recipe as-is – it is the best carrot cake recipe I’ve tried, after all – there are plenty of ways to customize it. Here are a few ideas.

  • Pineapple-Coconut Carrot Cake: Add shredded coconut to the batter and coconut flakes to the frosting for a tropical twist. You can even add toasted coconut on top.
  • Spiced Carrot Cake with Raisins: Mix in a handful of raisins to the batter for a sweet and chewy addition, increase the amount of ground cinnamon, and add a pinch of cloves.
  • Nut-Free Carrot Cake: Omit the walnuts from the batter for a nut-free version and consider adding dried fruit like chopped apricots or dates for added sweetness.
  • Carrot Zucchini Cake: Mix in grated zucchini along with carrots for a dual veggie delight. Be sure to adjust the moisture by squeezing excess liquid from the zucchini before adding.
  • Carrot Cake Cupcakes: Turn the recipe into cupcakes for individual servings. Follow the recipe as directed and adjust the baking time to around 15-20 minutes for cupcakes.
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: Add lemon zest or a splash of lemon juice to the cream cheese frosting for a zesty contrast.
A fork diving into a slice of the best carrot cake recipe on a white plate

Proper Storage

  • Fridge. Store the cake in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Due to the cream cheese frosting, it needs to be refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
  • Freeze. Carrot cake can be wrapped (frosted or unfrosted) as a whole cake or individual slices and frozen for up to three months. When ready to enjoy the cake, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator.

More Carrot Cake Recipes

Carrot Cake feature
No ratings yet

Best Carrot Cake Recipe

Featuring moist layers with a hint of spice topped off with a classic cream cheese frosting, this is truly the Best Carrot Cake Recipe. Simple, delicious, and always a crowd pleaser.
Servings: 12 slices
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Chill & Decorating Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours

Ingredients
  

For the Cake:

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  • In a separate bowl, mix oil and eggs until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Fold in grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and chopped walnuts.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through if needed.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until creamy and well combined.

Assembling and Decorating:

  • Once the cakes are completely cool, use a serrated knife to level off the tops, ensuring an even surface.
  • Spread a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top of one leveled cake layer.
  • Place the second-level cake layer on top, creating a sandwich.
  • Frost the entire cake with a thin “crumb layer” and place the cake into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Doing this will help keep the final layer of frosting smooth.
  • After the cake has chilled, frost the entire cake using the remaining cream cheese frosting, ensuring a thick layer.
  • Decorate the sides with additional chopped walnuts, and get creative with designs on top using any leftover frosting.

Last Step:

Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.

Equipment

  • Two 9-inch cake pans
  • Parchment paper (for lining the pans)
  • Mixing bowls (large and medium)
  • Whisk and spatula
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer

Nutrition

Calories: 864kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 261mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 78g | Vitamin A: 4630IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 2mg

Categories:

Leave a Review!

We LOVE hearing from you! Submit your question or comment here.

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating:




I accept the Privacy Policy