The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This recipe for The Best Carrot Cake is wonderfully moist, tender and easy to make. It’s covered in a homemade cream cheese frosting for the perfect, classic cake. And with so many ways to make this recipe your own, it’s seriously the best carrot cake around!

Slice of carrot cake and a fully decorated carrot cake

What Ingredients Make The Perfect Carrot Cake?

Carrot Cake is such a classic, especially this time of year with Easter approaching. Many have strong opinions about what makes the perfect carrot cake, but there’s no doubt that it should be moist, simple to make and full of carrots. Beyond that, variations include everything from pineapple and coconut to pecans and raisins. I wanted to be sure that this cake could satisfy all with just a few adjustments, so I thoroughly tested SO many versions to make sure they all work perfectly!

How To Make Carrot Cake

A great thing about making a carrot cake from scratch is that you can control what you decide to put into it. This cake has many options, allowing you to personalize to your tastes. It’s written as I like it best, but you can make adjustments as you like.

One of the less common things this carrot cake contains is carrot puree. You could replace it with milk if you like and just use grated carrots, but it genuinely adds the BEST flavor and moisture to this cake. I had my taste testers do blind tests and every time they picked the version with the puree. Still, you can leave it out if you want.

To make the grated carrots and puree, you’ll need about 2 1/3 pounds of carrots. This cake is not short on carrots! Peel them and then grate as much as you need to get about 3 1/2 cups. I played around with the amount of grated carrots a bit and this seemed just right – not too much, not too little. You also want to be sure to grate the carrots with a box grater or a food processor. I wouldn’t suggest using the shredded carrots from the store. They are little thick for my preference in a cake.

A big slice of carrot cake with decorative cream cheese frosting on a white plateOverhead view of a whole carrot cake covered in cream cheese frosting and pecans

Chop up the remainder of the carrots and then steam them. When they are fork tender, add the carrots only (not the water used to steam them) to a food processor and puree them until smooth. Set the carrots all aside.

Next you’ll combine the dry ingredients, including the spices. I like plenty of flavor in my carrot cake, but feel free to adjust any you’d like.

This cake benefits from the use of both butter and oil. I used equal parts of both so you get both the flavor of butter you love and the moisture you need for a great cake. While it was one of the few things I didn’t test, substituting applesauce for oil should be fine, if you prefer that. I also used both brown sugar and regular granulated sugar, but used a majority of brown sugar. It not only adds moisture to the cake, but adds a deeper flavor that really is perfect in this cake.

The rest of the main ingredients are as you’d expect – a little vanilla extract and eggs. After adding those, the dry ingredients are added alternatively with the carrot puree (or milk, if you prefer).

At this point, the decisions are up to you! You’ll want to add the grated carrots, but then you can also add pineapple, coconut, pecans or walnuts, and/or raisins. The recipe is such that you don’t need to make any other adjustments – just add the ones you want and leave out the rest.

A carrot cake slice with bite missing on a white plateA whole carrot cake with pecans pressed onto sides on a cake stand

You Can’t Have Carrot Cake Without Cream Cheese Frosting

Once the cake is baked, frost it with the most classic frosting you can – cream cheese frosting. The two pair perfectly together and there couldn’t be a better combination. I finished the carrot cake off with some pecans on the outside, rather than baking them into the cake itself, but you could you also just keep it simple and just frost the cake.

Once frosted, the carrot cake should be refrigerated. I don’t refrigerate the layers prior to frosting though. As with most cakes, I prefer serving at room temperature, so let the cake sit out for a couple of hours prior to serving it.

What Makes This The Best Carrot Cake Recipe?

This is the best carrot cake you will ever make – and I don’t say that lightly! It’s moist, but not too moist, and it’s FULL of flavor! The perfect blend of spices, carrots and depth of flavor. I not only tested it against all the different versions, but also against some other popular versions. Taste testers all agreed this was the best! It’s a great dessert for Easter and any time you get a craving for carrot cake. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

A slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate


Read transcript

More Carrot Cake Desserts You Might Like:

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake
Carrot Cake Cheesecake Swirl Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Shortbread Bars
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Carrot Cake Gooey Bars

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A slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate
Recipe

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 47 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 17 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This recipe for The Best Carrot Cake is wonderfully moist, tender and easy to make. It’s covered in a homemade cream cheese frosting for the perfect, classic cake.


Scale

Ingredients

Carrot Cake

  • 2 1/3 lbs (904g) raw carrots
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (225g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (104g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 12 oz (341g) crushed pineapple, drained, optional
  • 1 1/4 cup (91g) sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 3/4 cup (80g) chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup (75g) raisins, optional

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (165g) chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Peel the carrots, then grate them just until you have 3 1/2 cups (350g) of grated carrots. Cover the grated carrot and set in the fridge.
  2. Chop the remaining raw carrots into pieces small enough to go into a food processor or blender. Put chopped carrots in a steamer basket (or a colander, if you don’t have a steamer basket) set over a pot of boiling water. Cover and steam the carrots until very tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Put the warm carrots into a food processor or blender and puree (do not add the water used to steam the carrots, JUST the carrots). The puree will be thick. You should end up with about 1 3/4 cups (420ml) of carrot puree. Set aside to cool while you make the cake batter.
  4. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  5. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the butter, oil, sugars and vanilla extract to and large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time, but do not over mix either.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each, then add the egg white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  8. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  9. Add the carrot puree (it can be warm or cold) and mix until well combined.
  10. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix the batter.
  11. Stir in the grated carrots, pineapple, coconut, pecans and raisins (if using them all). Do not over mix.
  12. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 29-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
  14. To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
  15. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  16. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  17. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar, as desired for consistency purposes.
  18. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat, if needed. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  19. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  20. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  21. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  22. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  23. Use a 9 inch offset spatula to create the spiral pattern on top of the cake. Place the tip of spatula in the center of the cake and slowly turn the cake in circles, dragging the spatula through the frosting and moving outwards with each completed turn until you reach the outer edge of the cake.
  24. Press the pecans into the sides of the cake.
  25. Use the remaining frosting to pipe shells around the outer edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 847.
  26. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Set cake out for about 2 hours before serving. Store cake in an air tight container. Cake is best if eaten within 3-4 days.

Notes

If you’d prefer to leave out the carrot puree and just use grated carrots, replace the carrot puree with 1 1/4 cups of milk. You’ll need to increase the baking time by about 3-5 minutes.

To bake in two 9 inch cake layers, bake for 38-42 minutes.

Keywords: carrot cake, carrot cake recipe, best carrot cake recipe, best carrot cake, easy carrot cake recipe, how to make carrot cake, homemade carrot cake

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Recipe rating

95 Comments
  1. Rebekah Baker

    The only reason why I’m not giving this 5 stars is the frosting. I taste tested it after 2 cups of powdered sugar. It was perfect. I know I don’t like overly sweet frostings but the recipe called for 10 cups! That seems like it would be far too sweet for the cake. But the cake itself is amazing. Moist,beautiful,and delicious!

  2. Parimala Stephens

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Can I make the cakes in advance and freeze them until I am ready to frost? Just a few days in advance.

  3. Anne B Skipton

    I want to try this but wanted to ask if you thought it would work with a gluten free flour such as Bob’s Red Mill or there is one call Cup for Cup I think? Just starting the gluten free baking process.
    Thank you

  4. Jothsna

    Hi Lindsay. I need to make about 40 cupcakes and wondered if doubling the recipe would yield approx 40? And also would you reduce the baking time to 17 mins or so? Thanks.

  5. Natellia

    This cake is divine! But i cut the sugar amount in the frosting in half and still it is too sweet to my taste….

  6. Roberta

    I just finished the cake.  It looks beautiful and I’m sure it will be delicious.  
    I followed your recipes to a T.  Now, though, I’m watching the video.  It looks like you used only 8 oz of cream cheese rather than the 16 oz in the recipe   This explains why the cakes were shifting as I put them together.  Too much cream cheese.  
    Which is the correct amount?  I would assume 3/4 C butter and 8 oz cream cheese.  Hope my cake doesn’t fall apart when I cut it.  I’m giving it time in the fridge for now. 

    1. Lindsay

      No, I used 16 ounces as listed. It’s a little deceiving in the video, but there are two blocks of cream cheese. They are just stacked right on top of each other, so it’s a little hard to tell. I hope you enjoyed the cake!

  7. Meredith

    I just made this cake for my dad’s birthday/father’s day. It was absolutely delicious! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thank you!

  8. Claudette

    Hi Lindsay… Like many comments above I love your blogs and recipes a particulate favorite is the super moist vanilla cake…
    I’m just about to try this and wanted to double check if I have to beat the 1 egg white before adding it yo the batter (like you do for other recipes)?
    Thanks in advance

  9. Olwyn Fleury

    Hi Lindsay,
    Just about to make this cake for my moms birthday and wondering about the carrot measurement. You say 904g of carrots but that’s just about 2 lbs exactly, not 2 1/3lbs. What is the correct amount? 
    Thanks so much! 

  10. Jasmine

    Hi Lindsay,
    I was wondering if I could half the batter, and divide it among 3 six inch cake pans. This cake looks delicious!
    I love your recipes, and I hope you and your family are doing okay during this difficult time. 
    Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      I would think that should be fine. I haven’t really made any 6 inch cakes, but that would seem OK. I hope you enjoy it!

      So far we are all healthy! I hope you all are as well!

    2. Nighat

      Hi
      I made the Carrot cake as per your recipe. Unfortunately it didn’t come out right. Inside was still raw although I cooked it for longer than mentioned and at the right temp.
      Can you plz suggest what could have caused this?

      1. Lindsay

        It’s hard to say from a distance. This recipe was tested a ton, so it should bake as directed. There’s can be differences between ovens, so it’s possible that it needed to bake longer. Otherwise, maybe an ingredient was mismeasured?

  11. marisa

    Hi Lindsay
    would you have a substitute for the frosting, I’m in the UK and whenever I do creme cheese frosting comes out runny, and from reading several sites it says it could be because we only have spreadable creme cheese instead of block. I’ve tried so many different recipes and nothing seems to work.

    any suggestions please. I’ve heard or ermine frosting

    1. Lindsay

      Your best bet is probably going to be a regular buttercream. I’m not familiar with ermine frosting though. If you wanted something a little different, you could try adding a little mascarpone cheese to the regular buttercream, if that’s available.

    2. Madison

      Such a great comment Marisa! I’m in the UK too and never realised our cream cheese was softer than the US one, this would explain why my cream cheese frosting is also on the runny side! I mean it holds, but it is always quite soft for piping and I don’t want to add too much icing sugar as it would be too sweet. I’ll try to add mascarpone as you recommend Lindsay! 🙂 I’ve made a few of your recipes btw and they were a huge hit!!

  12. Eleni

    What would you recommend to make this gluten-free? Just a GF flour, or can I use straight cassava, or even almond flour?

    Thanks!
    Eleni

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t ever bake gluten-free so I can’t speak from experience. I would think that a regular gluten-free all-purpose flour would be best. Almond flour is likely to change the texture of the cake.

  13. Terri

    This carrot cake is delicious! Somehow I ended up with just over half the amount of pureed carrots I was supposed to have (even though I weighed and measured my carrots twice!) I didn’t have cloves so subbed in allspice; added the pineapple, coconut, and, walnuts; and made cupcakes with half of the batter, and one cake pan. I have been a big fan of your recipes since I came across your chocolate cake recipe several months ago. Thanks!

  14. Nancy Cole

    I made the best ever carrot cake for thanksgiving, (Never made a carrot cake before) my husband sampled a piece last night, his comment was this is better than any cake my Mama ever made. and coming from a southern mama’s boy that is about the highest compliment you can get. I also made you Carmel Cheesecake Brownie Trffel for a dinner party, hit of the night. I just love your recipes.

    Thank You
    Nancy Cole

  15. Sherry

    This sounds yummy! I’m considering using gerber baby food (carrots and applecasue) in this receipe. My family is not a big fan of chunky items in their food. How much would you reccomend to use as a replacement?

    1. Lindsay

      The carrot purée is not chunky, if that’s the concern. You could certainly leave out the grated carrots. As for using baby food, I didn’t test it so it’s hard for me to say for sure. You’re probably going to want to add the same amount as the carrot purée.

  16. Annie

    Wow! I really want to try this recipe because it has so many carrots in it, it sounds almost healthy, but I’ve been too lazy and/or not had enough carrots to do it!
    To the reviewer above who said that her layers did not rise very much, that is my only concern with this cake. The ratio of carrots to flour and other dry ingredients is so high that it worries me a bit. If I’m going to use 3 and 1/2 lb of carrots in one cake, I want to be sure it’s going to come out! It is in my starred recipes, though, so it’s going to get made eventually! Thanks for this interesting twist on a classic.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say what happened with the other person‘s cake. There are a lot of possibilities. However, I wouldn’t suggest reducing the amount of carrots in this cake for the purée. The purée replaces using an ingredient like milk, so adjusting it could leave you with a dry cake. You could reduce the amount of grated carrots if you like though.

    2. Melanie

      I have made this several times and it doesn’t rise much at all for me but it is SO moist! It is a hit every time!

  17. Sarah

    I’ve been looking for a good carrot cake recipe, and my search has ended! I’m convinced this is the best carrot cake ever. I used the pineapple and a handful of sultanas – next time will include pecans too. I didn’t use as much sugar in the icing though.
    Already looking forward to making again!

  18. Evelyn

    Hi Lindsay! This cake looks amazing and delicious! I was wondering if I were to make cupcakes, how long would I bake them in the oven? 

    1. Lindsay

      I would check them at around 20 minutes and then add more time if needed. I’m going to guess it’s between 20 and 25 minutes.

  19. Ari

    Baked this oh! So delicious cake.  My family is a fan this moist carrot cake, it was my first time ever and I will bake it again. Thank you for sharing your baking talents. I’m Gibbs be buying your book. 

  20. Michelle

    I made this for Easter and it was a big hit with the family. Very moist and flavorful, thanks for sharing the recipe. I always look forward to your posts.

  21. Lori Morgan

    Hi Lindsay! I love your site and your recipes, beautiful cakes! I’ve been searching for a carrot cake to make for a friend and this one sounds perfect, just what I’ve been looking for. What difference would i see going with the milk over the carrot puree?? And does this work well as cupcakes? Thank you!! Lori

    1. Lindsay

      The real difference is in flavor. The carrot puree just adds a lot more flavor. I personally am a big fan. If you have time to try it, I recommend it. But the milk works well too. I didn’t try it as cupcakes, but I’d expect it to work just fine.

      1. Fanny

        Hi Lindsay i want to make carrot cake for first birthday.
        I want to make whipping cream instead of cream cheese frosting ?

  22. Kim

    Best carrot cake I’ve ever had! Perfect in every way! Definitely worth the time. Very easy. The sweetness to cream cheese ratio is perfect. A keeper..rave reviews from all. Thanks!

  23. Lori

    I have made many if your cakes and cupcakes and they are always a crowd favorite. Can I make this recipe in 3 6” pans instead of 2 9” pans? 

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure how I missed your comment – I’m sorry! It would probably be too much batter for 6 inch pans, so you might want to reduce it.

  24. Margie

    Looks divine!
    Is it ok to cook in just one pan. Ie no layers?
    And if so how big should the pan be and long would you suggest?

    1. Lindsay

      No, you’ll want to use at least 2 pans. If you put it all in one pan, it will take forever to bake and dry out.

  25. Wendy

    I run a home baking business and under my state’s cottage food laws I can’t make cream cheese frosting since it must be refrigerated.  I don’t offer carrot cake for this reason but would love to have this option for Easter.  Would a cinnamon American Buttercream be ok as a substitution??  Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes! 

    1. Lisamarie Loranger

      I have been thinking about trying to run a baking business from him could you retell me how to get started with this and if there is any states that will not allow me to do this. My husband and I have both worked in the food industry, my husband had a food truck business in Hawaii prior to moving back to his hometown to care for his mother. We have a love for baking/cooking and many of our friends and neighbors approve of the food. By the way that American Cinnamon Buttercream frosting sounds amazing (would go great with Cinnamon Rolls)

  26. Heather

    Is there a particular vegetable oil that you prefer to use?  It seems some oils have a stronger taste that I don’t like in oil cakes.

    Thank you

    1. Sarah

      Hi there, I used rice bran oil in mine, which you can hardly taste in most cakes. I’ve also used coconut oil in cakes too which is lovely if you con’t mind a mild coconut-y flavour 🙂

  27. Myriam Zuniga

    I made this recipe and it is very moist and full of flavor. The carrot puree is definitely a game changer!

      1. Jennifer Stone

        How much should it rise?  Mine just came out, but they don’t look like they rose much. 🙁

      2. Lindsay

        They should rise pretty decently. The individual layers should be an inch or so in height. I would double check all your ingredients. I know I’ve accidentally left things out before. And then also make sure you’re fully creaming the butter and sugar. It adds air to the batter that helps it rise. It may help to set a timer for three or four minutes and let the mixer run.

  28. Diana

    Lindsay, I have tried a number of your cakes and other sweets, and they are always excellent! Your photos are very well done, and whatever you are showcasing is just so well presented that it’s always enticing to try new recipes.

    Thank you for such a great blog! I truly enjoy receiving all of your recipes and family updates!

    Best wishes, Diana

      1. Steven Dale Stewart

        At top it says cook time 47 minutes. In the instructions it says 29-32. Nowhere does it say ove temp. So I will go with 350°

      2. Lindsay

        In a recipe, the total cook time refers to total cooking that is involved for all things. So the cook time at the top also includes cooking time on the stove for the carrots. Number 4 in the instructions mentions cooking temperature and it’s 350. And the cooking time included in the instructions for the cake layers is correct. I hope that helps.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12