A classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that’s easy to bake and decorate. The addition of pecans in the frosting and cake makes this carrot cake recipe extra delicious!
Yesterday, a good friend of mine came over to spend some time in my kitchen. It was her husband’s birthday and she wanted to surprise him with his all-time favorite cake–Carrot Cake.
It had been years since I’d baked carrot cake and I’d almost forgotten how much I like it. I hadn’t planned originally on making a carrot cake for our family too but it sounded so good I went with it!
We mixed up two batches of the batter and doubled the frosting so we’d have enough for both cakes.
Carrot Cake Recipe
Made with fresh grated carrots and spiced with cinnamon, this carrot cake recipe also includes pecans folded into the frosting. The nutty flavor and crunch are a perfect fit for carrot cake. I love biting into a slice of moist cake and getting a delightful bite of pecan, too.
That said, if you’re not a fan of pecans or prefer your cake without them, simply omit the nuts. The cake tastes amazing either way!
This recipe works beautifully in a 9 x 13 cake pan but my personal favorite way to bake it is as a double layer cake!
Layered cake means more frosting per bite and, trust me, you’re going to want to enjoy AS MUCH of this tasty cream cheese frosting as possible.
Carrot Cake Recipe
Carrot cake is an easy enough recipe for even beginning bakers!
STEP 1. Make a Cake Batter.
Mix the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl or stand mixer. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
Beat for 2-3 minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
STEP 2. Add carrots.
Fold shredded carrots into the cake batter.
STEP 3. Bake.
Pour the batter into two well-greased and floured 9 inch cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch pan (homemade cake release can also be used instead of baking spray).
Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool.
When the cake is fully cooled, prepare the frosting.
How do you grate carrots for carrot cake?
You can grate carrots for carrot cake using either a box grater or a food processor. Make sure to start with washed, peeled carrots.
If using a box grater, place the carrot against the side of the grater and run the carrot downward to grate.
When you use a food processor, use the smallest setting on your grating attachment. You want the pieces very fine without turning into a puree.
Can you make carrot cake ahead of time?
This moist cake can be made up to two days in advance of serving if stored properly in an airtight container.
For best taste, bake the cake and store it (un-frosted) wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Frost the cake when you’re ready to serve.
Can you freeze carrot cake?
If you need to make your cake more than a day or two ahead of serving it freezes wonderfully–with or without the cream cheese frosting on top.
Unlike other icings, this sturdy frosting holds up well to freezing.
Cut the cake into slices and store in freezer bags or airtight containers. Let thaw completely in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
STEP 1. Combine the Butter and Cream Cheese.
Use a hand mixer or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer to cream together the butter and cream cheese. Beat until well combined, about 3 minutes.
STEP 2. Add Powdered Sugar.
Beat in the powdered sugar along with the vanilla extract. Fold in the pecans.
STEP 3. Frost the Cake!
- To make a layer cake: Spread frosting over the flat side of one of the layers. Place the other layer on top then spread icing evenly over the whole cake.
- To make a sheet cake: Spread frosting evenly over the entire cake.
Decorate your cake with more icing or pecans, or serve it just as is! Either way, everyone loves this recipe.
Can you make cream cheese frosting ahead of time?
Yes, cream cheese frosting can be made in advance. Store it covered in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Tips and Tricks
- Let your cake cool for about 10 minutes in the pan after baking before removing them. This helps keep the cake from sticking and falling apart as you try to take it out of the pan!
- I like to use Bake Even Strips in my layer cakes. These handy little tools help the layers stay even while baking which makes for an ideal taste and appearance.
- Make sure the cake is completely cool before you add the frosting. Patience is a virtue here; even a slightly warm cake will make your frosting runny.
MORE Carrot Cake Recipes
Try these delicious spins on moist and flavorful carrot cake.
- The Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe
- Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake
- Carrot Bundt Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
- Carrot Cake Muffins
- Carrot Cake Muffin Tops with Cream Cheese Frosting
MORE Cake Recipes
- Strawberry Layer Cake
- Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe
- White Cake with Cranberry Filling
- Peanut Butter Cake
- No Bake Cheesecake Recipe
- Coconut Pound Cake
- Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Crunch Cake Recipe (dump cake)
- Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake Recipe
Recipe originally published March 22, 2011. Photos updated 2020.
Spread with rich and sweet cream cheese frosting, this classic carrot cake recipe is as easy as it is delicious.