The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

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A classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that’s easy to bake and decorate. Incredibly moist and packed with flavor, you’ll love this delicious recipe!

Love carrot cake? Give our favorite recipe for carrot cake cookies a try this holiday. Topped with cream cheese frosting and pecans, it’s the perfect holiday treat. It’s even perfect on a NON holiday!

Two slices of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on white plates.
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Why this Carrot Cake is Best

Why I love this recipe: It’s 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, or as carrot cake cupcakes, 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.

NEW AND IMPROVED: I’ve updated this recipe to be even better than before!!

If you love today’s carrot cake recipe, be sure to try our Hummingbird Cake next! Check out our list of favorite Easter desserts too!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make a carrot cake.

New Ingredient Changes:

  • More Oil- we increased the oil in this recipe from our old version. This keeps it extra moist for DAYS.
  • More Carrots- I mean, it’s nearly a pound of shredded carrots (3 cups) in this delicious cake, you HAVE to have the carrots for flavor.
  • More Seasonings- while the old recipe was great, the additional vanilla, cloves, and nutmeg take this cake to the next level!
  • More Flour- you need all-purpose flour to hold up to the weight of the carrots. And because we increased the oil, I added an additional 1/4 cup of flour to our old recipe.
  • Nuts- In my old recipe I added nuts to the frosting. Now I decided it was time to add them to the cake. Delicious decision! Learn how to toast pecans for even more flavor!
  • Tangier Frosting- I doubled the cream cheese in the frosting to give it more tang!

How to Make Carrot Cake

Step by step photos showing how to make carrot cake.

Carrot cake is an easy enough recipe for even beginning bakers!

Make the Cake Batter.

  1. Mix the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and eggs in a large bowl or stand mixer. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  2. Beat for 2 minutes until fully combined and fluffy.

Add carrots and nuts. 

  1. Fold shredded carrots and nuts into the cake batter. (the batter will be thick!)

Bake. 

  1. Pour the batter into two well-greased and floured 9-inch cake pans (homemade cake release can also be used instead of baking spray).
  2. Bake for 38-42 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool.

When the cake is fully cooled, prepare the frosting.

Carrot Cake Frosting

Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake in a glass bowl.
  • 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 half batch of 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.

This frosting recipe uses twice the amount of cream cheese as my regular cream cheese frosting recipe. This results in an ultra creamy topping.

Cream cheese frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week. You may need to let it sit out for 15-30 minutes before frosting your cake.

Cream cheese icing is very thin and does NOT pipe and hold it’s shape. I HIGHLY suggest making a crumb coat, refrigerate for 30 minutes, then spread the remaining frosting on the cake.

Make it in a 13×9

Slice of carrot cake on a white plate with 13x9 in background.

While layer cakes can be impressive, 13×9 cakes are usually more practical. To do this:

  • Grease and flour 13×9, use baking spray, or use our homemade cake relase.
  • Bake cake for about 45 minutes, testing doneness with a toothpick.
  • You’ll need about 1/2 batch of the cream cheese frosting, since there are no layers to frost!
Double layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a wood cake platter.

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Carrot Cake Recipe

4.78 from 40 votes
By: Aimee
A classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that’s easy to bake and decorate. Incredibly moist and packed with flavor, you'll love this delicious recipe!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 38 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients 

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots or finely shredded
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened 8 oz each
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
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Instructions 

  • Mix sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Beat for 2 minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
  • Fold in carrots and chopped nuts.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour batter into well greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 38-42 minutes. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.
  • When cake is cooled, cream together butter and cream cheese (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla, powdered sugar and milk, mix well. Spread over cake and enjoy!

Notes

  • 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!
  • Make sure the cake is completely cool before you add the frosting.
  • This frosting is more loose than a traditional cream cheese frosting. You may want to do a crumb coat first, then chill, then frost with the remaining frosting.
  • Carrots. 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 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 on the same day you’re ready to serve.
  • Storage: Keep cake in covered container in refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze slices of cake by wrapping in plastic wrap then slide into airtight containers or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Make it in a 13×9. To do this: Grease and flour 13×9, use baking spray, or use our homemade cake relase. Bake cake for about 45 minutes, testing doneness with a toothpick. You’ll need about 1/2 batch of the cream cheese frosting, since there are no layers to frost!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 606kcal, Carbohydrates: 73g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 25g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 245mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 57g
Course: Cake, Easter
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!

More Cake Recipes

Spread with rich and sweet cream cheese frosting, this classic carrot cake recipe is as easy as it is delicious. 

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on March 22, 2011

Comments & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This cake is Wonderful! I followed the recipe except for instead of 1 1/2 cups oil I used 1 cup oil and 1/2 cup buttermilk.

  2. Always love to make this cake, this is one of my favorite cakes to make. It is always so moist and delicious. And my family loves it. I have also made this with cream cheese cake in the middle. It is fantastic. Caroline from North Carolina

  3. The first time I made this cake it was a little bit too oily and too sweet for my taste. The next time I made it I reduced oil by 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, and reduced sugar by 1/4 cup. Turned out great,

  4. I used the cake recipe for the cupcakes. I like the addition of ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. They’re in the oven and smell amazing. I included the pecans also.

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