The BEST Carrot Cake

March 10, 2014 by Ali

Only the BEST carrot cake recipe, in my humble opinion. Check it out! ;)

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

I was planning to wait and post this recipe closer to Easter. But as you all know, I seem to have zero patience when it comes to sharing recipes I’ve made that I really love. And carrot cake happens to fall in the category of recipes I really, really, really love. So without further ado, I present to you a very humbly-named classic:

The BEST Carrot Cake.

Well, at least it’s the best in my opinion, as I am a total purist when it comes to carrot cakes. That’s right. I’m one of those people who does not want to see any nuts, raisins, pineapple, applesauce, or (heaven forbid) carrot substitutes in my carrot cake. Instead, give me a perfectly spiced, moist cake made with a heaping mount of freshly-grated carrots and lots of homemade cream cheese frosting. And I will be a very happy carrot-cake-eating camper.

(Ok, ok, though — if you happen to adore nuts and/or raisins in your carrot cake, we can still be friends. I’ve included an option in the recipe for how to add them in.)

Still, in my world, this recipe is Da Best. I even tested it twice this week just to double check with my friends, and they wholeheartedly agreed. (And for the record, this one is 500x better than a box mix!) So here’s the how-to:

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Alright, here’s the how-to:

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

As I mentioned, one of my absolute non-negotiables for good carrot cake is an entire pound of freshly-grated carrots. They make all the difference in terms of flavor and helping to create a good moist cake. Although don’t worry if you’ve never baked a homemade carrot cake before — the carrots totally blend in to the cake once it is baked. No “eh, what’s up Doc?” carrot crunching moments here. :)

If you have a food processor, this process can be made so much easier by grating carrots using the (fine) grater attachment. But otherwise, you can get a good bicep workout and burn some calories by grating carrots by hand. It will make eating them back up all the sweeter, right?

So grate about 1 pound of carrots…

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Then mix up your cake batter, and fold the carrots in at the last minute. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Then pour it into cake pans that have been greased and floured. I chose to bake 3 8-inch round cakes, but this recipe also works for 2 9-inch round cakes. (You will just need to adjust the cooking time.)

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Then once they are done, pop them out of the oven and let them cool until they reach room temperature. Then I like to pop them in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to cool slightly, in order to make them easier to level and frost.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

So while they are cooling, whip up a batch of homemade cream cheese frosting. I made mine with low-fat cream cheese, but any kind will work.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

Then pull your cakes out, and level them off to even thickness with a large knife or cake leveler.

Pop them on a pedestal or serving plate, and then layer a nice thick glob of cream cheese frosting between each layer, and then frost the rest of your cake however you’d like.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

And then you’ll have one heck of a carrot cake ready to enjoy. Speaking of, I think I’ll go have a leftover piece right now. :)

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |

The BEST Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 3-level 8-inch cake, or 1 2-level 9-inch cake


    Carrot Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 lb. finely-grated fresh carrots
  • (optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and/or 1/2 cup raisins)
  • Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (or more if needed to thicken)


How To Make The Carrot Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Or alternately, you can use two 9-inch round baking pans. (Just be sure that every square inch of the pans greased and coated in flour so that the cake does not stick!)

In the bowl of a large stand mixer, mix together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, and beat on medium-speed until just combined, scraping down the pan at least once to be sure that everything is well mixed. Then fold in the grated carrots by hand, and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove pans and let them cool on a wire rack until the cakes reach room temperature.

I then like to pop them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to cool off slightly. Then remove them and use a large knife or a cake leveler to level off the domed tops of the cakes so that they are level and even.

Layer the cakes with the cream cheese frosting, and then frost the outside of the cake as you desire. Serve that day or store, covered, for up to 4 days.

How To Make The Cream Cheese Frosting:

Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 1 minute or until smooth with no lumps remaining. Add in vanilla extract and salt, and continue mixing until combined. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add in powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until combined.

If frosting is too thick, you can add in a teaspoon or two of water. If it is too thin, you can add in more powdered sugar.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe |




filed in Desserts

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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84 thoughts on “The BEST Carrot Cake

  1. Just made this cake yesterday and followed the cake recipe exactly. I’m pleased to say that this turned out wonderful. It moist, not too dense, and full of flavor! I received compliments from people who typically don’t like carrot cake. :) The only issue I had were some little green bits in the cake, and after researching a little, read that carrots can sometimes turn green if there is too much baking soda in the recipe or it’s not mixed properly. Still safe to eat and tasted delicious though. Anyone else have this problem?

    - Shana

    • Oh odd! I’ve never run into that before. Thanks for letting me know. Who would have guessed orange carrots could turn green?!

      Glad you liked the cake though! :)

      - Ali

  2. Just wanted you to Thank You for posting this amazing recipe! Carrot cake is my husband’s absolute favorite and this truly is the best one I have ever baked. I made it first for his birthday and now, today, our 19th wedding Anniversary :). It, by far, rivals his previous favorite at the Cheesecake Factory. Can’t wait for him to come home to this beautiful, moist, delicious cake!

    - Tara

  3. I am so excited to find this recipe and will be making it tonight for my 2 year old daughter, and her daddy’s, birthdays tonight. He is also a purist when it comes to his carrot cake – and I’ve never been able to make it to equal his mother’s. Tonight though, my friends, I have a feeling that will change!

    Thank you, Ali! Can’t wait to feed this to my family!

    - Abbie

  4. Three (3) packages of 8 oz of cream cheese? that’s 24 ounces of cream cheese, this that correct?

    - Melanie Sedam

  5. Would this work using a 9×13 pan?

    - Kate

  6. This carrot cake looks super mouthwatering! I am looking for a nice carrot cake recipe for a a long time, and this one does not even look too complicates :) I will try this one out for sure!

    - Sonja @ unearthedkitchen

  7. Where I live there’s a bakery that sells the most amazing carrot cake ever. I have tried different carrot cakes from different places but no one could compare.
    A few days ago I had a request from one of my friends, she wanted a carrot cake also shaped as a carrot for her daughter’s 1st bday party.

    I found this recipe on pinterest and I can’t be more happy I did because THIS is the most amazing carrot cake! It’s just like the one I love from my local bakery!
    It was my first time making a carrot cake and it was a challenge for me because it was very big. My friend needed to have enough for her 100 guests.
    I made this recipe X4
    The cake was a hit!

    - Tania Torres

  8. I made this carrot cake for Easter today! I also made a second cake of our family recipe carrot cake to compare the two and had my family do a blind taste test. Your recipe did very well, and no one would declare a winner. Everyone enjoyed the texture and spicy flavor. Not hot spicy, but flavor spicy. They thought it was a spice carrot cake. I thought it was fantastic and relish, loved how evenly the layers baked up. And, Lordy, the frosting! Smooth and creamy, not too sweet. The frosting recipe made enough for me to generously frost 2 cakes with leftovers to sit and eat straight from the bowl! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    - Gretchen

  9. This was popular tonight. Thanks for the recipe. I used a maple buttercream frosting as a special request. It was delicious. Tons left to enjoy tomorrow.

    - JenS

  10. how many cupcakes would this recipe make???

    - JAMIE

  11. I adore carrot cake, and I especially love the little flags! I would be thrilled if you would hop over to my Easter/Passover Recipe Roundup and share this awesome recipe with us! You can find it here: Hope to see you there! HUGS & Happy Easter!

    - Cheryl

  12. Hi there. This recipe looks amazing. Do you think it would work as cupcakes??

    - Jen

  13. Great basic carrot cake recipe. I made this for my dad’s birthday it was very good. However I don’t think using 6 eggs is necessary, I think 4 at the least would have been fine. 6eggs made this cake more dense and stiff, and even took some of the moisture out of the cake.

    - Michelle

  14. My favorite cake of all time. No coconut or pineapple please! Looks yummy and I will defibatly be baking this weekend. Thank you!

    - Karyn Brennan

  15. Made this yerterday and it was so good. I would add 1/4 cup more of oil for more tender cake. It was delicious. Great recipe.

    - Ruthy

  16. I’d like some now please!! Yum, I heart carrot cake!

    - caitlin @ tulle wedding skirts

  17. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! I would like to try it as cupcakes. Is there anything I would need to do differently for that? Would you be able to recommend an appropriate cooking time to try?

    - Jessica

  18. Dear Ali! It looks devine! How many days in advance do you think I can bake the layers without needing to freeze them? Do you think it would hold form Friday till Sunday?

    - Reka

    • Hi Reka,

      I think that it would definitely hold from Friday to Sunday. Any more than 2-3 days, though, and I would probably freeze them.


      - Ali

  19. I just made this carrot cake for my boyfriend’s birthday! We loved it! It was so moist with just a hint of spice but nothing overpowering. This is definitely my go to recipe now…Don’t tell my grandma though! :) Hope you don’t mind me posting this recipe & your website on my blog!!!

    - Kim

  20. Definitely the most incredibly beautiful carrot cake I have ever seen in my life. I love this! I adore carrot cake and geez, these photographs are stunning! Pinned, Pinned Pinned indeed.

    - Tiffany@CremedelaCrumb

  21. Positively gorgeous carrot cake Ali! Can’t wait to give your recipe a go!

    - Carrie @ The Cake Blog

  22. There is nothing like a piece of carrot cake. One of my best dessert. I did try many recipes over the years. I will try this one and compare to my #1 recipe. Thanks.

    - LaCuisineHelene

  23. This cake looks delicious! I personally like to add some lemon juice in the frosting but I’ll definitely try your recipe some time soon :)

    - Elise

  24. Great recipy

    - radwa

  25. Three layers of carrot cake? Yes, hands down the best carrot cake! Sharing…

    - Maggie Unzueta @ Mama Maggie's Kitchen

  26. This cake looks divine!

    - Medeja

  27. Good Morning Ali,

    I have following you since long back. T’day I could not resist to visit your site and enjoy the virtual treat. Three-layer cake is definitely wonderful and loved the cute little flag on top of it.

    Have a lovely week ahead!

    - Rashida Shaikh

  28. Wow! This cake looks so beautiful!

    - Chloe @ foodlikecake

  29. LOVE everything about this….Will convert to gf version asap!!!!

    - Jackie

  30. This cake is gorgeous! Yay to no nuts, raisins, or pineapple. Love ‘em all, just not in my carrot cake. Those little toothpick banners are adorable.

    - Jennie @themessybakerblog

  31. Totally gorgeous!

    - Meredith

  32. This looks like the PERFECT carrot cake Ali!

    - Nicole

  33. Gorgeous carrot cake, I love your cream cheese frosting too!

    - Laura (Tutti Dolci)

  34. This does look like the best carrot cake!

    - Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.

  35. My five year old has been super inquisitive about carrot cake recently. We totally have to make THE BEST carrot cake :) Thanks for sharing!!

    - Katie @ The Surly Housewife

  36. What a stunning cake!

    - Meriem @ Culinary Couture

  37. So pretty, Ali!! I have actually never had carrot cake, but your has left me thinking I need to change that!

    - Tieghan

  38. Eeeek! I believe you! That does look like the best carrot cake in the world!!

    - Jessica

  39. Omg…I love you even more now that I know we share a similar carrot cake philosophy!! I can’t stand the addition of raisins or pineapple or other items. Give me carrots, spice and cream cheese. :)

    - Liz @ The Lemon Bowl

  40. Ali, Thanks for sharing! When I was a kid, most of my friends would order chocolate cake and I’d be ordering carrot cake because I loved it so much. It’s still a favorite to this day. I cannot wait to try this!

    - Bri | Bites of Bri

  41. I really, really, really love carrot cake too and this one looks absolutely perfect! Great recipe!!

    - Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts

  42. OMG so glad to find a purist when it comes to carrot cakes too!!!! It’s my favourite cake of all time, for sure.

    - Mariana @ The Candid Kitchen

  43. This is almost identical to my favorite carrot cake recipe which came from Sr. Loretta at St. Pius, where I taught in another life. The layers freeze well unfrosted & the cake is very moist when it thaws. So double the recipe & stash one in the freezer for later.

    - Cate's Aunt Moe

  44. What a beautiful carrot cake! I never really liked carrot cake until recently. I like that you kept it simple without the nuts or raisins, but adding interest with additional spices.

    - Connie

  45. Love this. The addition of cloves and nutmeg takes this up a notch.

    - Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg

  46. Very impressive, love all the layers and the frosting looks divine.

    - cheri

  47. oh god I could just smell the spices and see how moist this is…and yayy for going with tiny flags :)

    - Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

  48. Beautiful cake! Feels perfect for the spring <3

    - Nicole

  49. Can’t even remember the last time I had carrot cake. It always brings back fond memories of my grandmother though. She was known for her delicious carrot cake. Looking forward to making it soon!
    Beautiful photos!

    - Melanie @ Carmel Moments

  50. Sounds terrific! What are the nutritional values :)

    - Nancy

  51. It’s the best, I do attest! It’s simply the best!

    - the girl who scarfed two pieces.

    - dana

  52. This my kind of carrot cake…delicious! I love the cream cheese icing. I always look for good carrot cakes with rich cream cheese icing…this one has it all! Thanks for sharing!

    - Jodee Weiland

  53. I haven’t had carrot cake in ages! Ali, this cake is beautiful!!

    - Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain

  54. I’m so, so glad you didn’t wait to share this cake!! Oh that frosting! My only non-negotiable about carrot cake is that it’s moist and there is carrot, because, umm, its called CARROT cake for a reason. But yours looks super moist and I just want to snatch that piece off the plate. No fork needed. :-)

    - Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking

  55. I love me some carrot cake and I like it just the way you do. No nuts, raisins, pineapple or any of that faff. Just simple and easy

    - Rochelle @ Oh So Sweet Baker

  56. This recipe is almost identical to the one I use. It’s the bomb diggity.
    Thanks for sharing.

    - Sabrina

  57. I do love a good carrot cake and three layers! Who can resist.

    - Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living

  58. I totally agree with you, I won’t go near carrot cake with any of those items in it… especially raisins or coconut, ew! Your cake is gorgeous.

    - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

  59. carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes. i love the little flags :)

    - Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run

  60. This looks amazing!! I’m all about the frosting with carrot cake. More the better!

    - Jamielyn@iheartnaptime

  61. I love carrot cake!!! this recipe looks seriously amazing – pinned!

    - Christine @ Cooking with Cakes

  62. I am so with you – I am a purist and I love a good carrot cake but please no pineapples! This looks so good!

    - danielle

  63. Fabulous. Perfect for St. Paddy’s Day entertaining! :)

    - Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer

  64. Stunning cake, Ali! Carrot cake is my absolutely favorite!

    - Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen

  65. Beautiful! And I love the little flags on top. I was just looking at carrot cake recipes last night because I bake one every year for my best friend’s birthday, so this comes at a perfect time!!

    - Marie @ Little Kitchie

  66. Carrot cake is my favorite cake of all time!!

    - Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

  67. Looks so pretty! I love the little flags on top too – adorable. And glad to see lots of carrot in there – I’m a purist when it come sot carrot cake too…

    - Skye

  68. I posted an Easter carrot cake recipe today too…because I, like you, have about -1000 patience! This really does look like the BEST carrot cake Ali! And I ADORE your little toppers….that is one beautiful carrot cake.

    - Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness