The BEST Carrot Cake

In my humble opinion, this truly is the best carrot cake recipe!  It’s perfectly moist and delicious, made with lots of fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

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:

Carrot Cake

How To Make The BEST Carrot Cake:

Alright, here’s the how-to!

Shredded carrots

To begin, 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 with a box grater by hand.  It will make eating them back up all the sweeter, right?

So grate about 1 pound of carrots…

Carrot cake batter in mixer

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

Carrot cake batter

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

Carrot cake layers

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

Cream cheese frosting

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.

Frosting a carrot cake

Then pull your cakes out, and level them off to even thickness with a large knife or cake leveler.  (<– This one was just $7 on Amazon, and I think totally worth it if you bake lots of cakes!)

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

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.  :)

Slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

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The BEST Carrot Cake

This classic carrot cake recipe is moist, perfectly-spiced and made with lots of fresh carrots and a cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or you can use vegetable oil or canola oil)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 pound 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 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (or more if needed to thicken)

Directions:

How To Make The Carrot Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°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.

*You can either grate fresh carrots by hand with a box grater, or grate them with a food processor by using the shredding disk.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

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933 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake”

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  1. This looks delicious and I want to make it for my boyfriend’s birthday this weekend. Do you think it would be ok if I left out the ground cloves? I looked at them in the store the other day and it was so expensive for even the tiny bottle when I just need a pinch this one time.

  2. SPECTACULAR, my two-year-old and I just pulled it off and now we get share the excellence, no nuts needed. the only downside is I have dishes detail :-) four enthusiastic thumbs up for a delicious cake with no milk

    Rating: 5
  3. This cake is incredible – with or without icing! But, I highly recommend the cream cheese buttercream icing!

    Rating: 5
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  6. Love it! Great recipe

    Rating: 5
  7. Can I use the pregrated carrots

  8. I made this cake today to bring to my boyfriends’ grandmas house for dessert. I have never made a carrot cake before but for some reason it was stuck in my head to try it.
    I followed the recipes exactly (using canola oil) and its turned out sooooo beautifully. I could not have asked for a more delicious/fluffy cake!
    Im SOO impressed.
    Also, i have never left a comment on a recipe before either, but i feel like this one was worth it 100%
    For the icing I only used 1 cup cream cheese, 1 cup butter room temp, 1 tbsp vanilla. And about 4-5 cups powdered sugar. and it had more than enough icing that i just started decorating for fun lol.
    Thank you sooooo much for this recipe! I will be making again for sure, probably again already this week

    Rating: 5
  9. I want to make this a sheet cake. How long will I cook it for?

  10. This is seriously the best carrot cake recipe! We make it for birthdays and I even used the recipe to make our wedding cake. Now even people in our families who don’t like carrot cake beg us to make this recipe for them. I add a little cinnamon and allspice…but we like things a bit spicier in general. Perfect as is too :) Thanks for the recipe…it’s now our family classic.

    Rating: 5
  11. Can you make this cake into cupcakes? I would love to make them for Easter I think my family would love this!🌸

  12. What would be the best way to adjust baking time/temp to do as cupcakes?

  13. I’m making this cake for Sunday Easter. I wonder what’s the equivalent of one kind of shredded carrots to cups?

  14. Can this cake be made without a stand mixer ? I only have a hand mixer ! I would like to make this for tomorrow. Thank you

  15. First time making carrot cake and the step by step instructions were fail proof! It turned out PERFECT! Lot’s of raves!!!

    Rating: 5
  16. Do you think this recipe would work swapping the eggs for applesauce (egg allergy)?

  17. Just pulled this out of the oven…it smells so yummy! Just a heads up that you can shred carrots in a Vitamix! I found a YouTube video that showed it. Cheers to one less kitchen appliance and being one step closer to carrot cake on a regular basis!

    Rating: 5
  18. Perfect carrot cake. Even the frosting may be my go to cream cheese frosting now!

    Rating: 5
  19. 2tsp of salt??? I’ve never seen that much in a cake did everyone use that much???

  20. I used this recipe in a bundt pan, baked it 40-45 minutes and it turned out amazing! Omit the butter and flour when using a bundt pan and use baking spray or almond flour for a better release.

    Rating: 4
  21. This was a hit! The title says it all, didn’t change a thing! I’m the king of Easter now!

  22. Perfect!

    Rating: 4
  23. My first attempt at carrot cake. I added raisins and walnuts because that’s what everyone else wanted. It was amazing! My MIL kept saying it was just like her mother’s and that’s a high compliment. I had a couple extra ounces of carrots after peeling and shredding in there, the pans were very full. I used 2 9″rounds, and had to bake it probably 45 mins, (I lost track of my 5 minute extensions). Next time I’ll use three 9’s, if I do that again.

    Rating: 5
  24. I made this cake for Easter and it was a hit. The debate was with or without pineapple and raisins. Made it without either one. Only one person wanted without. Next time I’m adding pineapple to it.

    Rating: 5
  25. Every easy to make. Great taste. Ingredients on hand. I also add a 1/4teaspoon of ginger it complemented the recipe.

  26. My family have not stopped talking about it since I made it yesterday for Easter, most not care if for carrot cake. Hands down the BEST cake I have ever made or maybe have had. Thank you so much!

    Rating: 5
  27. Every time I make this cake my middles never cook as fast ? I’m always having to leave it in more ! Any suggestions as to why that may be eventually it cooks but it’s my favorite cake to make around easter please help!!

    Rating: 4
  28. After 15 years of making my husband a yellow cake with chocolate icing for his birthday, he switched things up on me this year and asked for “the best carrot cake in the world.” Huh? I was pretty sure I didn’t even like carrot cake. I found this recipe after a quick Pinterest search and chose it because the comments were all positive and because it didn’t include raisins/nuts/pineapple.

    Holy cow. This cake is amazing. I made it for my husband’s birthday March 20 and then again for Easter. It’s SO GOOD. For the second cake, I used the cake scraps and the leftover icing to make cake pops, and they were devoured at work.

    PS I made one change. I like the icing with a little tang, so I only used 4 cups of powdered sugar.

    Rating: 5
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  30. We made it as a sheet cake, turned out amazing. We made 2 batches of everything and stacked it, with a layer of the frosting in between. We booked each layer for 15 min, then rotated and baked for 7 more. Was perfect for a huge party, great recipe.

    Rating: 5
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  32. add coconut even makes it better

  33. Hi 😊
    The brown sugar in your recipe is it dark brown sugar or light brown sugar?

    Thanks so much and looking forward to hearing from you 😊

    Rating: 5
  34. loved it!

    Rating: 5
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  36. Hi Ali. I made this cake the other day and it absolutely DELICIOUS. I found it a little bit dry on first day, but kept in the fridge and the next day it was just perfect.
    Can I freeze this cake? If yes, how do I defrost? A day before serving? Sorry I’m very new to baking.
    Thanks

  37. This recipe is incredible! For years, I made Paula Deen’s carrot cake recipe. Lately, I haven’t been as pleased with it as I originally had. So, I searched for other recipes, read the ingredients, and thought that this cake would be phenomenal. It was and it is! I do bake it as two 9 inch layers. The only adaption that I’ve made to it is that I put a cheesecake layer in the middle. This has become the newly requested carrot cake! Thanks for posting it!

    Rating: 4
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  39. Hey! I plan on making this in the morning. I would like to make three 9″ layers. Do you recommend that I 1.5x the recipe to do this?

  40. I can’t wait to make this cake
    . Looks yummy.

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