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The BEST Carrot Cake!

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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.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

Oh hey. ♡ Just thought I would casually slide this recipe right here at the top of your feed in time for Easter. Because if you happen to be looking for the world’s best carrot cake recipe to make this weekend — or any delicious day of the year — look no further. Hundreds and hundreds of our readers have agreed over the years that this homemade carrot cake recipe is a hands-down winner!

I mean, I should admit right off that I will forever-and-always be on Team Carrot when it comes to my favorite kind of cake, so I am extra-partial to carrot cake in any form (including cupcakes or carrot cake bars). But because it’s my favorite, I hold extra high standards when it comes to exactly what constitutes the perfect slice.

First off, the perfect homemade carrot cake must always be fluffy and legit extra-moist — no dry cakes allowed.  It must also be made with the coziest warming spices, but just enough so that the flavor of all of those fresh carrots can shine through. And speaking of fresh carrots, a good carrot cake recipe must include lots of them speckled in every slice. Most importantly, though, a good carrot cake recipe must be accompanied with a rich and buttery cream cheese frosting in every single bite. Because in my book, a good moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is the ultimate dessert match made in heaven.

The other good news about this recipe? It’s much easier to make than it looks. You can make the entire recipe — both cake and frosting — 100% by hand if you would like. (No mixer required.)  You can also save yourself a step and purchase store-bought grated carrots or grate them in the food processor, if you don’t want to grate them by hand. And if you’ve never made a three-layer cake before, have no fear — it’s easier than it looks, and I’ve added a brand new video below to walk you through each step of the way.

Alright, let’s make some carrot cake together!

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe | 1-Minute Video

The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Homemade Carrot Cake Ingredients:

Alright, let’s make our shopping list! To make this homemade carrot cake recipe, you will need:

  • Oil: Any mild-flavored oil will do. I typically use avocado oil, but vegetable or canola oil would work too.
  • Sugars: Both granulated (white) and brown sugar.
  • Eggs and vanilla extract: Because…cake.
  • Flour: I always indulge here with classic all-purpose flour. But you’re welcome to sub in white whole wheat flour instead.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • Baking soda and baking powder: This recipe uses both.
  • Salt: I used fine sea salt. If you only have iodized (table) salt, I would recommend using a little less.
  • Freshly-grated carrots: Either grate them by hand with a box grater, use the shredding attachment on a food processor, or save yourself a step and buy them pre-grated.
  • (Optional add-ins): Feel free to also include chopped nuts (such as pecans or walnuts), shredded coconut, and/or raisins if you would like.
  • Cream cheese frosting: Made easily with cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar.

Ingredient amounts and full instructions included in the recipe box below.

How To Make Carrot Cake

How To Make Carrot Cake:

To make this homemade carrot cake recipe, simply:

  1. Prep your baking pans. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. (Or save yourself a step and just use baking spray, which already includes flour.)
  2. Make the cake batter. Mix together the oil and sugars, followed by the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients, and then the shredded carrots.
  3. Fill and bake. Portion the batter evenly into your three baking pans. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool on a wire baking rack until they reach room temperature. Meanwhile…
  4. Make the frosting.  See notes below.
  5. Assemble and frost the cake.  Once the cakes reach room temperature,* use a cake leveler or a bread knife to slice off the rounded tops of the cakes so that they are completely flat on top. Place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges. Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake. Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges of the cake.
  6. Serve and enjoy. Then once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy!

*I find that it’s easier to frost the cakes when they are slightly chilled. So I recommend popping them in the fridge for 15 minutes before frosting if you have the time.

Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting:

This dreamy cream cheese frosting recipe can either be made by hand in a mixing bowl or in a stand mixer — you choose! Just be sure that both the cream cheese and butter are both room temperature. (And if you want your frosting to be super-smooth, I also recommend sifting the powdered sugar in advance.)

To make cream cheese frosting, simply stir the cream cheese and butter together with the vanilla until completely smooth. Then add in however much powdered sugar is needed to make the icing nice and firm. (You may need more/less powdered sugar than the recipe calls for.)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Variations:

If you would like to customize your carrot cake, feel free to:

  • Add nuts: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup chopped nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, pepitas or hazelnuts) into the batter, and/or sprinkle extras on top of the frosting.
  • Add raisins: You could also stir in up to 1/4 cup of raisins.
  • Add coconut: Or up to 1/4 cup of toasted shredded coconut.
  • Spice the frosting: If you would like a bit of extra flavor in the frosting itself, I recommend stirring 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger into the frosting.
  • Make the recipe gluten-free and vegan: Use this recipe!

The Best Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe

More Carrot Recipes:

Looking for more delicious sweet carrot recipes? Here are a few of my faves! ♡

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The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

The BEST Carrot Cake

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 16 servings 1x

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cup avocado oil (or vegetable oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pound finely-grated* fresh carrots
  • optional: 1 cup chopped nuts or 1/2 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 3 (8-ounce) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (or more, if needed to thicken)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans.  (Or to save a step, you can coat them with baking spray, which already contains flour.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture into the egg mixture, and stir until smooth. Fold in the grated carrots and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.
  4. Portion the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Transfer the baking pans to a wire cooling rack and let the cakes cool until they reach room temperature.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined and smooth.  (You can either do this with a spatula, or with a hand or stand mixer.)  Gradually stir in the powdered sugar and mix until it is completely combined.  You want the frosting to be pretty firm for a 3-layer cake, so add more/less powdered sugar as needed to reach the correct consistency.
  6. Once the cakes reach room temperature,* use a cake leveler or a bread knife to slice off the rounded tops of the cakes so that they are completely flat on top.  Place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges.  Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake.  Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges of the cake.
  7. Once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy!  Or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.


Notes

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

*I find that it’s easier to frost the cakes when they are slightly chilled.  So I recommend popping them in the fridge for 15 minutes before frosting if you have the time.

Recipe instructions updated (with no ingredient changes) in April 2019.

This post contains affiliate links.

The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Recipe rating

1,099 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Looks fabulous! I can’t find the carrot cake bars. The link cycles me back to the carrot cake recipe. Thanks for helping!

  2. hello could someone please tell me the ingredients in grams?
    thank you :)

  3. I wanted to make the cake in a bundt pan. what changes would I need to make.

  4. Everyone LOVED this cake. Seriously it was so delicious. Made it with the vegan cream cheese frostings since I am lactose intolerant. No one even knew! The only thing to note is that the vegan recipe as is will only cover a two layer cake. Either way, this recipe was seriously incredible. I added chopped pecans to it but it would be super yummy with walnuts, chocolate chips, you name it. This is a MUST recipe!

  5. This is the best, most amazing carrot cake recipe I’ve come across- not dry at all! I made my former carrot cake recipe when I was a professional baker- no more. This will be my new go-to carrot cake recipe! Thank you!

  6. My husband’s favorite cake is carrot, and I made this for his birthday. I used two larger pans to make a two-layer cake, which added ten minutes to the baking time. It was a big hit with everyone, very moist and flavorful without being overly sweet. I will be saving this one!

  7. Absolutely fabulous, made 16 cupcakes from half the recipe, and cut each cupcake in half, and made 1/3 of the icing recipe and topped the middle and top with the icing. It was absolutely fabulous

  8. Can I cover my carrot cake while its baking in the oven sides become hard

  9. I am going to make your carrot cake but you should say how many cups not lbs of shredded carrots i do not have a scale

    Tks

  10. This is not a good recipe for carrot cake. Carrot cake is typically very moist. This recipe is far to dry. Would NOT recommend. Wasted alot of ingredients for a dry cake, very, very disappointed!

  11. Would feel a lot more confident if you could give the measurements in weight as well please

  12. I LOVE this cake! I was the most nervous about how much carrot to put in the recipe because I made this cake when I stayed with my mother and she didn’t have a scale to weigh the carrots. I bought a 32lb bag of organic carrots and finely chopped a few carrots in a food processor. I put in 2 heaping cups of finely chopped carrots and my cake turned out perfectly for Easter. Definitely a crowd pleaser. This will be my go to Carrot Cake recipe.

  13. Made this carrot cake for Easter. Followed recipe exactly (used vegetable oil not avocado). Seriously fabulous cake. Maybe the best cake I’ve had? So moist. Results in a huge bakery sized cake, so if you’re not hosting at least 8 people, you may want t to halve recipe. Will definitely make again.

  14. Excellent …excellent…excellent recipe…Perfect ratio cake to cream cheese frosting (emphasis on the exquisite frosting…texture…taste…quantity!!). My new…absolute bonafide GO-TO carrot cake recipe for each and every ‘carrot cake moment’. Followed the directions to the letter, excepting the oil…I used colza (canola) oil as I could not locate the avocado oil here in France.

    Merci…thank you most profoundly for your brilliant instructions…It felt as if I had a professional baker/pastry chef clearly explaining the ‘steps’ over my shoulder!

    People…you have found your “Ultimate Carrot Cake” recipe…no further searches required!!

  15. Great recipe my daughter has used this recipe like five times and it keeps coming out amazing we also use this recipe for my 1 year olds birthday cake but took out all the sugar and added for fruit sugar it tasted like a fruit bread but he was still happy! ?

  16. Could I use 9 inch pans? Thanks!

  17. I looooove this recipe so much, I use it everytime <3 Thank you!

  18. This frosting recipe should be cut in half! Way too much for this cake! Thanks for sharing, though! ❤

  19. I thought this tasted more like a spice cake than a carrot cake. It’s good, but not what I want in a carrot cake.

  20. Gonna try this recipe I have so much carrots I need use them before they go bad. Thank you for sharing. My husband , daughter, and I are gonna make this together. Aloha

  21. So I have a question for the baker who came up with this recipe. I also want to say I’ve made this SO many times and each time it has been a huge hit. Any frosting that I have left over my husband wants me to save in a bowl so he can eat it with a spoon later??
    My question is, what adjustments to temperature and baking time would you suggest for making this into cupcakes?

  22. Universal measurements in grams please! Please! Please!

  23. I LOVED this recipe but need to make it gluten free. Can this be done with a simple swapping of the flour using maybe coconut flour? What would the exchange be? Anyone?

    • If you have it available, Bob’s Red Mill does a 1-to-1 GF flour mix. You could try that! May be worth the time to experiment.

  24. I have been asked to make this cake/cupcakes for every single birthday, baby shower, wedding shower, company party for the last year. Seriously…they are AWESOME! I like to do the recipe making it dairy free and the vegan cream cheese frosting. If you haven’t looked up that recipe…do it now. Thank you so much for creating this delicious go-to recipe! If making cupcakes, definitely make sure to use the grease proof or foil liners as this cake is super moist.

  25. This recipe bakes true to its name and is truly the best carrot cake ever! I have baked it so many times! When I don’t have enough carrots I include freshly grated Fiji apples. I also include fresh grated nutmeg and a mixed spice used for baking that includes cloves! I have adapted this recipe to use overripe bananas and apples instead of carrot and fold in freshly made buttermilk when folding in nuts. It’s beautiful! It’s super moist and has become highly requested staple for birthdays, holidays and just cuz! Sending Carrot Cake Love from Kingston, Jamaica