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 will always be extra-partial to carrot cake in any form (including cupcakes).  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 you need to reach your desired consistency — about six cups, more or less.

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.


Scale

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cupplus 2 tablespoons 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 cupcakes 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.  Feel free to add more/less powdered sugar to achieve your desired 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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1,085 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Hi, I am super excited to make this recipe. What would you do different if you had 9 inch cake pans?

    • 5 stars
      You don’t need to change anything other than potentially the bake time. Your cakes will be slightly shorter, so they may not need quite the same bake time, so maybe check at 23 minutes, but I did this in 9 inch pans and mine took 30 minutes for the bake to be right.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for one of my besties birthday. It’s the first cake I’ve ever made from scratch. Everyone loved it! 💛 Thanks for the hit!

  3. 5 stars
    Great cake!

  4. 5 stars
    Awesome cake made into cupcakes for a baby shower.

  5. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I made it in mini loaf pans and they were perfect. I made a couple of adjustments based on other comments: I added 2tbsp oil, omitted an egg and added a cup of raisins. I also halved the icing.

  6. 5 stars
    Umm, this cake has left me with no words that can explain how great it is. I only used the flavored icing variation and am amazed. I am 49 year old male steelworker that has taken up baking cakes as a hobby. Most of my friends and family laughed at me and I have failed at a couple of recipes. I got nothing but rave reviews from everyone on this cake. I even got two “best cake I have ever eaten” from my wife and her friend. Thank you for sharing. It’s a little time consuming grating fresh carrots by hand, but solo worth it.

    • Daniel I showed your comment to one of my friends and both of us absolutely support you and are so happy you like your new hobby. No one should be laughing at you! Baking is for everyone, and now for you as well!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this cake for pastors appreciation day yesterday . this cake was delicious and moist could hardly slice without crumbling. It got raved reviews everyone loved this cake. Awesome recipe

  8. I’ve been making this cake for my mom’s birthday for 3 or 4 years now, and I get rave reviews but this year was a triumph-4 people have asked me to bake this cake for their birthdays, and for loved ones’ birthdays. I truly enjoy baking this cake, and it is really the world’s best carrot cake!

  9. My son found this recipe and he made this cake for my friend’s birthday (I grated the carrots). It was the best cake he’s ever made and it was a huge hit! I wish I could have taken more credit.

  10. How much time needed to bake carrots cake in a tube or Bundt pan. Do not feel like doing all the layers .

  11. Can you bake the cake and freeze it?

  12. Can I use this recipe for cupcakes? I’ve made the cake many times and it’s amazing. I have a large amount of cupcakes to make for a friendsgiving and want to you this recipe.

  13. Would I need to alter anything if I added walnuts and raisins?

  14. Yes, I have done it before. Just shorten the baking time.

  15. Great, except my carrots turned green!! Too much baking soda?

    • Hi there! I am excited to try this recipe. What adjustments can I make to bake this recipe at a high altitude? I live at 7,300 ft. Thanks!

  16. I have made this cake many times, and it is DELICIOUS! I made it last week, however, and had a huge problem. After backing, the carrots had turned green. The only change I made was pre shredded carrots.

  17. If there is left over frosting, just bring it up to room temp for using?

  18. It looks amazing. I want to make it for tomorrow, will it hold up if I assembly today and put in the fridge or its better to finish with the frosting tomorrow it shortly before serving?

  19. Made this twice. It was so moist! I used coconut oil the second time which I much much much prefer to vegetable oil. Also, used all spice as I didn’t have ground cloves.

    I will definitely make this again!!

  20. Hi, is it possible to make this cake with a cake mould instead of 8inch cake pans ? Can I use the same amound /ratio of ingredients, or do I have to halve the recipe? Because a cake is shorter, but higher.

    Thanks!! Will defenately try this recipe because carrot cake is my new favorite !

  21. Hi Ali,
    Today I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day and I wanted to make a special cake for my sweetie. I knew he liked carrot cake but in my entire career of baking (non professional only for fun) have I ever made a carrot cake. I came a crossed your recipe and read a good majority of all the fantastic raves on how tasty theirs turned out and I just had to give it a try. I am so very glad I did because it was A HIT! My husband devoured it!!! The only thing I changed was I made it into a heart shape for Valentine’s! ❤️
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Happy Valentine’s Day 💕

  22. My daughter made this for my birthday. It was truly one of the best carrot cakes I’ve had. She used vegetable oil. Very good!!

  23. Can I add drained canned pineapple or would it make batter to wet?
    Thanks

  24. I made this cake last Saturday and my guests loved it. Did not change the recipe at all and used two 9in pan.
    Very delicious. Thank you so much.

  25. Hello there, I am wondering what kind of nuts shall I use?

  26. hello,
    i’m looking at using this recipe to make a wedding cake for a friend who had to cancel her wedding due to COVID-19 and is now eloping instead. If I made this the night before the elopement do you recommend storing at room temp or in the fridge over night? Also do you think this cake would hold up if I wanted to do two tiers?

    Thanks for any guidance/help.

  27. Can we use different sizes pans? If so, how long do we cook the cakes. Or, is it the same? Thank you

  28. Thank you so much! This is a great recipe. Very much appreciated by our whole family during our isolation. I only have two round cake tins. It worked just fine.

  29. Delicioso

  30. Soooo delicious!! I reduced the powdered sugar by half for the frosting – was still very creamy – and everyone loved how buttery it was. We made cupcakes for my daughter’s bday. The recipe made about 35 average size cupcakes. We used a dark pan, heated oven to 350, they baked about 20 minutes. Thank you for the delicious recipe!!