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.
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
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:
To make this homemade carrot cake recipe, simply:
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.)
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.
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…
Make the frosting. See notes below.
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.
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.
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 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!
More Carrot Recipes:
Looking for more delicious sweet carrot recipes? Here are a few of my faves! ♡
This classic carrot cake recipe is moist, perfectly-spiced and made with lots of fresh carrots and a cream cheese frosting.
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
1 2/3 cupavocado oil (or vegetable oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
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)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy! Or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
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.
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…
Carrot cake is my favorite cake of all time!!
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!!
Stunning cake, Ali! Carrot cake is my absolutely favorite!
Fabulous. Perfect for St. Paddy’s Day entertaining! :)
I am so with you – I am a purist and I love a good carrot cake but please no pineapples! This looks so good!
I love carrot cake!!! this recipe looks seriously amazing – pinned!
This looks amazing!! I’m all about the frosting with carrot cake. More the better!
carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes. i love the little flags :)
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.
I do love a good carrot cake and three layers! Who can resist.
This recipe is almost identical to the one I use. It’s the bomb diggity.
Thanks for sharing.
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
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. :-)
I haven’t had carrot cake in ages! Ali, this cake is beautiful!!
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!
It’s the best, I do attest! It’s simply the best!
– the girl who scarfed two pieces.
Sounds terrific! What are the nutritional values :)
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 cake! Feels perfect for the spring <3
oh god I could just smell the spices and see how moist this is…and yayy for going with tiny flags :)
Very impressive, love all the layers and the frosting looks divine.
Love this. The addition of cloves and nutmeg takes this up a notch.
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.
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.
OMG so glad to find a purist when it comes to carrot cakes too!!!! It’s my favourite cake of all time, for sure.
I really, really, really love carrot cake too and this one looks absolutely perfect! Great recipe!!
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!
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. :)
Eeeek! I believe you! That does look like the best carrot cake in the world!!
So pretty, Ali!! I have actually never had carrot cake, but your has left me thinking I need to change that!
What a stunning cake!
My five year old has been super inquisitive about carrot cake recently. We totally have to make THE BEST carrot cake :) Thanks for sharing!!
This does look like the best carrot cake!
Gorgeous carrot cake, I love your cream cheese frosting too!
This looks like the PERFECT carrot cake Ali!
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.
LOVE everything about this….Will convert to gf version asap!!!!
Wow! This cake looks so beautiful!
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!
This cake looks divine!
Three layers of carrot cake? Yes, hands down the best carrot cake! Sharing…
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 :)
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.
Positively gorgeous carrot cake Ali! Can’t wait to give your recipe a go!
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.
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!!!