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.


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)


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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957 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake”

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  1. 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.

  2. 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…

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

  4. 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!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  11. 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.

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

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

  14. 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

  15. 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. :-)

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

  17. 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!

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

    – the girl who scarfed two pieces.

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

  20. 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!

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

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

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

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

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

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

  29. 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!

  30. 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. :)

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

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

  33. Pingback: Carrot Cake | Bonita Vida

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

  35. This does look like the best carrot cake!

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

  37. This looks like the PERFECT carrot cake Ali!

  38. Pingback: It's A Winner...Have Some Carrot Cake - Let's Go All Natural | Let's Go All Natural

  39. 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.

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

  41. Wow! This cake looks so beautiful!

  42. 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!

  43. This cake looks divine!

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

  45. Great recipy

  46. 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 :)

  47. 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.

  48. Pingback: Mouth Watering Carrot Cake Recipe | DIY Home Things