The BEST Carrot Cake!

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.

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

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 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)

Directions:

  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.

*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.

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

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The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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1,026 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Pingback: Sweet Carrots with Tarragon and Orange Zest | Foodan

  2. I only have 2 9″dark cake pan, should I use the same temp @ baking time?

    • Hi Danette! Yes, we think that should be fine, but to be on the safe side (since every oven is a little different), you might want to set your timer for 20 minutes and then check. If they aren’t done (they likely won’t be), just set the timer for 5 more min and keep checking at 5 min intervals until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. We hope this helps and that you enjoy the cake!

  3. Hi I was wondering if I could replace some of the oil with applesauce?

    • Hi Samantha! We haven’t tried that, so we honestly can’t say, however, we think you could certainly experiment!

  4. Do you peel the carrots before grating them? Thanks, Sue

  5. I just have to tell you that this cake was amazing!!
    I’m going to be making it again for a family members birthday with weekend!
    Thanks again for the awesome recipes!

    • Thank you, Haley! :) We’re so happy you enjoyed it and we hope your family does as well!

  6. Hi I was wondering if this would make enough batter for a 9×13?

    • Hi Lindsey! We’re pretty sure this makes way too much batter for just one 9×13 pan. We would actually either cut the recipe in half or use two 9×13 pans. Alternatively, you could always use one 9×13 pan and make cupcakes with the leftover batter. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  7. Hi.. I tried to make the cake based on your recipe but I found it hard and the batter was not raising while baked.
    However the taste is great. Do think the oil is too much? I use olive oil as I did not have vegetable
    nor canola oil at home> Do you have any suggestion on that?

    • Hi Diaz! Hmm, we haven’t tried this with olive oil, so that might have thrown the taste off a bit (shouldn’t affect the texture much though). If your cake didn’t really get fluffy in the oven, we wonder if your baking soda or baking powder could have been old? Those are the ingredients that help give the cake its lift. Over-mixing the batter could also keep it from rising as much as well. We’re sorry you had some issues with this!

  8. I did it following the instructions step by step but I felt it had too much baking soda it was kind of salty
    What happened? Please give me a suggestion

  9. Hello:

    I would like to know if I can use a bundt pan for this recipe? 

    • Hi Nat! If you cut the recipe in half, a bundt pan should work fine. We hope you enjoy!

  10. I have made this cake, and it is The Best Carrot Cake Ever!!!  I read the comment about baking in two 9×13 pans.  What temp and how long?

    • Thank you, Vickie — we’re so happy you loved it! You should still bake them at 350 and they will likely take the same amount of time.

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  12. Omg this is bad. I can’t stop eating. No one can’t. SOOO GOOD and easy to make.  

  13. Pingback: Wholesome Carrot Muffins | Caribbean Blogz

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  15. Made this cake last year and it was a huge hit. Would love to make it as cupcakes this year as we’ll be at a park. What do you recommend for time and temp for cupcakes? 

    • We’re glad to hear that, Lisa! If you want to make cupcakes out of the recipe, you’ll definitely need to cut it in half (even cutting it in half will probably make more than 24). We’d suggest setting the timer for 10 minutes (though these might need 15 minutes or longer) — just keep an eye on them and test for doneness with a toothpick. We hope this helps!

  16. how long is the cream cheese frosting good for in the fridge?

    • Hi Shelly! The frosting should be good in the fridge for at least a week, if not longer. You will want to let it sit out for a bit and then re-whip it when you’re ready to ice. We hope you enjoy!

  17. I only have 3 9″ pans instead of 3 8″ pans, will this still work? because i still want 3 layers but i don’t want to go buy 3 more pans, will baking it for a little less time work? Thanks!

    • Hi Vish! You can still do this with 3 9″ pans (they will just be thinner layers, and you will need to take them out of the oven sooner). We hope you enjoy the cake!

  18. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, I did it today it was easy to make and final result is a fluffy cake with flavor and delicious scent. This is my husband favorite cake and he loved it!! 

    • You’re very welcome, Brenda, and we’re so happy to hear you and your husband loved it! :)

  19. I make this cake last year. It was delicious. In my opinion you need base experience (baking) 
    I reduce sugar to 1/2 (frosting ) I will make again!!!!       

  20. Hello!
    I just made this cake as a trial for my wedding cake. Delicious! A bit on the salty side for me, so I might reduce the salt by 1/4tsp or so, but other than that, I won’t be changing a thing! I need to make this cake in 2 or 3, 6 inch round pans. Do you have a suggestion on yield? Do you think half of a recipe would be enough for 2, 6 inch pans?

    • Thanks, Katie — we’re glad you enjoyed it, and that’s so cool you’ve chosen this recipe for your wedding cake! Definitely feel free to reduce the salt if you like. As for the yield in those size pans, we haven’t tried those sizes, so it’s a bit tough to say. However, we think half the recipe would definitely be enough for two 6″ pans (in fact, we think you would have some extra batter leftover, we’re just not sure how much). We hope this helps!

  21. Hi. Just made this cake today for my family. Carrot cake was my dad’s favorite and we will have it tomorrow on what would’ve been his 77 birthday. Can’t wait to dig in!! Do you usually use all if the icing? I ended up with a lot leftover…we aren’t big icing eaters. Do you think the icing would freeze well? I thought when I pulled it out to use again, I would let it thaw in the fridge. I would appreciate any words of wisdom.

    • Hi Beverly! We hope you all enjoy this! Yes, we use all the icing but you totally don’t have to, and you can definitely freeze it.

  22. Hi making cake today?would it fine if I added pineapple  also and how long would cake stay moist 2-3 days?? Thanks

    • Hi Gina! We think you would be fine to add a can of drained pineapple. It should keep in the fridge for at least 3-5 days, if not longer. We hope you enjoy!

  23. would this recipe work well for cupcakes? 

    • Hi Alissa! If you want to make cupcakes out of the recipe, you’ll definitely need to cut it in half (even cutting it in half will probably make more than 24). We’d suggest setting the timer for 10 minutes (though these might need 15 minutes or longer) — just keep an eye on them and test for doneness with a toothpick. We hope this helps!

  24. Pingback: 26 Easter Desserts Recipes to Make this Year | Homemade Recipes

  25. I made this cake today for my boss and it turned out great just as is.  This was my first time making one and it turned out great thanks. 

  26. I just wanted to say that I made this cake yesterday and it is the BEST carrot cake.  The whole family loved it!!

  27. What is the first 1 1/2 cups of flour and canola oil for?  The pans?

    • Hi Julie! The flour and oil you use for the pans isn’t included in the oil and flour amounts in the recipe. So the cake has 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 TBS of oil and 3 1/4 cups of flour in it. We hope you enjoy!

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  29. This is a great cake!  And is makes a lot of cake!  Here is what I did to make this cake more awesome:
    1.  I squeezed out excess water from shredded carrots
    2.  I added 1can of crushed pineapple, squeezed of excess liquid like the carrots
    3.  Added 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    4.  Toasted shredded coconut added to the sides of the cake after frosting
    5.  Reserved some frosting and colored some orange and some green, made decorative carrots on each slice of cake.

    Again, a basic carrot cake that is amazing!!  

    • We’re glad you enjoyed it, Mark, and yes, it definitely is a lot of cake! :) Thanks for sharing your take on it, we bet the cranberries and coconut were really yummy in this — what a great combo! 

  30. Hi,
    I just wanted to make sure this recipe has been adjusted for high altitude baking. I have had so many failed cakes due to altitude.

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to baking it for Easter.

    • Hi Lori! This recipe hasn’t been adjusted for high altitude baking, however, we found this link helpful:

  31. hi! i would love to make this cake (carrot cake is my favourite) i’ll try this recipe.  the thing is i only have 10″ cake pan , is it ok if i use it for this recipe?  the temperature and time will be the same? thank you!

    • Hi Diane! You will need two 10″ pans for this, as there is too much batter for just one 10″ pan. The temperature will be the same, and the bake time may differ by a few minutes, but should be relatively the same. We’d recommend setting your timer for 20 minutes and then checking. If they aren’t done (they likely won’t be), just set the timer for 5 more min and keep checking at 5 min intervals until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. We hope this helps and that you enjoy the cake!

  32. I LOVE THIS CAKE! It is my husband’s VERY favorite thing I make – but we have no self control and can’t have a whole huge cake in the house or we will eat it all. I was dreaming of cake and realized that this recipe divides by three pretty easily. Divided both cake and frosting recipe by 3 and made one 9 inch round, cut in fourths, frosted and stacked it. Voila! One quarter of a giant cake. Thank you thank you thank you for your cake recipe badassery.

    • Thank you, Anna, we’re so happy you guys are fans! And we’re glad you were able to divide it by three with good results! :D

  33. I made this cake the other night and it was delicious. My husband loved it! Thank you for this great recipe!

  34. this was a big hit for my bake sale thanks so much truly sticking to this carrot cake super moist and even better the next day thank you for such a great cake recipe

  35. I’ve made this twice in the last 2 weeks – absolutely delish!!!!

  36. This might be a dumb question but is the flour supposed to be self rising, all purpose, cake flour?? I never know 

  37. I was planning on making this cake for Easter in a cross shaped pan, which is 14″ by 1″. Do you know if I would have to alter the bake time or oven temperature?

    • Hi Lauren, we’re so sorry we didn’t get to your comment in time! You will likely have batter left over, just FYI, and you may not need to bake for quite as long (we’d just keep a close eye on it). The temp will still be the same.

  38. My husband is allergic to tree nuts. Can I use something else in place of the nutmeg or just leave it out?

    • Hi Mary! You can just leave it out (you can add some cardamom or extra cinnamon in its place if you like). We hope you enjoy!

  39. I don’t have time to grate…so I bought a bag of pre shredded…will it be awful??? They aren’t finely grated- definitely on the thicker side- 

    • We’re worried those will be too thick, Karen, but we hope this still turned out okay for you!

  40. This cake is amazing!! Made it for my daughter’s baptism and everyone loved it. Trying it out as cupcakes today for Easter.

  41. I loved the flavor of this cake and the cool new tools i got to use (the grinding attachment on my food processor has changed my kitchen), and the frosting is perfect. I am wondering if you have had success in using coconut flour. I am diabetic and have not been able to bake since I’ve been diagnosed, which was heart breaking, but upon doing research I have found some great substitutes for baking (Stevia being one for sugar) but have not mastered the art of using alternative flour. Any suggestions as tho the substitution amounts?

    • Thanks, Victoria, we’re so glad you enjoyed it! We haven’t tried using coconut flour with this though. We do have a vegan, gluten-free carrot cake recipe though. You could experiment with some coconut flour in that one if you wanted! And we’re so sorry about your diagnosis :( Since we’re not health professionals though, and since we don’t aren’t well-versed in baking with Stevia, we don’t feel like we’re able to/comfortable advising you on that end. There are some baking blogs out there that are all about baking with Stevia or other similar non-sugar sweeteners. We hope this helps!

  42. Fantastic recipe – I made it twice in the last 3 days for different family functions.  Everyone who ate it loved it (even the ones who don’t like carrot cake)!  Thank you!  
    FYI I followed the recipe exactly and added in the optional nuts but not the optional raisins

  43. Hi! The cake turned out great, light and fluffy and very flavorful, BUT, it tastes slightly salty. I followed the recipe to a T but don’t know what went wrong. ?

    • Thanks, we’re glad you enjoyed it! As for the salt, that’s odd. What kind of salt did you use?

  44. I made this for dessert after Easter dinner and it was delicious!  So easy to make and everybody loved it.  I’m definitely adding this one to my collection.
    Thanks for the recipe
    Ps -it’s even better the next day with a cup of tea for breakfast ?

  45. I LOVE this cake and have made it several times. Always a hit! I made it today with the avocado oil suggestion and it definitely has a different taste to it. It’s not as sweet for some reason. I’ll keep making the cake, but will stick to the vegetable oil from now on.

  46. This cake is really, really, really good!!!  I searched Pinterest for recipes and so glad I chose yours to make. . . It is the BEST carrot cake ever!  I sprinkle chopped pecans over the top after I frosted….couldn’t resist.   Thanks for sharing!

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  48. I am a beginner baker so I don’t own a stand mixer can I mix the ingredients by hand?

    • Hi Angelica! You can try, but for best results, you really want to use a mixer (it doesn’t have to be a stand mixer, a hand-held mixer will work just fine — just make sure your bowl is large enough)! :)

  49. Okay, I’ll be the one to say it.. who is this cake supposed to feed?!? It was absolutely delicious, but oh my word this is the largest cake I’ve made in my life! The frosting recipe was up to the rim of my mixing bowl and I immediately cut the cake in half and froze half of it for a later date. As I said, the recipe is fantastic but I will definitely cut the recipe down to 2/3 next time I make it. This carrot cake was fit for Paul Bunyan… I am still laughing about the size and I made it last night. 

  50. Hi. Can I use either a 10″ or 12″ tin. Just one then do my own layers?

    • Hi Ann! Yes, you can, we’re just not sure how many layers you will get — two thinner layers from the 10″ and probably just one from the 12″. We hope you enjoy the cake!