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! ♡

Print
The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
4.8 from 118 reviews

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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1,051 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

  1. This looks delicious and I want to make it for my boyfriend’s birthday this weekend. Do you think it would be ok if I left out the ground cloves? I looked at them in the store the other day and it was so expensive for even the tiny bottle when I just need a pinch this one time.


  2. SPECTACULAR, my two-year-old and I just pulled it off and now we get share the excellence, no nuts needed. the only downside is I have dishes detail :-) four enthusiastic thumbs up for a delicious cake with no milk


  3. This cake is incredible – with or without icing! But, I highly recommend the cream cheese buttercream icing!

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  6. Love it! Great recipe

  7. Can I use the pregrated carrots


  8. I made this cake today to bring to my boyfriends’ grandmas house for dessert. I have never made a carrot cake before but for some reason it was stuck in my head to try it.
    I followed the recipes exactly (using canola oil) and its turned out sooooo beautifully. I could not have asked for a more delicious/fluffy cake!
    Im SOO impressed.
    Also, i have never left a comment on a recipe before either, but i feel like this one was worth it 100%
    For the icing I only used 1 cup cream cheese, 1 cup butter room temp, 1 tbsp vanilla. And about 4-5 cups powdered sugar. and it had more than enough icing that i just started decorating for fun lol.
    Thank you sooooo much for this recipe! I will be making again for sure, probably again already this week

  9. I want to make this a sheet cake. How long will I cook it for?


  10. This is seriously the best carrot cake recipe! We make it for birthdays and I even used the recipe to make our wedding cake. Now even people in our families who don’t like carrot cake beg us to make this recipe for them. I add a little cinnamon and allspice…but we like things a bit spicier in general. Perfect as is too :) Thanks for the recipe…it’s now our family classic.

  11. Can you make this cake into cupcakes? I would love to make them for Easter I think my family would love this!🌸

  12. What would be the best way to adjust baking time/temp to do as cupcakes?

  13. I’m making this cake for Sunday Easter. I wonder what’s the equivalent of one kind of shredded carrots to cups?

  14. Can this cake be made without a stand mixer ? I only have a hand mixer ! I would like to make this for tomorrow. Thank you


  15. First time making carrot cake and the step by step instructions were fail proof! It turned out PERFECT! Lot’s of raves!!!

  16. Do you think this recipe would work swapping the eggs for applesauce (egg allergy)?


  17. Just pulled this out of the oven…it smells so yummy! Just a heads up that you can shred carrots in a Vitamix! I found a YouTube video that showed it. Cheers to one less kitchen appliance and being one step closer to carrot cake on a regular basis!


  18. Perfect carrot cake. Even the frosting may be my go to cream cheese frosting now!

  19. 2tsp of salt??? I’ve never seen that much in a cake did everyone use that much???


  20. I used this recipe in a bundt pan, baked it 40-45 minutes and it turned out amazing! Omit the butter and flour when using a bundt pan and use baking spray or almond flour for a better release.

  21. This was a hit! The title says it all, didn’t change a thing! I’m the king of Easter now!


  22. Perfect!


  23. My first attempt at carrot cake. I added raisins and walnuts because that’s what everyone else wanted. It was amazing! My MIL kept saying it was just like her mother’s and that’s a high compliment. I had a couple extra ounces of carrots after peeling and shredding in there, the pans were very full. I used 2 9″rounds, and had to bake it probably 45 mins, (I lost track of my 5 minute extensions). Next time I’ll use three 9’s, if I do that again.


  24. I made this cake for Easter and it was a hit. The debate was with or without pineapple and raisins. Made it without either one. Only one person wanted without. Next time I’m adding pineapple to it.

  25. Every easy to make. Great taste. Ingredients on hand. I also add a 1/4teaspoon of ginger it complemented the recipe.


  26. My family have not stopped talking about it since I made it yesterday for Easter, most not care if for carrot cake. Hands down the BEST cake I have ever made or maybe have had. Thank you so much!


  27. Every time I make this cake my middles never cook as fast ? I’m always having to leave it in more ! Any suggestions as to why that may be eventually it cooks but it’s my favorite cake to make around easter please help!!


  28. After 15 years of making my husband a yellow cake with chocolate icing for his birthday, he switched things up on me this year and asked for “the best carrot cake in the world.” Huh? I was pretty sure I didn’t even like carrot cake. I found this recipe after a quick Pinterest search and chose it because the comments were all positive and because it didn’t include raisins/nuts/pineapple.

    Holy cow. This cake is amazing. I made it for my husband’s birthday March 20 and then again for Easter. It’s SO GOOD. For the second cake, I used the cake scraps and the leftover icing to make cake pops, and they were devoured at work.

    PS I made one change. I like the icing with a little tang, so I only used 4 cups of powdered sugar.

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  30. We made it as a sheet cake, turned out amazing. We made 2 batches of everything and stacked it, with a layer of the frosting in between. We booked each layer for 15 min, then rotated and baked for 7 more. Was perfect for a huge party, great recipe.

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  32. add coconut even makes it better


  33. Hi 😊
    The brown sugar in your recipe is it dark brown sugar or light brown sugar?

    Thanks so much and looking forward to hearing from you 😊


  34. loved it!

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  36. Hi Ali. I made this cake the other day and it absolutely DELICIOUS. I found it a little bit dry on first day, but kept in the fridge and the next day it was just perfect.
    Can I freeze this cake? If yes, how do I defrost? A day before serving? Sorry I’m very new to baking.
    Thanks


  37. This recipe is incredible! For years, I made Paula Deen’s carrot cake recipe. Lately, I haven’t been as pleased with it as I originally had. So, I searched for other recipes, read the ingredients, and thought that this cake would be phenomenal. It was and it is! I do bake it as two 9 inch layers. The only adaption that I’ve made to it is that I put a cheesecake layer in the middle. This has become the newly requested carrot cake! Thanks for posting it!

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  39. Hey! I plan on making this in the morning. I would like to make three 9″ layers. Do you recommend that I 1.5x the recipe to do this?

  40. I can’t wait to make this cake
    . Looks yummy.

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  42. Everyone loved it. If using 9″ pans, bake for approximately 45 minutes. But keep an eye on it


  43. Should I store in fridge?

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  45. I’m going to make this recipe for a friends wedding and wandering if it’s enough for two 8 inch and two 6 inch cake pans?

  46. This truly is the “BEST” carrot cake! I make cakes for a living, and I can guarantee that every person ever will love this cake. I used to claim that I disliked carrot cake, but not anymore!

  47. Cake is delicious. Recipe is too large for 2 standard size 9 inch cake pans, however. I notice pictures show the cake pans with higher (3 inch?) sides. If using standard pans, you could easily make 3 9 inch layers as well. Love the cake though!

  48. I would like to add crushed pineapple; should I drain it first? Any adjustments on eggs or oil to allow for the extra moisture from the pineapple?


  49. This was Delicious! Made it for my Moms Birthday! It was Loved by All!! Even my granddaughters loved it!


  50. This recipe is amazing! My mother always made carrot cake when I was young and this one knocks her out of the park! (sorry mom) :)

    I am wondering if you can turn this into cupcakes? Thanks! xoxo