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.
Can you bake the cake and freeze it?
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.
Would I need to alter anything if I added walnuts and raisins?
Yes, I have done it before. Just shorten the baking time.
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!
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.
This is because you added too much baking powder or baking soda.
If there is left over frosting, just bring it up to room temp for using?
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?
I just made this cake and I’m not sure how it turned out because I don’t like carrot cake, but I had a somewhat difficult time. The sugar mixture was not smooth at all. The brown sugar (I used dark brown) developed into balls of all sizes in the mixture. I couldn’t smooth it out. It all went downhill from there. After I took the cakes out and let them cool, I could see dark brown spots of all sizes on top and on the bottom of the cake where the brown sugar didn’t dissolve. Where did I go wrong???
Can I add a can of crushed pineapple?
This is soooo good I always use some nuts in between layers when I ice the cake because it gives it some crunch but it’s sooooo delicious
Made this recipe yesterday, but instead of a 3 layers, I made it in a 9×13 pyrex. It came out very dense and thick, not light and fluffy at all. I suppose the pan change might have impacted it, but I would be curious to know what else I might have done to have created this effect. The flavour is still great, but the texture is totally wrong :(
Is it possible you over-mixed it?
Carrot cake is a noted dense cake. It is not suppose to be light and fluffy.
EVER. It wasn’t the pan. It was made correctly.
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!!
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 !
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 ?
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!!
Can I add drained canned pineapple or would it make batter to wet?
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.
Hello there, I am wondering what kind of nuts shall I use?
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.
Can we use different sizes pans? If so, how long do we cook the cakes. Or, is it the same? Thank you
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.
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!!
This recipe is amazing! It has a moist delicious warm flavor. I’ve made it several times.
This recipe is fabtastic! I like it with both nuts and raisins. Also for me it only needs about half the amount of frosting the recipe makes.
I used this recipe twice before and it is so good. It was the first cake I ever attempted to bake and it was delicious. I had halved the recipe the last two times I made it, but this time it’s my boyfriend’s birthday and I’m excited to attempt the three tier version. Where do you bake the three pans in the oven? Middle rack?
This recipe is SO GOOD!!! I made it a couple weeks ago for the first time, and it was pretty easy to make! Usually cakes in my house take a week to be finished (even my mom’s amazing chocolate cake!) and this was gone in a day! I’m going to make it again for my birthday, and probably later today. This is by far the best cake I’ve ever had
Great! I didn’t want to make so much cake so I halved the recipe. Didn’t have ground cloves so omitted it and used Walmart Great Value gluten free flour. Turned out great! Baked in a rectangular cake pan and they were thin so it was more like carrot cake bars. Still yummy.
I only have cake flour. Can I use that instead of all-purpose? (So hard to find it right now!)
I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was DELICIOUS! I tried to do 4 layers instead of 3 and caused a massive mess LOL BUT it was my fault for not leveling the cake and putting too much frosting between the layers. We made it into a truffle and even my pickiest eater (hubs) absolutely devoured this and said he wants me to make this more often. I will do this in a 9×13 next time and use the carrot cake bars recipe doubled instead. The way I understood it was it was this recipe tweaked to make bars. Just came back to say this and then snagged your Cacio e Pepe recipe for supper tonight! Ali, you are THE best!
I am going to make this for Easter. What if I want to make it Gluten Free but not dairy-free? Can I just change the flour to one for one and leave everything the same as the regular cake?
Could I add pineapple to this recipe?
I have made this recipe for Easter the last two years, and I will again this year -even though it will be for only four people. This cake turns out incredibly moist. The bakers in my family have also asked for this recipe,!
Haven’t tasted it all together yet, but while the frosting is very good, I still had to add significantly more than 6 cups of powdered sugar and it never became stiff. I refrigerated each layer as I frosted it and still the top layer slid off while in the fridgE!! Looks terrible but I’m sure is tasty. Just wish the frosting proportions were better.
Excited to try this recipe tomorrow for Easter. Just wanted to let someone know that on step 4, it references cupcakes not cakes. Might need a little edit there. Thanks!
Hi! I made the recipe. It was great. But for me it was a little bit sweet. So I would recommend to just take out 1/2 of cup of from the bread.
Such a perfect moist cake! It was such a crowd pleaser. I paired it with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and it was so good! This will definitely be my go to recipe from Now on.
my first ever carrot cake came out amazing. plenty of extra icing in this recipe if you don’t load it up was nice for dipping things for days….making it again today cause the demand in the house has been high
Hi, I want to make today but I only have Coconut Oil?? Can I use this instead??
The BEST carrot cake and cream cheese frosting recipe out there. I’ve made this cake and frosting twice now and its been a super hit both times. For me, this recipe made two 9-inch pans and took 40 minutes in the oven. I’ve also made cupcakes and they took 20 minutes. Super great recipe and I would highly recommend.
For the love of Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! This is a beautiful carrot cake! In fact, the best I had and baked. Thank you for sharing this! My uncle is allergic to pineapples – so I set out to find a recipe with coconut instead. After reading the reviews I baked and it is magic!
Cake Love from Kingston, Jamaica
First time baking carrot cake. Very easy recipe. Made 30 cupcakes. Got rave reviews, even from non-carrot cake fans. Scored 20/10 from carrot cake lovers.
Used 6 cups of powder sugar and frosting was a little soft but was firm enough to pipe after chilling in the refrigerator. Perfect amount of icing for all the cupcakes, with just a little extra leftover. Next time, I will add the 2 extra cups of powder sugar to stiffen up the frosting. The salt in the frosting helps cut back the sweetness of the sugar.
SO good! Halved the recipe for a 9” round dish, baked at 350 for 35 min … so perfect and moist. Thank you!
This carrot cake is really amazing. My family and neighbors loved this cake.
Thank you for sharing.
It’s so delicious and easy to make. Thanks for sharing the recipe
The avocado oil was so strong, the smell persisted even after baking. The cake was moist but the smell was off-putting and the amount of spices didn’t seem sufficient to fully flavour the cake. An interesting adventure.
Hello. Can I add crushed pineapple to this recipe? Is there anything I need to do differently if I do? Thank you.
I made this recipe and it was delicious! Moist and not too sweet. It was easy to carve when cold.
Oh my goodness soooo dang amazingly good!! So moist and tasty. I would pay top dollar to buy this in a bakery! Don’t second guess making this cake!!!
Carrot cake is my family’s favorite. I followed the recipe exactly. After baking in the 8″ pans for 35 min., The cake was still not done. I cut out the middle and frosted with the cream cheese frosting. When we ate it, it was like putting a big ball of grease in your mouth. Needless to say, the whole family was very disappointed. A lot of food was wasted as it went directly in the garbage. It is definitely not the “BEST” carrot cake.
Perhaps you should have tested the cake before taking it out of the oven?
Was it really that bad because I want to make a carrot cake for my family and I do not want to waste ingredients for this.
I found that I needed a longer bake time too, but when I adjusted the time it was awesome. I would maybe try to do that next time.