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.

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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.

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

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”

  1. Pingback: Friends agree that this really is the BEST carrot cake recipe! Its moist, perfectly-spiced, made with fresh carrots and a heavenly cream cheese frosting. - ZuziFeed

  2. This is a very fine recipe. It has exceeded all my expectations. Thanks for sharing.
    Hope you don’t mind but I made a couple of small changes by missing out the cloves and using all spice and by using self raising flour and missing out the baking soda. (I still added the baking powder though.)

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  5. Wow! What a great looking cake! I love carrot cake, so I will be trying this out! Thanks! X

  6. ok, you officially have best recipe for carrot cake on the face of the planet. my husband and i are authorities on the subject of carrot cake so naturally we had to try yours. it was the best either of us had ever tried.

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  10. This recipe looks delicious! Any idea how long it would take to cook either in a 9×13 pan or as cupcakes? I’m planning on making this for a potluck next week and this seems an easier way to serve. 

    Thanks so much!

  11. Hi, 
    My daughter is allergic to eggs, so we replace all eggs with flaxseed when baking. However, I have never made a carrot cake before and was wondering if flaxseed meal would work in this or not? It’s 1 Tbs ground flaxseed meal & 3 Tbs cold water per egg. Also we replace all oils with unsweetened applesauce would that also work in this recipe? 

  12. I  LOVE THIS RECIPE.. I HATE CARROTS BUT YOU MADE IT POSSIBLE. THANK YOU

  13. This looks great! I am in charge of dessert for Easter lunch and I think this may be it!

  14. i’m intrigued. especially since i think i already have the BEST carrot cake recipe in the world

  15. my comment didn’t finish there!! i went on to say that mine includes orange zest both in batter and icing and also ground ginger, mixed spice and NO white sugar. i will try this recipe though because a great carrot cake is always ok by me.

  16. I’ve got this in the oven right now in 2 9″ rounds.. it’s been about an hour of baking. Did you use convection?? Would it help speed up the bake time?

  17. Thank you for this recipe! We made our very first carrot cake with it (only half the recipe), but skipped the frosting and just dusted the top with confectioner sugar. It came out really moist and tasted fabulous! We’re fairly new bakers – our tips for fellow beginners is to weigh the carrots as you grate them, because we didn’t and ended up with too much!

    • Hey Sicilia, you’re so welcome, thanks for giving my recipe a try! I’m thrilled you liked it. Also, thanks for your great tip on weighing the grated carrots! : )

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  20. I made this last Easter and it was a huge hit.  I was going to make it again this Easter but we are traveling this time and it is about a hour away.  I don’t think that I can travel with this cake so I was going to make cup cakes out of it.  I hope they turn out just as good as the cake did!!

  21. LOVE! going to make for EASTER This coming weekend! Do you think this would fit in 3- 9 inch pans???  or would it not be enough batter?? i love making BIG cakes

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  23. Hello Ali,

    Mummy helped me make the cake. It was yummy. Thank you for the recipe. 

    From Jackson
    Age Three

    *He loves the cake so much he wanted to thank you for it himself. 

  24. I would 
    LOVE to try this cake, espacially afther reading the comments.
    1 problem…

     i don’t have 3 cake pans of the same size… can i put all of the batter in 1 pan? And witch size do you recommend?

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Geessiena! I wouldn’t put all of the batter into one pan. Do you have to cake pans the same size? If you have two 8-inch or 9-inch pans, those should work (though 9-inch would be better). If you try to divide the batter into two 8-inch pans, you might have some batter left over. Just make sure you don’t over-fill the pans! : )

  25. Hi Ali, this looks amazing! Do you think it will work in a bundt pan? 

  26. Question: Can I substitute baby carrots? The regular carrots in the supermarket just did not look very good so I quickly grabbed 2 pounds of baby carrots (attempting 2 cakes!) instead. Later I remembered how scientific and exact baking can be. Do I need to go back for regular? 

    • Hey Alayna, if you’re unable to find good regular carrots, baby ones should work fine. I Hope you enjoy this cake! : )

  27. Do you use dark or light brown sugar? Thank you. Can’t wait to make it!!

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  29. This looks delicious.
    Can it be made in a bundt pan?

  30. Hi, I would like to make this cake for Easter and wanted to know if I can make it and ice it the day before and should I put it in the fridge and take it out the day I want to serve it? Wanted to know if it will be good. Thanks.

    • Hey Danielle! Yes, you can definitely make it and ice it the day before and just refrigerate it until about an hour or two before you want to serve it. Enjoy!

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  32. I knew this recipe was The One as soon as I realized you didn’t add in any “stuff”…woohoo! Just Carrot Cake! It was moist and delicious and everything I’d hoped it would be! I made it and brought it to a family Easter lunch and it was a hit! Several cousins remarked that it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had…so, I’m making it again for Easter Sunday at our house :) Thanks for a definite keeper…and new family favorite!

  33. Did you use cake flour or all purpose?

  34. Sounds delicious. Could this be made in a 9 x 13″ pan? Thanks so much for your great recipes.

  35. Hi Ali!  I am baking this cake the night before I serve it.  I plan to frost it tomorrow.  Should I store it in the refridgerator, or just covered out on on the kitchen counter?   I added a little ground ginger also to the cake for a little extra spice.   The batter tasted out of this world!! My son was begging to lick the bowl.  Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Hey Kristen! If you’re not frosting it until tomorrow, I’d just put the layers in a container or cake carrier, or wrap each layer tightly in saran wrap, and leave them on your counter. I think it’s best served at room temp. And I bet it’s amazing with the ginger you added! Thanks for giving it a try, and I hope you have a great weekend! : )

  36. Hello! I have fresh carrots thus no weight. Any idea on a measurement once shredded? I’d like to make this tomorrow for Easter. Thanks! 

  37. I just finished making this cake after looking at many different recipes. I thought the photo of the cake was excellent which really made my decision. The results were excellent, cake was moist not too sweet, even with the amt of sugar used. This will definitely be my go to “carrot cake””, thanks for sharing…

  38. Hi! I am making your cake this weekend.  Can I substitue coconut oil for the veggie oil??

    • You sure can! Just melt the coconut oil first (and make sure you have 1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS of it). Let it cool so that it’s not piping hot, but not for too long, or else it will solidify again. I hope you enjoy! : )

  39. can I use a sheet cake pan ?

  40. okay, carrot cake is not carrot cake without pineapple

  41. I don’t have round pans can I use 13×9 glass pan?  With the same amout of ingredients? 

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  43. Hi, I was wondering if you ever tried substituting coconut oil instead of vegetable.  Thanks

    • Hey Kristi! Yes, you can. Just melt the coconut oil first (and make sure you have 1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS of it). Let it cool so that it’s not hot, but not for too long, or else it will solidify again. I hope you enjoy! : )

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  46. Happy Easter Ali!

    I’m making this cake right now and can’t wait to serve it to my family with Easter dinner!  Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!

  47. Hi! I’m baking this cake right now, following to a T and my batter is MUCH MUCH thicker than your photos show…is this ok? Can’t figure out what I’ve done differently except I used all brown sugar and no white. That’s never mattered before except in flavor. Thanks!

  48. Hello,  I just made the frosting and it’s too thin.   I added extra powdered sugar but still thin.    I already put it on the cake so what can I do?   Refrigerate?    

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  50. Made this for Easter this past weekend, I have loved carrot cake forever, but this was my 1st go at making it own my own! It was delicious!!  Everyone that tried it loved it and it was an easy recipe to follow! Will definitely be making it again, I added pecans to the top of cake on the icing, but next time might add the to the cake as well! Thanks for a great recipe!!