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.

Ingredient amounts and full instructions included in the recipe box below.

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 120 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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1,054 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Or to make cupcakes? 

    • Hey Samantha, if you do half of this recipe, it should yield about a dozen cupcakes. :)

  2. I’m looking to make this as cupcakes for a birthday party, I noticed in a previous comment you said it makes about 60 cupcakes, is it ok to just half the recipe? Also, do you know what cook time would be appropriate for cupcakes? And would the 350 degrees still be the same? Thanks!

    • Hi Shelby! Yes, you can definitely do half of the recipe. The cupcakes would still bake at 350, the baking time just varies oven to oven. We’d suggest setting a timer for 10 min, then checking them and rotating the pan. They might need a few more minutes. We hope you enjoy these!

  3. I have a question for the carrot cake mix on the ingredients I read that 1 1/2 plus 2 tablespoons  Of vegetable or canola oil but am.I suppose to.put the 1 1/2 plus 2 of tablespoons of oil 

  4. I halved the recipe to fit one dish, put 4 eggs and less sugar. I also used chickpea flour and  ground hazelnuts instead of regular.  
    It turned out really nice and yummy with less carbs..

  5. Going to try making this for Valentine’s Day! Any substitute suggestions for the canola/vegetable oil? Thanks!

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  7. How many carrots is about the equivalent to 1lb ? I would love to make this cake today, please let me know.
    Regards
    Tiffany☺

    • Hi Tiffany, it depends on how big the carrots are, but roughly 6 – 8 medium or 4 very large carrots. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy the cake!

  8. Do you bake the 3 layers separately? Or all together? 

    • We baked them all at the same time, we just rotated them all a few times throughout baking (so they would bake evenly). We hope you enjoy!

  9. Light or dark brown sugar? Thanks!

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  11. I’m actually writing this while I’m still making the cake for my birthday. It’s SOO good! For the filling I actually used more butter and creme cheese and less sugar, but it still tastes exquisite. It’s absolutely one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted.
    My grandma has always said that she had the best carrot cake in England, but I’m pretty sure that’s going to change after this. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! :) ♥ 

  12. Hi! I made this cale this morning and it was delicious! Perfectly spiced, moist and balanced! I used raisins (I’m sorry!). My search for the perfect carrot cake recipe is over. In the words of my 15 month old, Ka ku (thank you)!

  13. THANK YOU!!! I had (had…) what thought was an outstanding carrot cake recipe until this!!! OMG!! Your recipe is *the best* I’ve had and my husband thinks so too!! Moist, light, perfectly spiced and baked nicely. Again, thanks!!!!

    • Thanks for your sweet words Sally! We’re thrilled that you and your husband loved this! :)

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  15. How do u think a loaf would turn out? 

    • We haven’t tried that Leyli, and we think it would work. The quantities in this recipe make it tricky — you’ll need to cut the recipe in half, but you’re still probably going to have some extra batter – you could make cupcakes with it if you’d like. We hope you enjoy!

  16. Turned out pretty good. Only question was is that it didn’t seem to have much flavor. The frosting HAD to be a part of it because it lacked carrot cake flavor. Other than that I followed recipe to the T, so kinda sad it wasn’t the best for my bf’s favorite cake on his birthday. 

  17. I am thinking about this recipe for my son’s birthday cake. Is it super moist. I want a super moist cake. Also have you tried putting it in a quarter sheet pan.  I am looking at making that for my son’s and am worried if the batter will be to much. I need to make two of them so its quite a lot.  Thank you for any advise you can give me.

    • Yes, we definitely think this is a super moist cake! We haven’t tried putting it in a quarter sheet pan, but if you do that, you will definitely still have a lot of excess batter (unless you cut the recipe down). We think if you cut it in half you should be good (you might still have leftover batter, but you could always make a few cupcakes!) :) We hope this is helpful.

  18. Hi! Did you use cake flour or AP? 

  19. made this cake today for my nephew and it is awesome omitted the clove and adjusted the frosting to 3 1/2 c powder sugar and it was more than enough I also added a cup of toasted pecans and 15 ou can of crushed pineapple drained and it is so moist and delicious. 

    • We’re glad to hear you enjoyed this Barbara! The toasted pecans and crushed pineapple sound super yummy too! :)

  20. Curious why you use oil instead melted butter? 

    • We just find it makes for a super moist cake! You can definitely use butter if you prefer though. :)

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  22. This is a fabulous cake recipe. My husband Loves carrot cake, after trying several different recipes and inevitably throwing them out…… because only the best will do, this recipe was PERFECT!! Thank you. 

  23. I made this in 2 9″ pans. I know you said to adjust the baking time, but I’ve had them in the oven for at least 45 mins and the middle is still not done. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Dawn — hmmm, they shouldn’t really take that long or longer. Were the edges of the cake done?

  24. Hi! Gosh, can’t wait to try this out! But if one were to exchange the oil for butter – how much butter should one use? 350 g?

  25. Hey there,
    This recipe sounds perfect! Just what I’ve been looking for for Easter.
    Just one question: Do you think I could also bake it in two 11 inch cake pans? And for how long would I have to bake them?
    Greeting from Germany,
    Julia

    • Thank you Julia — we hope you enjoy it! :) And yes, we think you could bake it in two 11-inch pans. To be on the safe side, we would recommend setting the timer for 25 minutes and going from there.

  26. I am super excited to try to make this for Easter dessert. But I was just wondering if I would be able to cut down the cream cheese frosting in half if I was baking the cake in 2 9″ pans since there will be one less layer to frost. 

    • That’s wonderful Taylor! We actually wouldn’t cut the icing recipe in half though, as we don’t think you would have enough. Instead, you might try 1 1/3 sticks of butter, 16 oz cream cheese, 2 tsp vanilla, a good pinch of salt & 4 cups powdered sugar. We hope you love it!

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  28. At last, someone who really knows, how to cook a real classic carrot cake :-):  not like some of the wannabe versions, the icing needs to be slightly sour in order to counteract the sweetness of the cake, texture is everything, a  relative of mine used halved walnuts in her mix.

    • Thanks for your sweet words about this cake Fellec — we’re so happy you enjoyed it! :)

  29. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made this cake last year for easter and it was such a big hit. Even the family members who don’t like carrot cake fell in love with it! I can’t wait to make it again this year! I might half the recipe and try as cupcakes this year. 

    • You’re so welcome Jordanne — we’re happy to hear it was a hit last year! :D

  30. Hi there!
    This looks delicious!! How many servings can you get out of one cake, approximately? I want to make it for about 15 people but I don’t know if I will need to half the recipe or just make 2? 
    Let me know! Thanks! :)

    • Thanks Natalia! This cake is pretty tall, so we’d say we easily got at least 12, or even up to 16 slices out of it. Therefore, we would just make one! We hope you enjoy! :)

  31. Do you think I could use coconut oil in stead of vegetable or canola oil?

    Thanks

    • Yes, definitely, we think that work really well! Just melt it completely and let it cool enough so that it’s not hot but not starting to re-solidify. We hope you enjoy the cake! :)

  32. Going to try this for Good Friday. Silly question……I just want to clarify the amount of cream cheese…is it just an 8oz brick of cream cheese or 3 8oz bricks of cream cheese?

  33. I am wondering if I can use avocado oil in place of the vegetable or canola oil?

    • Hmmmm, we haven’t tried avocado oil in this, so we’re honestly not sure. However, we think coconut oil would be an awesome alternative! Just make sure you melt it completely and let it cool long enough so it’s not hot, but also not starting to re-solidify. We hope this helps!

  34. How could I incorporate crushed pineapples in here too?! And coconut:)

    • Hi Jenny! We know some people have added a 15oz can of crushed pineapple (drained) and really enjoyed it. We would recommend gently folding it into the batter. We hope you enjoy! :)

  35. This is the best!!! Very easy to make. I added more nutmeg to the cake mix because I love the spice,  and added cinnamon to the cream cheese aswell as I used salted butter and no extra salt. It turned out amazing!!   I normally hate icing but I was licking the spoon!!!!

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  38. Hello, 
    I wanted to try this for Easter. I have substituted applesauce a lot of the times for oil in other recipes. You don’t think that would be a problem here would you?

    • Hi Melissa! We haven’t tried that with this particular recipe, but we think it should work — definitely let us know if you give it a try! :)

  39. I’m currently making this, and am at 50+ mins and it’s still not cooked. My oven times have never been an issue. Did it take anyone else this long to bake?

    • Hmmm that’s strange Caramie! It might be your elevation? Have you rotated your pans at all throughout?

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  41. Wondering if this should be stored in the refrigerator once frosted?

    • It can, but it doesn’t have to be. Totally up to you! We hope you enjoy! :)

  42. Hello! I’m hoping to make this recipe today, but am wondering if it would still turn out well in a bundt pan? and if so, would i still need the full recipe? and temp/time?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Taylor! We’re sorry we’re just now getting to your comment. The full recipe of this will yield way too much batter for just one bundt pan. We would recommend cutting the recipe in half. We hope you enjoy! :)

  43. Hi! I am currently getting all my ingredients ready to make this for tomorrow!!!  I have a quick question. I realized my cake pans are 9inch and I have three. Should I do three 9 inch or would you recommend just two 9inch layers? I’ve noticed a couple people did two but I love the look of three. And what about baking time for a nine inch pan? I was thinking just take 5 minutes off since they’ll be thinner but figured you might know!? Thanks!! 

    • Hi Michelle! You could try three 9-inch pans, they will just be thinner layers and the baking time would be shorter (we’d set the timer for 15 minutes and then check, and then set the timer for 2 min intervals after that, if it needs more time). To be on the safe side, we would suggest doing two pans. We hope you enjoy! :)

  44. Eeek! I was so excited to make this cake but when I did the batter seemed pretty thick, more like a quick bread batter. What in the world did I do wrong? Think it will still turn out?

    • Hi Allie! No worries, it is supposed to be a pretty thick batter. It should be fine! Please let us know how it turns out — we hope you enjoy! :)

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  46. I tried this recipe for Easter last year and everyone loved it! It was so moist and delicious and the frosting was awesome. I did it without the nuts and raisins by the way because I knew not everyone likes those in my family. I would highly recommend and I am baking this again for this years easter too :) 

    • We’re so glad to hear that Daniela — thank you for sharing with us! :)

  47. Made this today for Easter,so pleased to find a recipe with No Nuts ? Have to say the taste is absolutely gorgeous! But……………the frosting is way too runny!
    I added more icing sugar than suggested but still really runny,just pours off the top of the cake! I’m in the UK and was really careful with following the recipe exactly.
    Still a great cake the taste is the best but need to work out how to get the frosting thicker…….

    • Thank you for sharing with us Emma! We’re sorry the frosting turned out runny — that’s so strange! We wonder if one of the measurements could have been off? If this happens again, placing the frosting in the fridge for a bit will help it thicken up. We hope this is helpful — we appreciate you giving the recipe a try!

  48.  I would like to use 3-9 inch round cake pan what I have to do to the recipe to make it work ?

  49. I was asked to make a Carrot Cake for Easter/a birthday (carrot cake is the birthday guys fav). I cook/bake a lot (usually with success) but I haven’t made a carrot cake in a lonnnng time. I searched through page after page of recipes and kept coming back to this one. All I can say is WOW!!! Even the raw batter was phenomenal (yes I know it has raw eggs, I don’t care, none of us are making it out alive and at least I got carrot cake before I went if it’s my time!). I don’t know enough about the recipients tastes to know if they like “pure” carrot cake or are into the pineapple and stuff so I tossed in a few extras but not a lot of anything (diced pecans, a small handful of golden raisins, and a small handful of coconut). This cake is unreal! I don’t want to share! I could’ve eaten the frosting straight out of the bowl until I lapsed into a diabetic coma. If you are looking for THE ULTIMATE CARROT CAKE RECIPE…look no further. Seriously.

    • We’re so happy this was a hit Stephanie! Thanks for taking the time to share with us (those pecans, golden raisins and coconut all sound amazing too)! :)

  50. Made this for Easter dessert…in the words of my 4 year old, it is “duh-licious”.
    The cake is SO moist and yummy!! 

    • Awww we’re so glad you and your little one enjoyed this! Thanks for commenting! :)