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 122 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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1,056 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Just finished making this cake and it came out good! I just wish it had more flavor. I’ll definitely make it again but maybe add 8 large carrots instead of 6 and maybe a bit more cinnamon. It’s definitely moist and yummy just doesn’t have that burst of carrot flavor you would expect.

    • Thanks for sharing Drina — we appreciate you giving the recipe a try, and for your feedback!

  2. Hi & Happy Easter! I’m in the same boat as a lot of people… Two 9″ pans and going on 45 minutes and the middle is still not done. Bummer, as the edges are all brown and I hope it doesn’t burn. No elevation where I’m at, and they’ve been rotated. :( 

    • Hi Kara! We’re sorry to hear that! :( We wonder if your carrots were somehow too watery? We’ve tested this recipe many times, and never had problems. We’re really sorry this happened, and other than the carrots, we’re really not sure what could have caused this.

  3. I made this cake for this my husband’s birthday this weekend. It was SO GOOD! I am not usually a fan of carrot cake, but I LOVED this one! I ran out of canola oil so I had to use coconut oil, and it came out okay-the first time I’ve ever used coconut oil in baking. I used hazelnuts as our daughter is allergic to all other nuts, and they were good in this. I know, I know, I’m breaking your purist rule! :) The frosting was unbelievable! I’m really enjoying reading your blog and trying out all of these yummy recipes. Thanks for sharing all of them with us!

    • Thanks for sharing with us Viv — we’re so happy it was a hit! We appreciate your sweet words! :)

  4. I am not a skilled baker by any means, but I made this cake this past weekend for Easter and it turned out so great! I was so pleased with myself :) I followed the recipe almost exactly – the only difference was I processed the carrots very finely in the food processor (in the picture they look grated) and I did choose to add walnuts. I was very excited to take it to my family’s Easter dinner to share. Thanks for the recipe! I will be trying more from your website.

    • We’re so glad to hear that Bailey! We appreciate you giving the recipe a try! :)

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  6. Can I make muffins out of this recipe ? 

    • Yes, but it will make a LOT of muffins, so we’d suggest cutting the recipe in half. We hope you enjoy! :)

  7. I made this cake this weekend and it turned out amazing! One question I have is how long will it keep in the fridge for?

    Thank you so much for a delicious recipe ?

    • We’re so glad to hear that Andrea! It will probably keep in the fridge for about a week. :)

  8. Made it for Easter and it was so tasty & moist! Baked in two 9-in pans and cut the icing down to 2 blocks cream cheese and 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar since only made two layers (also added 1 T rum to icing) and it turned out so delicious. Thank you for sharing this phenomenonal recipe with well-described instructions!!

    • We’re so glad to hear that Tracy! And we love the idea of adding rum to the icing — good idea! :)

  9. Would this work okay in a 9×13 cake pan?

    • Hi Joy! We’re pretty sure this makes way too much batter for just one 9×13 pan. We would 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! :)

  10. Im confused with the cream cheese measurement ‘ so is it 3 x8oz- making it 24 ounces. Try to convert into grams and struggling :

    • Hi Celia! Yes, it’s 24 oz of cream cheese, so in grams it should be 680.4 g

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  12. This was my first attempt at a carrot cake and it was perfection! My family loved it! I made it for Easter and decorated with m&ms and peeps. Thank you for this recipe :-)

  13. I’ve always had bad luck with carrot cake, probably because I use the more complicated recipes that ask for canned pineapple and it’s always results in a cake that doesn’t rise and stays nearly undertakes no matter how long I bake it, which I assume is due to too much liquid in the mix from the wet ingredients, but this recipe was simple and resulted in the best carrot cake I’ve ever made!! This will now be my go-to carrot cake recipe!! Thank you 

    • Thanks for sharing with us Marina — we’re so glad you enjoyed this! :D

  14. Hi! This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try! I know you said the carrot blends into the cake but do I just leave the pieces that big (after grating)? Or will there be big, carrot pieces once the cake is done?

    Thanks!!!

    • Thanks Rai — Yes, the carrots should be the size and thinness of the photo of them inside the food processor. They won’t be stringy or too big once the cake is done. We hope you enjoy! :)

  15. I was going to make something totally differnt for our wedding cake, and lost the recipe.
    However carrot cake is both of our favorite cake, so I found this one, did a test run and am making it this weekend as a two tiered wedding cake. It’s lovely. Thank you!

    • Thank you Lillianna — we’re so happy you two enjoyed it, and extremely flattered that you will be making it for your wedding cake! Congratulations to you both! :D

  16. Made this cake yesterday and it turned out amazing!!! I have a dairy allergy so I didn’t need to modify anything in the cake recipe but I did use a vegan cream cheese frosting from The Minimalist Baker. That you so much for this wonderful recipe! 

  17. I have never made a carrot cake or cream cheese frosting before. But for my mother’s birthday she requested a homemade carrot cake. This one caught my eye and I tried it. Everyone loved it!!! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    • Thanks for giving the recipe a try Amber! We’re so glad to hear it was a hit! :D

  18. OMG this was an amazing cake! I have been asked by several people to make it again someone even offers to pay me LOL! Just wondering if you have ever made them into cupcakes? I am going to attempt it and out some of the frosting in the centers too! Thanks for the amazing recipe! 

    • Thanks Tiffany — we’re so glad it was a hit! You can definitely make this into cupcakes (but it will make a TON, unless you do half the recipe).

  19. Silly question but I am not much of a baker :) I do not have a large stand mixer. Can I use beaters?

  20. I tried this recipe over the  weekend, as I was asked to make one for a friend. I love carrot cake but felt like it was a bit dry, even more so the next day. Do you have any tips to make it a bit more moist (maybe a little milk or omitt)? Also, any suggestion on giving the flavor a bit more kick?

    • Hi there! Hmmm, we’re sorry it was a little dry — it could be that it got slightly over-baked (that could definitely be a reason). One thing you can do to help add moisture is to make some simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar – just bring to a boil, cooking until the sugar is dissolved), and brush the cooled cake layers with it. It will help lock in moisture. We hope this helps!

  21. Hi! I absolutely love your recipes! Your enchilada sauce is the BEST! I’m making your carrot cake as we speak, but I think I messed up. I was grating the carrots by hand, but decided part way through to use my Magic Bullet, as it’s the closest thing I have to a food processor. Unfortunately, the carrots came out finely chopped, not grated. (A very stupid beginners mistake!) It may be to much to hope for a reply before I mix up the batter, but I’m wondering if you would suggest starting over, or do you think it’s worth giving it a go with what I have? Thank you, and thanks for making delicious recipes that are approachable for a novice!

    • Hi Sherilyn! Thank you for your sweet words about the enchilada sauce! As for the carrot cake — oh no, we’re so sorry! If you haven’t already mixed the carrots into the batter, we’d say you might want to start over. :/ We hate to say that, especially since we really hate waste, but we’re afraid you’re just not going to get the right taste or texture with them that way. Good luck to you —please let us know how everything turns out!

  22. Hello the recipe says  3 1/4 cups of flour ..is it 3 times 1/4 cups of flour or is it 3 cups + 1/4 cup

  23. My carrot cake is in the oven now and excited to frost it but I have always had this question…if cream cheese needs refridgerated then how is it ok to be used as a frosting and not need to be kept in the refridgerater?
    Thanks!

    • Hi there! We’ve found that cakes with cream cheese icing are fine left out of the fridge (at room temp) for several hours, even a day or so. Ideally you would store it in the fridge and take it out an hour or two before serving (unless you prefer it cold), but it isn’t unsafe if you don’t refrigerate it (cream cheese and butter are pasteurized and processed) — it just helps keep it fresher longer. We hope this info is helpful, and that you enjoy your cake!

  24. I wanted to make some cupcakes today and this recipe sounds delicious. I know it would make a lot of cupcakes if I used the full recipe. If I cut the recipe in half  how many cupcakes  would you guess it would make?

    • Hi Maria! We think if you cut the recipe in half, this should make around 22-24 cupcakes. We hope you enjoy! :)

  25. Wow!  This is indeed the best carrot cake I’ve ever made.  I made it for my parents 55th wedding anniversary and it was a huge hit! Posted it on Instagram it was so beautiful :)  Thanks for the recipe.  Lisa at Seasonsinvermont

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  28. I made this cake tonight, it’s still in the oven actually.  I put toasted chopped pecans in the icing. I’m dying to see how it turns out.

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  30. Hi. I would like to know if I can make this Carrot Cake in a  
    1 × 28cm Round cake tin or 2 × 25cm cake tins for a double layer cake & for how long n the oven must it bake please? I really need advice urgently please….need to make it today still. Thanks a lot. ♡ 

    • Hi Denise — Yes, we think you can use two 25cm pans for a double layer, or you can use one 9×13-inch pan (a 32cm pan) for a single layer. We hope you enjoy!

  31. This recipe looks amazing!  I have one question though. I will have to make it gluten free because one of the party members have celiacs and I have never baked useing gluten free flour before. Are there any adjustments that I should make to the recipe that you know of?   Thanks in advanced!

    • Thank you Jen! We actually have a gluten-free (vegan) carrot cake recipe! If you don’t want it to be vegan though, we think you would be fine to follow this carrot cake recipe and just use a gluten-free all purpose blend of flour. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  32. So far this cake has been a total hit! 2nd year my brother and his wife has requested it for his birthday! Everyone loved it the first time let’s see what they think  this year! Thanks  for the awesome recipe!!!!

    • Thanks for sharing Gwen — we’re so happy you and your family love it! :D

  33. looking for low carb recipe – NOT!! But i  can make substitute for  the flour and loaded sugars….

  34. What is the meaning of the first line of ingrediants?
    “1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil”

    I assume the 1 1/2 is flour and that the 2 T is for the oil? Then I questioned if there would only be 2 tablespoons of oil. Hmmm, don’t know what to make of that.

    • Hi Vickie! It’s 1 1/2 cups of canola/vegetable oil, plus 2 TBS (of oil). We hope you enjoy!

  35. Hi I had a question about the type of flour used in this recipe. Did you use AP Flour? Also, how would the final product turn out if cake flour was used instead? 

    • Hi Crystal! Yes, we used all-purpose flour. We can’t say for sure how this would turn out with cake flour, as we haven’t tried it. However, cake flour is great, so we think it’s worth a shot! Use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour. We hope you enjoy!

  36. Hello I was wondering I want to add pineapple to this recipe how many cup of crushed pineapple that I should put it in 

    • Hi Karlene! We would try adding a 15oz can of crushed pineapple (drained), and just gently fold it into the batter. We hope you enjoy! :)

  37. Oh my goodness,  this cake turned out so good! We made half the icing, and had to make due with the only spice we had on hand, cinnamon. Still fantastic!  Thank you! 

    • We’re so happy to hear that Baylee — and that’s good to know it was still yummy without those other spices! :)

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  39. I first tried your recipe last year and ever since I’ve been making it for every occasion in the family. Actually I have the cake in the oven “as we speak”. The frosting was a bit tricky at first, but I’ve managed to get the no lumps version in the last attempts :)) thanks for this great, great recipe!

  40. Hi! I’m going to be making this cake with (3) 8″ round cake pans. How many, on average, does it it serve?

    • Hi Tricia! This is a pretty huge cake, so you should get around 15-20 slices out of it. We hope you enjoy!

  41. Made this recipe tonight, but did jumbo cupcakes instead….out of this world! Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!

  42. Hi! I currently have mine baking in the over, I’m using 2 9 inch pans and was wondering how long I should be cooking them for?

    • Hi Marian! The cook time should be about the same, but you can set the timer for 20 minutes to start, if you’d like. We hope you enjoy!

  43. I’ve made this several times and love it! Have you used the same recipe for cupcakes with success?

    • Thanks Colleen — we’re so glad to hear that! You can definitely do cupcakes with this recipe, only we’d cut the recipe in half, as it will yield waaaay too many cupcakes. Even cutting it in half will give you a pretty big amount. :)

  44. Hello. 
    Can I freeze this cake and then carve it in the shape I want? Just as a normal cake?? 

  45. Oh my ! IT IS the best !!! Just made it, adding walnuts and apricots ! So good and nicely balanced flavors !!!!!
    Thank you for sharing and will trust your other recipes !!
    (i divided by two and made 2×6″ and 2×4″)

  46. Made this recipe 3 times  my family and friends love the cake I’m famous  know thanks.

  47. Hi just wanted to know if it would make a difference in blending the carrot after grating? I would like to make a very vibrant cake and I figured blending would change the color perfectly

    • Hi Koda! We don’t think it would make much of a difference, but you could try — we hope you enjoy the cake! :)

  48. Hello. Will this recipe work in a 9×13 pan? or even two of them? Do you happen to know what volume of batter it makes?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Helen! Yes, you can make this in a 9×13 pan. Unfortunately we’re not quite sure on the volume of the batter. We hope you enjoy the cake!

  49. I had the same problem as Kara. I do not believe that my carrots are watery since they were shredded at least 40 minutes prior to mixing into the batter. I also used two 9″ pans. Perhaps this is a cake meant only for 3 layers or a 9×13.

    • Darn, I’m sorry to hear that. If you make this again, I would try placing the carrots through a cheesecloth and giving them a good squeeze to remove any excess moisture (even if they were just shredded). Sorry, I’ve made this cake many times and have never had that happen. :(

  50. Can’t wait to try out the recipe. Thanks Mary