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 109 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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1,031 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. I also used two 9″ pans, deep ones, but I used the advice of some professional bakers that I found online and after the initial 40 minutes at 350˚F, I lowered it to 300˚F for another half an hour. The cakes look fantastic and seem solid all the way through. I might start at 325˚F next time if I use two pans again so that there’s a more consistent cooking process.

  2. Hello my mom and i would like to try your recipe may i ask how many cups is 1lb of carrots? Im sorry we do not have a weighing scale :(

    • Hi Elena! 1 lb of carrots should equal about 3 cups. We hope you and your mom enjoy the cake!

  3. What is the cooking Time adjustment for a 9″ pan?

    • Hi Nicole! We think it will take around 30 minutes or more, but we would still suggest setting the timer for 25 minutes and just checking from there (just to be on the safe side). We hope that helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  4. Hey I’ve made this cake a couple of times and it comes out perfect everytime. I made a crusting cream cheese frosting because I live in the Caribbean and the heat makes the frosting runny other than that it’s a lovely cake and makes great cupcakes as well. Thank you for the recipe. 

    • Thanks for sharing with us Sarah — we’re so happy you’re a fan of the cake! :D

  5. The cake was great, however the icing was runny and made enough for 3 cakes.

    • Hi Sarah! We’re glad you enjoyed the cake! We’re sorry about the icing though — that’s strange. We’ve never experienced it being runny before — could one of your measurements have been off?

  6. I made this the other week and it was the best carrot cake my husband and I have ever eaten! I’d like to make it in cupcake form for my students and was wondering if you knew how many standard-size cupcakes this recipe makes? I have 24 students.

    • Wow, what a generous compliment Danielle! We’re so happy you and your husband loved it! And if you want to make cupcakes out of the recipe, you’ll definitely need to cut it in half (even cutting it in half will probably make more than 24).

  7. Hi, It was my first time making cakes (I’m a 14 year old).
    And I messed up with the salt. I read tbsp. instead of tsp.(Yes, I’m a fool)
    Is there a way to fix it or I have to throw it away? :(
    Sorry if i made a mistake , english is not my first language.

    • Hi Ana! Oh no, we’re so sorry! You are definitely not a fool though, we have done things like this a zillion times (it’s easy to misread something). Unfortunately though we’re afraid this isn’t salvageable as that’s just a whole lot of salt. We hate for you to have to throw it out but we just can’t think of anything that could fix this. :(

  8. Thank you! I threw it away and made it again. It was delicious!
    I think that we learn from our mistakes. :)

  9. I’m making these into cupcakes for my niece’s graduation party. What would the bake time adjustment be for cupcakes? Thanks!

    • Hi Charlene! You’d want to cut the recipe in half (even then it will still make quite a lot of cupcakes)! Also, they will probably bake for 12-15 min (possibly even a bit longer). We hope this helps and that they’re a hit at your niece’s party! :)

  10. Could you tell me about baking in loaf pans what would you recommend for cooking time. Thank you!!!

    • Hi Rebecca! If you wanted to use a loaf pan for this, you would need to cut the recipe in half (it makes a lot)! It might even be enough batter to fill up two loaf pans. As far as the baking time, it will probably need about an hour or so to bake (possibly 75 minutes). We’d suggest setting a timer for 45 minutes and checking every 5-10 min after that. We hope this helps and that you enjoy! :)

  11. Hi, could you give me the quantity of carrots in cups?

    • Hi Lih! 1 lb of carrots should equal about 3 or 4 cups. We would suggest weighing the carrots at the grocery store if you can though. We hope you enjoy the cake!

  12. Wow! So easy to make and super delicious. I’ve made it twice and it came out perfect each time.  Everyone loved it.  This is a keeper!

  13. I’ve made this recipe twice before, and absolutely loved it! I’m going to make it again soon and was wondering if this recipe would work in a bundt cake pan? What would you suggest for baking time and/or temperature adjustments? Thank you!

    • Thanks Anthony — we’re so happy you’re a fan of the recipe! As far as trying this in a bundt pan, as long as your bundt pan is big enough (it should be able to hold about 15 cups of batter), then this should be fine. You may have a bit of batter left over (be careful not to overfill the bundt pan), but if that’s the case, you could always bake a few cupcakes as well. :) We hope this helps!

  14. This recipe looks absolutely AMAZING! I have learned that I tend to like crushed pineapple and shaved coconut flakes in my carrot cake – do you think I would need to alter anything else in the recipe if I added these to it?

    • Thanks Katie! You can add a 15oz can of crushed pineapple (drained) — we would recommend gently folding it into the batter. And you should be find to add the coconut as well! We hope you enjoy!

  15. I was wondering if I could use white whole wheat flour in this recipe? 

    • Hi Katerina! We haven’t tried that and while you might, we would suggest doing a mixture (we’d try 2 cups of ap flour and 1 1/4 cups of white whole wheat). If you give that a shot, definitely let us know how it turns out! :)

  16. I made this cake yesterday for my 3 year old birthday and it was AMAZING. I added lime juice to the icing and also added crushed pineapples mixed with some of the icing in between the layers, as a filling. then decorated with some gummy bears. As soon as I finished making the cake we sang happy birthday and served it. It was really good but not the best carrot cake, then 5 hours later I had another piece and wow! The cake was out of this world delicious and definitely is the BEST carrot cake. So my only suggestion would be to make it at least 3 hours in advance to make sure all the flavors are settled.

  17. I can NOT wait to try this recipe, the picture shows a carrot-loaded and moist cake, it has me drooling! ?
    I also want to comment about the frosting, I saw people saying the frosting was runny, it might be because the cheese needs to be drained, I have consistent results and a fluffy, creamy frosting when I do it. I’m not sure if it’s whey or water, but the liquid melts the sugar, I wrap each stick in two coffee filters while it’s coming to room temperature, works wonderfully.

    • Thank you Laura — we hope you love it! And thanks for sharing that tip on the cream cheese as well!

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  19. I made this for homecoming at church a few months ago. There was none left and people asked me if I baked cakes to sale! This cake is amazing. I am making it today for my mom’s wedding next Saturday at the request of the groom. Any suggestions as far as baking since I am making it in 3″ deep pans?

    • That’s awesome Jada — we’re so glad it’s a hit! Hmmm, the pans are 3 inches deep, but what’s the diameter? We’ve only made these in 8-inch and 9-inch pans (and in cupcake pans).

  20. This recipe worked out beautifully. Thanks for the guidance on a simple carrot cake with lots of carrots. I even grew the carrots and harvested them in the middle of the night, so we’re calling it “Middle of the Night” cake.

    • Awesome Erica — we’re so glad to hear that! And we love your new name for the cake! :)

  21. Hi, can replace cream cheese with mascarpone cream? Or combine them?

    • Hi Manuela — Yes, you can definitely use mascarpone instead, or a mix of cream cheese and mascarpone (we love mascarpone and think that would be super yummy)! :)

  22. Hey, I want to make this recipe, does it matter if we use baby carrots or should we use the regular size carrots to grate? Thank you!

    • Hi Laura! You can grate baby carrots, but regular-sized carrots will be easier to grate (if you’re grating by hand).

  23. I will be baking a 30 Cm Square Cake ( 12inch ) soon and will be using this recipe.
    will let you know how it turns out “Nuts & All”
    Thank You from a Chilli Winters evening in Cape Town, South Africa
    Ps …had to convert the Oz’s & lb’s :)

    • Hi Yusrah! We hope you enjoy the carrot cake (we’re glad you were able to convert everything over), and we hope you stay warm in beautiful Cape Town! :)

  24. This cake is beautiful! Do you have any ideas about how many cupcakes this recipe would make? I need 150 cupcakes and I am hoping to get the math right so I don’t have to end up making more batter last minute! 

    • Thank you Lindsay — we hope you enjoy the recipe! Hmmm, we know this would make a lot of cupcakes, but we haven’t tried making cupcakes ourselves with this recipe, so we can’t say how many one batch might yield. However! If following this guide (which we think should be pretty accurate), you would probably just need to do about 8 times the recipe (that’s if each batch yields 18 cupcakes, but as the guide says, it could be anywhere from 18-24). We’re sorry we don’t have an exact number for you, but we hope this is helpful!

  25. What is the serving size for this please?

    • Hi Ashton — This recipe yields 1 3-LEVEL 8-INCH CAKE, OR 1 2-LEVEL 9-INCH CAKE.

  26. es posible traducirla al castellano,creo que es una tarta estupenda

  27. Hi! Just wanted to share that I am making these for my sons 8th birthday party as cupcakes. I cut the recipe in half thinking it would be plenty for 24 cupcakes per above comments but it barely made 15. Just a heads up for anyone making cupcakes :) 

  28. This recipe made two perfect 9×5 loaf cakes. I baked them in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Can’t wait for them to cool.

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

    • Hi Mary! 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! :)

  30. This cake looks delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it! Is there any way I can use butter instead of the oil?

    • Thanks Andrea — we hope you love it! And yes, you could use butter instead of the oil (we suggest melting it and cooling it).

  31. I made this cake nadir did not turn moist. Did I cook it too long? I Madera it in 2 nine inch pans for 35 ninutes. also the cream cheese icing curdled… I guess the butter was too soft u left it all day on the counter so it pups be at room temperature….,

    • Hi Ana — we’re sorry you didn’t have a good experience with this cake! Perhaps you baked it 5 minutes too long? Or is it possible any of your measurements were off? This is definitely supposed to be a super-moist cake. As for the icing, it actually sounds like maybe the butter and cream cheese were different temps (one fairly cold and the other extremely warm temp), so perhaps it looked curdled but just wasn’t well-blended?

  32. Made this cake for Easter and my family couldn’t get enough. My son has requested it for his 5th birthday, however, I need to make it 9×13″. What do you think the baking time would be?

    • Hi Terese! It will probably need around 45-50 minutes, but we’d suggest setting the timer for 35 minutes to start, and then checking it every few minutes after that, just to be on the safe side. We hope this helps!

  33. If I used a bundt pan what would be the cooking time?

    • Hi Tracey! You would need a 10-inch bundt pan for this (anything smaller and it will overflow). Although, you could use a 9-inch bundt pan and then make some cupcakes with the leftover batter! As for the baking time, it will probably take around 1 hour or 70 minutes. We suggest starting your timer for 45 minutes and then checking every 5 minutes or so after that, just to be on the safe side. We hope this helps and that you enjoy!

  34. This cake was delicious and we all loved it, however it reminded me more of a “spice cake” that I have made rather than carrot cake. I’m sure it was the cloves. I also had trouble with runny frosting even after adding quite a bit of extra powdered sugar. I put it in the refrigerator to firm up. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • We’re happy you enjoyed it, Toby — thanks for sharing with us! Definitely feel free to leave the cloves out next time if you like. And as for the frosting, we’re sorry it was a bit funny for you! Sometimes we have to pop it in the fridge for a bit as well, and that always helps.

  35. I was wondering if this could be put in a 9×13 pan?

    • Hi Tamie! 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. If you bake it in a 9×13 inch pan (with leftover batter in cupcake tins), you’ll probably need to bake it for around 45-50 minutes, but we’d suggest setting the timer for 35 minutes to start, and then checking it every few minutes after that, just to be on the safe side. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  36. Im making a 6 inch cake. What would the cook time be on that?

    • Hi Shalei! We think a 6-inch cake will probably need 20-25 minutes to bake (but we suggest starting your timer for 18 minutes and checking every few minutes after that, just to be on the safe side). We hope you enjoy!

  37. I’m going to try it today but the frosting seems to have too much butter. Can I reduce the butter?

    • Hi Alejandra! Yes, definitely feel free to reduce the butter to your liking. We hope you enjoy the cake!

  38. Hi Ali!!! This cake look like delicious ?…. In Brasil the same cake is very different… I’ll make it… Before I ‘ll tell you…
    Kisses ?

  39. Hi! I was wondering how many servings does this make?

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  41. Best Cake Ever!!!! I had a craving for carrot cake yesterday and your recipe was the first one i found. I used a 12″ springform pan and this recipe fit perfectly. Lots of icing left over but I don’t mind. Deliciously moist cake, not too sweet and just the right amount os spices. This recipe is definitely going in my collection. 

  42. I don’t have a grater-option on my food processor. Do you think just chopping the carrots up into small/fine bits in the processor would work?

    • Hi Sabrina! Unfortunately we don’t think they would be the right texture, so we would recommend just using your grater (cheese grater/box grater). We hope this helps!

  43. As my kids and husband said: It was HOLY!!!

  44. Love the ease in prepping and baking the cake. It came out really nicely. hOWEVER, I had a major fail with your frosting recipe. I used 3-8oz packages of cream cheese and mixed per requirement and it was too runny. I added in 8 cups of icing sugar instead of the 6 as stated and it still did not thicken up. I was very disappointed. Has anyone else tried the frosting recipe? Not sure what I need to do to make it thicker. Plus it makes a ton of frosting. I know you state to add more icing sugar however think I need to add a lot more like double. Would the recipe need the 4 oz packages instead of the 8 oz pkgs? 

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that. Not sure why it didn’t work out — I wonder if our cream cheese was different temperatures (levels of softness/runny-ness). We’ve tested this recipe a few times, but I’ll be sure to check that again next time.

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  46. Hi, can i replace the flour with gluten free flour? Thank you

    • Hi Poppy! We actually have a recipe for a gluten-free version of this (it’s also vegan), but you can make substitutions if you’d rather it not be. We hope this helps!

  47. how many cupcakes do you think this will make and the time on them. Thanks!!

    • Hi Angela! If you want to make cupcakes out of the recipe, you’ll definitely need to cut it in half (even cutting it in half will probably make more than 24), unless you just want a ton of cupcakes! ;) We hope you enjoy!

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  49. Hi there,

    Do you peel the carrots before you grate them? LOVE your blog!

    Take care,
    Jessica

  50. I have requested this cake for my birthday! My husband is making it for me! Oh MY!!
    ~Sheila