This classic carrot cake recipe is moist, perfectly-spiced and made with lots of fresh carrots and a cream cheese frosting.
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
- 1 2/3 cup 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)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. (Or to save a step, you can coat them with baking spray, which already contains flour.)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture into the egg mixture, and stir until smooth. Fold in the grated carrots and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.
- Portion the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the baking pans to a wire cooling rack and let the cakes cool until they reach room temperature.
- Meanwhile, to make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined and smooth. (You can either do this with a spatula, or with a hand or stand mixer.) Gradually stir in the powdered sugar and mix until it is completely combined. You want the frosting to be pretty firm for a 3-layer cake, so add more/less powdered sugar as needed to reach the correct consistency.
- Once the cakes reach room temperature,* use a cake leveler or a bread knife to slice off the rounded tops of the cakes so that they are completely flat on top. Place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges. Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake. Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges of the cake.
- Once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy! Or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
*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.