Carrot Cake Bars

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This carrot cake bars recipe is easy to make, perfectly moist and lightly spiced and full of fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting.

Carrot Cake Bars

If any of you happen to be craving carrot cake for Easter this year — but mayyybe don’t want to commit to a full-sized layer cake while we’re all stuck at home and can’t easily share with family and friends — I have the perfect alternative this year.

These carrot cake bars! ♡

I made a quick batch this weekend by halving my favorite carrot cake recipe (with a few small tweaks) and baking the bars in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.  And they ended up being so ridiculously delicious that I thought I would snap a few quick pics to share the recipe with you today.

These carrot cake bars are made with a homemade carrot cake base that is quick and easy to make, perfectly soft and moist, made with a few simple warming spices, plus lots and lots of fresh carrots.  The bars are then topped with my favorite cream cheese frosting, which you’re welcome to make as gooey or as firm as you prefer.  And together — I’m telling you — the combo is just perfection.

I highly recommend serving these carrot cake bars with a cup of strong coffee or hot tea.  And as lovely as they are for dessert, my husband and I will be the first to admit that they make for a fabulous breakfast the next day too.

So who’s in for some carrot cake bars?!

Carrot Cake Ingredients

Homemade Carrot Cake Bars Ingredients:

Ok first, let’s chat briefly about the ingredients you will need to make these carrot cake bars.  The recipe calls for:

  • Oil: I typically use avocado oil, but vegetable oil, canola oil or any other mild-flavored oil would work too.
  • Sugars: We will use both granulated (white) and brown sugar.
  • Eggs and vanilla extract: Because…cake. ♡
  • Flour: I made this recipe classic all-purpose flour.  But you’re welcome to sub in white whole wheat flour instead too.
  • Spices: A warming mixture of 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 salt.
  • 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 shredded carrots.
  • (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.  (Just add more/less powdered sugar to make the frosting as gooey or firm as you prefer.)

Detailed ingredient amounts and full instructions included in the recipe box below.

How To Make Carrot Cake Bars

How To Make Carrot Cake Bars:

Here are the basic steps to make these carrot cake bars!  (Full instructions included in the recipe below.)

  1. Make the batter. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, then combine and stir until smooth.  (I typically make these by hand, but you can use a stand mixer if you prefer.)  Fold in the grated carrots, plus any optional add-ins (such as nuts or raisins) that sound good.
  2. Bake. Pour the batter evenly into a greased 9×9-inch baking dish.  Then bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Transfer the baking dish to a wire baking rack and let cool until the cake reaches room temperature.
  3. Make the frosting. Meanwhile in a separate mixing bowl, stir together all of the cream cheese ingredients until smooth.  (I highly recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding it in, if you would like to avoid clumps.  Also feel free to add more/less powdered sugar to achieve your desired frosting consistency.)
  4. Frost and serve.  Once the cake has cooled, spread it evenly with the cream cheese frosting.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!

Homemade Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

Possible Recipe Variations:

If you would like to customize your carrot cake bars, 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 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger into the frosting.
  • Make the recipe gluten-free and vegan: Use this recipe (and halve it to make vegan gluten-free carrot cake bars).

Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

More Favorite Carrot Recipes:

Looking for more delicious sweet carrot recipes?  Here are a few of my faves! ♡

Print

Carrot Cake Bars

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 9 to 12 bars 1x

Description

This carrot cake bars recipe is easy to make, perfectly moist and lightly spiced and full of fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting.


Scale

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Bars Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup avocado oil (or vegetable oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 8 ounces finely-grated* fresh carrots
  • optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts or 1/4 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar (use more/less to achieve your desired consistency)

Instructions

  1. Prep oven and baking dish. Heat oven to 350°F.  Mist a 9×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set it aside for later.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients. 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. Mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined.
  4. Combine. 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.  Pour the batter into the baking dish, and spread it out evenly.
  5. Bake. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Transfer the baking dish to a wire cooling rack and let it cool until the cake reaches room temperature.
  6. Make the frosting. Meanwhile in a separate mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until evenly combined.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Feel free to add more/less powdered sugar to achieve your desired frosting consistency.
  7. Frost and serve.  Once the cake has cooled, spread it evenly with the cream cheese frosting.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!


Notes

Storage instructions: These carrot cake bars can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Grating the carrots: You can either grate the carrots by hand with a box grater or by using the shredding disk on a food processor.  Or you can save a step and just purchase store-bought shredded carrots.

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46 comments on “Carrot Cake Bars”

  1. Thank you Ali! These are SO happening!!! I love your recipes for bars. You are wonderful 💕

  2. Thank you! My birthday is next week and will be celebrated alone so a smaller version of my favorite cake is much appreciated. I like the addition of nuts/raisins AND also a small amount of crushed pineapple to the batter and the juice to the frosting for an additional taste treat. Thanks for your great posts and recipes.

  3. Thank you and perfect timing! I’ve been craving carrot cake, but didn’t want to make a big cake since it’s just my hubs and I at home while we’re social distancing. This will be perfect for our Easter dessert!

  4. This will be just the perfect size for the two of us. It will be very strange not to spend Easter with our family! Thank you for the recipe! Happy Easter! 💐👒🐰

    • The taste on this is amazing, I’ve made the full version before. For whatever this reason when I made this for Easter, I made the cake the day before, then added the frosting on Easter morning. When I cute into it, all the carrots had turned black. We could figure out why. It couldn’t have molded that quickly, right? I threw away the rest just because it made me nervous. Anybody have this happen before?

  5. Hi, I know that you mentioned in your post that you had made half of this recipe in a 9×9 pan, but in the printable recipe for the full recipe you have also written that it goes into a 9×9 pan. I just made the full recipe and it is definitely more batter than will fit in a 9×9. It should be a 9×13 pan. The baking time will also be about 8-10 minutes longer for the bigger pan. I haven’t tasted it yet as it needs to cool but the house smelled amazing while it was baking. Once it cools, I will top it with the cream cheese frosting and do my taste test.

    • Oops….sorry, I meant to say that when I doubled the recipe using the 2x tab, which changes the written recipe quantities…… it doesn’t change the pan size in the written recipe. I wasn’t clear in my previous message….too busy thinking about my first piece of frosted carrot cake, I guess.

    • Ah yes, sorry, the program that we use to double/triple the recipe amounts doesn’t always change the pan sizes too. Glad that you figured it out and enjoyed the cake!! :)

  6. how many carrots is 8 oz if I’m shredding by hand?

    • Yes! Please, someone answer :) Now I’m reading about Metric cups, say what? Is a US measuring cup Metric? Guessing not. Yikes! Gonna just wing it….

  7. I was so disappointed! I added pecans, & coconut to batter but the cake was very dry!maybe if I had added some pineapple.🙄. The frosting was good though with the added cinnamon & ginger

    • Oh no! Hmmm, was the cake maybe in the oven a bit too long? Sorry to hear that it was dry.

    • Brenda I also found the cake to be a bit on the dry side (added chopped walnuts). I made the icing the same way as you did and I would agree that part was delicious!

  8. Delicious! I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose flour for the regular all purpose flour. I also added golden raisins & pecans. The ground nutmeg is really worth it for just the nicest hint of flavor. Finally, I always add a bit of fresh lemon juice to cream cheese frosting & it just perks it up perfectly. All in all, this is my best new carrot cake recipe. Thanks!

  9. We couldn’t wait until Easter and made a pan last night. Sooooooooo good!

  10. I’m a little confused about pan size. Are the measurements listed for a 9 X 9 pan and need to be doubled for a 9X 13 pan.?

    • Correct — the measurements listed are for a 9×9-inch pan.

      If you want to use a 9×13-inch pan, there will be too much batter if you double the recipe. So if you want to double the recipe and use a 9×13, I would recommend removing (and discarding) a cup of the batter before adding the batter to the pan. Best wishes!

  11. Can this be made with almond meal flour or brown rice flour? In this situation, I haven’t been able to get any all purpose flour!

  12. How/can I modify for high altitude?

  13. A-MA-ZING! Thank you for figuring out how to make a smaller version.This is my favorite birthday cake and I’ve never made it myself. Turned out perfect. Since we like a less sweet frosting, I used two cups of powdered sugar instead of three and I did add walnuts. I have made so many of your recipes and they are foolproof. When I want delicious, home-cooked meals, you’re the first person I go to. Stay safe!

  14. Can I use an 8×8 pan?

  15. Delicious. I had to use an 8 x 8 pan, and I needed to cook this for an additional 10 minutes. I was worried they would be dry, but they were still wonderful. Also, I used half applesauce/half grape seed oil with no problems! My kids had never had carrot cake before and are fully on board ;) Thanks for the great recipe!

    • I was having the same issue. I couldn’t find a 9×9 pan. I had an 8×8 and can’t wait for this to come out of the oven!

  16. I really wanted a carrot cake but didn’t want to deal with the complexity of a multi-tiered cake. This recipe and size was exactly what I was looking for. It tastes delicious! I will definitely be making it again!

  17. Just made this recipe and it was a big hit. I didn’t have any nutmeg so I added pumpkin pie spice instead. I found the frosting did not need as much powdered sugar as the recipe called for, so I added it to taste. I rarely bake from scratch but this was so easy!

  18. I just made a batch today and it was so flavorful along with the cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This is the first cake I’ve ever baked. The cream cheese was the best part! Though my cake rised in the middle probably because I forgot to add the baking powder but nonetheless the recipe is superb, thank you. <3

  19. Carrot cake is my husband’s favorite, and he said this may have been the best he’s ever had! Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  20. We made these tonight and OMG- they were perfect. So moist, not overly sweet and the recipe was so easy to put together. I used an 11×7 pan and will be taking half of it over to my brother and sister in laws tomorrow and have already sent the recipe to them because I know they’ll ask for it when they try it. Thanks for another winner, from one Kansas City girl to another! :)

  21. Great moist, delicious recipe for our stay at home Easter. It was a winner! Note – I didn’t make as much frosting as your recipe called for & it was loved this way.

  22. Made this for dessert for our easter dinner. They were great and was a big fan of the smaller portion size! Awesome mixture of spices along with being nice and moist. Made in a glass 8×8 pan and baked for 40 minutes which was perfect. Will definitely make again

  23. I made these yesterday for Easter! I had an 8×8 dish that worked perfect for these bars. I had never tried making carrot cake from scratch until now but your instructions were so easy to follow. I added some chopped walnuts and the texture is heavenly. I did have to keep them in the oven 10 mins longer before the center was completely set. They were a little drier right after baking than I had anticipated but after a day in the fridge OMG they are so perfect.

  24. I mixed both types of sugar with the dry ingredients the night before (read the recipe wrong). Then mixed the wet ingredients in the next AM. The bars turned out salty, not sweet. Would that be a result of the order being incorrect?

  25. Excellent recipe! We only added the pecans. Easy to make:) Our family loves it!!

  26. I only have full-fat cream cheese. Do you think that will be ok?

  27. Can I use olive oil instead of avocado or vegetable oil?
    And what are the lower sugar options for the frosting? 3 cups sound a lot! :)
    Thanks in advance.

  28. My 4 year and I have been doing a lot baking and this was perfect. We decreased the powder sugar to 2 cups for the cream cheese to come through more. It was smash hit here! Will definitely make again – loved getting carrot cake without the big production of a cake.

  29. Hi! Any suggestions to make the bass extra moist? Thanks!

  30. Can’t wait to try these! Question for you – if shredding the carrots, what is an estimated number of carrots that is equivalent to 8 ounces?

  31. Perfectly delicious, added applesauce. Thank you.

  32. I’m wondering how many carrots 8 oz would be? Is it 1 cup (8 fluid oz) shredded? Or 1/2 a pound of carrots?

    • I shredded and weighed mine to 8 oz and it was almost 3/4 of a bag of 16oz of baby carrots. Hope that helps.

  33. My mom’s favorite cake is carrot cake so I made this for her for Mother’s Day. I added about half a cup of walnuts and only needed 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar for the frosting and it turned out great! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  34. This Recipe is delicious! I added both the 4oz raisins (Golden) and the nuts (walnuts).

  35. This was delicious! I loved the smaller size. I used Canola oil, I grated my carrots in a food processor, and added raisins. Rave reviews from all. Thank you! This will definitely be one of my favorited recipes to make.

  36. This was the best!! My 6 year old said it was the best cake he’s ever had and couldn’t stop thinking about it.