This is my favorite carrot cake recipe! It’s created entirely from scratch, is simple to prepare, adaptable, and absolutely delicious. It wasn’t until I was teaching one of the girls how to make a carrot cake for school a few years back that I remembered how much I enjoyed the flavor.

Homemade Carrot Cake

Carrot cake seems to be a dish that most people only bake around Easter. Carrot cake, on the other hand, is a fantastic treat that I believe should be enjoyed all year round. Particularly in the case of this carrot cake recipe.

I know that calling a recipe the greatest is a huge statement, but I honestly mean it with this one. This carrot cake is not only simple to make, but it’s also very moist and flavorful, making it nearly impossible to stop at just one slice.

slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and fondant carrots.

What Does This Carrot Cake Taste Like?

First and foremost, the ideal homemade carrot cake must be fluffy and extra-moist—no dry cakes permitted. It should also be cooked with the nice warming spices that come from ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. but only enough to bring out the flavor of all those fresh carrots. Speaking of fresh carrots, a decent carrot cake recipe should have plenty of them strewn throughout each slice. But, most significantly, every slice of an excellent carrot cake recipe must be complemented by a creamy and buttery cream cheese icing. Because, in my opinion, a delicious carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting is the perfect dessert match.

CARROT CAKE INGREDIENTS

Let’s get started on our shopping list! You’ll need the following ingredients to make this carrot cake at home:

  • Oil: Any mild-flavored oil will do. I typically use vegetable oil, but you can use avocado or canola oil. That would work too.
  • Sugars: both granulated (white) and brown sugar.
  • Eggs and vanilla extract: give the cake the texture and some flavor
  • 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, ginger, 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 Moist?

1. Sugar does little for cake other than sweeten it. Brown sugar, on the other hand, not only sweetens, but also adds flavour and moisture, which is just what we were searching for.

2. Oil Cakes require fat to make them soft and tender; I prefer to use butter because it contains both fat and flavor. However, I feel that flavorless oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil is the ideal choice for cakes like chocolate cake and carrot cake that have flavor from other ingredients.

3. Apple Sauce I use apple sauce or even crushed pine apple to keep the cake from being overly wet and oily. The brown sugar and spices complement the flavors perfectly.

4. Freshly Shredded Carrots I recommend shredding or grating your carrots at home for carrot cakes. The pre-shredded carrots are dry and hard for me. For this dish, you’ll need roughly four large carrots. You’ll notice how wet and soggy they are while grating them, so don’t omit this step.

Grated carrots/Grated carrot in bowl
Apple Sauce in a Bowl

How to Keep Carrot Cake Fresh

Carrot cake should be kept refrigerated. To keep it from drying out, I keep it in a cake carrier plastic or glass. Allow it to rest at room temperature before serving.

How Long Does Carrot Cake Last?

In the refrigerator, frosted carrot cake should last around 5 days (unfrosted layers can be kept at room temperature for 2 days).

Can it be frozen?

Yes. Unfrosted layers of carrot cake can be frozen, wrapped separately in foil or plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container. Individually frosted slices can also be frozen.

Possible Variations

Coconut

Crushed Pineapple

Walnuts or Pecans

Raisins

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram or Facebook #tiannaskitchen.

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake is truly the greatest, with its amazing spice taste, wonderfully moist texture, and silky cream cheese icing.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 29 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Switzerland, United Kingdom
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 490 kcal

Ingredients
  

Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped optional can also use walnuts
  • 1-1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil or melted coconut oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce smooth
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots about 4 large
  • 1 cup raisins optional
  • 1 cup coconut optional

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces Cream Cheese Softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup butter unsalted Softened to room temperature
  • 4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla

Instructions
 

Carrot Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) before beginning. Use parchment paper or a silicone mat to line a large baking sheet. Toast the chopped pecans for 7-8 minutes on a baking sheet. After taking it out of the oven, let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Prepare two or three 9-inch cake pans by greasing them, lining them with parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment paper. The cakes are easier to remove from the pans when they are wrapped in parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth and no brown sugar lumps remain. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a separate large mixing basin. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until barely incorporated. Combine the carrots and 1 cup of toasted nuts in a mixing bowl. (The remaining pecans are for decoration.)
  • Pour or spoon the batter into the cake pans in an equal layer. Bake for 20-24 minutes if using three cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes if using two cake pans. Using a toothpick, check the center. The cakes are done when the knife or toothpick comes out clean. If not, continue to bake until the cake is fully done. Don't overcook. Allow the cakes to cool entirely in the pans before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Before icing and assembling the cakes, they must be entirely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter together in a large mixing bowl with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Combine the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl. After 30 seconds on low speed, move to high speed and beat for 3 minutes, or until totally blended and creamy. If the frosting is too thin, add a little milk if it's too thick, or an add an extra teaspoon of salt if it's too sweet, add more confectioners' sugar. Soft, but not runny, frosting is ideal.
  • To assemble and frost the cakes, first layer off the tops with a broad serrated knife or a cake leveler to produce a flat surface. 1 cake layer should be placed on a cake stand or serving dish. Apply frosting to the top of the cake in an even layer. Top with the second layer, additional frosting, then the third layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Use the leftover roasted nuts to decorate the edges and top of the cake. Before slicing, chill the cake for at least 15-20 minutes. When cutting the cake, this helps it keep its shape.
  • Refrigerate any remaining frosted cake tightly covered for up to 5 days.

Notes

make ahead and freeze instructions: The cake layers can be baked, chilled, and covered tightly overnight at room temperature. Similarly, the frosting can be made ahead of time and then refrigerated overnight. When ready to decorate, let the frosting soften for 15 minutes at room temperature, then give it another mix on medium speed for about 1 minute before icing the cake. Cake layers, frosted or unfrosted, can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Refrigerate overnight and bring to room temperature before decorating or serving.
Nuts: Walnuts can be used instead of pecans if desired. If you prefer a nut-free carrot cake, leave out the nuts.
Apple sauce: If you like, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple instead of applesauce. Drain the crushed pineapple from the can first. It should have the consistency of applesauce and not be overly wet and watery. 3/4 cup sour cream, or plain yogurt, could be used as well.
Carrot Bundt Cake: Use a 10-12 cup Bundt pan that has been generously oiled. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 55-75 minutes. Because all ovens and Bundt pans are different, the bake time will vary. 
Keyword Cake, Carrot, cream cheese, quick