A moist carrot cake filled with crushed pineapple, chopped walnuts, and topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. This Pineapple Carrot Cake is perfect for Easter or carrot cake lovers!
Today’s recipe comes from two questions I receive on my homemade carrot cake recipe quite often. Can you use crushed pineapple and can you bake it in a 9×13 pan? The answer? YES AND YES!
Since Easter is so close, I felt that it was time to finally get to work on a pineapple carrot cake recipe. And I have to say, this recipe does not disappoint.
In fact, I think I actually prefer how simple this recipe is to make compared to my layered carrot cake recipe. There’s no need to worry about leveling cakes or decorating the cake to make it look pretty. All you have to do is bake the cake, let it cool, then spread some cream cheese frosting on top.
When it comes to good carrot cake, I have a few requirements. The cake must be moist (and stay that way!), have a good amount of spices but not too much, and it needs to be topped with cream cheese frosting.
So what makes this carrot cake so good?
- Crushed Pineapple: I usually stick with unsweetened applesauce in my carrot cake to add moisture and not make it greasy with too much oil. For this cake, I swapped out the applesauce for a can of crushed pineapple and it worked perfectly. The cake doesn’t taste like pineapple, but it adds the perfect amount of moisture.
- Brown Sugar: I think that all carrot cakes should incorporate brown sugar. Not only does it add more flavor, but it also adds more moisture to the cake. Win-Win!
- Grated Carrots: You’ll be using three cups of grated carrot in this recipe, no skimping on carrots anywhere around here.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The spices are not overpowering in this cake, but they add just the right amount of flavor.
The batter itself is as simple as mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combining them and pouring it into the pan. If you find your cake is browning a little too much on top before the cake is finished, just tent it with some aluminum foil until it’s done.
Once you bake the carrot cake, you’ll let it cool and then spread some cream cheese frosting on top.
I stuck with my favorite homemade cream cheese frosting for this cake. It’s just a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. To get a super smooth and creamy frosting, make sure to put your cream cheese and butter out ahead of time.
I actually love to bake this cake the night before and then frost it the next day. I find the flavor of this carrot cake is always better on day two, plus it even tastes delicious straight out of the refrigerator.
You can also decorate this cake with some cute carrot designs or sprinkle some more chopped walnuts on top.
Baking Tips for Pineapple Carrot Cake
- When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Feel free to use your favorite nut in this carrot cake instead of the chopped walnuts. If you love raisins in your carrot cake, you may also use 1/2 cup.
- Make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before mixing together the frosting. This will ensure a super smooth and creamy frosting on top of your cake.
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (180ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups (300 grams) light brown sugar
- ½ (100 grams) cup granulated sugar
- 1 (8-ounce can) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (300 grams) grated carrots, lightly packed
- ¾ cup (90 grams) chopped walnuts
- Optional: ½ cup (75 grams) raisins
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, crushed pineapple, and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the grated carrots and chopped walnuts to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a whisk or rubber spatula until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and spread around into one even layer. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If needed, tent with foil for the last 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning on top of the cake.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely in the pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds-1 minute until well combined and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Using a knife or an offset spatula, top the cooled carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting. Slice into pieces, serve, and enjoy!
To make in advance: Carrot cake may be prepared 2-3 days in advance. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Cream cheese frosting may also be made 1-2 days in advance. Cover tightly and refrigerate the frosting, bring to room temperature on the counter before frosting the cake.
To freeze: Remove the carrot cake from the pan and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Frosting will also freeze well for 2-3 months, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature on the counter before frosting the cake.
Adapted from my Layered Carrot Cake recipe