The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
This is my favorite recipe for homemade carrot cake! This cake is so easy to make, perfectly moist, and topped with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting.
I feel like carrot cake is a dessert most people tend to only make around Easter. But honestly, carrot cake is such an incredible dessert and I think it should be enjoyed all year long. Especially when it comes to this recipe.
I know it can be a bold statement to call a recipe the best, but I truly mean it with this one. Not only is this cake easy to make, but it’s so incredibly moist and full of flavor that it’s almost impossible to stop at one piece.
Once you realize how easy it is to make a carrot cake from scratch, you’ll want to make it over and over again.
To make this carrot cake, you’ll start by mixing up your dry ingredients. One important thing when measuring out your dry ingredients is to make sure to spoon and level your flour.
You want to avoid packing the flour into the measuring cup, otherwise, you’ll end up with too much in your recipe. Or if you have a food scale, you can also weigh your ingredients to get an accurate measurement.
I also really love some spice in my carrot cake so I use some ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. All three spices add such a wonderful flavor to this cake, but aren’t too overpowering. They really take this cake from good to absolutely amazing, trust me.
For the wet ingredients, you’ll be using some oil, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and applesauce. The amount of oil and applesauce in this recipe adds the perfect amount of moisture, so you end up with a moist cake that isn’t oily.
As always, I use a bit more brown sugar than granulated sugar because it adds more moisture and flavor to this carrot cake. And of course, you’ll also be mixing in some grated carrots. I don’t like to skimp on the carrots when it comes to this recipe, so I use 3 cups of grated carrots.
I know some carrot cake recipes call for raisins or nuts, but I prefer to leave them out because I know that not everyone is a fan of them. However, if you love either one (or both!) feel free to mix some into the batter.
Then it’s all topped off with my favorite cream cheese frosting. Have you tried it yet?! It’s so good and a few of you have already made it and loved it. The store-bought frosting doesn’t even compare to this homemade frosting recipe.
And speaking of the frosting, it makes enough to frost the carrot cake like you see in the pictures. If you really love frosting, then I suggest making a bit more. Enjoy!
Baking Tips for 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 chopped walnuts or pecans in this carrot cake, I suggest using about 3/4-1 cup. If you love raisins in your carrot cake, you may also use 1/2 cup.
The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the carrot cake:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (180ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (300 grams) grated carrots, lightly packed
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 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
To make the carrot cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray two 9-inch round cake pans well with non stick cooking spray (you can also line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper for easier removal) 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, applesauce, and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the grated carrots into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk or rubber spatula until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the cake batter evenly between both prepared cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool in the pans for about 20-25 minutes. Once the cakes have cooled, remove from the pans and return the cakes to the wire rack to finish cooling.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- 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 in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake:
- Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with a little over 1/2 cup of the frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the other cake on top and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Top with pecans or other toppings of choice if desired.
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden
To make cupcakes instead of a cake:
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. The full recipe will make 24 cupcakes or you can cut the recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes.
If you love pineapple, here’s my favorite recipe for Pineapple Carrot Cake!
Hi I made this cake for a family members birthday. Excellent! I like adding applesauce to cut back on using more oil. So moist and delicious. I have it saved to my favs!! Thank you!
I have made 3 of the carrot cakes now. The last one was the best. They were all good ,and everyone said it was the best one they ever had. I double the icing because I like a lot of icing. I have some icing left and it does not go to waste.
What about bunt pan & how long to bake
That would be fine. I’m not sure on baking time, but I would guess 45 to 65 minutes.
I made this carrot cake and it was so easy and so DELICIOUS ?. I saved as a favorite ❤️
Made this for my sister’s birthday because she didn’t want nuts or raisins. She loved it as well as everyone else. Thank you for sharing! Excellent recipe!
Hi, can I also use the same measurements for a rectangle/square pan?? which size of rectangle/square pan is probably okay?
You could divide the batter between two 8 or 9-inch pans or bake it in one 9×13 pan.
Hi, can I use a Springform pan?
That would probably be fine as long as it’s deep enough. You will need to increase the baking time though.
Thank you for your time in answering my questions, how deep should a pan be? my springform pan is 6 1/2 cm tall. is that enough?
It may not be quite deep enough, I would recommend only filling it about 2/3 of the way full and using any leftover batter to make cupcakes. You could also bake it in a 9×13 pan instead.
Thank you I’ll do that. So excited to try your recipe for my husband’s birthday.
OMG the best carrot cake ever! I made it and it was perfect!
Could I use this recipe for making my daughter’s birthday cake? Is it sturdy enough to stack if I make an 8 inch and 6 inch to go on top ? Buttercream coating please??
I think that would be fine. If you’re looking for a buttercream frosting recipe to use with it, you can try this recipe.
Thank you that’s great. Really appreciate the buttercream recipe too.
Great recipe! I added orange zest to the frosting and it was delicious 🙂
I’m very excited to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday. Can I add walnuts and coconut to this without changing the rest of the recipe or the cooking time? Thanks!
Yes, that would be fine!
Last time I had a carrot cake was store bought. I thought it was pretty gross so i always assumed I didn’t like carrot cake. I came across this recipe and thought I’d give it a try. Thankfully I did because omg, carrot cake is delicious!! I grated the carrots so small and fine so I didn’t bite into a long hard piece of carrot. Turns out I’m a carrot cake lover!
I would like to add nuts and raisins, will the added ingredients change the moisture of the cake? I like a moist cake, not a dense one.
No, it won’t. I’ve added both to this cake and it still turns out great!
Can I bake this cake 2 days ahead and store it. Will obviously only ice it on the day it will be used.
Yes, that would be fine! I would recommend storing the cake layers in the fridge, so they stay fresher.
This truly is The BEST recipe for carrot cake – I’ve never liked carrot cake until trying this. It’s the best dessert I’ve ever made and maybe the the best dessert I’ve ever eaten! I followed the recipe exactly – using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 flour.
I’ve baked about 10 carrot cakes (using this recipe) over the course of a year or so. Every time I make it, EVERY ONE raves & says it’s the best carrot cake they ever had! I have cut the powder sugar for the icing in half & I’ve made it following the icing recipe to the tee. Either way it’s AMAZING!!!