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!
I actually planned and shopped for another carrot cake recipe, but some of the ingredient amounts looked off so I found your recipe to compare. I’m actually going to go with your recipe instead for Easter tomorrow.
When I make *boxed* cakes, I sub applesauce for the oil. Since this recipe calls for both, is there a way to reduce or replace the oil with something else other than butter? One website said don’t even make it if I am going to omit the oil 🙁 another said yogurt. I was wondering what you think?
Hi Laura! I find that when you substitute all of the oil with something else like applesauce, it changes the texture and can make baked goods much denser and they don’t taste quite right. You may be able to subtitue more of the oil with applesauce in this cake, though I haven’t tried that yet. I wouldn’t sugget subtituting all of the oil though, for the cake to taste right it does need some fat in it.
I used this recipe to make cupcakes for Easter tomorrow, they taste amazing. I was looking for a recipe that would make the cupcakes moist and flavorful, and this was it. Thank you very much!!
So glad you liked the recipe!
I made the cake and it was delicious. I’m not sure exactly where I went wrong, but it was too moist – it was baked through, but the texture was as though it had been soaked ! Never thought I’d have a problem like that! This said, I will definitely use the recipe again and see what happens second time around.
Hi, Amy! I’m glad you liked the cake! Did you find the cake to be too oily? This cake is pretty moist even though it does have less oil than traditional carrot cake recipes. I haven’t tried it yet, but if you make it again you could try reducing the oil a little more and using more applesauce.
Great recipe — it received rave reviews at Easter dinner today. Very moist and a wonderful combination of spices. One thought to add to the recipe is to have people vigorously pat the grated carrots with a paper towel in order to absorb some of the excess moisture. This may help the folks that are having problems with the cake being too moist. Thanks for posting the recipe! Will definitely make it again.
Thank you for the tip about the carrots, Pam! I’m glad everyone enjoyed the carrot cake 🙂
Made this carrot cake for Easter and it is probably the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! I will definitely keep this recipe in my recipe box and will make it again and again!!!
Thank you, Sarah! I’m glad you liked the cake!
Made this together with my husband for Easter today. It was a huge hit, everyone loved it! Will definitely be making again and adding to the family recipe book. Thanks for sharing!
So glad everyone loved the cake, Yvette!
I made this for Easter and it was delicious! Thank you for a great recipe. I do have a question about the icing and icing the cake perfectly. I had the problem of the cake crumbling while trying to get the icing on it, how do you avoid this?
So glad you liked the cake, Kelly! If you make the cake again, you can try refrigerating the cake layers for a few hours before frosting it. I find that if the cake is colder, it’s firmer and you’re also less likely to get crumbs in the frosting. You could also do a crumb coat. Just apply a thin layer of frosting first, then refrigerate it for a few hours, and then apply the rest of the frosting.
This recipe was absolute perfection! The recipe was easy to follow, the cake was super moist and the flavors were incredible. My 6 and 8 year old kids both agreed this was the ‘best cake ever”. Needless to say, this recipe is a total keeper. Thank you!
So glad you and your kids enjoyed the cake, Tarsy!
I made this cake for Easter yesterday. It was a HUGE success!!! Even my picky kids loved it. Thank you so much for your recipe and easy to follow directions.
Thank you, Kate! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the carrot cake 🙂
Made this for Easter and it was a hit! Thx for sharing!!
So happy to hear that, Kasi!
Amazing! This cake was so easy and fun to make, and turned out so good! Everyone loved it. I looked at a ton of carrot cake recipes and am so happy I went with yours. Thank you!!
Thank you, Samantha! I’m glad everyone enjoyed the cake!
i have sweetened apple sauce. should i reduce the sugar in the recipe?
You can reduce the sugar by a few tablespoons if you want to. But since this uses just 1/2 cup of applesauce and it makes quite a bit, I think it would be fine to use the sweetened apple sauce and not reduce the sugar.
If I don’t have two baking pans, can I bake the whole cake batter in one pan and cut it in two layers, or do I have to bake it twice?
I think it would be too much batter for one cake pan. You can either bake the layers separately, make cupcakes with the extra batter, or bake this in a 9×13 pan. The baking time for a 9×13 pan is 35-45 minutes at 350°F. Hope that helps!
I have a quick question. I’ve never made a carrot cake before. Do I just take my peeler and use the peeled carrot pieces in the cake? Do I use a grater? And, if the pieces are long, how short should I chop them?
Looking forward to making this tomorrow for my hubby’s birthday
You want to use a regular grater to grate the carrots for this recipe, no need to chop them. Hope you enjoy the carrot cake!
Thanks! The cake was amazing! I hate carrot cake but this was fantastic!
girl this truly is the best carrot cake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my dad loves carrot cake and i decided to follow this recipe and best decision i made! it was such a big hit for his birthday. Everyone loved it and couldn’t believe i made that! lol. Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe. I will continue to make this cake every year for his birthday now<3
So glad to hear that everyone loved the carrot cake, Laura! 🙂
My son requested carrot cake for his 18th birthday. I found this recipe, and it really is the best carrot cake ever! We like things a little less sweet, so, thanks to your wonderful baking tips about keeping this cake moist, I knew to cut the granulated sugar while keeping the recommended measurement for the brown sugar. I also increased the salt by 1/4 teaspoon and added a couple pinches of Kosher salt to the frosting. The cake had an amazing texture, was really moist and the flavors were perfectly balanced. Thank you so much for the recipe and tips!!!
Thank you, Lynne! So glad you loved the carrot cake!
This cake is mar-ve-lous! My family all said it was the best carrot cake ever! Easy to make and delicious. I have a recipe I was using for 30 years, but after we tried yours it is our new favorite! When measuring I decided to use the gram measurements to see if there was any difference vs the cup measurement. I found that I used alot more carrots using the gram measurement. Everything else measured about equal. I also didn’t grate the carrots, just whirled them in a food processor to save time. Thanks so much! I will follow you for more great baking!
That’s so wonderful to hear, Tonya! I do lightly pack the grated carrots when I measure them, that may be why it was a little off for you?
Can i use this recipe for fondant cake? My sister wants three tier cake for her wedding and covered by fondant
I’ve never worked with fondant, so I’m not sure.
This cake was easy to make and DELICIOUS!!! I’m excited to make it again. Do you have a suggestion for keeping the carrots from turning green? I kept the cake refrigerated and the flavor was delicious on day 2 but my carrots were beginning to turn. From what I read it’s a normal reaction from the baking soda but I would love to prevent it from happening if possible.
Hi, Casey! So glad you liked the carrot cake! Carrots can turn green if there’s too much baking soda in a recipe or the baking soda isn’t fully dispersed throughout the batter. I’ve made this cake several times and haven’t had any issues with the carrots turning green. Did you check to make sure you use the correct amounts of baking powder and baking soda? If so, I would suggest making sure to mix the dry ingredients together very well before adding them to the wet ingredients. Once you add them, making sure that the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients and hopefully that won’t happen again.
Outstanding. This recipe was an instant hit in the house. The cake had that classic carrot cake flavor that wasn’t too over the top. The absolute BEST part was the frosting. I usually don’t like frosting at all and holy cow, I could not stop eating it.
One thing I did that I wish I had not done… I used pre-packaged shredded carrots simply because I had a bit of a time constraint to finish the cake. To me, the texture was a little too much. The next time I make this cake, I will be grating the carrots by hand or in the food processor.
So if you’re thinking of buying shredded carrots, I recommend against it just for texture reasons.
However, I’m pretty sure each slice could pass as a serving of vegetables! 😉
Next time I make this, I’ll probably double up on the frosting, add pecans and grate the carrots. But it’s perfect as is.
So glad you liked the cake, Macy! If you make it again, I would definitely grate the carrots. The shredded carrots you can buy at the store tend to be dry and much thicker. And if definitely won’t hurt to double up on the frosting too 🙂
Hi, i was wondering how many cupcakes this cake recipe makes? I was guessing two dozen maybe but I wasn’t sure. I also made this cake before on Easter and everyone loved it! It was delicious!
So happy you liked the carrot cake, Ava! This recipe will make two dozen cupcakes, you can cut it in half to make just one dozen though.
I made this cake for Easter (April 1, 2018) this year, and it was a huge hit with everyone who I served it to. I kept it under a covered cake stand and it stayed moist and tender for quite a few days. Hands down one of the best cakes I have ever baked. Will definitely keep this one in my arsenal. The next time I make it, I will probably double amount of frosting – which was also delicious and surprisingly simple to make.
Thank you for sharing and Happy Spring!
So glad you liked the carrot cake, Brian! You can definitely make more frosting next time, if you have any leftover it also freezes well.
I ignored the granulated sugar and it came up very nicely. Great recipe!
Glad to hear that the cake turned out great without the granulated sugar, Bruno!
I’ve never baked before, But I followed Your directions and it was amazing! Everyone loved it! Can’t wait to try more of your posts.
So glad to hear that, Sylvia! I’d love to hear if you try any other recipes 🙂
Hello! I am planning on making this tonight as muffins. How far should I fill the muffin cups before putting in the oven? Thanks
Hi, Lina! The recipe will make about 24. You can fill them almost to the top if you’re making muffins. I usually fill mine about 3/4 of the way full so they don’t overflow too much.
Very good and very easy! The the most time consuming part was grating the carrots. LOL. And, in case anyone else is wondering, a small (1 lb.) bag of the Baby Cut carrots equals the 3 c. you need for the recipe. I next time I make this, though, I will use just a tad more apple sauce and a tad less oil (and regular sized carrots- ha ha).
So glad you liked the carrot cake, Lisa! I always buy the largest carrots I can find at the store, it makes it much easier.
While looking for a carrot cake recipe, I saw your page and decided to give it a try. Its the best i have tried and so easy to make. Most of recipes that I have tried before have overpowering flavours of either nutmeg or cinnamon, but your recipe had the best balance and its was moist and tasty. I took it to work and everyone who had it, loved it and have asked me for the recipe 🙂
I made it with apple puree instead of the sauce, due to mistakenly buying that instead of the the sauce. Also in the icing I used orange zest instead of vanilla extract, as I like the carrot and orange combo. Thanks for putting the recipe out there 🙂
Thank you, Fatimah! I’m so glad you liked the carrot cake! And the orange zest sounds like it would be fantastic in the frosting too 🙂
Can you use melted butter for the oil?
I would suggest using oil in this carrot cake recipe.
Also if using a 9×13 do you cover with foil the whole time of baking or just at the end if the middle isn’t done?
Hi, Kathleen! You don’t have to cover it the whole time. If the top begins to brown too much before it’s finished baking, just cover loosely with foil.
Hi dear. I have a small oven. I can only put one cake at a time. Will that be okay? Will that effect my cake and it’s moist texture? Thanks alot in advance
That should be fine, but the second cake may not rise quite as much. You can also bake this in a 9×13 pan, the baking time is about 35-40 minutes