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!
Can I use dark brown sugar? Would it make a difference in taste or color
Yes, that would be fine. The cake may be a little darker, but should taste pretty similar.
This is the best carrot cake my family and I have ever had! The only thing I did differently is that I make my own brown sugar by mixing white sugar and molasses. It’s much more flavorful than store bought brown sugar. For the frosting, we don’t like it so sweet so I used less powdered sugar.
My freshly made frosting seems very liquid. I’ve checked the ingredients (I used the metric equivalents) and no error there. I made it in the food processor, quite gently. Does it just need to cool down a bit?
Did you make sure to use a brick/block of cream cheese? If you used cream cheese in a tub, it typically has ingredients added to it to thin it out and make it spreadable and can cause that to happen. If you did use a block, you can try refrigerating it for 30 minutes and that should help.
You’re right – I used spreadable!
Thankfully it’s not very warm here in France atm (August should be baking hot?) so hopefully the cake will survive. Can I put the finished cake back in the fridge?
Yes, since the frosting has cream cheese in it I do recommend refrigerating the finished cake 🙂
This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had and it’s so easy! I double the cream cheese frosting. Thank you s9 much for sharing this recipe. ?
Can I omit the apple sauce?
You will need to replace it with something else. I’d recommend replacing it with 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Hi … for the greek yogurt substitute … can it be 0% fat free or it needs to be different? trying out the recipe for my daughter’s birthday. she adores carrot cake.
It would be fine to use fat-free!
I can’t wait to make this carrot cake recipe.
I’ve looked up many different recipes for my 1st try at making a home made carrot cake for my family and this recipe seems not only easy to make, but also extremely flavorful!
Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Fingers crossed that it comes out as delicious as it sounds..?
This recipe sounds amazing and super easy. I have whole wheat flour and was wondering how much you would recommend adding to this recipe so it is not too dry or dense.
I’d recommend using half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour, so 1 cup of each.
I checked a number of carrot cake recipes on Pinterest. I was looking for something similar to the carrot pineapple muffins I make, but with a little more pizzazz. This one (the carrot pineapple version) looked like it would be a good one and I was certainly not disappointed. I served it at a 60th Anniversary BBQ and it was a hit! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
Is it possible to bake all the mixture in one 9” round baking pan ? At 350 degrees F, would it still be for 30~35 mins ? Or would it need longer duration ? Many thanks
Yes, as long as your pan is deep enough that would be fine. I’m not sure on baking time, but I would guess 35 to 40 minutes.
This is my go to carrot cake recipe. Last summer I tried a variety of carrot cake recipes before settling on this one to make from now on. I do use a different frosting recipe, because I like lots of frosting. But the cake is perfection! Thanks!
I’m surprised no one here has mentioned this it seems, but the metric measurements are almost completely wrong. For example, 3 Cups of carrots equivalents not 300 grams but 750 grams. 1/2 cups is 125 grams, not 115 or 100 as this receipe states. So rest of the world outside the US – behold! Or Danielle, please go ahead and correct these measurements please. I’m also pretty sure 1 pack of cream cheese is sooo not enough for this cake – I used 3 😀
The metric measurements are all correct. All ingredients have different weights. Just because they’re 1/2 US cups doesn’t mean they will all have the same weight in grams. For example, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar is denser and will weigh more than 1/2 cup of flour. Just like 1/2 cup of rocks will weigh more than 1/2 cup of feathers.
I think the metric measures for measuring cups are in volume A 1/2 cup says 125ml , not 125 grams… a peek on the measuring cups will tell!
I made this wonderful carrot cake using the metric measurements and it turned out wonderful!!
thankyou for the best cake ever
My boyfriend loves carrot cake. He usually says it’s needs milk or coffee on the side. That is NOT the case for this cake! It was phenomenal! He loved it. No drink necessary. I can’t wait for the rest of the family to try it.
I’d like to make this recipe but I want to make it a sheet cake ( easier for serving more people) what size pan would you recommend?
You could bake it in a 9×13 pan, the bake time will be 35 to 45 minutes.
Hi Danielle I love your carrot cake. It’s so moist. The only thing is I find it still sweet after taking off 90g of sugar. It feels bit sticky moist after baking for 40 minutes at 180•c. What could be the reason? Will appreciate ur reply. Tq
Reducing the sugar can also change the texture of the cake, so that may be why. Did you double check the other ingredients? I don’t think 90 grams would be enough to change the texture.
I omitted all white sugar and it was perfect. Also, cut the oil to 1/2 cup. Perfection.
How would you change the recipe to make a cake that is three, 8 inch layers?
I would probably increase the recipe by half, and just increase the baking time for the cake layers by 5 to 10 minutes.
Such a beautiful cake! Delicious and easy to make! Can I add raisins and nuts to the recipe?
Yes, you can add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans and 1/2 cup of raisins.
This is my go to carrot cake for birthday parties! It’s always hit! We just found out my husband is gluten intolerant and I was wondering if I could sub almond flour instead?
I haven’t tested this recipe with almond flour and I’m not sure that it would work well as a 1:1 substitute. You could try using a gluten-free flour that substitutes 1:1 for all-purpose flour though.
I made a carrot cake using your recipe & it was a HUGE hit. I cut back on spices, personal choice & added mace. I’ll definitely make it again.
Can I use Robin Hood cake flour?
That would be fine. Cake flour is lighter than all-purpose flour though, so you will want to use 2 and 1/4 cups of cake flour.
My family and friends love this carrot cake recipe! May i ask how many 2lb carrot loaf can I make with this recipe? Thanks!
I’m honestly not sure, sorry! You could divide the batter between two loaf pans and make two loaves though.
What a delicious cake! Can I substitute with white spelt flour?
I haven’t tried it, so it’s hard to say. You may be able to substitute half of it, but you may need to make other changes if you substitute all of it.
I made this cake. I went exactly like the recipe. It did not raise any. What is wrong?
Have you tested your baking soda and baking powder to make sure they are still fresh?
Hello! Love this recipe but I can’t seem to find nutmeg in my parts of the world today. What can I use as a substitute?
You can substitute the nutmeg for an equal amount of ground allspice or ground cloves.
How long can it stay refrigerated and taste good?
It will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Love this recipe!! I’ve never been a fan of carrot cake…until now! SO moist and delicious. I made this last night for my brother. It’s his favorite too!! I admit i reduce the confectioners sugar a tad and they all love it even more. Last night I accidentally used 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt but hopefully it won’t affect the taste. I’ll post later if it did or not. I’m just glad I was using a 1/4 teaspoon since as soon as I realized it I was able to use the right salt for the other 1/4 teaspoon. Thank you so much for this recipe!!! I can’t say enough good things about it!!!
The 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt didn’t affect the cake at all! It took me long to find this review so I could post this. Every now and then I come looking and finally found it today!!!
Thanks again for this wonderful recipe. And for the Spice cake recipe (my comment from 12/5/2021 asked and you came through!!)! I’m going to try it for Easter dessert at my brother’s!!! His boys don’t like carrot cake (the name, they don’t actually try it LOL) so a spice cake is the next best thing!!!
I have made this cake time and time again for years and it always turns out absolutely perfect. Its my husband’s favorite cake in the whole world so I make it for him on his birthday every year. The whole family always raves about it being the best carrot cake of all time. Thank you for the perfect recipie, Danielle! I’m 27 but I just know my grandkids will be making this when I pass it down. Awesome!
Do the carrots need to be cooked or raw?
They need to be raw for this recipe.
The BEST carrot cake ever! We can’t believe how moist this is and I’m guessing it’s from the ample amount of grated carrots. Will now always be a favorite-thanks!!
Hi. I”m looking to make it into cupcakes, is the temperature the same? Also, could I add pecans and pineapple?
Yes, you can keep the oven temperature the same and decrease the baking time. You can add 1 cup of chopped pecans and swap out the 1/2 cup of applesauce with one 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple that’s been drained.
I’m not a pro on baking but this cake made everyone happy, even my picky daughter! This cake is so delicious! I can’t wait to bake it again! I proposed this cake to some guests and they loved it!