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!
Carrot cake is my husband’s favorite so I make this recipe for him several times a year! It’s the best!
YES!!, The best! Thanks!
Just made this. I only had strawberry applesauce but it still was so moist & amazing! I also added maple syrup to the frosting. Thank you very much for this recipe!
Just curious if the recipe is supposed to be 1 cup (250 g) or 2 cups (500 g) of flour. One cup is 250 ml which equals 250 g so just wanted to check before I make this! Thanks!
Hi, Katie! 1 cup of liquid does equal 240 ml or 240 grams. However, flour is a dry ingredient so even though the volume is the same the weight will be different. 1 cup of flour isn’t quite as dense as 1 cup of liquid, so it only weighs 125 grams per cup. So 2 cups of flour does equal 250 grams.
Is this a good and safe recipe for diabetics?
This recipe has quite a bit of sugar, so I don’t think it would be. I’d recommend looking for a sugar-free/keto carrot cake recipe instead.
I was wondering if I can use a 6 inch pan for this recipe if so how long should I bake it for? Also the amount of servings are to much for me so is it ok if I divide it by 2?
Yes, it would be fine to divide the recipe in half and use a 6-inch pan. If you have any extra batter leftover you could use it to make cupcakes. I’m not sure on baking time, I would just keep an eye on it and test it with a toothpick to make sure it’s fully baked through.
Thank you so much for replying I was also wondering if the cake won’t turn out dense. I made lots of carrots cake and none of them so far came out perfect. All of them didn’t have a cake texture if that makes sense… some tasted funny and some were just tooo dense for my liking. My mom said it’s probability because I added to much liquid or to much carrots since carrots don’t rise and they make the cake moist. I want to have a somewhat fluffy cake more then a heavy dense cake.
Also to make a cake healthier can I subsitiute the vegetable oil with olive oil and the brown sugar being mapple syrup and granulated sugar being 0 calorie sugar? As well as the frosting being maply syrup?
My daughter just told me she loves carrot cake so I am anxious to try this recipe. The ingredients will not be hard to get.
Icing looks and sounds delish.
No nuts or raisins here.
Omg made this Carrot cake today ,It is the best one i have tasted, so moist .Love it!!! thank you for sharing .This will be my recipe for now on .
This is the most yummiest and moist carrot cake I have ever made. I baked it for both my sisters birthdays and everyone couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was!
This is recipe is now in my favourite recipe folder. Have baked it a few times now, I added lemon juice to the icing just to brake the sweetness.
Thank you for sharing.
The cake is fabulous, the frosting is a runny mess
Sorry you had trouble with the frosting, Anne. Did you make sure to use a brick/block of cream cheese? If you used cream cheese in a tub, it can cause that to happen because it has ingredients added to thin it out and make it spreadable.
Best carrot cake!
I am going to make my carrot cake this weekend and will let you know how I made out
Hope you enjoyed the recipe, Miriam!
Can Cake flour be used in this recipe
Yes, I’d recommend using 2 and 1/4 cups of cake flour though.
My first time baking carrot cake and it was a huge success! My family tends to be a little picky when it comes to carrot cake, so when they went in for seconds, I knew it was a huge success. This carrot cake is absolutely delicious and the frosting is the perfect amount of sweetness! Definitely my go-to carrot cake recipe from now on!
Wondering how well cake would freeze if I baked cakes a few days in advance?
They freeze well for up to 3 months. You can just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.
Can you add raisins and/or walnuts to this recipe without messing it up?
Yes, you can add 3/4 to 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup of raisins.
If I could give this more than 5 stars I would! My 83 year old dad ALWAYS has a German chocolate cake for his birthday. I’ve been making it for the last 9 or so years. I actually made this for my husband’s birthday cake (he wants a different one each year.) We celebrate their birthday’s together due to them being 2 days apart. My dad didn’t even eat HIS cake because he said this carrot cake was that good! Everyone raved about it! THANK YOU! I’ve never made one before, so I was skeptical, but simply delicious! I added walnuts in and some on top for garnish, but otherwise recipe is perfect!
I substituted the apple sauce with sour cream. I find sour cream is a secret ingredient to cake it turned out amazing ?? the best ? cake ? ever. I user canola oil.
And with the three spices combined the cinnamon Ginger and nutmeg it gives it a great flavour.
Frosting was excellent ? too
I followed this recipe to make carrot cake (I opted for cupcakes) and there results were amazing! The cake was moist and flavorful. I added walnuts to the cake mix and with extra walnuts, I chopped and used as garnish. I really enjoyed all of the steps and how wonderfully everything came together. Thank you so much!
The recipe for carrot cake is an easy cake baking recipe, nicely narrated here. I want to use grass-fed ghee here instead of canola or other vegetable oils. Will ghee be the right choice for cake baking? Please let me know.
I haven’t tried it with ghee, but I imagine that you could substitute it 1:1 for the oil.
I hate to give bad reviews but this cake was really not the best right down to the frosting. The cake had a spongy texture and lacked carrot flavor and all I could taste was cinnamon. Should have a good crumb and the frosting needed 2 more cups of sugar to give it some consistency.
Does the cake have to be refrigerated??
If you frost the cake it does need to be refrigerated, since the frosting has cream cheese in it.
We love this cake recipe. It is amazing!! have some sugar issues so I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup of brown sugar only. Still came out wonderful. I want to add more protein to the cake. Will I ruin the cake, if I substitute 3/4 – cup of almond flour for 3/4cup of the all purpose flour. The almond flour bakes a little grainy, but I think the 3 cups of carrots will hide the minor change in texture.
So glad you love the cake! I haven’t tested this cake with almond flour, so I’m not sure.
Forgot to rate the cake. Would give it more than five stars if I could.
I live In high altitude and made this cake & it looks good & moist. The problem is I cant Taste it because I cant Eat dairy but hoping my friends like it tonight. . Now it would have worked if I didn’t Make it with regular cream cheese frosting. This may be my new go to since there is no buttermilk in it like other recipes. It did rise in Denver’s 5280 with no issue. I did Put it in the oven for 32 minutes. I wish there was a way to add a picture of my final presentation in the comments
The nuts around the edge are so cute!
This makes a great MOIST cake. I made a couple substitutions to make it a little healthier. I used 1 cup oat flour and 1 cup ap flour. I also swapped allulose sugar for the granulated sugar. Turned out perfectly! Great recipe, thanks for sharing!
In my previous review, I forgot to add that I didn’t have any applesauce on hand, so I used crushed pineapple. Yum!
What if you don’t have ground ginger can you still make this recipe without it?
Yes, I’d recommend replacing it with more cinnamon or a little extra nutmeg.
Made this for my son’s 40-something birthday. He absolutely loved it! Was impressed that I was actually able to pipe an orange carrot on top. There is only one thing I will do differently next time. Instead of 3 cups of already shredded carrots from the store, I will shred my own, thinner.