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 a 9×13 dish? Excited to try!!!
Yes, baking time is 35 to 45 minutes.
I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
I had runny frosting too. Yes I used the correct cream cheese. I fixed it by adding more sugar (other frosting recipes say to use 3 to 4 cups)
If I need to double the recipe what would recommend for the spices
I’d double the spices as well.
My family and I loved this cake! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
Hi! Can i skip de applesauce and only use oil?
Btw looks amazing
I don’t recommend using more oil or the cake will be too greasy. You can replace the applesauce with crushed pineapple or sour cream.
The step by step is just perfect.?
Haven’t made it yet. My question is: Should the leftover cake be refrigerated?
Yes, since the frosting has cream cheese it needs be to stored in the refrigerator.
Planning to do it, even with high temperatures outside. I have to travel with it, so do you think it is possible to make the icing, keep it in the fridge for a few hours, travel with it in a bowl in a special bag to keep it cold, and only put the icing on the cupcakes once I arrive where they will be eaten?
Yes, that would be fine as long as you keep the icing cold.
I’ve never made carrot cake before and since I always bring the desserts to my friends house for craft night I decided to give this one a try. The only changes I made were to use sour cream in place of the applesauce (I do not have unsweetened applesauce) and I added 2 handfuls of finely chopped walnuts. I was a bit worried because the 35-45 minute baking time was more like 1 hr! I thought I did something wrong but kept it in the oven until the knife came out clean. It didn’t overcook and the cake was very moist and not too sweet and the frosting was a great addition. The ladies raved about how good it was and couldn’t stop raving about it. So glad I found this recipe! This has now earned a place in my recipe book!
PS: I would like to try this with the pineapple. Do you strain the juice from the pineapple first? Also, can you use sweetened applesauce?
Hi, Lauri! Yes, you can use one 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple that’s been drained. If you use sweetened applesauce, just reduce the granulated sugar by 2 to 3 tablespoons.
This is my go-to carrot cake…I’ve made it over 10 times now. Moist, flavorful, and bakes perfectly every time (I live at 6200′). I use 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 3/4 tsp cardamom for more spice levels, no applesauce only drained, crushed pineapple. This is everyone’s requested bake!
This cake is absolutely AMAZING. Doesn’t taste overwhelming of spices, just a hint. Everyone loved it, even those who don’t usually like carrot cake. Highly recommend!! Thank you for this recipe, it was a hit!
This cake is an absolute favourite, it is incredibly delicious and moist. Everytime I bake it (which is very often as there are always requests) I get so many compliments. I also lasts a couple of days. I prefer the cream cheese icing from your Red Velvet cake though.
30-40g less brown sugar
Add extra tsp cinnamon for some extra spice
And add 100g pecan nuts
Turned out pretty good! I added more spices…the icing was definitely too loose, ended up adding way more confections sugar and a little cornstarch.
Do you have any gluten free recipes
I don’t have any recipes that are specifically gluten-free, but there may be a few that are naturally gluten-free. You may be able to swap out the flour in some my recipes for a gluten-free flour too.
This is NOT enough icing for the cake… I would double it next time.
Hi…. Can eggs be substituted, without compromising on taste.. If so please tell how can i do that.
Thanks a lot.
I haven’t tried this recipe with an egg substitute, so I’m not sure. Flax eggs may work, but I don’t know if they will affect the taste and texture of the cake.
I actually replaced the egg with applesauce and packing powder as I had vegan friends coming for lunch and it came out perfect!
Great recipe but the bake time completely failed. I left it for 35 minutes and it’s mush.
Have you checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer? Every oven is different, but if your oven is properly calibrated to 350°F, the cakes should have been baked through by 35 minutes.
This carrot cake recipe is really good and the cake is moist, not dry. I do feel it could have used a little more seasoning but it still tasted good. I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday and he loved it. I did however use a different icing from another website where it’s whipped cream cheese frosting and not traditional.
This is definitely my new carrot cake recipe! We all enjoyed this moist and most delicious cake! No more carrot cake with pineapple!
Honestly, I really really thank you for this amazing recipe! It’s my favorite cake to make and everybody went for the second slice haha! It is so easy to make and so flavorful! Please keep on sharing more outstanding reciepes like this one!❤️
We enjoyed your recipe immensely. A new favourite for our family for sure . Baked in two loaf pans. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
Made this today for my mother’s birthday. It was a real success and was moist and delicious. I added 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup coconut, and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. As the recipe is titled, this is the best!
Because I mated the recipe I bought shredded carrots and I don’t have enough carrots to grate them. Will the shredded ones work?
The ones that you buy at the store are typically too dry and hard. I recommend grating your own instead.
Amazing recipe!! Super moist cake! We used white carrots from our garden and it didn’t have a super carrot taste so maybe it’s because we used white and not orange but otherwise it’s AMAZING!!
This cake is super easy to make and delicious.
I made this cake for my dads birthday. i followed the recipie very well. I put it inside the oven at 30 minutes. I went back to check after the oven went off, both cakes had a circle on the inside that didn’t cook. I now put it back in the oven for 15 minutes at 300° and it still did not work.
It may have just needed to bake a little longer at 350°F. Have you checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer?
First time making a carrot cake. I do not recommend making a 2 layer because it’s too moist to where it sticks to even the most non stick pan. Stick to the one layer for not so much of a disappointment.
Oh my goodness! These were so delicious and moist not oily. I was looking for a carrot cake recipe that didn’t include all of the stuff like raisins, pineapples etc. And this is it! I cut the recipe in half and made a dozen cupcakes. My picky father even liked them. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing!
I made this cake for my daughter in-law’s birthday. I was nervous because carrot cake is her favorite and I never made one before. I read reviews of many recipes and decided on this one. I added 1/4 tsp ground cloves and used dark brown sugar instead of light because I just like that richer flavor. It was awesome. I’d read some frosting recipes that used less sugar, but the 2 cups seemed to give it the right balance and consistency. At 30 minutes the toothpick came out clean but there was a slightly darker circle in the middle, so I left it until 35 minutes and it was perfectly moist. I felt this was a near bullet proof recipe and was so relieved to see the family devour it. I will be making it again for sure!
I’m literally never using another carrot cake recipe again. This was absolutely perfect and SUPER easy for a novice baker.
Pro tip: when you’re leveling the cake, use the strips and a little bit of the icing to roll up into a cylindrical loaf and cut into heavenly lil’ spirals. Holy crap, so good.
Hey there, I wanted to let you know I made this carrot cake recipe using my homemade chunky applesauce recipe. Added some coarsely chopped pecans and a handful of raisins, that I plumped in hot water before adding them to the batter. I also added 1 tsp of ginger, apple pie spice. I don’t sugar my applesauce but I do spice it up. The icing was incredible! Super easy to make, both cake and frosting. I shared with my neighbors and they are all asking when I plan to make another cake. Thank you, Leisa