This easy Carrot Cake recipe uses freshly grated carrots for a gloriously rich, nut-and-raisin-studded masterpiece. Make it the day before and serve it chilled if you can. It’s the best way!

A slice of carrot cake on a blue plate.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled carrot cake ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Vegetable oil: Choose a good neutral oil. Canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or even a very light-flavored olive oil works.
  • Carrots: For this recipe, I grate the carrots by hand. This may seem like a lot of work, but trust me: juicy, freshly grated carrots make all the difference. Pre-packaged bags of shredded carrots are too dry and just won’t taste as good.
  • Raisins and pecans: Substitute 1 ½ cups of any of your preferred mix-ins such as golden raisins, currants, extra carrot, orange zest, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, walnuts, or toasted cashews.
  • Cream cheese: The foil-wrapped blocks make a better frosting than the whipped cream cheese in the tub.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the 9-inch round cake pans. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together into one bowl. Beat together the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl if you need to.
  2. Use an electric mixer and the paddle attachment, or do this by hand. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in batches, about one cup at a time, and stir well each time. Once mixed, add the grated carrots, raisins, and toasted pecans and gently fold them into the batter with a spatula.
    Carrot cake ingredients in a sliver pot.
  3. Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the top.
    Carrot cake batter in two round cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.
    Two carrot cake layers in round baking pans.
  5. Then turn them upside down onto wire racks, remove the pans, and peel off the paper. While the cakes are cooling, you can make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed for one minute, until creamy. Then add the vanilla.Cream cheese frosting in a silver mixing bowl.
  6. Next, add the powdered sugar in 1-cup batches and beat until fluffy. You can refrigerate the frosting until you need it.
    Cream cheese frosting in a silver mixing bowl.
  7. Before you start frsoting, even up the cake layers. If they have a slight dome in the center, just slice it off using a serrated knife.
    Someone slicing off a fine layer of cake from a layer of carrot cake.
  8. Place the first layer on a cake stand or platter, then cover it with a thick layer (1 ½ cups) of frosting. Place the second layer over that, and repeat, using another 1 ½ cups of frosting.
    Two layers of carrot cake separated by frosting.
  9. Then cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Stand back and take in all that beauty!

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Candied carrot curls: A crispy, sweet carrot garnish that looks great on top of the frosting. Make these a day ahead and store them in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them crunchy.
  • Spray-paper-spray: Prevent your baked goods from sticking to the pan with these 3 steps. Spray the insides of the pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
  • Make ahead: This cake only gets better with a little time. By better, I mean moister, richer, and more flavorful. Personally I love to refrigerate the frosted cake overnight and eat it cold. It’s the best!
  • Storing: Technically, you should refrigerate any cake with cream cheese frosting. If making ahead, take it out of the refrigerator an hour or two before serving so the frosting has time to warm to room temperature and the cake loses its chill.
  • Freezing: I like to freeze unfrosted carrot cake layers for last minute birthday cakes–all I have to do is whip up the cream cheese frosting. Wrap the cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and freezer bags and freeze for 2 to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator before assembling and frosting.

Three slices of carrot cake on plates with forks and the cake on a black and white marble platter.

More show-stopping cake recipes:

A slice of carrot cake on a blue plate with a candied carrot peel.

Carrot Cake

When it's made right, Carrot Cake is one of the best desserts in the world. This easy, two-bowl recipe relies on toasted pecans and the perfect amount of spice in an amazingly moist cake that's even more magnificent the next day. And for a festive finishing touch, the whole thing is topped with bouncy candied carrot curls.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Servings 16 slices
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 677

Ingredients 

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (see note 1)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups carrots peeled and grated (about 5 to 6, see note 2)
  • 1 cup raisins (see note 3)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped

For the cream cheese frosting:

Instructions 

To make the Carrot Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, then coat the top of the paper with nonstick spray (we call this "spray-paper-spray"). 
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl by hand, beat together oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the flour mixture in batches, about 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in carrots, raisins, and pecans. By hand, scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off parchment paper and cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla.
  • Reduce speed to low and beat in the powdered sugar, a 1 cup at a time, until fluffy. Chill covered until ready to frost cake.
  • When the cake layers are completely cool, use a serrated knife to slice the dome off the top of each cake to make the layer completely flat.
  • To a serving platter, add one cake layer. Cover completely with a thick layer (about 1 ½ cups) frosting. Add second layer and frost the top (another 1 ½ cups) and outside of cake (about 2 cups). Decorate with toasted pecans and candied carrot curls, if desired.

Notes

  1. Vegetable oil: Choose a good neutral oil. Canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or even a very light-flavored olive oil works. 
  2. Carrots: For this recipe, I grate the carrots by hand. This may seem like a lot of work, but trust me: juicy, freshly grated carrots make all the difference. Pre-packaged bags of shredded carrots are too dry and just won't taste as good.
  3. Raisins and pecans: Substitute 1 ½ cups of any of your preferred mix-ins such as golden raisins, currants, extra carrot, orange zest, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, walnuts, or toasted cashews.
  4. Cream cheese: The foil-wrapped blocks make a better frosting than the whipped cream cheese in the tub.
  5. Candied carrot curls: A crispy, sweet carrot garnish that looks great on top of the frosting. Make these a day ahead and store them in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them crunchy.
  6. Spray-paper-spray: Prevent your baked goods from sticking to the pan with these 3 steps. Spray the insides of the pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
  7. Make ahead: This cake only gets better with a little time. By better, I mean moister, richer, and more flavorful. Personally I love to refrigerate the frosted cake overnight and eat it cold. It's the best!
  8. Storing: Technically, you should refrigerate any cake with cream cheese frosting. If making ahead, take it out of the refrigerator an hour or two before serving so the frosting has time to warm to room temperature and the cake loses its chill.
  9. Freezing: I like to freeze unfrosted carrot cake layers for last minute birthday cakes--all I have to do is whip up the cream cheese frosting. Wrap the cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and freezer bags and freeze for 2 to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator before assembling and frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 677kcalCarbohydrates: 99gProtein: 5gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 441mgPotassium: 266mgFiber: 2gSugar: 77gVitamin A: 6016IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 2mg
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Comments

  1. This is an incredibly moist and delicious cake. If your can read directions, you can make this cake. It even gets better and better with a couple days in the fridge. So if you have the time, plan ahead. Be prepared for rave reviews if you’re serving to guests. The carrot curls are fun and delicious, and make an elegant presentation on top the cake. I cut the powdered sugar in half for the cream cheese frosting, and no one was the wiser. Enjoy! This is another great recipe from the Team at Culinary Hill. Thank you all.5 stars

    1. Yikes, who works here?! (Points to self.) It should be brown sugar. The saddest part is, I’ve probably lost all credibility with you so you’ll probably never make this really delicious carrot cake! At least I had it right in the instructions so I could easily figure out what it was supposed to be. -Meggan