Carrot cake lovers, rejoice! This is the carrot cake of your dreams, complete with a swoon-worthy cream cheese frosting. Make a towering layer cake, a batch of cupcakes for a bunch of little rabbits, or a bundt cake for your next book club!
Need a different size of this carrot cake? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you and adjusts the ingredients automatically— it’s that easy.
How to make carrot cake:
Carrot cake is a really forgiving dessert, which means that you can get pretty creative with ingredients, substitutions, or additions. It’s also a cake that you can make without a mixer. Simply mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the wet ingredients together in the next. Then add the dry mixture to the wet in stages and pour into the prepared pans to bake. Allow to cool completely and you’re ready to frost!
How to make carrot cake healthier:
Some cooks like to substitute smooth unsweetened applesauce or some other fruit purée (like pear or pineapple) for the oil in this recipe, which works but may affect the texture of the finished product.
Whole wheat flour may also be used in place of all-purpose white. And some cooks like to decrease the amount of sugar, too, and add a few more grated carrots for natural sweetness.
How to make gluten free carrot cake:
You can use your favorite plain gluten free flour blend.
How to make carrot cake without nuts:
This one’s easy! Just leave them out.
What can I add to carrot cake?
This is where your creativity can flourish! Add more raisins, extra carrots, zante currants, orange zest, cranberries, ginger, nutmeg, or even shredded coconut. You can even add chopped pineapple to the cake, but have you tried Hummingbird cake, yet? Oh, you should!
What kind of oil can be used in carrot cake?
You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or even a very light olive oil for this recipe. You can also use melted butter in place of oil, in the same proportions.
How to make brown sugar:
To make brown sugar you need one cup of white sugar and one tablespoon of molasses. Mix the two together — this goes faster if you use an electric mixer — until completely blended. Use what you need and store the rest.
Can carrot cake be frozen?
Unfrosted cakes may be wrapped tightly and frozen. Allow the cake to completely thaw before frosting.
Should carrot cake be refrigerated?
You should refrigerate any cake with cream cheese frosting. 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.
Carrot Cake Recipe
For the Carrot Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil or canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups carrots peeled and grated (about 5 to 6)
- 1 cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped, for topping
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.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and the cinnamon until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, stirring after each addition, until the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots, nuts and raisins.
- 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.
- Reduce speed to low and beat in the powdered sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time, until fluffy. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Chill covered until ready to frost cake.
- When the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer, place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top layer of the cake and the entire outside of the cake. Scatter nuts on top or press into the sides of the cake as desired.