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

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.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 505kcal

Ingredients

For the candied carrot curls:

  • 2 large carrots peeled
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling the curls

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 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 raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • toasted pecans coarsely chopped, for topping, optional
  • candied carrot curls for topping, optional

Instructions

To make the candied carrot curls:

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, shave off 15 to 20 long strips of carrot (strips get wider as you peel in to the middle of the carrot).
  • In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar and bring to boil. Add carrot strips, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain well and cool 5 minutes.
  • Arrange carrot strips in a single layer on prepared baking sheet (no touching). Bake until the carrot strips begin to look translucent and have dried out, about 30 minutes.
  • As soon as the carrot curls are cool enough to handle but still warm, and working quickly, wrap each carrot strip around the handle of a wooden spoon to form a curl. Gently slide off handle and sprinkle with sugar. Let sit at room temperature until completely dry, about 30 minutes.

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.
  • OPTIONAL: 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 1/2 cups) frosting. Add second layer and frost the top (another 1 1/2 cups) and outside of cake (about 2 cups).
  • Decorate with toasted pecans and candied carrot curls, if desired.

Notes

Preparing the Cake Pans: Even though it is a bit time consuming, don’t skimp on prepping the pans. It’s never fun to find your cake layer is stuck to the bottom of your pan. (If this does happen to you, leave the cake pan upside down and allow gravity to do its thing).
How to Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes: For cupcakes, we’d recommend baking for 14 to 18 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean). Then let them cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The recipe should make about 24 cupcakes.
Using a bundt pan: We have never done this in our kitchen, but a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan should be fine for this recipe. You will likely need to increase the baking time by about 30% in the 10-cup pan, somewhat less in the 12-cup.
Using a 9-inch by 13-inch pan rectangular pan: simple! Add all the batter to the rectangular pan and bake. The bake time should be similar. 
Adapted from Inspired Taste.

Nutrition

Calories: 505kcal