Homemade Carrot Cake is easier than you think to make from scratch! Perfectly spiced cake is layered with indulgent cream cheese frosting for a dessert you’ll make again and again!
Growing up, my mom always used to make me giant cookies for my birthday because I wasn’t a huge cake fan. I mean, cake was okay, but I definitely was NOT a fan of traditional icing.
Then I found the wonderful world of carrot cake.
Not only does this moist, spiced cake taste amazing, but the rich buttery cream cheese frosting takes it over the top! If you’re a fan of carrot cake too, you have to try today’s treat – the absolute best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever tried!
You might also like our carrot cake muffins!
Why I love this recipe
The key to making a moist, flavorful carrot cake is to use high-quality ingredients. I use unsalted real butter and either low fat or full fat cream cheese.
How to make moist carrot cake
- brown sugar add not just sweetness but also moisture to the cake batter
- lots of freshly shredded carrots give a lot of moisture, be sure to shred them just before making the cake so they don’t dry out
- vegetable oil adds more moisture to the cake without interfering with the flavor
As for the carrots, you can either enjoy a nice arm workout by hand grating them or put them in a food processor until they are finely grated. Either way works well, just make sure you use the full amount to keep the cake nice and moist and grate them just before using them so they don’t dry out!
You can make this cake with three eight-inch pans like I did for my cake or two nine-inch pans. If you use the nine-inch pans you’ll likely need to lengthen the cooking time to about 30 minutes and you can cut back on the frosting (although I’ll never complain about leftover cream cheese frosting, I could eat this stuff by the spoonful!).
Expert tip: Trace the bottom of the cake pan onto parchment paper and cut out, use the parchment paper round to line the bottom of the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick!
Nuts or no nuts?
If you prefer your carrot cake with nuts (I can go either way) then you have a few options. You can stir them into the cake batter itself when you fold in the carrots. You can also just add some to the top of the cake for a little texture and decoration.
When I was little I remember my family adding them to the cream cheese frosting between layers as well. There is really no wrong way to do it. Make it fit your family’s taste!
Be sure to cool the cake layers completely before frosting. Use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to even out the tops of the layers. Then just add a generous helping of cream cheese frosting between the layers and frost as you desire.
You can keep it in the “naked” style like the picture above, but that frosting is so good I prefer to load it up!
I also like to use my vegetable peeler and a sharp knife to create little carrot slivers to decorate the top of my cake as well. It takes just a few moments and I think it makes it look extra special!
This is one of the few cakes that I actually recommend making it ahead of time! The flavors will intensify and the frosting will soak slightly into the cake so I prefer to make it the day before I’ll be serving it.
To make cupcakes instead of cake, reduce cooking time to about 14 minutes or untila toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. This recipe should make about two dozen cupcakes.
Wrap loosely and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I have substituted half of the oil with applesauce with good results. I have not tried to use all applesauce.
If you try this recipe, please comment and rate it below, I love hearing from you!Print
This moist, flavorful carrot cake is made from scratch and frosted with delectable cream cheese icing! The very best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever tried!
For the Carrot Cake:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 16 ounces carrots peeled and grated
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 24 ounces of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Set cream cheese and butter out to soften.
- Spray three 8-inch baking pans generously with nonstick spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil and mix until smooth.
- Add eggs to sugar mixture one at a time, mixing until uniform.
- Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
- In a separate large bowl combine flour, clove, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir to mix.
- Add dry mixture to wet mixture a little at a time while beating at medium speed until combined. Scrape sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold carrots in by hand. Add nuts if preferred.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool completely on wire rack before using a large knife to level tops and frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In a stand mixer , cream together cream cheese and Unsalted Plugrá Butter on medium speed until smooth and without lumps.
- Add vanilla and salt and beat on medium speed until combined.
- Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until incorporated.
- Increase speed to high for one minute.
- Adjust the thickness of the frosting as needed. If it is too thin, add powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If it is too thick, do the same with water one teaspoon at a time.
- I shred my carrots in a food processor but you can also grate by hand. Do not use store-bought grated carrots, carrots must be freshly grated to preserve their moisture.
- to use two 9 inch pans or a 9 by 13″ pan, extend baking time until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Trace the bottom of the cake pan onto parchment paper and cut out, use the parchment paper round to line the bottom of the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick!
Keywords: carrot cake