This amazing carrot cake brings a moist cake with warm spice together with rich cream cheese frosting that has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. It’s the best dessert any time of year, but I really love to make it when springtime sets in.
Not only is the cake delicious, but it scents your whole home with nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon.
The next time you’re looking for a delicious cake recipe, try this incredibly easy carrot cake — it is sure to impress your guests.
Note – I made this cake for my son’s birthday. I paired it with a cinnamon buttercream frosting instead of cream cheese frosting. It was AMAZING!
Common Questions about Carrot Cake
Is carrot cake healthier than regular cake?
Since it includes carrots, Greek yogurt (if you choose to use it), and some of its moisture comes from applesauce, carrot cake can be a healthier option.
What is carrot cake supposed to taste like?
Carrot cake is a warmly spiced cake with a sweet and tangy frosting.
What’s the green stuff in carrot cake?
If you find that there are green pieces in your cake, don’t worry — those are just the carrots. It is a reaction that happens sometimes between the baking soda and the carrot pieces.
Since the frosting contains cream cheese this cake does need refrigeration.
Refrigerator: You can keep carrot cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Wrap the entire cake with aluminum foil or plastic wrap or store slices in an airtight container.
Freezing: Frozen carrot cake can be stored for up to 3 months.
Tips for the Best Carrot Cake
This easy cake needs few tricks to turn out gorgeously, but here are a few tips to make sure it’s the best.
- Sifting together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt before adding to the wet ingredients will help to distribute the ingredients more easily in the batter.
- Avoid over-mixing which would make the cake dense.
- Wait until the cake has entirely cooled before frosting to avoid having the frosting melt.
For the best results, make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature before preparing the batter or frosting.
- Large eggs
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar (packed)
- Vegetable oil or canola oil
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Pure vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Table salt
- Fresh carrots (peeled/shredded)
- Chopped pecans (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream cheese (full fat — room temperature)
- Salted butter (room temperature)
- Pure vanilla extract
- Confectioner’s sugar
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
All you need are some simple supplies from your pantry.
- Cake pans
- Large mixing bowl
- Stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or electric mixer)
- Rubber spatula
- Cooling rack
- Parchment paper
- Offset spatula
How to Make Carrot Cake
You won’t believe how easy it is to make this delicious cake.
- Add the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to a large bowl and mix until all ingredients are completely combined.
- While continuing to mix, slowly add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) to the egg mixture until they are moistened.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the grated carrots and any other additions into the cake batter.
- Pour equal amounts of the batter into the prepared pans.
- Place cakes in the preheated oven and bake until they pass the toothpick test.
- Remove cakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack to come to room temperature.
- Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to a large bowl and mix until completely combined.
- Once the cream cheese mixture forms soft peaks, gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
- First, make each of the cakes flat on top by slicing off the risen part in the center.
- Place the first tier on a serving platter or cake plate.
- Place a scoop of frosting on the top of the cake and spread it, leaving room around the edges.
- Place the other cake on top (with the top side of the second tier facing downward).
- Spread icing on top of that layer.
- Repeat with the third tier.
- Then, frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Sprinkle with chopped pecans or your garnish of choice.
What to Serve With Homemade Carrot Cake
There are lots of perfect pairings for this sweet and gently spiced cake.
- Coffee – A natural accompaniment to many desserts, coffee goes especially well with carrot cake.
- Whipped cream – There are few desserts that don’t benefit from a dollop of whipped cream.
- Ice cream – Add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
- Milk – A big glass of cold milk or your favorite milk alternative is perfect to wash down this dessert.
Why You Should Make this Easy Carrot Cake Recipe
If you love carrot cake you’ll adore this version!
- Easy – Despite that the ingredient list is a little long, this cake comes together so quickly and easily.
- Versatile – Carrot cake is a classic crowd pleaser — people are sure to enjoy it whether it’s for a casual get-together or for special occasions like birthdays or baby showers. It even makes for an amazing wedding cake.
- Convenient – The ingredients are easy to find in any grocery store.
Can this be made with different size cake pans?
You bet – if you need to change the size of the cake you are making – please see the variations below. As with all cakes – bake until the toothpick test is clean as different ovens, climate, elevation, and other factors can change the baking time.
- THREE 9″ pans – These tend to dome and crust a bit more. Baking time will change to 30-35 minutes. This could be varied by the type of pans and true oven temp.
- TWO 8″ pans – I don’t advise this as the 8″ pans are plenty full when making this recipe.
- FOUR 6″ pans – divide evenly – should be about 1-1/3 cup of batter each. Bake for 24-30 minutes.
- 1 – 9″ round = 1 – 8″ square
Variations and Add-ins
There are all sorts of swaps or add-ins for carrot cake to make it your own.
- Nuts – Use other varieties of crushed nuts like walnuts or slivered almonds.
- Fruit – Fold golden raisins or dried cranberries into the batter. You can also add crushed pineapple.
- Flour – Swap in your favorite alternative flour.
- Sugar – Use a sugar substitute to lower the carbs.
- Type of cake – Instead of a layer cake, use a bundt pan to make a bundt cake.
- Oil – You can replace the vegetable or canola oil with any neutral oil.
- Lemon juice – For bright flavor you can add a tiny bit of lemon juice to the carrot cake batter.
If you love this easy Carrot Cake recipe, you’re going to love these other spring treat ideas too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Creative Cakes
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- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar – packed
- 1½ cups vegetable oil or canola oil
- 1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
- ¾ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 5 cups carrots peeled/shredded
- 1 cup chopped pecans optional
pecans for garnish
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz cream cheese room temperature – full-fat
- 8 oz salted butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°f.
- Grease three 8” cake pans with butter or shortening, (you can also use baker’s release) and then line the bottoms of each pan with parchment. Then grease the top of the parchment. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Beat well until combined.
- Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring until just combined. Don't over-mix.
- Fold in the carrots. If you are using pecans, fold them in now as well.
- Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the toothpick test comes out clean. You can also test by gently pressing your finger on the center of the cakes – if they spring back, they are done.
- Once cooked, remove, and place the pans on a wire rack to completely cool before removing the cakes from the pan.
- Combine the softened cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla, and to a mixing bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, whisk until creamy and soft peaks form.
- Slowly beat in the confectioner’s sugar until the frosting is whipped and creamy.
- Once cakes are fully cooled, using a cake or bread knife slice off the risen center of the cakes making them flat on top.
- Place the bottom layer on a flat surface, cake plate or serving platter.
- Add a dollop of frosting and evenly spread it over the top of the layer of cake leaving a 1/2” thickness.
- Flip the other cake upside down and place it on top of the frosted layer.
- Repeat with the frosting and then add the top layer.
- Completely frost the three layers of cake with a generous layer of frosting. Smooth frosting as desired.
- Top the cake with a generous layer of chopped pecans or other decoration if desired.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.