Easy Carrot Cake

This is hands down the best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever made. It’s easy, made from scratch, wonderfully moist in the middle, has the creamiest cream cheese frosting, and is absolutely delicious!

Carrot Cake Recipe Video

The moment I tried this carrot cake recipe, I was hooked! The ingredient list is simple, and they come together to make such a delicious, moist, perfectly spiced cake.

I bet you already have most of what you need to make this recipe in your kitchen. This really is one of my favorite cake recipes. For cupcakes, check out our recipe for carrot cake cupcakes. Or for another spring inspired cake, try our fresh strawberry cake.

Slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Key Ingredients

  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour, but this recipe works with spelt flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free carrot cake.
  • Baking soda: Helps our cake rise. We don’t add baking powder (this cake recipe does not need it). Check that your baking soda has not been open for longer than 6 months (it loses its potency after that).
  • Sugar: Makes carrot cake moist and delicious. I love a combination of white and brown sugar. If you only want to use one, choose brown sugar since it has the necessary acid to react with the baking soda.
  • Oil: The secret to keeping our carrot cake so deliciously moist. I’ve used avocado oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil with great results. Melted coconut oil works, too, but the baked cake will have a light coconut flavor.
  • Salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract: Make our cake taste amazing, resulting in a lightly spiced cake.
  • Eggs: This cake calls for 4 eggs, which add flavor, moisture, and give the cake structure.
  • Carrots: Three cups of freshly grated carrots make this the best carrot cake! If you’re making the carrot cake and start to second-guess the number of carrots called for in our recipe, don’t. You need all three cups. It is a carrot cake, after all.
  • Pecans and Raisins: These add texture, but they are optional. Reading through the comment section, it is clear that some people love nuts and raisins in carrot cake, while others cannot stand them. I love them, but add what you love!

How to Make Carrot Cake

If you have a couple of bowls and can stir ingredients together, you can make this easy cake! You’ll start by whisking the dry ingredients in one bowl, and do the same with the wet ingredients in another.

Making this cake batter reminds me of making pancakes or muffins. All you need to do is fold the dry ingredients into the wet, add your carrots, nuts, and raisins, and you are done. It’s that easy!

Adding grated carrots to the carrot cake batter.

To bake the carrot cake, divide the batter between two baking pans, and slide them into a 350°F oven. Bake the layers until they rise in the pans and are a bit bouncy when you lightly touch them. (I use one or two fingers and lightly push. If you leave a dent in the cake, it needs more time.)

baking carrot cake - pouring carrot cake batter into round cake pans before baking

It’s important that you cool your cake layers, otherwise your frosting will slide right off! I like to cool them in the pans for 15 minutes and then turn the layers onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

My Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting reminds me of softly whipped cream. It’s light, creamy, and swoopy. I highly recommend it, but if you want a firmer, more American-style cream cheese frosting that you can pipe onto the cake, see the tips section of the recipe for my recommendations.

Frosting carrot cake

For my favorite frosting, you will need cream cheese, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and heavy cream. You’ll beat the cream cheese with the sugar and cornstarch until fluffy and then beat in the cream. Watch our video to see how light, swoopy, and creamy it becomes. We also use this frosting for our Guinness chocolate cake.

The best homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting showing a slice cut out

This cake is also delicious without frosting. You can try it plain or sift some powdered sugar on top. When Adam and I tested this carrot cake recipe, we skipped the frosting the first couple of times and fell in love with the cake completely plain.

A slice of homemade carrot cake

Easy Carrot Cake Recipe

  • PREP
  • COOK

This is the best carrot cake recipe I’ve made. We prefer to use a hand grater when preparing the carrots since it creates delicate shreds that melt into the cake batter. We like using granulated and brown sugar in this recipe. If you only want to use one, choose brown sugar since it has the necessary acid to react with the baking soda.

Frosting: Our creamy frosting recipe shared below is not a traditional cream cheese frosting. Thanks to whipped cream, it’s creamier and has soft peaks (you can see it in our video). See the tips section below for a more traditional frosting.

Makes 1 (9-inch) double layer cake (16 thin slices) or 22 to 24 cupcakes

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

For Carrot Cake

2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda, important to level the teaspoon, see tips

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ¼ cups (295ml) vegetable oil

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1 cup (190g) lightly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups (300g) grated peeled carrots, 5 to 6 medium carrots

1 cup (120g) coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup (70g) raisins

For Creamy Frosting

8 ounces (225g) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons cornstarch, optional

1 ¼ cups (140g) powdered sugar

1/3 cup (80ml) cold heavy cream, not plain whipping cream, see notes

1/2 cup (50g) coarsely chopped pecans, for topping cake


  • Make the Batter
  • 1Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).

    2Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then grease the top. Or grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.

    3Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until very well blended.

    4In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.

    5Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one.

    6Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients in three parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth.

    7Stir in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.

  • Bake Cake
  • 1Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans.

    2Bake 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, 35 to 45 minutes.

    3Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely. If you find that a cake layer is sticking to the bottom of the pan, leave the cake pan upside down and allow gravity to do its thing.

  • To Finish
  • 1In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a handheld mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

    2Beat in the powdered sugar and cornstarch. I like sifting the powdered sugar and cornstarch over the cream cheese to remove lumps. If you do not have a fine mesh sieve, beat in the cornstarch and powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until combined.

    3Pour in the heavy cream. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until the frosting is whipped and creamy. This frosting resembles the texture of whipped cream. Chill covered until ready to frost the cake.

    4When the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer and place the second cake layer on top.

    5Add the remaining frosting to the top of the carrot cake and use a butter knife or small spatula to swirl the frosting around. Leave the sides of the cake unfrosted. Finish with a handful of nuts on top.

  • Storing
  • 1Frosted carrot cake lasts in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. I keep it covered with plastic wrap or use a cake keeper, or large bowl turned upside down to cover the cake. I do not recommend freezing frosted carrot cake (the frosting does not thaw well). You can refrigerate unfrosted cake layers for up 5 days or freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before adding your frosting.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Baking soda: When measuring, dip your spoon into the container, then level it off using the straight edge of one of your other spoons. For the best results, use fresh baking soda (it loses its potency after being opened for 6 months).
  • Traditional cream cheese frosting: In a large bowl, beat 16 ounces of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of softened butter together for a minute or two until smooth. Add 4 ½ cups of powdered sugar, 1 ¼ teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until extra creamy. If it is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of cream or milk.
  • How to make carrot cake cupcakes: This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. Bake them for 14 to 18 minutes and allow to cool in the cupcake pan before cooling completely on a wire rack. You may also like this recipe for carrot cake cupcakes.
  • To make a large single-layer cake, add all the batter to a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan and bake. The bake time may be slightly longer. A 10-cup or 12-cup bundt pan should also work, but expect the bake time to increase by 30%.
  • Adding pineapple: I like fresh chopped pineapple or drained canned pineapple. Do not add more than 1 cup.
  • Heavy cream (US bakers): Heavy cream has more milk fat (about 36%), while whipping cream has less (around 30%). Use “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream.” Plain “whipping cream” does not whip as well and can cause your frosting to be too soft.
  • UK & Australia bakers: Use plain flour for the batter and “double cream” or “thickened cream” with at least 35% fat content for the creamy frosting.
  • If you only have whipping cream or cream with less than 35% fat content: If you only have whipping cream or are unsure what you have in your kitchen, whisk it in a separate bowl until soft peaks. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the whipped cream to the beaten cream cheese mixture and combine to loosen. Then, fold in the remaining whipped cream.
  • Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s cupcakes recipe.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 slice (1 of 16) / Calories 535 / Total Fat 33.4g / Saturated Fat 6.9g / Cholesterol 69.3mg / Sodium 315.9mg / Carbohydrate 56.4g / Dietary Fiber 2.4g / Total Sugars 40.5g / Protein 5.6g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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2921 comments… Leave a Review
  • Sonya June 7, 2024, 10:17 pm

    My son asked for Carrot Cake for his birthday and I found this recipe with so many great reviews. My husband is Celiac so I substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 flour. Nuts in things don’t go over well in my house so I replaced them with coconut and left out the raisins. It got rave reviews. I know I did some substituting, but I was impressed how moist it was even with GF flour!

    • Adam June 8, 2024, 4:36 pm

      Thank you so much for leaving this review and for letting us know how well your GF version worked! We have been meaning to test this recipe to see if we could make it GF. This review is so helpful! 🙂

  • Rebecca McKee June 7, 2024, 1:41 pm

    I have made this cake 5 times now, it is so moist, my son even opted for his birthday cake. Great tasting and so easy to make.

    • Adam June 7, 2024, 1:43 pm

      Love it! What a great birthday cake 🙂

  • Robin de Grosbois May 30, 2024, 3:56 am

    Great cake…it all went. Moist & nice space.

    • Joanne May 30, 2024, 3:35 pm

      So happy you loved it!

  • Sal Alvarado May 29, 2024, 6:43 pm

    Perfect. Moist, sweet and delicious!! OMG!

    • Joanne May 30, 2024, 3:35 pm

      Wonderful, thanks for coming back!

  • Jace May 28, 2024, 2:51 am

    Hi, my carrot cake came out well except that it has a bitter aftertaste. The changes i made to the recipe is that i added 1 teaspoon of baking powder in addition to your stated 2 teaspoon baking soda, and the plain flour i used cantained 25% superfine wholegrain flour. Your advice please. Thanks

    • Joanne May 30, 2024, 3:36 pm

      Hi Jace, It’s possible it was from your addition of the baking powder. This cake really doesn’t need that in addition to the baking soda.

  • Mathias May 27, 2024, 7:59 am

    Hi Joanne, how many grams are 2 top of baking soda please? I find different conversion values online…
    Thanks in advance

    • Joanne May 30, 2024, 3:37 pm

      Hi Mathias, You will need 10g of baking soda.


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