Incredibly Moist and Easy Carrot Cake

This is my favorite recipe for carrot cake! It is 100% made from scratch, easy to make, versatile, and utterly delicious. One of our most popular recipes! Just read all the rave reviews!

Watch the video

Carrot Cake Recipe Video

This carrot cake is quick, easy to make, and utterly delicious. It wasn’t until recently that we realized how much we love carrot cake. It wasn’t something either of us grew up eating. Thanks to this easy recipe, we fell in love.

You can make this cake fast without lots of fancy equipment. I bet you have most of what you need to make it in your kitchen right now. Not only is this the best-tasting carrot cake we’ve made, but it’s a cinch to make. If you want to make cupcakes, see these easy carrot cake cupcakes inspired by this cake recipe.

Slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Carrot cake ingredients

  • I like using all-purpose flour, but you can substitute some all-purpose flour for whole wheat or white whole wheat flour. Swap the flour for your favorite gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free carrot cake.
  • Baking soda helps the cake to rise. We don’t add baking powder – this cake recipe does not need it.
  • Salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract make our cake taste amazing.
  • Oil keeps the cake nice and moist — any neutral-flavored oil will work. Melted coconut oil works, too, but the baked cake will have a light coconut flavor.
  • Sugar makes the cake moist, light, and delicious. I love a combination of white and brown sugar, but you can use one or the other. Since posting the recipe, some of our readers have asked whether or not we can reduce the sugar called for in the recipe. You can, but keep in mind that the amount we specify will produce the moistest cake.
  • Eggs give the cake structure.
  • Lots of carrots make this the best carrot cake. I like to hand-grate my carrots since I prefer the texture, but you can use your food processor or buy pre-grated carrots from the store. When we first tested the cake, we scaled the number of carrots back to two cups since three cups sounded extreme. After baking and letting it cool, we were a little disappointed. So, if you’re making the carrot cake and start to second-guess the number of carrots called for in our recipe below, don’t. You need all three cups. It is a carrot cake, after all.
  • Pecans and raisins are optional! Some people love nuts and raisins in carrot cake, while others cannot stand to add them. These are entirely optional, so go with what you love.

How to make carrot cake from scratch

The method for this carrot cake recipe could not be simpler! If you have a couple of bowls and can stir ingredients together, you can make this cake! As you can see from our recipe video, all you need to do is combine all the ingredients.

  1. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another: I like to whisk my dry ingredients together in one bowl until they are well blended. Then, I whisk all the wet ingredients together in another bowl.
  2. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together: Then I switch to a rubber spatula or large spoon and fold the two — wet and dry ingredients — together until I don’t see any large streaks of flour. (We use the same method when making this cinnamon coffee cake, our pineapple upside-down cake, and this buttery blueberry cake.)
  3. Add carrots, nuts, and raisins: When I’ve got the batter ready, I fold in the carrots, and if I’m using them, the nuts and raisins.
Adding grated carrots to the carrot cake batter.

Baking carrot cake

When baking the carrot cake, divide the batter between two buttered and floured cake pans and bake until done. The cake layers bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes (they smell fantastic). After baking, let the layers cool, then frost with your favorite frosting.

Pouring carrot cake batter into round cake pans

Frosting the Cake

We love our extra creamy cream cheese frosting. It’s soft, creamy, and doesn’t firm up like traditional cream cheese frosting. You can see how swoopy and soft it is in our video. The frosting is the same one we used to top our Guinness chocolate cake. It’s made with only four ingredients: cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream (not plain whipping cream, which has less fat content), and cornstarch (optional, but it helps firm it up a bit).

Frosting carrot cake

Some of our readers prefer a firmer frosting, so we have provided a recipe below for a more traditional cream cheese frosting.

If you’re not into frostings or don’t have the ingredients, try the cake as-is without any frosting. Or, sift a little bit of powdered sugar on top. When Adam and I were testing this recipe, we skipped the frosting the first couple of times and fell in love with the cake completely plain.

An 8-inch round carrot cake with a slice cut out

Storing tips

  • Storing unfrosted carrot cake layers: Wrap the individual cake layers tightly in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To freeze, add a layer of foil, and then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before frosting and serving.
  • Storing a frosted carrot cake: Store the entire cake, covered in plastic wrap or an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. We do not recommend freezing a frosted carrot cake (the frosting does not thaw well).

Frequently asked questions

Can I make carrot cake cupcakes using this recipe? Yes, absolutely (and if you read through the comments, many of our readers have done just that). To make cupcakes instead of a cake, 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. We have been asked this question so often, that we’ve added a carrot cake cupcake recipe.

Can I make one large single-layer cake? Yes, but the baking time will change. A 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan should be fine for a bundt cake. You will likely need to increase the baking time by about 30% in the 10-cup pan and less in the 12-cup. The batter will also fit into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, but you might need to leave out a bit of the batter so it does not overflow. (I’d also bake the cake on a sheet pan in case some batter comes over the sides.)

Can I use applesauce instead of oil in the carrot cake recipe? We have never tried this ourselves, so you may need to experiment on your own. That said, you should be able to swap some of the oil for applesauce without too many issues.

Can I add pineapple to the carrot cake? Yes, absolutely. It will add even more moisture to the cake, so use fresh pineapple, or if you are using canned, drain it first before adding it to the cake. We do not recommend adding more than 1 cup.

A slice of homemade carrot cake

Incredibly Moist and Easy Carrot Cake

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

This is the best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever used. We prefer to use a hand grater when preparing the carrots since it creates delicate carrot shreds that melt into the cake batter. Pre-shredded bags or shredding carrots using a food processor are also options, but the carrot shreds will be larger.

This recipe is forgiving. You can make this with or without the nuts or raisins. We love the combination of granulated and brown sugar, but if you only have one, use it, and the cake will still be delicious.

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). We love it, but if you prefer a more traditional frosting, see the tips section below the recipe. We have provided instructions for a classic cream cheese frosting that works nicely with this cake.

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

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

Directions

  • 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.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • 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: See our article for tips or this recipe for carrot cake cupcakes.
  • Rectangular cake pan (9 x 13 inch): Add all the batter to the rectangular pan and bake. Bake time may be slightly longer.
  • 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 and adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.
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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2807 comments… Leave a Review
  • Nagham February 21, 2024, 1:37 pm

    Excellent cake recipe

    Reply
    • Joanne February 21, 2024, 6:45 pm

      We are thrilled that you enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back and sharing your review.

      Reply
  • Helen Chamberlain February 18, 2024, 3:04 pm

    I have made this recipe a few times. Always a hit! Thank you

    Reply
  • Lisa Marie February 16, 2024, 7:15 pm

    I’ve used another carrot cake recipe that I liked but it contained more ingredients and was crumbly.
    This was fantastic! My husband is not usually a fan of carrot cake, but this he devoured.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 16, 2024, 11:18 pm

      That’s wonderful! It’s always a win when you can convert someone who isn’t usually a fan.

      Reply
  • Lyn February 16, 2024, 3:48 am

    I noticed that the cake I baked was much lighter in colour than the photo shown on this site. I used half white and half brown sugar as suggested. Colour may be darker if dark brown sugar used.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 16, 2024, 2:37 pm

      I’m thinking this might have been due to a different baking pan or oven. Dark brown sugar may make things darker, but we used light brown sugar in the video. Hopefully the cake tasted great!

      Reply
  • Ingrid February 15, 2024, 7:40 pm

    Hi! I’m from Brazil and I was looking for an original American carrot cake recipe, once the Brazilian carrot cake is very different. So I made this one yesterday and WOW, the cake is so delicious, so fluffy, and so easy to make! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe for free, you made my day!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 16, 2024, 2:27 pm

      Wow, this absolutely made MY day! Hearing how much you enjoyed the recipe all the way from Brazil is an incredible feeling. So thrilled the carrot cake lived up to your expectations, and thank YOU for taking the time to share your experience!

      Reply
  • Michelle February 15, 2024, 6:31 pm

    Currently making this recipe for the second time as I loved it so much 😊 the first time I made the two layer cake with frosting, which was amazing – and I plan to use the frosting recipe with some cocoa powder added for a chocolate cake eventually. Today though I am making it plain with no frosting, for a pot luck we are having at work. I’m using a 9×13 pan and will cut down the middle and then into nice thick slices. Will probably sift some powdered sugar on top as well. I’m subbing a cup of grated zucchini for one cup of carrots, which I also did last time and it turned out great. Last time I did it because I ran out of carrots but this time it’s intentional.

    When I made it a few weeks ago it was delicious with or without the frosting, so I know it will be a hit at the pot luck 😊 btw, my son loves this frosting recipe more than any others he’s tried! He said it’s perfect because it’s not too firm or too sweet, which are issues he has with other types of frosting. I tend to agree 🙂 That’s why we want to try a chocolate version sometime soon!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 16, 2024, 2:26 pm

      That’s fantastic! I love the zucchini substitution – such a great way to sneak in extra veggies. The powdered sugar will be a lovely touch for your potluck. Your son has great taste – the frosting recipe aims for that perfect balance.

      Reply
  • Biljana February 15, 2024, 5:21 am

    I made this recipe two weeks ago and it turned out delicious. I want to repeat it, but I do not have an 9 inch pan where I am at, so I was wondering what should I adjust if I use an 8 inch pan instead? Thank you

    Reply
    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:06 pm

      Great to hear you loved it! For an 8-inch deep cake pan, it might need a few extra minutes in the oven. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Also, watch for overflow – if it looks like it might bubble over, place a baking sheet underneath. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  • Heather Summers February 13, 2024, 9:27 am

    Made this carrot cake yesterday, absolutely gorgeous so moist and light. My husband loves it. Have made it a few times.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 3:29 pm

      Wonderful! It always makes me happy to hear about repeat bakes. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • paul sculpher February 11, 2024, 8:27 pm

    This has to one of the best carrot cake recipe I have found and stick to. Plus I make this for son for the market and the people love it and it seem to be there go to at the market.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 3:37 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear! I’m so glad you and your son loves the recipe. It’s always heartwarming to know that our recipes bring joy to others.

      Reply
  • jujusma February 11, 2024, 7:48 pm

    I had never been able to find a carrot cake that was as moist and bouncy as Trader Joes (which was dicontinued years ago.) This is it. A moist and bouncy crumb! After I made the first, the fam was asking about the next before it was gone. I used crushed pineapple instead of raisins as I feel they steal the stage. Walnuts are a perfect option. Thanks so much for this recipe!!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 3:38 pm

      That’s incredible! Beating a beloved Trader Joe’s recipe is high praise. So glad you and your family love it!

      Reply
  • Lola Dane February 11, 2024, 6:01 pm

    Hi. Came here for this cake recipe because Laura from Garden Answer on YouTube mentioned your site (1.8 million subscribers). I hope that brings your site lots of new visitors.Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:14 pm

      That’s so awesome! We’re big fans of Laura too. Welcome to the site – happy to have you here! Let us know if you try the cake, and I hope you find more recipes you love.

      Reply
  • Shellie February 11, 2024, 12:25 pm

    By far, the best carrot cake we’ve ever had and we’ve had a lot! So happy for this recipe and I can make it whenever we want!

    Reply
  • jodi horning February 10, 2024, 4:46 pm

    I am not a confident baker but found this recipe to be very easy, my cake turned out moist and delicious. Was a hit with everyone.

    Reply

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