The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

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Deliciously easy and beautiful, perfectly moist cake bursting with carrots, nuts, raisins and tons of spices, with a rich cream cheese frosting.

picture of layered carrot cake on a white plate
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Classic Layered Carrot Cake

This carrot cake is rich and delicious and full of nostalgic flavor – it is so much better than store bought, and comes together easily without too many steps. Carrot cake is perfect for Easter, Thanksgiving, and other holidays – but it’s also great anytime you want a delicious cake that isn’t too sweet and loaded with spice, carrot, and fruit flavor.

This cake is perfect served with bourbon ham, Easy Buttery Soft Dinner Rolls, pork tenderloin, or prime rib for Easter – and of course alongside other tasty carrot dishes like our Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots or Pan Roasted Butter Carrots!

This layer cake is simple to assemble, but looks and tastes outstanding – it is easy to impress a crowd for holidays but simple enough to make during the week.

We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

picture of layered carrot cake on a white plate

How to Make Carrot Cake

To start off making your cake, it takes a knockout carrot cake batter!

This recipe is designed to be easy and mixed in just one bowl – no sorting and sifting dry and wet ingredients – but it does work best to follow our steps when it comes to what to add when.

Mix the batter. Start by mixing batter ingredients – not including heavier items like nuts, carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well, we like to mix in a stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Stir in heavy ingredients. Once the batter comes together, it’s time to mix in the larger chunks – the carrot shreds, raisins, nuts, and pineapple. Stir them in with a heavy wooden spoon.

Fold into pepped cake pans. Gently fold in and add to well prepared cake pans, smooth top of cake in pans for best results.

Carrot cake is known for it’s rich, creamy, and delicious cream cheese frosting – and this one is so easy to make, you’ll want it all the time!

We find it easiest to mix cream cheese icing in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer with whisk attatchments.

Mix on medium to cream cream cheese and butter together, then increase the speed to make it light and fluffy after adding sugar!

How to Ice a Layer Cake

This method will get you a pretty cake without a ton of work or decorating expertise – we’re going for a rustic iced look, and adding extra nuts around the base to up the pretty factor!

Use a crumb coat. To start to coat your cake, without having the icing “pull” at the crumbs, making it lumpy and crumby, its best to make a crumb coat with icing. Crumb coats are just a rough first coating of icing on plain cake layers. Start first with adding the bottom layer to a cake stand.

Add a thick layer of icing on top and top with second layer of cake. Slather cake in coating of icing, don’t worry too much about it being too smooth or perfect looking – you want your crumb coat to stick to all parts of the cake, but it won’t be perfect. Chill cake in fridge for 30 mintues to set the crumb coat.

Ice cake. Once crumb coat has stuck to cake and chilled in refrigerator or freezer, remove and add final coating of icing. Use an icing spatula to smooth icing or create different textures in your icing.

Edge with walnuts. To add a pretty edge to a rustic iced cake, we like to edge the bottom of the cake with walnuts.

Tips to Perfect Carrot Cake & FAQs

FAQs

How long can I keep carrot cake?

Any leftover cake needs to be store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap, for up to four days.

How can I keep the middle of my cake from falling?

Carrot cake can be heavy with all the carrots and nuts – and some readers have problems with cakes that sink in the middle after baking. If you have problems with your cake falling after it bakes, reduce oven temperature by 50, and increase cooking time by 15 minutes. This will help the cake bake more slowly and let it set up sturdier.

The middle of my cake isn’t baking?

If your cake is cooking, but a toothpick inserted in the middle isn’t coming out clean, wrap the cake tightly in foil and put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The foil wrapping helps to direct heat and steam the cake as it bakes so the middle cooks.

What to Serve With Carrot Cake

This cake is a showstopper any night of the week – but we love making a classic layered carrot cake for Easter Sunday celebrations! I love to serve this cake with The Best Easy Prime Rib, some rich and decadent Bacon Sriracha Deviled Eggs, perfect and crave worthy Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks, deliciously easy Italian Marinated Leg of Lamb, and our knockout Yeast Rolls. Of course, if you’re craving even more carrots, don’t skip our Vegan Carrot Bacon, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots, and a tasty Carrot Cake Mix Cookies recipe!

If you’re looking for other delicious and easy Easter ideas, please check out some of our favorites below:

You can also find our complete dessert recipe archive here for more delicious cakes.

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The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

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The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe – delicious moist cake bursting with carrots, nuts, raisins and spices, with a rich cream cheese frosting.
Course cakes
Cuisine American
Keyword baking, cake, carrot, desserts, easter, layer cake, spring
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 889kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 8 ounces canned crushed pineapple drained well
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts divided
  • ½ cup raisins
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Take a pastry brush and brush the spray all over the inside of the pans to make sure they are evenly coated.
  • Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan, not up the sides. Spray with baking spray, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. 
  • Place the butter and sugars in the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or you can do this in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, mix until smooth.
  • Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated and add the vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined, scrape down the sides, and stir for about 30 seconds until everything is mixed in well. 
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, half of the walnuts, and the raisins, stir until everything is incorporated. 
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
  • Smooth out the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, a few crumbs hanging on is okay but no wet batter.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Invert the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • While the cakes cool, make the frosting by adding the cream cheese and butter to the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • Whip on medium until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, and cinnamon, mix to combine. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Turn the mixer on to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  • Once the cakes are cool, take the parchment paper off the bottoms.
  • Place one of the cakes bottom side down onto your serving platter.
  • There should be very little doming but if there is you can trim off a bit to make it more even. Add 1 & ½ cups of the frosting on top of the cake and smooth it out to the edge.
  • Invert the second cake and place it bottom side up on top of the frosting. Add a crumb coat to the entire cake.
  • Place cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. 
  • Frost with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
  • Add the walnuts along the bottom edge of the cake.
  • Slice and serve!

Notes

Any leftover cake needs to be store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap due to the cream cheese frosting.
This is a recipe where you can add and subtract ingredients. The addition of the nutmeg and clove gives a nice warmth to the cake but you can leave it out and add more cinnamon in its place.
Raisins, nuts, and pineapple are all optional. The raisins plump up nicely in the cake while baking and give a great texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 889kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 168mg | Sodium: 366mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 78g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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