This is the best carrot cake recipe. This two layer cake is incredibly moist, fluffy, and flavorful, and topped with the most amazing cream cheese frosting. One bite and you’ll be in carrot cake heaven!
If you love carrot cake as much as I do, this recipe will become your new favorite recipe. Now, if you just want a simple cake to serve with coffee or for breakfast, then try this carrot cake loaf. It’s incredibly simple to make and is made in a loaf pan.
But if you’re aiming for a little celebration or something a bit fancier, then this carrot layer cake is the perfect choice. And while there are quite a lot of carrots in this cake, it’s actually a good thing! Plenty of carrots makes this cake moist and flavorful.
How to make carrot cake
What you’ll love most about this cake is that it’s super simple to make—no mixer involved! It just requires 2 bowls and some mixing, and you’re done. I used to think that layer cakes were extremely complicated, but as long as you have 2 9-inch cake pans that are 2-inches high (I recommend these ones), then it’s easy as pie (or as carrot cake).
- In a large bowl, place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix until combined. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix. Fold in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.
- Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the pan for easy release. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
Next, make the cream cheese frosting. For simplicity’s sake, I usually don’t frost the sides of the cake but you can if you prefer. The recipe yields enough for that. On the other hand, if you only want to add frosting between the layers like I’ve done, then cut the cream cheese frosting recipe in half.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat for about another 2 minutes on high speed until completely smooth.
- If the frosting is too runny, add more sugar as necessary until you reach the desired consistency. You can add a pinch of salt or lemon juice to cut the sweetness (although I don’t find it necessary for this cake since it isn’t too sweet).
Assembling the cake
- Set one cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up (or, optionally, if your cake rose too much, cut its rounded top with a knife to make it flat).
- Evenly spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the cake to the edge.
- Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
- Top with some toasted walnuts for a gorgeous garnish!
Shredded or grated carrots?
Now there’s a good question! When I made my first carrot cake, I processed the heck out of the carrots until they were almost juice. I didn’t even realize I was doing something wrong until after I tasted the cake. Yuck!
There are 2 different options for grating the carrots, and it’s just a matter of preference. I know that some prefer long shreds, while others prefer smaller or more finely grated pieces.
1) The quickest method would be using the shredding disc of your food processor. It yields large shreds of carrots, but they are cooked and softened during baking. If using this method, you’ll need about 3 cups of shredded carrots.
2) Use the grater box or a microplane grater for smaller pieces or more finely grated carrots. If using this method, you’ll need about 2.5 cups of grated carrots.
Tips for making carrot cake
- If you don’t have brown sugar on hand, you can use just granulated sugar, 2 cups total. The brown sugar adds moisture and flavor, though, so it’s highly recommended.
- You can replace ½ cup of the oil with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapple.
- Spices add a lot of flavor to carrot cake, but if you’re really not a fan of them, then I suggest at least not skipping the cinnamon.
- Use full-fat, block cream cheese for the frosting. Anything else won’t have enough structure and the frosting won’t be thick or sturdy enough.
More of my favorite cake recipes
- Cinnamon Roll Cake: Moist and tasty vanilla loaf cake swirled with cinnamon and sugar and frosted with a sweet cream cheese glaze.
- Red Velvet Cake: Moist and tender buttermilk cake layered with smooth cream cheese frosting.
- Black Forest Cake: Chocolate, cherry and luscious whipped cream.
- White Cake: The perfect celebration cake layered with vanilla buttercream.
- Chocolate Layer Cake: Rich, fudgy chocolate cake layered with scrumptious chocolate frosting.
- 2 1/4 cups (315g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/8 cup (270 ml) canola oil (or vegetable, safflower)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (200g) light or dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 350 g/12.5 oz grated fresh carrots* (about 6 medium carrots)
- 1 cup (100g) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins , currants, or shredded coconut, optional
- 450g /16 oz full-fat cream cheese , softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Generously butter 2 9-inch cake pans. You can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easy removal later on.
To make the cake: In a large bowl, place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix. Fold in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.
Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the pan for easy release. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely. [The cake layers can be wrapped tight with plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.]
To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat for about another 2 minutes on high speed until completely smooth. If the frosting is too runny, add more sugar as necessary until you reach the desired consistency. You can add a pinch of salt or lemon juice to cut the sweetness (although I don’t find it necessary for this cake since it isn’t too sweet). [Frosting can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It doesn’t freeze well. Before using, bring to room temperature and whisk by hand for a few seconds until smooth.]
Assembling the cake: Set one layer on a plate with the flat side facing up (or, optionally, if your cake rose too much, cut its rounded top with a knife to make it flat). Evenly spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Store cake in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
* If using large shreds of carrot, you’ll need about 3 cups, and if using small pieces or finely grated carrots, you’ll need about 2.5 cups.
* You can half the recipe of the cream cheese frosting if you only want to use it between the layers and not the sides of the cake (like you see in the photos).
Joan HayesJuly 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm
I love carrot cake, and yours is so beautiful! And happy early birthday! 🙂
ShiranJuly 18, 2015 at 6:56 am
Thank you so much Joan! That’s so sweet of you! 🙂
OanaJuly 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm
Carrot cake is one of the biggest surprised I experienced in the culinary world – it totally blew my mind with its taste the first time that I made it. And yours looks incredible!
ShiranJuly 18, 2015 at 6:58 am
I know, it’s so good! Thank you so much Oana! 🙂
Thalia @ butter and briocheJuly 17, 2015 at 11:48 pm
Cut me a slice right now please.. this carrot cake looks too delicious.
ShiranJuly 18, 2015 at 6:55 am
Thank you Thalia! 🙂
Aimee / Wallflower GirlJuly 19, 2015 at 7:47 am
What a perfect cake! Hope you enjoyed your birthday 🙂
ShiranJuly 20, 2015 at 3:50 am
I did 🙂 Thank you so much Aimee!!
WinnieJuly 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm
עוגה נהדרת, ואצלי כולם (כולל כל האחיינים – ויש הרבה) אוהבים עוגת גזר כזאת.
משום מה הם מעדיפים ללא הקרם, אבל אני אוהבת את הקרם הזה 🙂
Beeta @ Mon Petit FourJuly 20, 2015 at 5:01 pm
What a stunning cake! It looks so incredibly moist, and how wonderful that it’s a 2-bowl affair. And that cream cheese frosting looks absolutely luscious and perfect!!
ShiranJuly 21, 2015 at 10:30 am
Thank you so much, Beeta!
Sarah | Drool-WorthyJuly 21, 2015 at 11:24 pm
Carrot cake makes the best birthday cake! This looks so fluffy and wonderful 🙂
ShiranJuly 22, 2015 at 10:41 am
Thank you, Sarah! 🙂
Jess @ whatjessicabakednextJuly 24, 2015 at 10:15 am
This carrot layer cake is stunning, Shiran! Your recipes always look so beautiful! Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and this looks like the perfect bake to celebrate your birthday with! 😀 Pinning to try soon!
ShiranJuly 25, 2015 at 7:55 am
Thank you so much, Jess! 🙂
cookies4meAugust 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm
Could you scale down the recipe for 6″ cake pan size? I am thrilled with your white cake recipe. My carrot cake recipe makes three 9″ layers which in turn makes 4 6″ cakes. As a twosome we can’t eat that much. I love carrot cake but once a year is fine. Thanks
ShiranAugust 24, 2015 at 11:13 am
Hi! For a 6-inch cake I think you can make half of this recipe, but if you want, I suggest you to bake it in a loaf pan and use this recipe which makes a smaller cake (that can be frozen without the frosting).
AngelaJanuary 4, 2016 at 8:34 am
Hi Shiran!! I love carrot layer cakes especially with cream cheese frosting!! I was planning to try out this recipe for my mom’s 35th b’ day. Is it possible to omit the addition of chopped nuts and cloves in the cake sponge??
ShiranJanuary 4, 2016 at 10:03 am
Hi Angela! Yes, you can omit the nuts and cloves. I hope you like it and happy birthday! 🙂
AngelaJanuary 5, 2016 at 1:25 am
Thanks a bunch, Shiran!! ?
Diane SwansonJanuary 8, 2016 at 11:54 am
Hi Shiran, Could you tell me how to scale this recipe down for two 8-inch round pans. Thank you for your help.
ShiranJanuary 9, 2016 at 4:06 pm
Hi Diane! You’ll need to decrease the recipe by 25% (meaning 3/4 of each ingredient, for example 3 eggs instead of 4). If it’s easier for you, you can also use the recipe as is and use the leftover batter for muffins.
NourFebruary 4, 2016 at 9:00 am
Excellent recipe, tried it my self and everyone loved it. Thanks for sharing
ShiranFebruary 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm
Thank you so much! 🙂
ClaudiaMarch 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm
Made this today – and as promised it was fluffy and moist!! Yum!!!! I’d had a bad recipe before so was really anxious about this one but so glad I followed it – amazing!!
I love that you give weights – so important when you want serious accuracy. Made half the recipe and baked it in a glass loaf dish – perfect! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
ShiranMarch 27, 2016 at 4:29 am
So glad it turned out great! Thank you so much for your comment, Claudia! 🙂
TanishaApril 12, 2016 at 2:31 am
Simply amazing!! And m sure this will taste as yumm as your carrot loaf!!!
If I want to make 1 9″ then shud I just half the recipe??
ShiranApril 14, 2016 at 3:59 am
Thank you Tanisha 🙂 If you want a tall cake, use the recipe as is, and bake it in a 9-inch pan that’s 3-inch deep, or use a 10-inch pan. Baking time will be longer (an hour, or even more, but start checking after 45 minutes just to be sure). Or, you can decrease the recipe by 25% (meaning 3/4 of each ingredient, for example 3 eggs instead of 4).
GwenOctober 25, 2016 at 10:15 am
Can i double the ingredients to make a bigger cake. My son is getting married and they want a carrot cake for a wedding cake. It must be for 60 people
ShiranOctober 30, 2016 at 5:14 am
Hi Gwen, congratulations to you and your son! What size of pan do you want to use to make the cake?
GwenOctober 30, 2016 at 9:33 am
I think a 20″ and a 27″
Will that be enough for 60 people
ShiranOctober 30, 2016 at 10:38 am
I don’t make large wedding cakes, so I can’t say for sure what is enough for 60 people or how to multiply the ingredients, but you can easily find this information online.
GwenNovember 1, 2016 at 8:36 am
Thanks so much Shiran. I will have a look online
Lara MoniqueJune 27, 2017 at 3:49 am
I want to make this recipe in a rectangle pan, so I can cut out shapes to make individual carrot cakes. As I don’t want them tall, is it ok if I make half of the recipe for one single medium rectangle pan?
ShiranJune 28, 2017 at 6:53 am
Hi Lara, I use the same amount of ingredients for a 9×13-inch pan, and it’s quite tall. I hope it helps!
AddieSeptember 13, 2019 at 10:56 am
Hi. I’m interested in making this as a 9×13 rectangular ….does the baking time change or is it still 30 minutes?
ShiranSeptember 16, 2019 at 4:58 am
Hi Addie, the baking time will be different. I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure, but you should bake it until a toothpick comes out clean.
NANCYNovember 10, 2017 at 6:06 pm
Amazing cake – made it as a two-layer 9″ “semi-naked” cake (frosting on the sides to fill the layers to the edge and then scraped down almost to bare) and needed about 3/4 of the frosting. Perfect for a special occasion.
MeganFebruary 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm
This looks amazing! I want to make this using a 6 inch springfoam pan (by 3 inches deep) but don’t want to waste ingredients. Would you suggest I just cut the ratios in half?
ShiranFebruary 5, 2018 at 1:56 pm
Hi Megan, I recommend checking out my article on how to convert pan sizes to alter the recipe 🙂
GabrielaFebruary 25, 2018 at 8:23 am
I just made this cake for a big family dinner, and it was a huge success! The cake was perfectly spiced and moist. My dad declared that he “wasn’t a big carrot cake fan”, but after trying a slice of this one, he immediately changed his tune and went back for a second slice! I definitely recommend making the full batch of frosting to cover the sides of the cake, since it was so delicious. My mom even asked me if I had leftover frosting for her to eat later. I’ll definitely be making this again. Thanks, Shiran!
ShiranFebruary 26, 2018 at 5:10 am
Thank you so much, Gabriela! You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear that!
Marisela GomezApril 16, 2018 at 7:06 am
I love your recipes!!! I am planning to make this cake for my mother’s birthday on April 25th. The 1/2 cup of raisins, currants, or shredded coconut is optional. I want to add the raisins, currants and coconut because my mom loves all of them. Is it possible to add them all to the recipe? In case I can add them, what would be the amount for each ingredient? Can you please help me with this? I don’t want to mess up the recipe.
Thank you very much for so many delicious recipes!
ShiranApril 16, 2018 at 7:59 am
Hi Marisela, I’d say no more than 2 cups of add-ins including the nuts, and then you can add whatever you like. Happy birthday!
Naomi MizenAugust 3, 2018 at 11:01 am
I love your recipes as they allow people like myself from the UK to use them. I recently made your carrot cake layer cake ……OMG it was amazing. My husband took it to work and it was enjoyed by everyone . With some going back for seconds to find it all gone. Thank for sharing this recipe. ??
SivanSeptember 1, 2018 at 10:11 am
Hi. For the cream cheese frosting I bought whipped cream cheese but now I’m thinking it’s going to be too soft? I’m planning on covering the whole cake. Should I buy the block instead?
ShiranSeptember 1, 2018 at 12:18 pm
Hi Sivan, I always recommend using cream cheese block, otherwise the frosting might be too soft, so it’s especially important for layer cakes.
SivanSeptember 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm
Thank you. I did just that. The cake came out DIVINE! Thank you so much for your assistance and your quick replies.
janet SchollenbergerDecember 29, 2018 at 10:55 am
I would like to use this recipe to make cupcakes. Could it work for cupcakes? Any adjustmensts. I plan to make 12 – should I cut the recipe in half?
ShiranMarch 5, 2019 at 4:42 am
You can use my recipe for carrot muffins.
JanetDecember 29, 2018 at 11:00 am
Hi Shiran, Will this recipe work for cupcakes? I plan to make 12,. Should I cut the recipe in half? Also thanks for providing weight measurements. Makes it much more exact for cutting the recipe in half.
ShiranMarch 5, 2019 at 4:42 am
You can use my carrot muffins recipe.
SherriFebruary 11, 2020 at 10:37 pm
Love this recipe!!!! So delicious and moist, the best carrot cake recipe that I’ve ever tried!!
But I have one question, can I freeze the cake after frosting it?
ShiranMarch 16, 2020 at 11:46 am
Yes you can. It’s always better to freeze it without the frosting and it will keep for a few days in the fridge, but if there are any leftovers, it will be ok to keep it in the freezer.
DeeAugust 14, 2020 at 3:52 am
Hi Shiran, will this recipe work for 3 layers 8″ by 1.5″? if yes, then how long shall I bake it for? Also, what measurements and baking time would you suggest for 3 layers 6″ by 1.5″ ? Thank you
SydniJuly 28, 2020 at 10:30 pm
Made this over the weekend for my mom and friends birthdays. Amazing cake! So moist and not super sweet, and cream cheese frosting is always my favorite. Loved the addition of chopped walnuts and shredded coconut. This is the 2nd recipe of yours I’ve tried (lemon tart was soooo good), both great so far, can’t wait to try more.
ShiranJuly 29, 2020 at 9:37 am
Thank you so much, Sydni! I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the recipes 🙂
SydniJuly 31, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Your banana bread recipe is in the oven as I type! Smells delicious, can’t wait to see how it tastes.
AlisonAugust 29, 2020 at 9:07 pm
Hii I wanted to make this 3 8in by 2” and a 10in by 2” would I have to double the receipt?
ShiranAugust 30, 2020 at 4:04 am
Hi Alison. Do you want to make 2 cakes? If so, then you’d need to double the recipe. If you’re using different pan sizes than the recipe calls for or more layers, you might need to adjust the baking time. Also keep in mind that when using a bigger pan, the cake won’t be as tall.
KelliMarch 29, 2021 at 8:43 am
I just made this for my family and it was a huge hit- even with the little ones! There was great flavor without being overbearing and some spiced cakes can be. The brown sugar made it very moist as well.
I decorated the top with a little cinnamon sugar too. It looked beautiful and tasted great!
Thanks for another great bake!