This homemade Carrot Cake Recipe is moist and tender with a soft crumb and the perfect blend of spices. It’s loaded with carrots and studded with crunchy pecans and tangy-sweet raisins (which are optional but nice!).

You’ll love the layers of Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s the same frosting we use for Red Velvet Cake – a keeper of a recipe! Watch the video tutorial and learn how to make and decorate this iconic carrot cake.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

I have always loved carrot cake, but store-bought carrot cakes have always missed the mark for me – they’re either too sweet, too dense, or too dry. This homemade carrot cake sets the bar high for any carrot cake lover. It’s a winning combination of the perfect cake base and fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Carrots should be the prominent ingredient of any carrot cake and this one does not disappoint. It’s also super moist from the addition of applesauce and olive oil. This cake is so satisfying, you could even enjoy it without any frosting. There’s so much going on in the flavor and texture of the cake between the shredded carrots, crunchy pecans, and sweet raisins.

Carrot Cake Video

Watch Natasha make this Carrot Cake. You will be surprised at how quickly and easily this cake comes together. This is a terrific weekend baking project and It’s the perfect springtime or Easter dessert.

What Makes Carrot Cake Moist?

  • Carrots – the star ingredient and they naturally contain a lot of water. The key is to finely greater the carrots so they release their moisture in the baking process and also disperse more evenly in the cake without sinking to the bottom. Get organic carrots if possible. They always seem sweeter to me.
  • Oil – we use light olive oil to add richness to the crumb, but you can substitute it with canola oil or vegetable oil. Oil is preferred over butter because oil remains liquid at room temperature which helps keep the crumb soft and moist.
  • Brown Sugar – contains molasses which adds moisture and a little bit of acidity to create a more tender crumb.
  • Eggs – add moisture and richness to the cake. They also help hold the cake together.
  • Applesauce – adds extra moisture, and creates a denser, more tender crumb. We love homemade applesauce but storebought works fine. You can also substitute with crushed pineapple.
Ingredients for making a cake with carrots, pecans and raisins

Substitutions

Good news – you can swap out several ingredients in this cake. These are some of our favorite substitutions:

  • Pecans – you can leave the nuts out or substitute with walnuts, almonds, cashews, or shredded coconut.
  • Raisins – add great texture and flavor. You can substitute for golden raisins or chopped pitted dates. If you don’t like raisins, leave them out.
  • Spices – adjust to preference. Pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice are convenient substitutes instead of using several individual spices.
  • Pineapple – you can substitute applesauce for lightly drained crushed pineapple. Pumpkin puree or mashed ripe bananas would also work as substitutions but will have different flavor profiles.

How to Make Carrot Cake

The process for making this carrot cake comes together in 2 bowls; stirring the dry ingredients, stirring the wet ingredients, and combining them with your carrots and optional mix-ins.

  • Dry ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, breaking up the brown sugar if you see clumps.
  • Wet ingredients – in a second mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients – oil, apple sauce, and eggs until well blended.
  • Combine – Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until moistened, scraping down the bowl.
  • Add-ins – Fold in carrots, pecans, and raisins (if using) just until incorporated.
  • Bake – Divide the batter between 2 prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool – Rest in the cake pans for 15-20 minutes then run a knife or spatula around the edges to release the cakes and transfer to wire racks to cool.

Pro Tip:

Once your cake layers are on the wire rack, make sure they have cooled completely to room temperature before applying the frosting, otherwise, your frosting will melt and won’t look good. I start beating the frosting once the cake layers have cooled.

How to Frost a Carrot Cake

You can decorate this cake any way you like. You can roughly spread on the frosting for a rustic look or pipe the frosting as we have done here. If you want to replicate this look, watch the video tutorial above to see detailed instructions for decorating this dreamy carrot cake. Here’s what you will need:

Ingredients for making a cake with carrots, pecans and raisins

What does carrot cake taste like?

Since carrots are the main ingredient of carrot cake, it has a great earthy carrot flavor with warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. The cake itself isn’t overly sweet which makes it a perfect match for the sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.

Can I make this in a 9×13 cake pan?

You can bake this carrot cake in a 13×9 cake pan. Prepare your pan as directed in the recipe then bake at 350˚F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Can I make carrot cake cupcakes?

Yes! Check out our Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe for instructions on converting this recipe to cupcakes.

slice of carrot cake pulled out of the whole cake

Storage Tips

How long does carrot cake last? This cake can be made in advance without suffering in quality or flavor. You can either make individual parts ahead or fully assemble the cake ahead of time since it keeps really well in the refrigerator or freezer.

  • Cake Layers – once the cake layers are cooled to room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap and keep them at room temperature overnight. Cake layers can also be frozen for up to three months. 
  • Assembled Cake – once the cake is fully assembled, you can cover and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Carrot cake can be frozen for 2-3 months. 
  • To Serve – If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This cake can be served at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator. Just slice and serve. 
Slice of Carrot cake on a plate with a fork

Carrots are such a versatile ingredient. We love Carrot recipes from Roasted Carrots to Creamy Carrot Soup and of course carrot desserts. If you’re a fan of carrots, this Classic Carrot Cake is a must-try! Layered with our Cream Cheese Frosting, it is such a nostalgic and comforting dessert that makes everyone happy.

More Classic Cake Recipes

If you love classic cakes like this Carrot Cake, then you won’t want to miss these time-tested cake recipes:

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Easy Carrot Cake Recipe (VIDEO)

5 from 135 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Slice of moist carrot cake on a plate with fork
This carrot cake is soft, moist, loaded with carrots and pecans and has tons of flavor. You’ll love the layers of fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting. Carrot cake is a nostalgic and comforting dessert.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 16 slices

Instructions

How to Make Carrot Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with a ring of parchment paper and lightly butter the parchment. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add flour, both sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt. Whisk to combine and break up any brown sugar clumps.
  • In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: oil, eggs and applesauce just until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to fold until combined.
  • Use a spatula to fold in the carrot, nuts and raisins if using and fold until well incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake in a fully preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake rest in the pans for 15-20 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before applying frosting and decorating. Meanwhile, make the Cream Cheese Frosting.

To Frost The Carrot Cake:

  • Set the first cake layer on a cake platter and spread on a generous amount of Cream Cheese frosting (about 1/4 of the batch).
  • Set the second layer over the frosting with the top-side-down to create an even frosting surface. Lightly crumb coat the cake with frosting then apply more frosting to the top and sides of the cake.
  • Use a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip to pipe puffs of the remaining frosting around the top of the cake and sprinkle remaining pecans around the edges.

Notes

The nutrition label does not include frosting. Please see the Cream Cheese Frosting recipe for additional frosting nutrition information. 
*To improve the flavor of pecans, toast them on a dry skillet, tossing frequently until fragrant then cool and chop. You can also substitute pecans with walnuts, almonds, cashews or shredded coconut. 

Nutrition Per Serving

345kcal Calories41g Carbs4g Protein19g Fat3g Saturated Fat3g Polyunsaturated Fat13g Monounsaturated Fat0.004g Trans Fat41mg Cholesterol246mg Sodium230mg Potassium2g Fiber26g Sugar4077IU Vitamin A2mg Vitamin C44mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Easy Carrot Cake Recipe (VIDEO)
Amount per Serving
Calories
345
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
0.004
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
13
g
Cholesterol
 
41
mg
14
%
Sodium
 
246
mg
11
%
Potassium
 
230
mg
7
%
Carbohydrates
 
41
g
14
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
26
g
29
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
4077
IU
82
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
44
mg
4
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Best Carrot Cake, Carrot Cake, Carrot Cake Recipe
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 345

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Faye Patsula
    April 30, 2024

    Faye Patsula. Could l use gluten free flour in this recipe?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 30, 2024

      Hi Faye, I have not tested that to advise.

      Reply

  • Lori alva
    April 28, 2024

    This carrot cake is definitely a keeper. The first carrot cake I’ve ever made from scratch, so easy yet extremely moist and delicious. Made it for my nieces 21st birthday, she absolutely loved it and said it was the best carrot cake she ever had. Wish I could submit a picture!!! Thank you Natasha

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 29, 2024

      Great job! Wish I could see it too. You can. share photos of your creation on our Facebook page or group, that way others can see them and get inspired too!

      Reply

  • Kimberly Lucier
    April 17, 2024

    Hi, this looks delicious! =) Can i bake this in a load pan?? Make a carrot loaf??

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 17, 2024

      Hi Kimberly, I have not tested it in a loaf pan to advise. It should be ok to keep the same temperature, you’ll just need to keep an eye on it in the oven. I hope you love the recipe.

      Reply

  • Sherita Smith
    April 15, 2024

    I made the easy carrot cake w/ my grandchildren for their mom’s birthday. It came out so well and everyone loved it! It was pretty easy to make too! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 15, 2024

      Thank you for your great comments and feedback!

      Reply

  • Louella
    April 10, 2024

    Hi Natasha: I made this carrot cake for dessert last night. It is the easiest recipe, for the most delicious carrot cake. I substituted all of the spices for an equal amount of Chinese 5 spice. I baked it in a 9″x13″ pan and topped that off with 1/4 of the amount of the silky smooth cream cheese frosting. It has become everyone’s favorite cake. Thank you for another great recipe. Also, I love your beautiful cookbook.

    Reply

  • Ruta
    April 7, 2024

    I made carrot cake, it was delicious, my family loved it and it is so easy to make

    Reply

  • wendy
    April 4, 2024

    I was wondering can this be made in a 9 x 13 pan instead of 2 round pans?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 4, 2024

      Hi Wendy! Yes- see my note in the blog above, “Can I make this in a 9×13 cake pan” for instructions.

      Reply

  • Michele White
    April 3, 2024

    love, love carrot cake, this will be my new go to carrot cake recipe.

    Reply

  • Carol
    April 2, 2024

    I made this carrot cake for Easter and it was loved by all. The only sub I made was walnuts in place of the pecans because that’s what I had. It was delicious and so moist. Thanks for the recipe Natasha.😋

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 2, 2024

      Hi Carol! I’m so glad you loved the recipe. Thank you for the wonderful feedback.

      Reply

  • Terri
    April 1, 2024

    I made this for Easter and it was so delicious! My guests commented and even those who don’t like sweet
    wanted some to take home.
    The less oil and subbing with applesauce was brilliant. As was the addition of all 4 spices! I used walnuts and no raisins, the texture was perfect and very moist!

    The cream cheese frosting is the best because the extra 8 Oz of butter really tones down the cream cheese and it is delicious!
    Thank you Natasha for ANOTHER awesome recipe!! 🎉👏🎉💗

    Reply

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 1, 2024

      I’m so happy this was a hit, Terri! Thank you for your awesome review!

      Reply

  • Terri
    April 1, 2024

    I made this for Easter and it was so delicious! My guests commented and even those who don’t like sweet
    wanted some to take home.
    The less pile and subbing with applesauce was brilliant. As was the addition of all 4 spices! I used walnuts and no raisins, the texture was perfect and very moist!

    The cream cheese frosting is the best because the extra 8 Oz of butter really finds down the cream cheese and it is delicious!
    Thank you Natasha for ANOTHER awesome recipe!! 🎉👏🎉💗

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 1, 2024

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Terri! I’m so happy you enjoyed that.

      Reply

  • gail
    April 1, 2024

    First Carrot Cake I have ever made, decided to take the plunge and make it for Easter Brunch. Was alittle nervous ,oh my!!! This recipe, !! Absolutely delicious. Followed it exactly. Was a complete wow!!! Totally wiped out !! Everyone raved about it!! thank you so much !

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 1, 2024

      That’s wonderful, Gail! Thanks so much for sharing that with us.

      Reply

  • Juls
    April 1, 2024

    Made this yesterday for Easter. It was so delicious. I think every time someone took a bite at the table, I heard “this is so good!”. Moistest carrot cake I have ever eaten. Great recipe Natasha! Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 1, 2024

      Thanks so much for the excellent feedback!

      Reply

  • Tanya
    March 31, 2024

    Hi Natasha, I absolutely love all of your desserts. I have made your strawberry cheesecake too many times to count, and now it’s the chocolate cake in your cookbook. I’m excited to make this, but I was wanting to know Can I use my 9 inch springform pans?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 1, 2024

      Hi Tanya! Thank you so much. I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipes. That should be fine to use the same size springform pan for this. I hope you love this one too!

      Reply

      • Tanya
        April 2, 2024

        I made it and it was a total hit! I already have people requesting it. You may say you’re not a person who specializes in cake decorating but I got so many complements copying yours. Wish I could post a pic.

        Reply

  • NatashasKitchen.com
    March 30, 2024

    Hi Sue! Yes, it needs to stay refrigerated because of the cream cheese frosting.

    Reply

  • Melissa
    March 30, 2024

    I just made this for Easter!! It turned out great! Can I put in fridge overnight or leave out.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 30, 2024

      Hi Melissa! Yes- it needs to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese frosting.

      Reply

  • Patricia
    March 30, 2024

    Love your recipes Natasha, I am a fan of yours.
    I will surely try this recipe for Easter, but will be omitting the nuts as my child does not like nuts.

    Reply

  • Sue Lalonde
    March 30, 2024

    once the cake is frosted should I keep it in the fridge till we are ready to eat it?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2024

      Hi Sue, if it’s going to be enjoyed the same day it’s made, there’s no need to refrigerate, but if you are making it a day ahead, I like to refrigerate. It won’t adversely affect it to chill in the refrigerator. You can serve it cold and there’s no need to bring it to room temperature. That’s what I love about this frosting (and this carrot cake!)

      Reply

  • Barbara
    March 28, 2024

    Natasha, I am definitely a big fan !
    This carrot cake recipe has a “*” next to the “measure flour * CORRECTLY *, yet there is no “*” that I can find. It’s a very busy page (but you’re worth it !🙂)

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 28, 2024

      Hi Barbara! Click on “measured correctly” in red font, which is a link to the blog post and video for how to measure your ingredients.
      I hope that helps clarify. You can click on any red font word throughout the blog. This is how we hyperlink and attach references.

      Reply

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

Get weekly updates on new recipes, exclusive giveaways plus behind the scenes photos.