Carrot Cake Recipe (VIDEO)
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 definitely nice!).
You’ll love the layers of Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s the same frosting we use for Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake Cupcakes. It’s a keeper of a recipe! Watch the video tutorial and see how to make and decorate this iconic carrot cake.
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Carrots are such a versatile ingredient. We love Carrot recipes from Roasted Carrots to Creamy Carrot Soup and of course carrot desserts. If you are a fan of carrots, this Classic Carrot Cake is a must-try!
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.
P.S. One of my kids doesn’t love the raisins and the other doesn’t eat pecans so when I’m making this for my family, I leave both of those out so everyone could enjoy the cake and it’s every bit as delicious.
Carrot Cake Video
Watch Natasha make this Carrot Cake. Once you have all of the ingredients measured out and prepped, 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.
Carrot Cake Ingredients
The most time-consuming part of making a carrot cake is measuring out all of the ingredients. Since the recipe moves fast, I suggest having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this carrot cake (see the detailed recipe card below for measurements):
- Flour – we use all-purpose flour which produces a soft and stable crumb.
- Sugars – we combine granulated sugar and brown sugar (which contains molasses to help activate the baking soda and make the cake moister).
- Leavening – we combine baking soda and baking powder to give the cake rising power.
- Spices – we use a combination of spices to add flavor including salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Ground cloves are optional but nice.
- Eggs – serve as a binder to give the cake structure, and add moisture and rich flavor to the carrot cake.
- Olive oil – we use light olive oil to add richness to the crumb, but you can substitute it with canola oil or vegetable oil.
- Applesauce – adds moisture and sweetness to the cake. It’s especially good with homemade applesauce.
- Carrots – these are the star of the show. Don’t skimp on carrots. We used 14 oz or 6 medium carrots. Use organic carrots if you can get your hands on them. They always seem sweeter to me.
- Add-ins – the chopped pecans and raisins are optional add-ins but they do make for an exciting cake with wonderful textures.
Pro Tip: The Key is to grate the carrots on the fine holes of the box grater. This ensures the carrots disperse well in the batter, bake up properly, and don’t sink to the bottom of the cake layers.
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 together with your carrots and optional mix-ins.
- Dry ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients; flour, both 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 from the bottom of the bowl to catch pockets of flour.
- 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 them to wire racks to cool completely.
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.
Decorating Carrot Cake
You can decorate this cake any way you like, whether it’s roughly spreading on the frosting for a rustic look or piping on the frosting as we have done here (because this Cream Cheese Frosting is sturdy enough for piping!). 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:
- Piping Bag – I love the disposable ones
- Large Open Star Tip – we use a Wilton 1 M
- Offset Spatula – this makes the process much easier and more precise
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.
You can leave out the pecans altogether or substitute them with shredded coconut.
The cake itself isn’t overly sweet but if you prefer less sweetness, I would suggest cutting down the powdered sugar in the frosting. Start with half of the amount and add more to taste.
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.
You can use crushed pineapple instead of applesauce. Be sure to lightly drain the crushed pineapple so it isn’t too watery.
Carrot cake is definitely a sweet dessert but it does have a surprisingly high amount of Vitamin A from the carrots (see nutrition label below). Here is more info on Carrot’s health benefits.
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.
- Frosting – you can refrigerate or freeze this frosting ahead. See the Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe post for detailed make-ahead instructions.
- 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 – This cake can be served at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator. Just slice and serve.
This carrot cake is so, moist, loaded with carrots and pecans, and tons of flavor. Layered with our Cream Cheese Frosting, it is such a nostalgic and comforting dessert that makes everyone happy.
More Cake Recipes
If you love classic cakes like this Carrot Cake, then you won’t want to miss these time-tested cake recipes:
- Tiramisu Recipe
- Classic Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cake
- Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
- Tres Leches Cake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
Carrot Cake Recipe (VIDEO)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, *measured correctly
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves, optional
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup extra light olive oil, or vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup applesauce, or drained crushed pineapple
- 3 cups finely grated carrots, 14 oz or 6 medium carrots
- 1 cup pecans, chopped, plus more to garnish, optional
- 3/4 cup golden raisins, or regular raisins, optional
- 1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting
- unsalted butter, to grease the pans
How to Make Carrot Cake:
- 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.
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.