Best Moist Carrot Cake Recipe (Cream Cheese Frosting)


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Delicious and moist, this moist Carrot Cake is packed with flavor and full of freshly grated carrots. Lightly spiced with warming spices like nutmeg and cinnamon then topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting, this is going to be the best carrot cake you’ll ever eat! 

slice of carrot cake on a plate with a fork

This is such an easy and foolproof carrot cake recipe, that anyone can make. It’s so moist, not overly sweet, and so tender! Not just for Easter, this easy carrot cake is perfect for any occasion. You can make this cake quickly without lots of fancy equipment. All you need is a mixer for the batter but if yours is broken, you can whip this up by hand with some elbow grease.

For another festive dessert that’s perfect for the holidays, I recommend trying my Pumpkin Cake Roll or Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars. They’re especially perfect in the fall when pumpkin is in season during Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Why You’ll Love This Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

  • The crumb is so soft! The carrot cake has a tender and moist crumb that makes for a melt-in-your-mouth texture! 
  • The best frosting. The cream cheese frosting is so decadent, it makes for the perfect pairing for the carrot cake. The frosting is perfectly sweet and fluffy. 
  • Beautiful, impressive layers. Once you slice into the cake, you will impress your guests! The beautiful layers of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in between will definitely be more impressive than a sheet pan carrot cake! 

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour: skip using cake flour as it’ll be too delicate.
  • Baking powder and soda: make sure they’re not expired. this helps the cake rise.
  • Salt: just a pinch!
  • Ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon: this is where you get that warm nutty flavor.
  • Dried orange peel: found is most grocery stores. You can use fresh if you don’t have dry orange peel.
  • Eggs: bring them to room temperature to make them easier to mix. 
  • Brown sugar: you can use light or dark brown sugar. Dark brown will make the cake color a little darker.
  • Coconut oil: use non flavored coconut oil if possible.
  • Unsweetened apple sauce: just normal apple sauce. Don’t get the sweetened or flavored ones.
  • Vanilla extract: use real vanilla extract if possible.
  • Grated carrots: you’ll need about 2-3 large carrots. Use a grater or food processor to get the carrots grated finely. 
  • Chopped pecans: toast them on a skillet or in the oven ahead of time.

Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

carrot cake frosting ingredients laid out
  • Cream cheese: use full-fat cream cheese that comes in a brick form. I use Philadelphia cream cheese.
  • Butter: bring unsalted butter to room temperature before using.
  • Powdered sugar: always sift it after you’ve measured it.
  • Vanilla extract: use real vanilla extract if possible.
  • Salt: just a tiny pinch, optional

How To Make Homemade Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

  • Prepare the equipment: Preheat the oven to 350F and grease the bottom of two 8” pans with baking grease or spray with baking spray.
  • Mix the dry carrot cake ingredients: In a large bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, dried orange peel. Set aside. 
two bowls showing wet ingredients of carrot cake and dry ingredients of carrot cake.
  • Mix the wet cake ingredients: In a separate bowl mix together eggs and sugar. Add applesauce, oil, vanilla.
  • Make the batter: Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and mix with the spatula to incorporate. Add carrots and 1 cup of pecans and mix to incorporate. Divide the batter in between the two pans evenly and flatten out the tops.
carrot cake batter in a cake pan
  • Bake the carrot cake: Bake in the middle oven rack, for about 25-35 minutes until the toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool and cut the cake layers: Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently run a spatula along the sides of the pan to loosen up the cake. Transfer the cake layer onto the cooling rag to cool completely. Slice horizontally each baked cake into two even cake layers. We will need 4 even cake layers.
two pieces of carrot cake without frosting, sliced into layers
  • Cream the butter for the frosting: In a bowl of a stand mixer place butter and salt and whisk on high until pale/white in color and enlarged in volume. Transfer the batter into another bowl and set aside.
making of the carrot cake frosting in a bowl
  • Add the cream cheese: Into the same mixing bowl that you just whisked the butter place cream cheese and whisk on high until soft and smooth, add powdered sugar, and whisk again. Add reserved, whipped butter, and whisk to incorporate. Add vanilla and lemon juice and whisk to incorporate. Divide into 4 equal parts.
carrot cake frosting in a bowl with a spatula
  • Assemble the cake: Spread the frosting between each cake layer and chill before using the extra on the outside of the cake. Sprinkle the sides with the pecans.
cream cheese frosting applied into cake layers
  • Allow the cake to set: Let the cake set for about 3-4 hours in the fridge Before serving, decorate the top of the cake with carrot shavings
top view showing decorated carrot cake

Tips to Make the Best Moist Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Tap the cake pans on the kitchen counter to pop any air bubbles and to even out the batter.
  • Be sure to avoid packing in your flour when measuring. Too much flour will lead to a dense carrot cake. Fluff the flour with a fork before scooping it with a measuring cup.
  • To check that the cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick into the middle of the cakes, if the toothpick comes out clean, then they are done. If the toothpick comes out with some batter on it, keep baking.
  • Avoid over-mixing your batter as it can cause the cake to get too dense.
  • The easiest way to cut the cake layers is by using a serrated knife, like a bread knife.
  • Use an offset spatula to easily frost your carrot cake.
  • Buy chocolate carrot decorations to make the cake even cuter.
  • Bringing all your ingredients to room temperature allows them to mix together better and avoid overmixing.
  • To get the perfect flat cake layers, you can use cake strips.
  • If you’re using smaller and more cake pans for more layers, make sure not to overfill the pans.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store carrot cake?

Due to the cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake, I recommend you keep the cake in the fridge. Keep the cake covered or the frosting will take on smells in the fridge. Properly stored, the carrot cake will last for about 5 days.

How do I make carrot cake ahead of time?

Make the carrot cake layers ahead of time and store them in the fridge, tightly wrapped in plastic for 2 to 3 days. The cream cheese frosting can be made 1 to 2 days ahead of time as well. Again, keep the cream cheese frosting in an airtight container. 

What type of carrots can I use?

I prefer using large orange carrots because they have a lot of flesh to them. Just be sure to grate your own carrots. Buying pre-grated carrots do not have the same tender over time.

Can you freeze carrot cake?

Frosted cake (sliced or whole) or unfrosted carrot cake can be frozen for up to 2 to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving or frosting.

whole decorated carrot cake on a cake stand

More Delicious Dessert Recipes to Try

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious homemade Carrot Cake recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it, and share it with your friends and family!

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slice of carrot cake on a plate with a fork

Best Moist Carrot Cake

Delicious and moist, this homemade Carrot Cake is packed with flavor and full of freshly grated carrots. Lightly spiced with warming spices like nutmeg and cinnamon then topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting.

Prep Time 20 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake Layers

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

The Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.

  • Grease the bottom of two 8” pans with baking grease or spray with baking spray.

  • In a large bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, dried orange peel. Set aside.

  • In a separate bowl mix together eggs and sugar. Add applesauce, oil, vanilla.

  • Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and mix with the spatula to incorporate. Add carrots and 1 cup of pecans and mix to incorporate.

  • Divide the batter in between the two pans evenly.

  • Flatten out the tops.

  • Bake in the middle oven rack, for about 25-35 minutes until the toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  • Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently run a spatula along the sides of the pan to loosen up the cake. Transfer the cake layer onto the cooling rag to cool completely.

  • Discard the dome, if any.

  • Slice horizontally each baked cake into two even cake layers. We will need 4 even cake layers.

The Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a bowl of a stand mixer place butter and salt and whisk on high until pale/white in color and enlarged in volume. Transfer the batter into another bowl and set aside.

  • Into the same mixing bowl that you just whisked the butter (no need to wash it) place cream cheese and whisk on high until soft and smooth, add powdered sugar, and whisk again. Add reserved, whipped butter, and whisk to incorporate. Add vanilla and lemon juice and whisk to incorporate.

  • Start frosting cooled cake right away.

Assembly

  • You can assemble it in a cake ring or straight onto the cake platter, cake board.

  • Divide the frosting into 4 equal parts.

  • Place one cake layer onto a serving dish or a cake stand. Spread ¼ of the frosting. Even out with the spatula.

  • Place second cake layer and spread a second-fourth of the frosting.

  • Place the third cake layer. Spread with ⅔ of the frosting.

  • Top with the 4th final cake layer and place in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes.

  • Frost outside of the cake with the remaining frosting. Make sure to do a crumb coat first. Let the crumb coat chill for 10 minutes in the fridge and follow with a final layer of frosting.

  • Sprinkle the sides with the pecans and let the cake set for about 3-4 hours in the fridge

  • Before serving, decorate the top of the cake with carrot shavings or cover with pecans.

Notes

  • Tap the cake pans on the kitchen counter to pop any air bubbles and to even out the batter.
  • Be sure to avoid packing in your flour when measuring. Too much flour will lead to a dense carrot cake. Fluff the flour with a fork before scooping it with a measuring cup.
  • To check that the cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick into the middle of the cakes, if the toothpick comes out clean, then they are done. If the toothpick comes out with some batter on it, keep baking.
  • Avoid over-mixing your batter as it can cause the cake to get too dense.
  • The easiest way to cut the cake layers is by using a serrated knife.
  • Use an offset spatula to easily frost your carrot cake.
  • Buy chocolate carrot decorations to make the cake even cuter.
  • Bringing all your ingredients to room temperature allows them to mix together better and avoid overmixing.
  • To get the perfect flat cake layers, you can use cake strips.
  • If you’re using smaller and more cake pans for more layers, make sure not to overfill the pans.

Nutrition

Calories: 740kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 348mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 3607IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 236mg | Iron: 2mg






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