The Best Carrot Cake is incredibly moist, balanced, and not overly sweet with a cream cheese frosting that will knock your socks off! It’s easy to make and is perfect for holidays, especially Easter, birthdays, or any time you’re craving something good!

Carrot cake in white plate with sprinkled walnuts around the edges.


There’s nothing like a good slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

The nuts, shredded carrots, and combination of spices in the cake all contribute to the great texture and flavor, where the cream cheese frosting is not too sweet, but perfectly tangy.

Cake Ingredients

All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.

Ingredients shown: milk, coconut, walnuts, vanilla, baking soda, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and carrots.
  • Carrots. Buy whole carrots and shred them yourself. I don’t recommend buying pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store. They simply won’t have the moisture you’ll get from fresh grated carrots.
  • Oil. Use any neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable oil or avocado oil.
  • Buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk you can use regular milk with a little white vinegar, about 1 tablespoon per cup of milk is the rule of thumb.
  • Coconut. I am using Baker’s sweetened coconut. It adds texture, flavor, and moisture.
  • Walnuts. For additional flavor and texture. You can easily swap for pecans if preferred.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Frosting Ingredients

Ingredients shown: salt, vanilla, cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.
  • Butter. Unsalted room temperature butter.
  • Cream cheese. Room temperature cream cheese helps balance the butter and provides an excellent tang. Use full-fat brick cream cheese, not whipped cream cheese.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

First, make the carrot cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f and set the rack to the middle level. Line a 9×13 inch sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease it with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups (325g) of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. (Photo #1)
  2. Using a box grater, shred 2 1/2 cups (325g) worth of carrots. (Photo #2)
Carrot cake recipe collage group one showing combing dry ingredients into bowl, grating carrots, mixing carrots into bowl, and mixing wet ingredients in separate bowl.
  1. Add the grated carrots to the flour and mix until the carrots are coated. (Photo #3)
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 1 cup (200g) of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup (106g) of packed light or dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup (168g) and 1 cup (216g) of vegetable oil. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and beat until combined. (Photo #4)
  3. Add 1 cup (85g) of sweetened coconut flakes and mix until combined, then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together for 1 minute. (Photo #5)
  4. Add 3/4 cup (84g) of chopped walnuts and mix until combined. (Photo #6)
Recipe collage group two showing combing dry and wet ingredients, mixing, walnuts into batter, pouring batter into parchment paper lined baking pan, and cooked cake.
  1. Pour the cake batter into the prepared sheet pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. Begin checking for doneness at the 40 minute mark. (Photo #7)
  2. The carrot cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes then place it on a wire rack to continue to fully cool before frosting. (Photo #8)

Next, frost the cake

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 1 cup (226g) of room temperature unsalted butter and 16 ounces (452g) of room temperature brick cream cheese for 2 minutes or until creamy. (Photo #1)
Frosting collage group one showing creaming of butter and adding powder sugar to the bowl.
  1. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt, and 4 cups (466g) of confectioner’s sugar and beat on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium to medium-high and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Check the consistency of the frosting and if it’s too thin, add the remaining sugar a little at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. (Photo #2)
  2. Scoop the frosting onto the cooled carrot cake and use an offset spatula to evenly distribute. (Photo #3)
Recipe collage two showing the use of an ice cream scooper to distribute frosting and finished cake with decorative carrots.
  1. Garnish your carrot cake with chopped nuts, or decorative carrots. To make the carrots, separate the remaining frosting into two bowls, add orange food coloring to one bowl, and green to the other and mix until combined. If a deeper color is desired, add an additional drop of food coloring. Fit two piping bags with star tips, fill with the frostings and pipe the carrots and stems onto the cake in any pattern desired. (Photo #4)

Top tips

  • Use freshly grated carrots. The carrots contribute essential moisture to this carrot cake. Be sure to grate/shred your own carrots for the best results. I do not recommend using pre-grated store-bought carrots.
  • Decorating. There are so many ways to have fun with decorating this carrot cake. You can use the nuts to form a border, or top the entire cake. You’ll also have enough frosting left to make decorative carrots from the frosting if desired. The cake is also great with just the cream cheese frosting alone!
  • Serving. If you’re not serving this carrot cake right away, store covered in the fridge and remove it about an hour before serving. The room-temperature cake will taste better than cold.
Carrot cake on baking sheet with slice cut out of it and set to the side.

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Best Carrot Cake Ever

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 20 slices
The best ever carrot cake with freshly grated carrots is incredibly moist, loaded with great spice flavor, nutty texture, and tangy cream cheese frosting is perfect for holidays, birthdays, and any time you're in the mood for something excellent!

Ingredients 

For the carrot cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all-purpose flour spooned & leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups (300g) shredded carrots
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (106g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (216g) vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (168g) buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (85g) sweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup (84g) chopped walnuts plus more for garnish

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 16 ounces (452g) brick cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4-5 cups (466-583g) confectioner's sugar

Instructions 

For the carrot cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350f and set the rack to the middle level. Line a 9×13 inch sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  • Add the grated carrots and mix until the carrots are coated with the flour mixture.
  • In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugars and oil, then add the eggs, one at a time and beat together until combined.
  • Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and coconut and mix until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low for 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped walnuts and mix with a spoon until combined.
  • Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared sheet pan and bake for 40-50 minutes checking for doneness at the 40-minute mark. Once a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, remove it from the oven.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it over and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting

  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until creamy.
  • Add the vanilla, salt, and 4 cups of confectioner's sugar on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium to medium-high and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Check the consistency of the frosting and if it's too thin, add the remaining cup of sugar a little at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.
  • Scoop the frosting onto the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to distribute evenly. Garnish with chopped nuts if desired, or add food coloring to frosting and pipe to decorate.

Notes

  • This recipe was written for a conventional oven. For convection ovens, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and begin checking for doneness at the 75% mark.
  • This recipe is written for a 9×13 sheet pan, however, you can make a 2 layer cake by using 2 prepared 9 inch cake pans and using a kitchen scale to divide the batter equally between the two pans. The bake time will be much quicker so start checking for doneness at the 20 minute mark.
  • Walnuts can be swapped with pecans if desired.
  • Garnish with chopped nuts if desired.
  • To add decorative carrots, after frosting the cake, separate the remaining frosting into two bowls, add orange food coloring to one batch, and green to the other batch, fit 2 pastry bags with a star tip, fill, and pipe.
  • Leftover carrot cake can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.5g | Protein: 5.9g | Fat: 33.2g | Saturated Fat: 14.2g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 18.4g | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I plan to make this cake for Easter and I know it will be great. I enjoy your cooking demos and recipes and appreciate some of the features you include on this site, such as the recipe double/triple options as well as the screen cook mode and nutritional information. Thank you, also, for including conventional and convection values. Do you plan to publish a cookbook?

    1. Hi Erin, thanks for the comment and hope you love the cake! We are in the process of exploring a cook book and will share more information as we have it!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and moist! Yummmmm! I used my food processor to chop the carrots and that worked out very well as I didn’t have a box grater. Thanks for posting the recipe and brava to your baker!