This classic Carrot Cake recipe is one you’ll want to add to your collection! A moist and delicious cake paired with a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting.
A lot of the recipes you find on Liv for Cake are ones where I try to transform a dessert into a cake (like this Tiramisu Cake, or Pecan Pie Cake), or ones with a variety of different flavor combinations and pairings (like my Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting).
I try to make things that are interesting or unique, but I often have people requesting the staples, so I’ve decided to start introducing some more basic recipes into my collection, starting with this Carrot Cake Recipe!
This actually isn’t the first “staple” recipe I have on my blog. Two of my most popular posts are my classic Vanilla Cake and my Simple Vanilla Buttercream. They are great “base” recipes that can be tweaked and flavored to your heart’s content.
But, in light of Easter on the horizon, I thought it would be a perfect time for a (somewhat) themed dessert to go along with it.
The Best Carrot Cake Recipe
I actually didn’t really care for carrot cake until a few years ago. I guess I just never had a good one, or they had too many additions I didn’t particularly care for (pineapple, walnuts, or raisins (gasp!!)), or they were dry. I don’t know, it was just never a go-to recipe for me… until I had it at my sister-in-law’s wedding a few years ago.
At the wedding, they had a three tier cake, each with a different flavor, so naturally I had to try them all. I was least excited about the carrot cake but WOW, it totally blew me away and was easily the best of the bunch. Since then, it’s been one of my favorites.
The other thing that used to turn me off of carrot cake was the cream cheese frosting. I am not a cream cheese fan. You’ll never catch me ordering a cheesecake unless I know it’s made with something like ricotta. Cream cheese is just too strong for me, and I found that on most carrot cakes it was overpowering.
My cream cheese frosting is different than most, as it uses more butter than cream cheese, but you can totally still taste the cream cheese. It’s also not overly heavy on the sugar, but you can add more if you like. I found this recipe to be best structurally too, as a lot of cream cheese frostings can be too soft and difficult to work with. It’s important to use the full-fat brick cream cheese (not from a tub) for best results.
I chose to keep the decorating simple and do a naked cake. The recipe makes enough frosting to cover the whole cake though, if you prefer. I thought the edible flowers would be a nice touch and go well with the the spring and Easter theme. Edible flowers aren’t super easy to find, but Whole Foods almost always has some.
Make sure the flowers you use are safe to eat — some can be toxic!
This carrot cake has been a major hit over here. Ryan doesn’t typically enjoy desserts that aren’t of the chocolate variety, but he made it a point to tell me to “hold back” as much of this cake as possible. So, sorry friends! This one will be stashed in our freezer.
Looking for more Easter recipes?
Tips for this Carrot Cake recipe
- Apr 14, 2022 – Cream Cheese Frosting recipe revised to make a more stable frosting.
- You can make this recipe as-is in two 8″ pans instead of three 6″ pans.
- I used my food processor on the fine (not coarse) setting to grate the carrots. You can grate them by hand also.
- I didn’t use rainbow carrots for the inside of the cake, but you can. Just note that the purple will come out somewhat black/green and may not look very pretty!
- Use full-fat brick cream cheese (not in a tub) for best results for the frosting.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my Flat Top Cakes post.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- pinch ground cloves
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups grated carrots lightly packed, approx. 4 large carrots (300g shredded)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup cream cheese full fat, chilled
- 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- cornstarch or meringue powder optional, as needed
- edible flowers optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6″ cake rounds, line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine vegetable oil and sugars. Beat until well combined (2 mins). Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in 3 parts. Fold in carrots.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for 55mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer beat butter until pale and creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix on low until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla and continue to beat on medium for 1 minute.
- Slowly add chilled cream cheese one cube at a time (about 1 tablespoon at a time). Beat well until blended and ensure no lumps of cream cheese remain.
- If needed, add cornstarch or meringue powder 1 tablespoon at a time to stiffen the frosting (I didn't but this is an option). Run mixer on low for a couple of minutes to remove any air bubbles.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream and spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat.
- Decorate the top with a swirl and some edible flowers if desired.
I tried this cake for Easter, and o was sooooo disappointed it. I followed the recipe to a T (exception, swapped dark BS for light because it’s what I had.) This scale seemed too oily, didn’t have a good crumb, very “flat,” no fluff. Not sure what happened. I think it needed more flour, less oil, and even less sugar IMO. May have to try some changes next time.
Hi Katelynn! It sounds like something went wrong when you were making it.
Riley Winter says
HI, can I use butter instead of oil? what would the difference be? Would it make it moister? I made it and found it was a tad dry other than that it was great!
Hi Riley! You can use melted butter instead but it will make the cake a bit denser. I would stick to oil for best results. If you found the cake dry I would reduce the baking time and take it out a bit earlier. You can also always brush it with some simple syrup after baking too: https://livforcake.com/simple-syrup-recipe/
I have tried a few of your recipes and loved them . I thought I check to see if you had a carottcake recipe .
I was wondering if I could add canned pineapple and toasted pecans and if so would I need to make any adjustments to the recipe
Hi Patricia! Adding the nuts would be no problem (toss them in flour first and fold in at the end), but adding pineapple would change the structure and texture of the cake. It would require some experimentation to tweak the recipe to do so.
I LOVE your recipes! Your vanilla cake, chocolate cake and lemon cake are all big hits in my house and used regularly!
I’m looking into making a carrot cake but the friend I’m making it for loves it full with nuts and sultans. Do you think this recipe will work if I add nuts and sultans?
Hi Hazel! For sure! Just toss them in flour and fold them in at the end. Just keep in mind it will increase the volume of cake batter and could overflow the pans. So make sure they are at least 3″ tall, or use larger size pans. Or just make cupcakes with any extra. Don’t fill the pans more than 2/3 full. How much to add depends on how much you want in there. Anywhere from 1/2-1 cup of each should work fine.
Amazing CAKE!!! its a game changer, its officially our Traditional Easter cake.. this will be the 3yr year running!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!
Hi Angela! I’m so happy you loved it. Thanks for the feedback!
Mrs Ayesha Jehangiri says
Hi liv I’m going to try this cake tonight – can you let me know how many mls the oil is? I’m from the uk so we use mls instead of cup measurements.
Also just to confirm the cooking time is 55mins for 3 6 inch tins? Just seems like a long time to be cooking for such small tins
Many thanks 😀 x
Hi Ayesha! It’s about 300ml. And yes, that’s how long they took to bake in my oven (using baking strips https://livforcake.com/flat-top-cakes/). It is a very wet batter but be sure to check on the cakes as they are baking as every oven bakes differently and you may need to adjust the baking time.
Hi, Olivia! Can this recipe be used for cupcakes as well?
Many thanks in advance and take care!
Hi Kelley! Yes it should make 18-24 depending on size. Start checking them at 15mins or so.