Carrot Cake Recipe

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Today, we are sharing our favorite Carrot Cake Recipe with you! This amazing scratch recipe has wonderful flavor from carrots, spices, pecans, coconut, and crushed pineapple.

This is one of our most popular classic cakes, right up there with Hummingbird Cake, Italian Cream Cake, and German Chocolate Cake!

Carrot Cake Slice on a plate.

Why We Love It

Well, we're a little biased, but this is the best carrot cake ever. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Tons of flavor from fresh ingredients.
  • Amazing combination of carrots, pecans, coconut, crushed pineapple, and cinnamon. Not every carrot recipe has these add-ins, but they are what make this carrot cake recipe the BEST!
  • Always a crowd pleaser! Carrot cake is a go-to favorite for special occasions and holidays, no matter what time of year!
  • Fantastic when paired with cream cheese frosting.

How to Make a Carrot Cake

You can find the full, printable carrot cake recipe further down in this post. Here is a quick rundown of our steps!

  • First, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Next, line the bottoms of 3 (8 inch) or 2 (9 inch) round pans with wax or parchment paper, grease with shortening and flour the paper and pans for easy release when turning out. 
  • Dry Ingredients: Combine and whisk the all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set Aside.
Bowl of Dry Ingredients with Whisk.
  • Next, in the bowl of your mixer, add sugar , eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Mix 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed until well blended and light colored.
  • Then, with a spoon stir in the flour until moistened. Then add the grated carrots, chopped pecans, crushed pineapple and sweetened coconut. 
Bowl of Carrot Cake ingredients
  • Next, Divide the carrot cake batter between the three prepared cake pans.
Three cake pans with carrot cake batter
  • Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Three baked carrot cake layeres
  • Cool cake layers in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack then turn out. Cool completely before adding the cream cheese filling and frosting.

What Frostings Pair Well with Carrot Cake?

For us, you just cannot be the combination of cream cheese frosting and carrot cake layers!

The slight tang from the Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect complement to the cinnamon in the recipe and the sweetness from the carrots, coconut, and pineapple.

We used our classic cream cheese frosting which is a simple combination of cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

We also love cream cheese frosting with Italian Cream Cake, Red Velvet Cake and Spice Cake!

Another Option: If you cannot use cream cheese frosting or just don't care for it (gasp!), I would go with a Classic Vanilla Buttercream or add a little cinnamon to the vanilla buttercream for a delicious Cinnamon Buttercream.

The BEST Carrot Cake from Scratch Recipe! MyCakeSchool.com

Assembling the Carrot Cake

Once the carrot cake layers have completely cooled, it is time to assemble!

Place the first carrot cake layer on your cake base or pedestal. Spread with a layer of cream cheese frosting.

Spreading cream cheese frosting onto carrot cake layer.

Top with the second cake layer and repeat. Top with the third cake layer and frost the top and around the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (this is the crumb coat!)

At this point, we like to chill the cake for 15 minutes in the freezer (or longer in the refrigerator) to firm everything up before applying the final coat of cream cheese frosting.

Then, apply the next layer of frosting to the chilled carrot cake and decorate however you like! You could smooth the frosting with a bench scraper, comb the cake, apply an easy ridged effect to the frosting with an offset spatula, and more!

Cream Cheese Frosting Consistency

Cream cheese frostings are a softer consistency than other frostings, and can be more heat sensitive.

For this reason, keep in mind that you may need to pop your piping bag, bowl of frosting, or even the cake in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes here and there to return it to a better consistency for decorating.

FAQs

Carrot cakes do not always contain coconut or pineapple. However, we love the flavor that these ingredients bring to this recipe! In addition, some carrot cake recipes call for ginger (like our Carrot Bundt Cake). Feel free to add a bit if you'd like!

We don't recommend using pre-shredded carrots in your carrot cake recipe. Their texture is much more dry and coarse.

Sweetened coconut is much softer and more moist. Unsweetened has a dry, chewy texture.

Yes! Carrot cake layers can be frozen for up to three months as long as they are tightly wrapped. When baking in advance, allow the carrot cake layers to cool. (We often wrap while they are still a bit warm.)

Wrap each cake layer tightly with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. (For extra support, you can place each layer on a foil-wrapped cake cardboard). If you are only freezing for a few days, it is fine to double wrap in plastic wrap only.

To thaw, remove the carrot cake layers from the freezer, still wrapped and place on the kitchen counter. Allow to sit for 30-45 minutes before unwrapping and continuing to thaw.

Assemble and decorate as usual! Some decorators prefer to assemble their carrot cakes while the layers are partially frozen, as they are easier to handle.

Yes, this scratch carrot cake should be refrigerated because of the cream cheese filling and frosting. We recommend using an airtight cake container or cake dome.

However, for best taste and texture, remove the cake from the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving. This will give the cake plenty of time to warm and soften.

More Cakes to Try

In addition today's Carrot Cake Recipe, we have several more classic cake recipes that you must try! These old fashioned favorites are recipes that you will return to again and again.

Some of our most popular are Pineapple Cake, Black Forest Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake with Pound Cake.

Make sure to save these go-to recipes!

Carrot Cake Recipe Variations

If you love carrot cakes, we have even more carrot cake recipes for you to try ! Our Maple Carrot Cake is perfect for fall celebrations. We also have a Carrot Bundt Cake, Carrot Cheesecake Cake.

Our Carrot Cake Cupcakes and Carrot Cake Mix recipe both start with a mix but have such amazing flavor from add ins that nobody would believe it!

These would all make wonderful birthday cake recipes, special occasion cakes, and more.

Maple Carrot Cake Slice on a white plate
Maple Carrot Cake

Thanks so much for stopping by. We hope that you love this carrot cake recipe! Don't miss our full collection of cake recipes, including favorite cake recipes from scratch as well as cake mix recipes!

We also have hundreds of cake decorating tutorials to share with you, from easy birthday cake ideas, to baby shower cakes, to elegant cakes and more!

Carrot Cake from Scratch

This popular carrot cake recipe is the best! It has amazing flavor from grated carrots, coconut, pecans, crushed pineapple, and cinnamon.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 15 servings
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Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake

  • 2 ½ cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 218g
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (180g) grated (small pieces) carrots (do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots, they are too dry)
  • ¾ cup (92g) chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup (50g) sweetened coconut (we used Baker's Angel Flake sweetened coconut)
  • 1 8oz. can crushed pineapple put in a strainer and let the liquid drain off….I press with a fork to remove not all, but a bit more liquid.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting (this recipe can be easily doubled if you plan to do a lot of piping)

  • 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 16 oz cream cheese (We used two 8 oz packages) (Not reduced fat)
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) salt
  • 6 to 6 ½ cups (690g to 747g) confectioners' sugar

Instructions

For the Carrot Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350℉
  • Line the bottoms of 3 (8 inch) or 2 (9 inch) round pans with wax or parchment paper, grease with shortening and flour the paper and pans for easy release when turning out……carrot cake has a tendency to stick so be sure to use the paper.
  • Whisk together for 30 seconds the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set Aside.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, add 2 cups sugar , 4 eggs, 1 cup oil and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed until well blended and light colored.
  • With a spoon stir in the flour mixture until moistened, then add the carrots, pecans crushed pineapple and coconut.
  • Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrain from opening the oven door or touching the center of the cake to test for doneness until very near the end of baking time or it could cause the cake to sink slightly in the center.
  • Makes 6 ½ cups batter
  • Cool cake layers in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack then turn out. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cut the butter into slices and add to the bowl of your mixer. Beat on low to medium speed until the butter is softened and smooth.
  • Cut the cold cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating at low to medium speed until incorporated. If you are using a hand mixer you may need to soften the cream cheese a bit more.
  • Add the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar beating on low speed until blended.
  • Increase mixing speed and mix until fluffy. Don't over beat or it will become too soft. If it becomes too soft, just refrigerate a short while to firm it up a bit.
  • This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly (do not microwave) and remix.
  • Will frost a 3 layer 8 inch cake

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138 Comments

  1. It’s delicious but makes and absurd amount of frosting lol half the recipe for the frosting and save some ingredients.

  2. I made this cake with minor changes and placed a cheesecake btw the two cakes. Doubled the cream cheese frosting grondbsome pecans for the side of the cake and it was a hit! Thank you for your for sharing your recipe! The cakes we moist and delicious

  3. Hi, there I baked this cake was delicious. I’m wondering could this recipe be baked in a loaf pan as a loaf bread ?

    1. Hi Annette, it should do fine in a loaf pan! We've made this as a bundt cake also. I'm glad that you enjoyed it ;0)

  4. 5 stars
    Super delicious
    So good that hubby and I ate most of the cake for dinner
    (Gotta have the “ leftovers” for dinner) It’s our anniversary is today
    We had carrot cake at our wedding because I hate the standard surgary cakes
    This recipe totally nails our wedding cake
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Tiphanie- You will want to refrigerate this cake because of the cream cheese frosting (in an airtight container or under a cake dome.) -

      However, for best texture, we recommend removing the cake from the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving.

  5. 5 stars
    This is hands down the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life! And that’s saying a lot because I’m 31 and have carrot cake every year for my birthday!!! I’ve made it twice now and it never disappoints! I half the frosting and have plenty :)

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, Lauren! So glad that you liked the cake. Carrot cake is my favorite too! ;0)

  6. 5 stars
    I make this every year for my husbands birthday… his favorite. I don’t add coconut & use walnuts instead of pecans. But always a big hit with the family… and him!!

  7. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe when I need a sweet and delicious gift or treat! I usually make half the recipe in cupcakes and it gives me 12 cupcakes.

    1. Hello! Unfortunately we haven't experimented with this recipe without the pineapple. If it were me, I would add some additional liquid because even though the pineapple is drained, it isn't dry and still adds moisture. So I would add maybe 1/3 cup milk or orange juice to make up for it. That's my best guess, good luck!