This easy Carrot Cake recipe is topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting and is just bursting with flavor! Nuts, raisins, pineapple, coconut, and carrot transform this humble cake into a bakery-worthy creation that everyone will love!
Everyone seems to have their favorite carrot cake, and when I asked readers on my Facebook page what ingredients made their carrot cake the best, there were so many different answers!
Then, I set out to make the best carrot cake on the planet, and I succeeded! This moist and flavorful Carrot Cake has a cream cheese frosting and is fully loaded with my favorite ingredients. But the best part is that you can customize it, so if you don’t like nuts or coconut, skip them!
This is an easy carrot cake recipe. Yes, there’s a lot in it, but it’s not hard to make, and the results are oh-so worth it! With so much flavor and creamy, tangy frosting, it truly is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. It’s the perfect cake to serve on Easter, birthdays or anytime I want a cake that’s just too good to pass up!
This classic, homemade carrot cake recipe is loaded with nuts, raisins, pineapple and coconut but feel free to adjust to your personal preferences.
The Best Carrot Cake
I’ve wanted to share a delicious carrot cake recipe here for quite a long time! The road block I kept running into was… what ingredients should be included in the “perfect” carrot cake? I love my carrot cake to include nuts, raisins, pineapple and coconut and that’s what this recipe has.
A few things make this the best carrot cake on the planet.
- Moisture. Unsweetened applesauce replaces some of the oil and adds so much moisture to the cake. When you combine that with the carrots you get an incredibly moist carrot cake.
- Flavor. The addition of pineapple (yes, this is a carrot cake with pineapple!), coconut, nuts and raisins to this carrot cake recipe adds SO much flavor.
- Texture. I love the texture that the nuts and coconut add to this carrot cake recipe.
What You’ll Need
This quick and easy recipe for carrot cake is unbelievably delicious! As always, you can find the full, printable recipe in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need:
- all-purpose flour – the flour is the base of this recipe and will aid in the structure of the cake.
- salt – for balance and flavor.
- baking powder and baking soda – the leavening agents in this recipe.
- cinnamon – carrot cake is better with a bit of ground cinnamon!
- nuts – you can use toasted and chopped walnuts or pecans – your choice.
- coconut – shredded sweetened coconut adds a lovely texture and flavor to the cake.
- raisins – regular raisins or golden raisins can be used interchangeable in this recipe. The raisins can also be omitted if you prefer.
- eggs – adds structure to the cake as well as act as a leavening agent and adding richness.
- granulated sugar – to sweeten the cake.
- oil – olive oil or your favorite cooking oil
- applesauce – look for smooth, unsweetened applesauce or use an additional ¼ cup of oil
- vanilla extract – use the best quality vanilla extract (or make my homemade vanilla extract) for best results.
- grated carrot – see my tips below on how to grate carrots.
- crushed pineapple – look for the crushed pineapple in 100% juice. Make sure to let it drain really well before adding to the batter.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake
- butter – unsalted butter is what I used but salted can be used in this recipe as well.
- cream cheese – full fat cream cheese will give you the best consistency.
- powdered sugar – to sweeten the frosting.
- vanilla extract – to give the cream cheese frosting some flavor.
- heavy cream – or milk, to smooth out the frosting.
How To Grate Carrots
You’ll need grated or shredded carrots for this carrot cake recipe. Don’t be tempted to chop the carrot because you need the very thin pieces of shredded carrot to cook inside the cake. You need two cups of grated carrot, so you’ll need 2 to 3 good-sized carrots.
My favorite way to grate carrots is with a box grater. Use the side with small or medium size holes for finely shredded carrots. Trim off the tip of the carrot and then hold the thickest end of the carrot in a firm grip while grating it on the box grater.
You could also use the shredding attachment on your food processor or stand mixer.
How to Make a Carrot Cake
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and prepare a 9″x13″ cake pan, OR two 9″ round cake pans by greasing them lightly with butter or non-stick cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Add the nuts, coconut, and raisins, then set aside.
- Mix in the eggs and sugar.
- Add the oil, apple sauce, and vanilla and mix well.
- Stir in the carrots and pineapple.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, about half a cup at a time, stirring between each addition.
- Pour into the prepared pan(s).
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
How do I know when the cake is done? The cake should be slightly domed and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out with moist crumbs.
How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Beat the butter until smooth.
- Add the cream cheese and whip until mixed.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar a bit at a time to avoid a sugar shower, beating it to combine.
- Mix in the vanilla and heavy cream.
If you want a thinner frosting, add another tablespoon of cream.
How To Frost A Carrot Cake
This is the best ever cream cheese frosting for carrot cake, and I love using an offset spatula for frosting cakes. When your cake is cooled (let it cool completely, or your frosting will melt) spread the cream cheese icing onto the cake.
Garnish the cake with a few reserved nuts for a pretty presentation.
Give this delicious homemade carrot cake recipe a try and share it with people you love. This cake “keeps” quite well and is even better the day after it’s made.
Trish’s Tips & Tricks
- Don’t like nuts? Or coconut? Or raisins? Skip them.
- Don’t over mix your cake batter. You only need to mix as much as it takes to incorporate the ingredients.
- Lining your pan with parchment paper will make it so easy to remove the cake!
- Make sure your carrot cake is thoroughly cooled before adding the frosting, or it’ll melt and slide right off.
Carrot Cake FAQs
You sure can! I do recommend parchment liners for easy removal since this cake is so moist.
This recipe makes a nice thick cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan but this recipe can also be used for 8 or 9 inch round pans, jello roll, etc. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as needed.
You’ll notice a slight dome and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
Absolutely not but I do think that carrot cake is at it’s best when paired with a tangy cream cheese frosting.
This cake is even better the next day, and I almost always make it the day before I want to serve it. Just keep the cake in an airtight container in the fridge (because of the dairy in the frosting), and it’ll keep for 3-4 days just fine.
To Freeze: You can also freeze this carrot cake. Just pop slices of it into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
More Amazing Cake Recipes
Let them eat cake! Here are some of our favorite cake recipes:
- Cheesecake Recipe
- Pound Cake
- Red Velvet Cake
- Lemon Bundt Cake
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
- Pina Colada Cake
How to Make Carrot Cake
- 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ cup raisins or currants
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup oil olive oil, vegetable oil or canola oil
- ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce or use an additional ¼ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups carrots grated, packed
- 1 cup crushed pineapple canned, drained well (use crushed pineapple in 100% juice)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick
- 8 ounces cream cheese 1 package
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9"x13" cake pan OR two 9" round cake pans by rubbing lightly with butter or oil and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
- Add nuts, coconut and raisins to the flour mixture, then set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl and using a hand mixer), blend eggs and sugar.
- Add oil, apple sauce and vanilla and blend until fully combined.
- Stir in carrots and pineapple. Blend well.
- While slowly mixing, pour in the bowl of dry ingredients. Blend until fully combined.
- Pour batter into prepare pan(s). Spread to level, as needed.
- Bake 9"x13" pan for 50-60 minutes (mine was ready at 54 minutes, in a metal pan). The cake is ready when it appears baked on top, has a slight dome and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the cake will be quite dark.
- Allow cake to cool (at least an hour) before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese, and beat until smooth and fully combined.
- While mixing, add the powdered sugar, a little at a time. After you've added two cups of sugar, add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of cream.
- Add additional sugar until you’ve reached the desired consistency and desired sweetness. Add the additional tablespoon of cream as needed.
- Spread onto cooled cake (using an offset spatula).
- Garnish finished cake with nuts if desired.
Originally published May 12, 2014.