There’s nothing better than a decadent carrot cake. I used to pick them up from the bakery ages ago. Then I used boxed mixes. And then, I discovered how easy it was to make from scratch. This family favorite classic carrot cake recipe comes out amazingly every single time. Once you make it, you’ll see for yourself!
Best Carrot Cake Recipe
This is the best carrot cake because it has two layers and comes out so moist. The best thing about a layer cake is that it allows you to add a delicious layer of frosting right through the middle of the cake. It adds great texture and taste. Everything is balanced, and with that cream cheese frosting, oh man! Everyone wants the recipe!
Ingredients for Carrot Cake
- All-purpose flour – your cake base
- Sugar – both light brown and granulated for the best flavors
- Eggs – bind that cake together
- Applesauce – choose unsweetened since there’s plenty of sugar in the recipe
- Baking powder and baking soda – the key to moist cake that rises to the occasion
- Spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves bring out the best in this cake
- Carrots – the star ingredient
- Walnuts – for the signature nuttiness
- Full fat cream cheese – do not skimp on the fat here
- Butter – choose unsalted or else your frosting will be weird
- Confectioner’s sugar – powdered sugar to sweeten your frosting just right
Easy Carrot Cake Recipe
Seriously, it takes only a few steps to make carrot cake. Don’t let the ingredient list frighten you. It really comes together so quickly. In 30 minutes, you’ll be popping it into the oven!
In this house, carrot cake counts as a vegetable.
How do you Make Carrot Cake from Scratch
First you’ll take all the wet ingredients plus the sugars and combine them. Then in another bowl, you’ll combine everything dry. You’ll fold those together, add the carrots and walnuts, and then pour it into the cake pan. See? That’s easy! You’ll let it cool completely and then make your cream cheese frosting. Then it’s ready to go!
Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Carrot Cake Every Time
- Finely grated carrots – Utilize the smallest setting to grate your carrots. You don’t want large chunks.
- Cool the cake – Make sure your carrot cake has cooled before you go anywhere near it with the cream cheese frosting. Otherwise it will melt into a big mess.
- Add plenty of spices as the recipe suggests – It’s not only aromatic but perfect for the flavor. That being said, make sure your spices on your spice rack haven’t been sitting there for years. It can ruin the taste.
Is carrot cake better with oil or butter?
Oil is the secret to keeping the texture of your carrot cake moist within.
Must I peel carrots for carrot cake?
Yes, you must peel them before shredding them. If not, your cake will come out with a bitter flavor.
How do you peel carrots for carrot cake?
Simply use a peeler, and then grate them on the finest setting to get them to the right size and texture.
What is the trick to moist cake?
The secret to moist cake is oil. It is what I use in my cakes and it never lets me down, always giving me the perfect texture.
Can I use olive oil instead of vegetable oil in carrot cake?
Yes, you can certainly use olive oil in the batter for your carrot cake if you’d prefer or if it’s all you’ve got.
Can you use walnuts instead of pecans in carrot cake?
Go for it! You can use them as you wish. Some people even omit the nuts because they don’t like them or they have a nut allergy.
How Long to Bake Carrot Cake
You’re going to bake your carrot cake for 20 to 24 minutes at 350F. That’s plenty of time to get it just the right texture without drying it out. You can always use a toothpick in the center to make sure the cake batter is not under-cooked.
Best Frosting and Toppings for Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is best with cream cheese frosting. That tang and zip is perfect with the spiced ingredients in the cake itself. Top it with walnuts and pecans arranged in any pattern you choose!
How to Store Carrot Cake
Carrot cake must be stored in the fridge. If it’s not sliced, you can cover it and keep it for up to a week. But if it’s sliced, plan on eating it within 3 days.
Can you Freeze Carrot Cake?
Of course you can freeze carrot cake! Make sure you wrap it up well and it should keep for 2 to 3 months.
How to Thaw Frozen Carrot Cake?
All you have to do is remember to move it from the freezer to your fridge overnight. In 24 hours, it will be ready to serve. From there, you can take the cake out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up to room temperature if you don’t like to eat it chilled.
Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (1 cup for cake, 1/2 cup for garnish)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar light
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup applesauce unsweetened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 1/2 cups carrots grated (5 large carrots)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz full fat cream cheese room temp
- 3/4 cup butter unsalted, softened
- 5 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare three 9-inch cake pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and set aside.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in your grated carrots and chopped walnuts and then evenly pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Then, add the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time and the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until gone. Then, add in the vanilla extract and salt and mix on low speed until smooth.
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