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Published April 8, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This classic homemade carrot cake recipe is topped off with a tasty cream cheese frosting and is very moist and delicious. You will love how tasty this traditional cake is and all the extra ingredients you can put in it to customize it.
Carrot cake is a spice cake consisting of carrots, cake batter, and spices that are topped with a traditional cream cheese frosting. It’s a wildly popular cake and is especially beloved during the Easter holiday season.
Carrot Cake has been around for centuries, believe it or not, but was originally introduced as a carrot pudding. According to CarrotMuseium.co.uk, the carrot cake as we know it today was created out of carrot pudding. It was said to be a healthy alternative to sweet desserts, but as you can see this cake is not on the healthy side.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Flour – All-purpose flour is what you will need for this recipe.
- Sugar – I prefer to use a combination of light brown sugar and regular sugar.
- Eggs – Large eggs are perfect, and these will help to provide fat, and flavor, and assist in rising.
- Oil – Any neutral-flavored oil will work for this carrot cake.
- Spices and Seasonings – I use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg; however, you can add in ground ginger, and allspice as well. Salt is also needed to season the cake.
- Carrots – About 5 or 6 medium-size finely grated carrots are what you will need.
- Nuts – This part is optional, but some walnuts or pecans can add a lot of flavors, but also can draw out moisture so try lightly toasting ahead of time.
- Frosting – I like to use a classic cream cheese frosting for this.
How to Make Carrot Cake from Scratch
Use these step-by-step instructions for making this delicious homemade carrot cake from scratch:
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the oil, eggs, sugars, and vanilla until completely combined and smooth.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth.
Fold the shredded carrots and walnuts into the batter until combined.
Transfer the batter evenly between the 3 prepared 9” cake pans and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until firm in the center.
Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan before removing it from the pan and completely cooling it on a rack.
Make the cream cheese frosting and set aside until the cake has cooled.
Ice the cake in layers until it is completely coated.
Optionally add on chopped walnuts around the outside and icing carrots on the top.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this cake up to 1 day ahead of time.
How to Store: Cover and keep at room temperature for up to 4 days. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 days. You can freeze this cake, but it is best to do so un-iced and separate from each layer, covered in plastic for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before icing and serving.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Avoid using too many extra ingredients like nuts or raisins because they will draw out moisture from the cake and make it dry.
- Pineapple will make the cake overly moist and overpower the carrots and spice flavor in the cake.
- You can easily transfer the batter to make 18 carrot cupcakes.
- I like to use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of the prepared cake pans to help easily remove the cake. It also helps to aid in keeping the carrot cake moist.
- Feel free to decorate the cake in whichever fashion that best suits you.
More Dessert Recipes
Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups walnuts
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups peeled and shredded carrots
- cream cheese frosting recipe x 2
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Add the walnuts to a large frying pan over medium-low heat and cook until browned, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the walnuts and finely chop. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until completely combined and smooth.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth using a whisk.
- Fold the shredded carrots and 1 cup of walnuts into the batter until combined.
- Transfer the batter evenly between the 3 prepared 9” cake pans with non-stick spray and parchment paper rounds and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until firm in the center.
- Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan before removing from the pan and completely cooling on a rack.
- Make the cream cheese frosting and set aside until the cake has cooled.
- Ice the cake by layers until it is completely coated.
- Optionally add on the remaining chopped walnuts around the outside of the cake and on top.
Icing Carrots Option
- Reserve about 2/3 cup of the cream cheese frosting and evenly divide it into two separate bowls. If you are short on cream cheese frosting then simply increase the cream cheese frosting recipe by 25%
- Add orange food coloring to one bowl and green to the other and individually stir until mixed in.
- Transfer each icing to a piping bag with a fine piping tip and make orange carrots and green stems on the top of the cake for every 12 slices. See Video