This homemade carrot cake recipe with cream cheese frosting makes an incredibly moist, tender and flavorful cake.
Homemade carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes. The carrots add texture and moisture while the cream cheese frosting adds a layer of richness. This recipe provides plenty of flavor thanks to the spices. It also turns out incredibly moist with a tender crumb.
Why you should make this recipe: Carrot cake is easy to make from scratch. You can use an electric mixer or mix the ingredients by hand! I also included steps for the best cream cheese frosting ever (it’s rich without being too sweet!)
Overview: How to make carrot cake
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in one bowl. Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves.
- Why the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Beat sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil and applesauce together until well combined. Then add the eggs and vanilla.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients just until combined.
- Add the shredded carrots. Fold in carrots until evenly dispersed.
- Bake the cake. Divide batter among cake pans and bake the cake at 350 F for 28 to 30 minutes.
Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake
Cream cheese frosting is the best frosting for carrot cake in my opinion. All you need is cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Mix in vanilla and milk.
When baking, always use room temperature ingredients. This will help the ingredients blend more smoothly and bake evenly. This is especially helpful for the cream cheese frosting (no lumpy frosting!) Use freshly shredded carrots (grate them yourself) and pat them slightly dry. The carrots will still add moisture to the cake.
Try my magic cake pan release. This paste makes cakes release from the pan with ease! No crumbs left behind. Make the cake ahead of time. Carrot cake is one of those desserts that tastes better the next day. The flavorful spices blend together and the cake remains nice and moist.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to grate carrots for carrot cake: Peel six large carrots and use a box grater to grate them. I like to use the medium size side of the grate so there are pieces of carrot in the cake, but you can use the small size if you prefer. This is personal preference.
Does carrot cake need to be refrigerated? Yes. The cream cheese frosting should be refrigerated to help keep its shape and to stay fresher longer. However, carrot cake may be served at room temperature. The cake by itself (without frosting) may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
How long does carrot cake last? The cake will last about 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze carrot cake? Yes. It actually freezes quite well (cream cheese frosting included). After you layer and frost the cake, place is in the freezer unwrapped. Let it freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Remove it from the freezer and wrap it securely in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.
This homemade carrot cake couldn’t be easier to make and is perfect for Easter, birthdays and more! What occasion are you making this cake for? Let me see on social media by tagging @ifyougiveablondeakitchen and I will share my favorites!
Homemade Carrot Cake
- 2 1/2 cups (312 g) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch of cloves (optional)
- 1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup (125 g) unsweetened applesauce
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (390 g) peeled and shredded carrots, slightly patted dry (about 6 large carrots)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups (two 8 ounce blocks or 450 g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Chopped pecans for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans (or two 9-inch round cake pans). Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
- In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, sugar, vegetable oil and applesauce until the oil is completely absorbed by the sugar (you can do this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer is easier). Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir by hand just until combined (it's okay if there are a few flour pockets). Add shredded carrots and stir until incorporated making sure to get any remaining flour bits mixed in.
- Divide batter evenly among pans and bake at 350° F for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pans and remove cakes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make sure your ingredients are room temperature. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- If the cakes domed while baking, use a serrated knife to level off the cakes.
- Frost the top of one of the cakes, then add a layer of cake on top. Repeat if you baked three layers. Now use an offset spatula or bench scraper to spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake. This will be the crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
- Remove the cake from the freezer (the crumb coat should be harder and set). Again, use an offset spatula or bench scraper to spread frosting around the outside and top of the cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with chopped pecans if desired. Slice and serve.