Best Homemade Carrot Cake

The best homemade carrot cake with whipped cream cheese frosting is to-die-for! Super moist, perfectly spiced, topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. You can’t go wrong.

Why You’ll Love This

The whipped cream frosting makes the cake. It’s light and airy, unlike a thick, oversweet cream cheese frosting. It marries so well with this incredibly moist and utterly delicious carrot cake.

The cake part is what I’m after most of the time, but the icing recipe for this cake will win you over.

It’s an easy carrot cake recipe from scratch! No boxed mixes, just real ingredients. And you can absolutely tell the difference.

I will never use another carrot cake recipe again. This is the one!

Carrot cake is a favorite in our house, but some of our other favorites are Italian Love cake, strawberry shortcake, chocolate sheet cake, and sour cream pound cake.

Key Ingredients

  • Ingredients for a moist cake – Eggs, applesauce, and vegetable oil.
  • Flavorings – Freshly grated carrots, ground cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, ground ginger, and granulated sugar.

How to Make the Best Homemade Carrot Cake

Carrot cake batter in mixing bowl with grated carrots and chopped pecans added.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray or butter. Dust with flour and set aside.

Whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer.

Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well blended. Stir in pecans and grated carrots. Divide the cake batter evenly into the 2 prepared cake pans.

Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in the pans before removing to a wire cooling rack.

Carrot cake batter divided into metal cake pans.

This recipe bakes nice and level. I didn’t have to level the tops of the cake layers.

Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting Flip cakes upside down when frosting.

Homemade carrot cake on white cake platter cut to show texture.

How to Make Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Chill a large bowl in the freezer to make the whipped cream cheese icing. Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. A stand mixer comes in handy for this step.

In another bowl, soften the cream cheese with a mixer, and add the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy.  Make sure the sugar has dissolved.

Frost the cake with this fantastic icing and enjoy a slice of pure heaven!

A slice of carrot cake on gray plate.

Enjoy the rave reviews from your family for the best carrot cake ever!

Tips

  • Use fresh carrots and grate them yourself for the best flavor.
  • Make sure to get the carrots finely grated to allow for proper cooking with the cake.
  • I use the food processor to grate the carrots and chop them up smaller. It’s faster than hand grating, and you don’t end up with long carrot strings in the cake. Or use the small holes on a hand grater.
  • Always measure the flour properly. Aerate, spoon, and swoop level.
  • Use room-temperature eggs.
  • You can toast the pecans if desired.

Variations

  • You can add raisins (about 1/2 cup) or crushed pineapple if desired. Be sure to drain the pineapple well before stirring in the batter.
  • Stir in some shredded coconut.
  • Use chopped walnuts or pecans.
  • This carrot cake from scratch recipe can also be baked in a 9×13 baking pan. Bake for 35-35 minutes.
  • Or turn this recipe into carrot cake cupcakes! Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

FAQ

Storing

This cake should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Freezing

You can freeze the baked cake layers unfrosted. Allow to cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then frost the cake as directed.

To bake in a 9×13 baking pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Can I use pre-shredded carrots in my carrot cake?

You can, but it’s not recommended. Packaged carrots are dried out compared to freshly grated ones. You will not achieve the best fresh flavor with pre-shredded carrots.

Should you shred or grate carrots for carrot cake?

You do not want to have chunks of carrots. They should be finely grated so they can cook with the cake. Using a food processor and then using a sharp knife to cut them even smaller makes for a perfect size.

Why is my carrot cake dry?

There’s too much flour and not enough fat (oil or butter). Be sure to measure the flour properly. Aerate, spoon, and swoop level.

Why is my carrot cake too moist?

Carrot cake is an oil-based, not a butter-based cake. The oil helps keep it moist.

Should I sift my flour for carrot cake?

If you’re going for a moist cake, skip the flour sifting.

Is carrot cake better the next day?

Yes. The flavors have had time to come together, and the cake will be moister. This makes it a great make-ahead dessert!

Other Delicious Cakes

Best Homemade Carrot Cake on a cake serving platter with a wedge removed.

Best Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe

Best homemade carrot cake with whipped cream cheese frosting is to-die-for! Super moist, perfectly spiced, topped with amazing whipped cream cheese frosting.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best, cake, carrot, homemade
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 629kcal
Author: Don’t Sweat The Recipe

Ingredients
 

Cake

  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots** lightly packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans optional

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, cold 1 – 8 oz package
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream or heavy cream cold

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper, spray with baking spray or butter and dust with flour, set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, combine vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla.
    4 large eggs, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup applesauce, 2 cups granulated sugar, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Slowly stir in dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Stir in pecans and grated carrots. Divide mixture evenly into the 2 prepared cake pans.
    2/3 cup chopped pecans, 3 cups finely grated carrots**
  • Bake cakes in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in the pans before removing to a wire rack to cool.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting Flip cakes upside down when frosting.

For the whipped cream cheese frosting:

  • Chill a large bowl for the whipped cream.
  • In a large chilled bowl, whip cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks.
    1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream or heavy cream
  • In another bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until fully combined and creamy. Make sure the sugar has dissolved completely.
    8 oz cream cheese, cold, 3/4 cup granulated white sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream, then use mixer until it’s fully combined and fluffy.

Notes

To bake in a 9×13 baking pan – Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cupcakes – Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This recipe will make about 24 cupcakes.
Make ahead – This cake is even better the next day, the flavors have time to combine. This makes it a great make-ahead dessert.
Storing – This cake should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
FreezingYou can freeze the baked cake layers unfrosted. Allow to cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then frost the cake as directed.

Nutrition

Calories: 629kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 6139IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 2mg

Recipe inspired by ChewOutLoud

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4 Comments

  1. This looks like the perfect balance of a moist cake while avoiding being dense. So many carrot cakes over index on moisture and end up being gummy and dense. I’m a classic cream cheese frosting person, but your frosting looks so light, fluffy, and perfect for Easter:)

  2. Carrot cake isn’t my favorite but my husband LOVES it. I had given up on making it a few years ago because I’ve never had luck with any of the recipes that I’ve tried. This cake looks beautifully delicious and the recipe seems relatively simple so I’m going to give it a try! He will be pleasantly surprised to have this special treat at our Easter gathering. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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