This is the best Carrot Cake recipe! Using simple ingredients, you’ll get an airy, light, fluffy cake topped with everyone’s favorite silky cream cheese icing and sprinkled with crunchy walnuts.
I love this recipe because it’s perfect for any time of the year. It’s perfectly spiced, moist, and healthy because of all the carrots… right? Well, regardless whether this cake is healthy or not, it is such a treat. I’ll up take any opportunity to have dessert covered in cream cheese icing! You can also customize this cake and add any of your favorite mix-ins.
Ingredients In Carrot Cake
Keep scrolling for the full recipe and ingredient amounts.
For the cake you’ll need:
- All purpose Flour – If you use cake flour, use 2 1/4 cups.
- Salt – The salt is very important for really accentuating the flavors in your cake. You can use a little less or more if you prefer.
- Cinnamon – You can add other spices as well such as a dash of ground nutmeg or cloves.
- Baking powder – You can’t replace your baking powder with only baking soda- it will create an unpleasant flavor in the cake.
- Baking soda – If you don’t have baking soda handy, you can use 2 1/4 tsp baking powder.
- Eggs – Use large eggs for this recipe.
- Oil – I used vegetable oil for this recipe. Canola oil, melted unsalted butter, or applesauce will also work.
- Sugar – I used white granulated sugar for this recipe, but you can sub some brown sugar in the batter if you want.
- Carrots – Always use fresh carrots! They’re the star of the show. Shred them using a cheese grater.
- Walnuts – I loaded this cake up with walnuts but you can use pecans or sweeter fillings like white chocolate chips or raisins.
For the icing you’ll need:
- Cream cheese – You can use low fat, full fat, or vegan cream cheese. Make sure it’s at room temperature.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter. Make sure it’s also at room temperature.
- Vanilla – Vanilla extract or paste will work. This will really amp up the flavor of your icing and take it to the next level.
- Icing sugar – This is also known as confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar depending where you’re from. I wouldn’t suggest replacing it with granulated sugar- icing sugar will give you a perfectly silky consistency whereas granulated sugar will be grainy.
As an optional topping:
- Walnuts – This is a super easy topping you can use for your cake to make it look stunning.
The ingredients in this carrot cake are very basic! they’re mostly staples that will already be in your pantry.
How to Make Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan well with cooking spray.
- Make the batter: In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl add the sugar, eggs and vegetable oil. Mix until it all comes together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix everything until well combined.
- Add the carrots and walnuts: Using a spatula mix everything together until the carrots and walnuts are well incorporated into the batter.
- Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan for 40-45 minutes.
Feel free to add your favorite mix-in ingredients to this carrot cake! Pecans, sliced almonds, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins; the options are endless and so delicious.
How Do I Know When My Cake Is Done Baking
Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, you can take the cake out of the oven. If the toothpick comes out with batter stuck to it, bake the cake for an extra 5-10 minutes. Use a fresh toothpick and test in a different spot each time.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack or a cutting board.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Using either a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a whisk, beat the cream cheese with the butter until they’re smooth. Add the vanilla and the sugar, then beat until everything is incorporated and the icing has no lumps.
You can add more or less sugar depending on how sweet you want it to be. As I said above, don’t substitute with granulated sugar. It will leave crunchy bits in the icing and you won’t be able to get that creamy, dreamy consistency!
Tips for Making the Best Carrot Cake
- Use freshly grated carrots. Don’t skip this step and buy the pre-grated carrots; The ones you buy in the bag are too thick, and they will be crunchy in your cake.
- Don’t over-mix! We want this cake to be light and fluffy. Over-mixing the batter will give you a more dense and chewy cake. Only mix until you can no longer see the dry ingredients.
- Don’t leave spices out. Sugar and spice makes everything nice, right? If you don’t like cinnamon or can’t have it, use a dash of nutmeg, clove, ginger or a combination of all three in your cake.
- Use nuts if you can. That crunch in each bite really takes this carrot cake over the top!
- Don’t add the icing until the cake has fully cooled. If the cake is still warm at all, the butter and cream cheese in your icing will melt and fall off the cake.
How Do You Store Leftover Carrot Cake
Allow your cake to cool fully before storing it. Keep the cake in a large airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days.
How to Freeze Carrot Cake
You can freeze carrot cake slices in airtight containers for several months. Wrapping carrot cake slices individually allows you to thaw slices one at a time, as needed.
Looking for More Cake Recipes? Try These:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups carrots, shredded
- 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Cream Cheese Icing
- 12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners sugar, same as powdered sugar or icing sugar
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
- In another bowl add the sugar, eggs and vegetable oil. Whisk until it all comes together. Alternatively you could use your mixer.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk everything until well combined.
- Add the carrots and walnuts. Using a spatula mix everything together until the carrots and walnuts are well incorporated into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting it.
- While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the cream cheese together with the butter, then add the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle with walnuts.
- Cut into squares. Refrigerate until ready to serve.