Perfect for Easter, this Carrot Cake Recipe is covered with thick cream cheese frosting. Spicy, moist, soft, and delicious it’ll be your new favorite cake!
This basic Carrot Cake Recipe is to DIE for! Spiced to perfection, with freshly grated carrots and slathered with the most amazing cream cheese frosting. Optionally you can add crushed pineapple, nuts or shredded coconut to make carrot cake how you like it! Enjoy 🙂
Why Carrot Cake?
If you don’t like carrot cake, I’m convinced you just haven’t tasted the right carrot cake recipe. Traditionally carrot cake is made during the springtime, near Easter, and calls for nuts, coconut, and/or pineapple. This simple version (as listed in the recipe card) is a basic carrot cake recipe, however, I also have instructions for adding other ingredients down below.
Carrot Cake Recipe Ingredients
Easy, homemade, and slightly addicting, this carrot cake recipe will leave you wanting more! Here is everything you need to make the best carrot cake:
- Milk and White Vinegar – this mixture creates buttermilk which gives flavor but most importantly keeps this cake moist.
- Granulated Sugar and Salt – to sweeten and to balance different flavors.
- All-Purpose Flour – this fills out the cake.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder – the baking soda reacts with the vinegar to help the cake rise and the baking powder is to give this cake even more lift. (All this leavening is for structure usually eggs would provide).
- Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves – warm spices that compliment the carrots and make carrot cake what it’s known for! Its unique and delicious flavor!
- Vanilla Extract – a classic ingredient that adds subtle flavor.
- Canola Oil – oil also helps keep the cake moist. Any light-colored oil could work here (vegetable or grapeseed oil).
- Carrots – shredded to be exact! Carrots are the main star of this recipe and also lend quite a lot to the moisture department. No dry cakes here!
That is correct, this carrot cake recipe does not call for any eggs! Don’t worry because all of the structure that eggs provide is replaced by the combination of baking soda, baking powder, and a small amount of vinegar in the buttermilk mixture. These three act together to bring the cake lift without eggs! I promise your carrot cake will turn out just as perfect as mine did, and you won’t even notice the difference. And as a bonus, it’s safe to lick the bowl clean!
Carrot Cake Recipe Add-Ins
Let’s talk about Add-Ins before you make this carrot cake recipe that way you can make it how you like it! If you want to add in coconut, pecans and/or pineapple, here is how:
- Crushed Pineapple: Reduce the milk and white vinegar mixture by 1/2 cup and increase the amount of flour by 1/4 cup. Drain one 8 oz can of crushed pineapple and add it in with the grated carrots. Then bake, cool and frost as normal. All of these changes are to account for the added moisture of the pineapple.
- Pecans: Toast and chop 3/4 cups of pecans (you could also use walnuts or almonds) and stir in with the grated carrots. Bake, cool, and frost as normal. Toasting creates a deeper flavor and is highly recommended. Save some for decorating your cake.
- Coconut: Measure out 1 1/2 cups of sweetened, desiccated coconut to stir into the batter with the grated carrots. Bake, cool, and frost as usual. Save some for decorating your cake.
When adding nuts or coconut to the cake batter the milk and white vinegar mixture does not need to be reduced and you do not need to add more flour. This is because you aren’t adding any extra moisture (unlike the pineapple).
Tips and Tricks
These tips and tricks for carrot cake are going to make your life a whole lot easier and tastier!
- Parchment Paper. Line your cake pans with parchment paper and then spray them with cooking spray. This double ensures that your cakes won’t stick!
- Grating Carrots. Do not buy store-bought grated carrots, they are dry and hard. Instead, grate your own carrots for a moist cake.
- Make-Ahead. Trust me when I say that this cake is better the next day. The flavors of the cake really start to blend together and the cream cheese frosting grabs onto the cake. So consider making this a day ahead by storing it in your fridge until ready to serve. See below for more detailed instructions on how to do this.
How to Make Carrot Cake
You won’t need any sort of electric mixer for this carrot cake recipe. Just like any other cake recipe, you mix up the batter, pour into your cake tins then bake to perfection! Once baked, cool the cakes then stack and frost. This is a super simple recipe that is really hard to mess up, for full details check out the recipe card below!
- Preheat oven. Line cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Measure out the milk and white vinegar mixture. Stir and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Create a well in the center and add in the milk vinegar mixture, oil, and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined then add in carrots and any additional desired ingredients (pineapple, pecans, coconut). Stir to distribute.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between baking pans. Smooth the tops then bake until set. To check doneness, poke the cake with a toothpick if it comes out clean the cake is done.
- Remove the cake pans from the oven and cool in pans until warm. Then invert the pans onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. Allow the cakes to completely cool before frosting (while the cakes are cooling, make the frosting).
- Stack cakes with frosting in between then coat the sides evenly with more frosting. Decorate with nuts, coconut shreds, or colored frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
What goes better with carrot cake than cream cheese frosting? Nothing, my friends, nothing. The best carrot cake recipe is only the best when paired with this divine frosting. The tangy, creaminess perfectly complements the sweet yet spiced cake. And on top of that, it is stupidly easy to make. So check out the cream cheese frosting made specifically for this carrot cake recipe!
Like stated above this carrot cake recipe is even more amazing the next day! And if you are making this for any sort of holiday, making this cake ahead of time means you get to spend more time with family. This is why I’ve outlined three different ways to make carrot cake ahead of time.
Make and Store Everything Separately
Bake then cool the cake layers completely. Wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Along with the cake, make the frosting ahead of time and store in the fridge (covered). When ready to assemble, allow the frosting come to room temperature then give it a quick mix to loosen it up.
Make, Assemble, and Store
This option is pretty straight forward! Make the cake, assemble and frost it then store in the fridge for up to a week! Be sure to store it covered by tenting plastic wrap over it or storing on a cake stand with a cover.
Freeze (frosted or unfrosted)
If you really wanted to make this carrot cake recipe in advance consider freezing it frosted or unfrosted! Wrap each unfrosted cake layer in plastic wrap then freeze for up to three months. Alternativley when freezing frosted cake, freeze unwrapped in the freezer for a couple hours, then wrap and freeze for up to three months.
When ready to serve, transfer the cake to the fridge to thaw overnight (unwrap and transfer to a covered container with more room if thawing a frosted cake). Then allow the cakes to come to room temperature on the counter before decorating or serving.
More Cake Recipes to Try!
Carrot Cake Recipe
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil/grapeseed oil
- 3 cups grated carrot
- 1 recipe cream cheese frosting
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line three 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper then grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Measure out milk then stir in white vinegar. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, measure out and whisk together dry ingredients then create a well in the center. In the middle of the well, pour in the milk-white vinegar mixture, oil, and vanilla. Stir until just incorporated and then stir in grated carrots.
- Divide the batter evenly between cake pans. Smooth the tops then bake for 15-20 minutes or until set.
- Cool the cakes in their pans until just warm. Flip the cakes over onto cooling racks, remove the parchment paper and cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting.
- Use a serrated knife to level off the tops of the cakes (if desired). Stack carrot cakes with frosting in between. With remaining cream cheese frosting, cover the sides and top.
- Decorate with chopped nuts, shredded coconut or colored frosting carrots.
JANETJuly 30, 2020 at 6:36 pm
I am wondering…the cake shown is three layers. What size pans were used and did they use the same amounts as shown?
laurenbJuly 31, 2020 at 8:27 pm
That was a typo! You definitely can do this in two layers but three is fine, too! No changes needed to the recipe; its all the same whether you bake it in two or three pans. I used three 8-inch pans but 9-inch ones are fine too, your cake just won’t be as tall.