The very BEST carrot cake recipe might be a strong claim but this perfectly spiced, always moist, and easy carrot cake is just that. Layered with classic cream cheese frosting, this cake stole my heart and has forever been perfect in my book! Now after years of Freutcake readers making and loving this recipe, I can say without a doubt that YOU will find it the very best too.
Homestyle Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
In my opinion this really is THE best recipe for homestyle carrot cake…and I’ve tried quite a few. Carrot Cake Cupcakes are also a favorite of mine if you are looking for more carrot goodness. This cake is simple to make, you don’t even need a mixer, it’s incredibly moist, and has just the right amount of cinnamon spice.
There isn’t a raisin, chunk of pineapple or nut to be seen in the cake (aside from the garnish of course) and it bakes up perfect every time. In my book these are all criteria for THE VERY BEST carrot cake.
Nothing but tons of freshly grated carrot (which is essential) and beautiful batter, baked and layered with sweet cream cheese frosting.
I add an extra step by crumb coating my cake with a thin layer of frosting and freezing it for about 30 minutes so that it’s nice and firm before fully frosting it. It’s not a necessary step but it makes frosting and adding the nuts so much easier! We will get to that…
Homemade Carrot Cake Ingredients
- Eggs – I like to use Large eggs anytime I bake!
- Oil – you can use vegetable or canola for this recipe.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar, you gotta have it for cake.
- Vanilla Extract – use a good quality pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Flour – all purpose white flour is what I prefer for this cake.
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder – because it’s a cake of course!
- Salt– to make it delicious.
- Cinnamon – the only spice in this cake however you can add a pinch of nutmeg as well if you would like.
- Carrots– freshly grated is the only way to go! Use a food processor to make it faster.
- Pecans – optional for outside of the cake
- Cream Cheese Frosting– because it wouldn’t be carrot cake without it! The recipe is included at the end of the post.
How to Make Homemade Carrot Cake
- Preheat & Prep– Preheat your oven and prep your pans before anything else! Grease and flour two round 9″ cake pans and set aside. Note: I grease mine well with butter and dust with flour. You can also line the bottoms of your pans with parchment rounds for extra insurance although I don’t usually need to. Make sure you have two good quality cake pans, like these!
- Make the Batter – Beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Then stir in the dry ingredients and lastly fold in the shredded carrots.
- Fill and Bake – pour the batter evenly into pans and bake! I rotate the pans during the baking process to make sure they rise evenly. Allow to cool completely before frosting!
- Make the Frosting – make cream cheese frosting while your cakes cool.
- Frost the Cake – TRICK! I like to crumb coat my cake before fully frosting the outside. Here’s how I do it: Place one cake round on a cake plate. Top with about 1 cup of frosting or as much as you would like, just save enough for the outside of the cake. Top with the second half and apply a thin layer of frosting to the entire cake. This is the crumb coat. Freeze for 30 minutes until firm. Frost with the remaining frosting. If desired, press chopped pecans into frosting around the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Slice, Eat, Enjoy!
How to Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
This is my recipe for creamy delicious CLASSIC cream cheese frosting. I only use around 4 cups of confectioners sugar in my frosting however you can use up to 6 cups depending on the consistency and sweetness you like. Some recipes call for WAY more sugar but I feel like that can leave you with a sickly sweet frosting and that’s not my jam.
Here’s how I make it: First, start with room temperature butter and softened cream cheese! This means leaving your butter out overnight and your cream cheese out for a couple hours or long enough to soften it so that when you beat it up in an electric mixer it will be creamy and not clumpy.
Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. That’s it! Perfect, classic cream cheese frosting.
Possible Carrot Cake Variations
While I PERSONALLY feel like good carrot cake is simple, I can appreciate that some people enjoy a variety of mix-ins in their cake. Here are some ideas to jazz up your carrot cake IF you are nuts…kidding, kidding…get it?
- Nuts – chopped pecans or walnuts can be added to the batter before baking. I like them best on the outside of my cake to give it a pretty and delicious finishing touch but if you want to add them to the inside I would recommend about 1/2 cup chopped nuts.
- Additional Spices – clove and nutmeg would both work in this cake.
- Raisins – I would add 1/2 cup to the batter if you are looking to add raisins.
- Shredded Coconut – this would actually be really delicious and I would try adding 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut if you want to go this route.
- Orange Zest – I actually really like adding orange zest to both my cake and frosting! Start with the zest of one orange and add a portion of it to your batter and reserve a little for your frosting. A little goes a long way.
- Any combination of the above.
More Homemade Cake Recipes
If you love this carrot cake recipe as much as I do, you will also enjoy these cakes and recipes!
- Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake
- Blueberry Crumb Muffins
- Bourbon Brown Sugar Cake
- Apple Cider Cupcakes with Cider Buttercream
- Blueberry Muffin Coffee Cake
- Old Fashioned Cherry Cake
Who’s hungry for cake? If you make this recipe or any of my recipes, please come back and leave a comment in the section below letting me know how you like it. Happy baking, friends!
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups (packed) freshly grated carrots
- 3-4 cups chopped pecans - optional for outside of the cake
- Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round 9" cake pans and set aside. Note: I grease mine well with butter and dust with flour. Give the pans a good bang over the sink to remove any extra flour. You can also line the bottoms of your pans with parchment rounds for extra insurance although I don't usually need to.
- Peel and grate carrots and set aside. I use a food processor to grate mine fast but you can use a box grater as well. Note: Use freshly grated carrots. Store bought pre-grated carrots are too dry.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract by hand with a large whisk.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until blended with a wooden spoon.
- Fold in the carrots and divide between the two prepared round cake pans.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes rotating pans once during the baking (after 20 minutes) for even rise in both pans. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you are making these a day ahead, allow to cool and wrap each round in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- Make the Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Frost the Cake: Place one cake round on a cake plate. Top with about 1 cup of frosting or as much as you would like, just save enough for the outside of the cake. Top with the second half and apply a thin layer of frosting to the entire cake. This is the crumb coat. Freeze for 30 minutes until firm. Frost with the remaining frosting. If desired, press chopped pecans into frosting around the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Please read blog post for tips and recipe substitutions!
PLEASE NOTE: this makes two 9" round cakes which will be layered to make one cake.