This Carrot Cake recipe is made from scratch, tender, and moist with a delicious homemade cream cheese frosting. Perfect for Easter or anytime!
Looking for more delicious cake recipes? I think you’ll love my Chocolate Cake, White Cake, and my Vanilla Cake.
Based on my Grandmother’s Carrot Cake recipe, this delicious recipe has become a family favorite for Easter, spring get-togethers, and family celebrations throughout the year.
This carrot cake is incredibly moist and is the standard by which my family compares every carrot cake! Flavorful and rich from the grated carrots, brown sugar, and the perfect balance of spices, this truly is the ultimate carrot cake recipe! My recipe includes toasted pecans, which also give amazing flavor. Each delicious, tender bite is perfectly moist and sticks to the fork while still being fluffy and luscious.
How to Make the BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.
To make this carrot cake recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients.
- Butter – softened to room temperature.
- Coconut oil – I love to use coconut oil in this recipe. You can also substitute it with vegetable oil or canola oil.
- Granulated sugar – I use both granulated and brown sugar in my recipe.
- Brown sugar – the brown sugar deepens the flavor of this cake and makes it taste amazing.
- Vanilla extract – I love to use my homemade vanilla extract, but if using store-bought, be sure to use the highest quality you can. I don’t recommend using imitation vanilla flavoring as it can leave a bitter aftertaste, in my opinion.
- Eggs – this recipe uses 3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks.
- Flour – this recipe uses all-purpose flour. The all-purpose flour that I use is light and lower in protein. You can also use cake flour.
- Baking powder – my recipe uses both baking powder and baking soda as leavening to help the cake rise properly.
- Baking soda – see the note above in baking powder.
- Spices – I use ground cinnamon and ground ginger to spice my carrot cake. They both add so much flavor and give my carrot cake its signature flavor.
- Salt – a little salt in sweet recipes helps to balance
- Buttermilk – You will need to use buttermilk in my recipe for the acid to help activate the leavening for the cake to rise. If you don’t already have buttermilk on hand, use my simple tip on how to make buttermilk substitute.
- Carrots – I prefer to grate my own carrots for this cake rather than buying bags of grated carrots. I find that the texture of the cake is much better in my opinion. You can grate them in your food processor or with a standard box or flat grater.
- Toasted pecans – The toasted pecans add depth of flavor and additional texture to the cake. If you don’t care for pecans or nuts, you can omit them.
- Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe – THE signature frosting for carrot cake. It is a must for this recipe. ♡
Mix together butter, coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract until well incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next.
Add egg yolk, making sure well combined.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well incorporated.
Add buttermilk, beating until just combined before stirring in remaining flour mixture.
Add the remaining dry ingredient mixture to the cake batter and stir until combined.
Fold in the grated carrots and 1 cup of the pecans, if using.
Divide the cake batter between two prepared cake pans. Bake until cakes spring back when gently touched in the center and the edges begin to turn loose from the sides of the pan, about 30 – 40 minutes. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Turn out of pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions
I love to make this carrot cake in advance. The flavors seem to become even richer and the cream cheese frosting and the cake meld together for the most incredible cake.
To make ahead. Prepare the cake according to the recipe. Frost with the cream cheese frosting, cover, and store in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days.
To freeze. Prepare the cake layers through baking and cooling. Allow the cake layers to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and carefully place each layer into a gallon zip-top freezer bag. Place the layers flat in your freezer (I like to place them onto a sheet pan.) Freeze the cake layers for up to one month. To frost the cake, simply remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator with the wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.
Here’s my Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe. I hope you love it as much as we do!
The Best Carrot Cake Recipe Ever
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil vegetable oil, or canola oil
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups roasted pecans divided (optional)
- Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- Preheat oven 350º F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with butter or shortening and lightly dust with flour to prevent cake from sticking while baking. Alternately, coat well with baking spray.
- Mix together butter, coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract until well incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next. Add egg yolk making sure well combined.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well incorporated. Add buttermilk, beating until just combined before stirring in remaining flour mixture.
- Fold in carrots, 1 cup of pecans and divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.
- Bake until cakes spring back when gently touched in the center and the edges begin to turn loose from the sides of the pan, about 30 – 40 minutes. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Turn out of pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Frost cake with cream cheese frosting.
2 – Additional mix-ins may be included or used instead of the 1 cup of pecans. I would recommend coconut, raisins, walnuts, or even pineapple. The total amount of mix-ins should not exceed 1 cup.
3 – I only used half of the cream cheese frosting recipe for the cake photographed and did not spread frosting on the sides of the cake. Nutritional information is estimated based on using the entire cream cheese frosting recipe.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Do you use salted or unsalted butter for this recipe? Thank you
I use salted butter, Gloria, but you can use unsalted if you prefer.
Your equipment list says 9″ pans, but your step-by-step instructions call for 8″ pans. Which size is correct for the time and temperature?
I’m sorry about that, Irene, but this recipe is for 2 8-inch pan. Hope you enjoy the cake
This is my go to carrot cake recipe.
It’s moist and delicious.
Everyone loves it.
I use cake flour, instead of AP.