This easy carrot cake recipe comes together quickly and yields a delicious, flavorful version of a classic dessert food.
What's not to love about carrot cake?
It's hearty, it's spicy, it's flavorful and of course, it's topped with cream cheese frosting, which makes everything better. It's no wonder that this simple cake, which has its roots as early as medieval times (really) but gained worldwide popularity following World War II, is considered a classic.
This straightforward, easy carrot cake recipe comes together quickly and yields a reliably moist, flavorful result. You can ice your cake simply and call it a day, or creatively decorate your cake with candied carrot peel.
Easy carrot cake recipe
Makes two 9" cakes
Adapted from The Secret Lives of Baked Goods
Ingredients for the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
Ingredients for the cream cheese icing:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
Note: International readers may enjoy our handy metric conversion guide.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the cake pans: grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch pans, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, oil, two sugars and vanilla. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, and then turn up the speed to medium for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until combined and lightly frothy.
Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture in 2 to 3 increments, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula with each addition.
Stir in carrots, mixing on low speed until combined. Fold in the toasted pecans.
Pour an even amount of batter into each of the prepared pans.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.
While the cake cools, prepare the cream cheese icing. Cream the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, mixing on medium speed until completely combined and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar. Mix on low speed, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining sugar, and mix until the icing has reached your desired consistency.
Once the cake is cooled completely, place one cake layer, flat side up, on a serving platter, and spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer, flat side up, on top of the frosted layer. Apply a thin crumb coat, and let it set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding to ice the top and sides. Decorate as desired.
- I don't like raisins in my carrot cake, so they are omitted. If it is simply not carrot cake without raisins for you, then add ½ cup during Step 5 of the recipe, the same time that you add the nuts.
- This cake was topped with candied carrot peel, which is an easy and creative way to easily decorate your carrot cake. However, you can choose your own adventure with decoration, piping on decorations or leaving the cake with a simple coat of cream cheese icing.
The Ultimate Cake-Baking Toolbox
Enjoy detailed instruction as you master the techniques to mix, bake, fill and frost everyone's favorite cakes, from mouthwatering carrot cake to luscious red velvet.