There’s nothing quite like homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! This scrumptious classic carrot cake recipe is remarkably moist and ridiculously easy to make! It would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift, too!
You probably already know by now just how much I love making cakes!
But, this cake? OMG! This cake is an all-time family favorite classic!
Looking for more cake recipes? Try my 3 Ingredient Oreo Cake, my lemon olive oil cake, and my easy strawberry charlotte cake with fresh strawberries!
This super simple, made-from-scratch carrot cake is wonderfully spiced, moist, and delicious. It’s topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting which is decadently luscious and fluffy.
You will absolutely LOVE it, too! I'm sure it will become your new go-to carrot cake recipe! I think it's the best classic carrot cake recipe!
In addition, instead of 2 layers, you could make the cake in a 9 x 13 inch (23 X 33 cm) pan or even a tube pan.
There are only a few, simple ingredients in this recipe.
Here’s what you’ll need:
ground cinnamon & ground nutmeg
unsweetened, shredded/ground coconut
a few whole walnuts or pecans (to decorate)
Ideas for Add-ins
If you wish, you could add some raisins, chopped walnuts/pecans, or even toasted nuts.
To be honest, though, I always avoid these add-ins because I feel they overpower the spices in the cake. Also, I find that the cake isn’t as tender with the add-ins, but this is my own preference. Feel free to add in whatever you like.
TOP TIP FOR THE BEST CLASSIC CARROT CAKE RECIPE
Why use freshly grated carrots? Can’t I just finely chop them in a food processor?
This is really important – probably the greatest tip I could ever give!
YOU NEED TO GRATE THE CARROTS BY HAND – DO NOT FINELY CHOP THEM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR!!!
I once experimented to see how this cake would turn out if I put the carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. I mainly did this so that I could save some time, which I did, but ...
the result??? A COMPLETE FLAVOR DISASTER!!! Why? Let me explain.
See all those tiny pieces of shredded carrots popping out in the photo below?
When I put the carrots in the food processor instead of shredding them by hand, I could barely see them in the cake. And worst of all, I could barely taste them! Moreover, when the carrots are chopped so small, they’re practically invisible in the cake – almost as if they’re not in the cake at all!
However, finely grated carrots by hand, though, will add just the right texture without making the cake crunchy.
So, I vowed NEVER to do that again and I promised to warn all fellow home bakers whenever I get the chance!
Bottom line: GRATE YOUR CARROTS BY HAND USING A BOX GRATER – DO NOT FINELY CHOP THEM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR!
More Tips for Classic Carrot Cake Success
- First of all, make sure all your ingredients have come to room temperature before you begin.
- Measure the flour correctly! Too much flour can make the cake dry and crumbly, and too little can make it dense and cause it to fall while baking.
- Weighing all the ingredients with a digital scale will give consistent results.
- Peel the carrots before grating them. Otherwise, they’ll leave a bitter aftertaste in the cake.
- Avoid using packaged shredded carrots because they tend to be drier and thicker than freshly grated carrots. Also, freshly grated carrots add moisture and help make the cake moist. When you grate the carrots by hand, you’ll notice they’re a bit wet. This is what we’re looking for!
- The secret to a super moist carrot cake is vegetable oil! Butter or margarine will not give the same results.
- Do not overmix the batter. Mix everything until just combined.
- Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 15 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. This will ensure you don’t damage them so they look pretty when it comes time to decorate!
How to Freeze Unfrosted Cakes
You can easily freeze the cakes if you want to plan ahead for a future event.
- Make sure the cakes have cooled completely.
- Tightly wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and then put them in sealable freezer bags. The cakes can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To thaw, put the cakes in the refrigerator overnight or let them come to room temperature, about 3 hours.
TIPS FOR THE BEST CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
This cream cheese frosting is slightly tangy and goes so well with carrot cake. All you need is butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar. You can use salted butter if you want to balance the sweetness.
I also suggest using full-fat cream cheese as opposed to the low fat kind because it helps to make the frosting thick. This frosting is perfectly spreadable, but if you want to decorate the cake with a piping bag, just put it in the refrigerator (covered) for about half an hour to stiffen it up a bit.
Tips for Assembling & Decorating the Cake
- Before I pour the batter into each pan, I weigh it first and then divide it equally between both pans. This not only ensures that the cakes are the same size and weight, but they will also bake evenly.
- If you want to get fancy, you could trim the cakes to make them flat on the top and then save the trimmings, but I don’t usually bother.
- Make sure the cake has cooled completely before frosting it. If you frost the cake while it’s still warm, you’ll end up with a melted, messy, cream cheese frosting!
I hope you enjoy this amazing carrot cake!
MORE CAKE RECIPES TO TRY
Let me know how this carrot cake turned out for you in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
The Best Classic Carrot Cake Recipe (Easy + Tips)
For the cake
- 2½ cups (320g / 11.3oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (300g / 10.6oz) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoonground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup light vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 ½ cups (265g / 9oz) grated carrots (about 4-5 large carrots), peeled first
- ½ cup (60g) unsweetened, shredded/ground coconut
- about 20 whole walnuts or pecans (optional)
For the frosting
- 225g (8 oz) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 ½ cups (560g / 1lb 1.4oz) powdered sugar, plus an extra ½ cup if needed
- Preheat the oven to 325°F / 165°C.
- Grease & lightly flour 2 8-inch (20 cm) pans & line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Add the oil, eggs (one at a time), and milk. Beat on low speed until well combined, scraping the bowl often. Add the carrots and the coconut and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. Do not overmix.
- Weigh the batter and pour equal amounts into the prepared pans.
- Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let them cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the cream cheese frosting
- Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on low speed until smooth and creamy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
- Add the extra ½ cup powdered sugar if you want the frosting a bit stiffer and thicker.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
Assemble & frost the cake
- Place a cake layer on a platter or a cake stand. Top with half of the frosting. Place the other cake layer on top and use the remaining frosting to frost the top. Decorate with whole walnuts or pecans.
- Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 5-6 days.