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An image looking down onto the top of a carrot cake decorated with piped carrots made from frosting.
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5 from 6 votes

Carrot Cake

Layers of light and moist cake made with shredded carrots and the perfect balance of warm spices, and topped with a tangy homemade cream cheese frosting, this really is the Best Carrot Cake Recipe ever!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Additional Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 -16 Servings
Calories: 964kcal
Author: Amy Nash

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 ¼ cups oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots about 6-7 medium carrots
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup salted butter at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts for garnish

Instructions

Make the cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 8-inch pans with parchment paper circles.
  • In a large bowl, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla on medium-high speed until combined. Stir in the shredded carrots.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. You can always whisk these together in a separate bowl first, which is what a lot of bakers do, but I feel like if you sprinkle the spices over the flower instead of dumping them, you can save yourself a bowl and a step and they will mix in just fine without any clumps of cinnamon or cloves.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs on it. Cool for a few minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting

  • Beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Assembly

  • Set one layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Frost with about ¾ cup of the frosting. Repeat with the second layer, then top with the final cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and around the sides of the cake, reserving ½-3/4 cup for decorating with piped carrots.
  • Sprinkle chopped pecans in a ring around the top.
  • In a small bowl, mix ⅔ of the reserved frosting with orange food coloring. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe from the outside edge of the cake in toward the center, stopping and starting a couple of times to create ridges in the "carrots" and easing up pressure toward the middle so the frosting comes to a point.
  • In another small bowl, mix the remaining frosting with green food coloring. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a few lines from the edge of each carrot to create the carrot greens.

Notes

  • OPTIONAL: 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans can be added to the cake batter. Personally, I don't love nuts in my carrot cake, just on the outside of it.
  • OPTIONAL: 1 cup shredded coconut can be added to the batter as well.
  • Sheet Cake Version: You can bake this as a sheet cake in a 9x13-inch rectangular baking dish for 40-50 minutes.
  • Storing Instructions: This cake will keep at room temperature for 1-2 days. Or you can store leftover slices in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing the cake once it has been assembled, but unfrosted layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 964kcal | Carbohydrates: 102g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 665mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 77g | Vitamin A: 6424IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 2mg