An easy Carrot Cake recipe that is wonderfully moist and perfectly spiced. Topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting, you’ll fall in love with this simple take on a classic dessert. 

Carrot Cake with a slice taken out

I didn’t grow up on carrot cake. 

Oh, it made its appearance every now and then at different gatherings. And the only thing that grabbed my interest, if I’m being truly honest here, was when it was topped with an extra thick layer of cream cheese frosting. 

The idea of carrots in my cake was just plain off-putting to me when I was young. Quite the way our own daughters currently feel about this dessert, I’m 100% certain. 

But my affection for carrot cake has grown tremendously over time. And a couple years ago I started experimenting with recipes. My goal was to have a warmly spiced cake that was rather low-key, with a smaller size and just one layer. Yet it still needed to have an elegant appearance for holidays such as Easter. 

This crosses off all of my most important measures for the best Carrot Cake recipe. Including an irresistible swirly layer of homemade cream cheese frosting!

grated carrots

Carrot cake ingredients

Of course, this cake includes carrots. Had I known as a kid that carrots add terrific moistness and don’t actually make the cake taste like vegetables, I surely would have embraced this dessert at a much earlier age.

I like to use the large holes on a box grater to create the carrot shreds. This recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups (do not pack the shreds tightly into the measuring cups) of grated carrots.

There a few things that I particularly like about this recipe:

  • It uses considerably less oil than most recipes I found. This gives the cake better flavor and texture, without compromising moistness (thanks to the carrots!).
  • I think the best carrot cakes include an extra dose of warm spices. Because, after all, carrot cake really is a spice cake. I’ve found that so many recipes skimp on the spice. But not this one!
  • This recipe incorporates both white granulated sugar AND brown sugar. I love how brown sugar plays with warm spices. Plus, it adds extra moistness to the cake’s crumb. 
Carrot Cake with frosting

Topping off this moist carrot cake is a super simple homemade cream cheese frosting. All it takes is four ingredients – cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. 

Our girls request pieces of this cake for the frosting alone. #truth

carrot cake

We tend to celebrate Easter with a smaller gathering, so this single-layer, easy carrot cake recipe fits our family just perfectly.

I like to place the cake on a pretty platter, swirl on the cream cheese frosting, and then sprinkle it with a bit more cinnamon. So pretty!

Might I suggest a few more recipes to celebrate spring and Easter:

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pinterest image of Carrot cake with a slice taken out and put on a plate
Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting on a blue platter

Carrot Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This easy carrot cake recipe is wonderfully moist and perfectly spiced. Topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting, you'll fall in love with this simple take on a classic dessert!

Ingredients

for the carrot cake:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon (use less if desired...I like a very cinnamon-y spice cake!)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger (dried ginger, not fresh)
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. grated peeled carrots - do not pack the grated carrots tightly into the measuring cups - to grate, use the large round holes on a box grater
  • 1/3 c. chopped roasted salted pecans, about 1/4" in size - here's my favorite brand

for the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon, for sprinkling over the top

Instructions

  1. For the carrot cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8" round cake pan - I recommend this light-colored aluminum cake pan for best results. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Add remaining dry ingredients, folding together again until incorporated. Fold in carrots and pecans.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 42 to 45 minutes, or until top of cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes. Turn out cake from pan, removing parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature on cooling rack.
  6. For the cream cheese frosting: In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  7. To assemble the cake: Place cake on serving platter. Using as much of the frosting as you desire (I use nearly all of this amount), swirl the frosting onto top of cake with an offset spatula or spoon. Sprinkle cinnamon lightly over the top with a small mesh shaker. If serving right away, there's no need to refrigerate. Otherwise, store cake covered in refrigerator, and then remove 30 minutes prior to serving.

Notes

adapted from allrecipes.com

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 295mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 2gSugar: 46gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

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Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting