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The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

A wonderfully moist, perfectly spiced carrot cake recipe.  This cake is surprisingly simple to make and includes a step-by-step video for no-fail results every time. Top everything off with my simple cream cheese frosting for what truly might be the perfect carrot cake.
Course Cake
Cuisine American
Keyword carrot cake, classic carrot cake, moist cake, the best carrot cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 765kcal
Author Sam Merritt

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (315g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar* tightly packed (200g)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil (235ml)
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter melted (113g)
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots** (340g)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans optional (125g)

Cream Cheese Frosting***

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened (113g)
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened (brick-style, not spreadable) (226g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (500g)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and prepare two 8-inch pans**** by lining the bottoms with parchment paper and lightly greasing and flouring the sides.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Add your canola oil and melted butter and stir well (batter will be pretty stiff and thick at this point, I usually use an electric mixer or my stand mixer to combine everything nicely).
  • Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  • Stir in vanilla extract.
  • Stir in carrots and nuts (if using) until ingredients are well-combined.
  • Evenly divide carrot cake batter into prepared baking pans and bake on 350F (175C) for 40 minutes (toothpick inserted in center should come out mostly clean with only few moist crumbs).
  • Allow carrot cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Allow cake to cool completely before covering with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy, well-combined, and lump-free.
  • Add vanilla extract and sprinkle salt into the bowl and stir well to combine.
  • With mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar until ingredients are completely combined (be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula).
  • Once your cake has cooled completely, cover with frosting.

Notes

*Either light or dark brown sugar will work fine, dark brown sugar will make your cake slightly more moist and rich, but light brown sugar works perfectly if you don't have dark on hand.
**For me, this usually requires about 4 large carrots. I always peel my carrots before grating. Make sure to use the small shred of your box grater. Another way I like to prepare my carrots is to use the "shred" setting on my food processor and then switch to the blade and briefly pulse the carrots so that you have fine pieces of carrot (don't over-do it though, or you'll have carrot juice!). Whatever you do, don't use store-bought "matchstick" carrots, they're not nearly thin enough!
***A single batch of my cream cheese frosting recipe will cover this cake, but because I like a lot of frosting and will usually pipe decoration on the top of the cake, I generally increase the recipe by 50% or even double it.
****You can use 9" cake pans instead, but the carrot cake will need to bake for less time, likely around 30-35 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (calories calculated with frosting but without optional nuts) | Calories: 765kcal