Best Carrot Cake Recipe

Y’all, this Award-Winning Best Carrot Cake Recipe that totally rocked The Kitchn’s Carrot Cake smackdown is an absolute must for Easter or, honestly, any time of the year! It’s unbelievably moist and packed with fresh carrots, juicy pineapple, a cozy mix of warm spices, and topped off with a to-die-for homemade brown butter cream cheese frosting. Trust me when I say, this is the Best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER. It’s like, every bite is a little piece of heaven.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

A slice of carrot cake sliding out to serve

Y’all, I spent this past week working in LA and let me tell you, I missed the sunshine. The days were warm but never uncomfortably so and the cool breeze was EVERYTHING. I enjoyed stepping out in a t-shirt because it meant shedding the winter coat I’ve been lugging for months.

Though I was sad to tuck away my sunglasses and yank on my boots, I came home excited for the coming Spring. I’ve spent the past few days dreaming of budding trees, tulip bulbs and surprisingly, carrot cake. To me, Carrot Cake is synonymous with Spring; the gorgeous, vibrant carrots represent all that’s beautiful about the new season.

So, I decided to share with you all the BEST Carrot Cake recipe EVER in the hopes that the seasons will get the hint. Let’s welcome in warmer weather with a moist, spiced and oh so decadently creamy Carrot Cake!

An overhead of full cream cheese frosted carrot cake against white background

The Heart and Soul of this Award Winning Best Carrot Cake Recipe

Cuisine Inspiration: Southern Comfort A Southern gem upgraded with brown butter cream cheese frosting.

Primary Cooking Method: Baking Crafted in the oven, this cake’s all about cozy, heartwarming vibes.

Dietary Info: Sweet Indulgence A treat with carrots, but it’s the sweet harmony that sings!

Key Flavor: Nutty Richness Brown butter elevates the frosting to an art form.

Skill Level: Intermediate Some baking background helps you rock this recipe.

Sweet Highlights:

Time-Tested Tradition: More than a cake, it’s a slice of heritage.

Crowned in Glory: A champion in the kitchen – it’s the cake that won hearts.

Frosting Revolution: That brown butter cream cheese mix? Divine.

Unmatched Moistness: This cake redefines moist in every bite.

A Taste of the South: Nostalgic flavors that hug your soul.

A close up of carrot cake decorated with swirls of buttercream


Having a better understanding of your ingredients and their purpose in a recipe creates a better outcome. Take a moment to learn about these ingredients, you’ll thank me later.

Self-Rising Flour

Carrot Cake can be on the heavier side because of its mix-in: nuts, fruit and carrots. To avoid a dense outcome, I use a self-rising flour which contains baking powder. The additional leavener helps to prevent the development of too much gluten; this means a tender, moist cake.  Thank you to Mama Dip for this amazing tip!

Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Allspice

This is traditionally a spice-heavy cake; the spice blend layers warmth, a sweetly pungent aroma and peppery overtones.

Vegetable Oil

The purpose of fat in any baking recipe is to add and retain moisture. Oil does the job by coating the protein in flour to prevent it from mixing with the other ingredients; if the protein is compromised, the necessary gluten does not form.

Grated Carrots

I prefer to freshly grate my own carrots because there’s a cleaner, more prominent flavor. Carrots should be sweet, earthy and slightly fruity.

Cream Cheese

Does this need an explanation? Every Carrot Cake worth talking about is served up with a tangy, smooth cream cheese frosting.

OPTIONAL: Roasted Walnuts & Crushed Pineapple

I would highly encourage the addition of these two ingredients. Roasted walnuts add a smoky, nutty flavor while also layering in a crunchy textural component. Pineapple simply offers a little extra fruity sweetness to compliment the carrots.

Slices of carrot cake on white plates with silver forks and

How to Make the Best Carrot Cake

For the Cake:

  1. Prep: Heat oven to 350°F, ready your pans.
  2. Dry Mix: Sift flour, spices, and baking soda.
  3. Wet Mix: In a mixer, combine sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
  4. Merge: Slowly add dry mix into the wet, then fold in carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
  5. Bake: About 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick is clean.
  6. Cool: Rest in pans, then transfer to racks.

For the Frosting:

  1. Brown Butter: Melt until amber, then cool.
  2. Mix: Whip butter with cream cheese, slowly include sugar, then add salt and vanilla.
  3. Frost: Slather between layers and around the cake.

How to Frost

I often find that assembling and icing a cake is the most difficult part of the whole process. The texture of a cake is finicky, frosting can be runny and patience is always required. But, don’t fret just yet! I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to make this much easier for you folks at home.

Chill the Cake

Consider baking the cake layers the day before frosting and allowing them time to properly chill. Cold makes for fewer crumbs and therefore, a smoother layer of frosting.

Once baked and out of the pan, leave the cake out to come to room temperature. Then, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours.

Use a Knife to Level the Top

If your cake has come out of the oven with a domed top I would suggest giving it a trim. Flat cakes make for easier stacking and a more visually appealing result.

Use a long serrated knife to carefully slice the rounded tops off each layer.

Crumb Coat

After having chilled your layers, apply a thin, even layer of frosting to the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes then, proceed with the final beautifully smooth layer of frosting.

BONUS TIP: This cake is visually quite simple. Jazz it up by decorating with chopped nuts, grated carrots, chocolate chunks or crushed pineapple. Get creative and your cake is sure to be a showstopper!


Keep your freshly baked Carrot Cake in a dry, cool area and cover with foil or plastic wrap to keep from drying out. At room temperature, the cake will last for 1-2 days.

If refrigerating, Carrot Cake will last for up to a week (properly stored of course). You can even freeze your cake; wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. The freezer will maintain the quality of the cake for 4-6 months.

Best Carrot Recipes

Let’s keep the Spring celebration going! Here are a few of Grandbaby Cakes’ BEST carrot-filled recipes:

A slice of carrot cake sliding out to serve

Carrot Cake Recipe

This Amazing Carrot Cake is perfect for Easter or year round!  Made incredibly delicious and moist with fresh carrots, pineapple, a blend of warm spices and a homemade brown butter cream cheese frosting, this Carrot Cake Recipe is truly the BEST dessert EVER!
4.64 from 315 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 16 servings


For the Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups self rising flour self rising flour usually has salt in it which is why it was omitted here but if you want a bit more you can add 1/4 tsp of salt as well
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple you can omit this if you want but I think it is essential/ I ONLY DRAIN PARTIALLY
  • 1 cup chopped roasted walnuts optional

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 16 oz cream cheese somewhat softened but still a little stiff/ 16 oz is 2 (8 oz) packages
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar if you want the frosting more stiff, add another 1/2 cup going up to 4 cups total
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and baking soda and set aside.
  • Next line the bottoms of 3 9” inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat sugar, oil and vanilla together at medium speed. Next add eggs, one at a time, blending after each incorporation.
  • Next slow down the mixer to lowest speed and add flour mixture in increments.
  • Fold in carrots, crushed pineapple if desired and walnuts if desired.
  • Evenly pour batter into cake pans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes then flip cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting

  • In a small saucepan, add butter and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has fully melted, a white foam will begin to appear over the top of the butter.
  • Watch carefully as the butter’s color changes to brown and the smell of the butter becomes somewhat nutty.
  • As soon as the butter is an amber brown color, remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator until it the butter has become solid again (can take about an hour or so).
  • Add cooled brown butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your mixer and beat on high speed until it begins to thicken and fluff.
  • Next slow down mixer and carefully add in confectioner’s sugar. Once all sugar has incorporated, turn mixer back to high to continue whipping.
  • Add salt and vanilla extract and continue whipping until it is smooth.
  • Spread frosting between layers and around cake and serve.


Both the pineapple and nuts are optional in this recipe.  Due to nut allergies in my family, I usually just add the pineapple without the nuts.
If you are adding the nuts, you can also add nuts as a gorgeous garnish to the design of the frosting as well on the outside!
Keep your freshly baked Carrot Cake in a dry, cool area and cover with foil or plastic wrap to keep from drying out. At room temperature, the cake will last for 1-2 days.
If refrigerating, Carrot Cake will last for up to a week (properly stored of course). You can even freeze your cake; wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. The freezer will maintain the quality of the cake for 4-6 months.


Calories: 511kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 194mg | Potassium: 192mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 4631IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @GrandbabyCakes or tag #grandbabycakes!
A slice of carrot cake sitting on vintage plate ready to serve with large cake in background
Filed Under:  Cake, Dessert and Baking, Easter, Holidays


  1. After reading Kitchn’s recipe show-down, I made this cake (with pineapple and walnuts). We don’t overly sweet, therefore I reduced the sugar by 25% in cake and frosting, it was still quite sweet. Instead of using 3 pans, I baked it in one springform pan, dividing the cake after cooling – no problem (and only one domed surface!)
    We loved it and I will definitely bake it again.

  2. Absolutely spectacular – lives up to the hype and then some. I have made this cake several times with measure-for-measure gluten-free flour (adding baking powder and salt to account for it not being self-rising). Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, with the pineapple and walnuts. Both times, rave reviews – my husband who normally doesn’t love carrot cake has declared this his favorite cake (which is perfect for me, as carrot cake has always been a fave). It is now our go-to celebration cake (birthdays, wedding anniversary…).

    I think the spice mix, optional add-ins, and freshly grated carrots (yay food processor) are all essential). Keep meaning to try other eclipse on this site, but get pulled back to this one by popular demand!

    1. Awe, thank you so much!! I am honored that this cake has made an appearance at so many celebrations!

  3. I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s been great. My mom requested a carrot cake for her birthday and so I’m going to make this recipe again. We have about 30 people coming to the party. Do you think this cake will serve them all? Should I try to do a second, slightly smaller cake and stack? I’m a bit worried that the cake will be too delicate for this and won’t hold up. I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Adva!! I would just make two cakes to serve that many people and have enough for everyone. Hope everyone enjoys it!

  4. My family loves carrot cake but I have a daughter that can’t have gluten or dairy.
    Can I use 1 to 1 GF flour for this cake in this recipe?
    Then use vegan butter and vegan cream cheese for the icing?
    Thank you!

    1. That should work just fine! I’ve never made the recipe with those ingredients, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

    1. You could cut down on the batter, but I do not have a specific recipe for just 2 layers, so sorry!

  5. This was without a doubt the best carrot cake I have ever made. I put home made pineapple filling bet w the cake layers and 1\2of the frosting recipe for the outside of the cake. It was devoured in no time.

    1. Sure this would probably take about 40-50 minutes of baking instead.

  6. Made this for Easter 2024. It did not disappoint. Will now be officially known as the “Easter Cake”. Just the right balance of everything. It wasn’t too heavy, or too sweet. Thank you.

4.64 from 315 votes (166 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating