The Best Homemade Carrot Cake

12 slices
50 min

This simple, homemade carrot cake recipe is perfectly moist and easy to make, topped with a delicious brown butter cream cheese frosting!

As much as I love a good old vanilla butter cake or delicious red velvet cake, carrot cake is up there for favorite cake recipes.

And as much as I look forward to Italian ricotta and rice pies on Easter, I really, reallyyy look forward to a big slice of homemade carrot cake with that delicious cream cheese frosting.

I mean really, it has carrots in it so leftovers can count as a healthy breakfast too, am I right?

This is my FAVORITE carrot cake recipe from scratch.

I know a lot of recipes out there are labeled as the "world's best carrot cake". I won't say this is or isn't, but in my eyes it's the best!

Not only is it simple and easy to make, but it's loaded with flavor and extremely moist while staying perfectly fluffy.

The original recipe is from Joy of Baking and my god, she knows what she's doing!

No fancy techniques required here.

You just need some mixing bowls, a spatula and it can't hurt to throw in some lunges or jumping jacks while it's cooking cause I guarantee you you're gonna want more than just one slice ;).

Homemade Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • freshly grated carrots
  • toasted walnuts/pecans
  • flour
  • granulated & brown sugar
  • baking soda & powder
  • cinnamon
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • oil

This carrot cake recipe is without pineapple. I know a lot of recipes call for pineapple, but I enjoy the simple flavors without it.

If you want to use pineapple, you can refer to the recipe notes at the bottom of the post.

What makes this carrot cake recipe moist?

Using oil instead of butter makes this carrot cake recipe extremely moist.

Also, the fresh grated carrots adds moisture along with the 4 eggs we will be using in the recipe.

Again, if you wanted to use pineapple that would also enhance the "moist factor"!

Now, let's talk cream cheese frosting.

Carrot cake on it's own is pretty freaking amazing but it's nothing without it's cream cheese companion.

It's tangy, sweet and creamy which is exactly what this spiced cake needs.

This cream cheese frosting recipe uses browned butter and a hint of fresh lemon for an unbelievably good frosting to pair with your unbelievably good cake :).

The browned butter is nutty and rich pairing perfectly with the cinnamon and nuts in the cake, while the lemon and cream cheese add a perfect tang to balance out the richness.

It's a match made in carrot cake heaven.

How to make homemade carrot cake from scratch?

I promise it's way easier than you think and you'll never want to go back to boxed mix!

  1. Toast your nuts. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & powder, cinnamon, and salt). Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the eggs for 1 minute until frothy.
  4. Add in both of the sugars and the vanilla. Turn mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 3-4 minutes or until it's thickened and a pale yellow color.
  5. Turn mixer down to low and slowly stream in the oil. Mix until combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  7. Fold in the carrots and nuts.
  8. Pour evenly into cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For more Dessert Recipes Try:

The Best Homemade Carrot Cake
Recipe details
  • 12  slices
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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Carrot Cake:
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, plus more for decorating
  • 2 ½ cups grated carrots, see recipe notes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, or canola/corn oil
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 12 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5-2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest, or 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
Carrot Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two, 9-inch cake pans. or line with parchment paper and grease. Set aside.
Place the pecans and/or walnuts on a baking sheet; bake for about 6 - 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Chop roughly and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute).
Add both the granulated and brown sugars and the vanilla extract and beat, on medium-high speed, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow (about 3 - 4 minutes).
Turn the mixer down to low speed, and slowly add the oil. Mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
With a rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots and toasted chopped nuts.
Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. (Rotate the pans halfway through baking).
Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack. After the cakes have cooled (about 15-20 minutes) remove cakes from pans and return to cooling racks to completely cool before frosting.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
Place butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Continue melting until the butter starts to foam and turn light brown. Swirl the pan and cook 1 minute longer. The butter should smell nutty and you should see small brown specks. Remove from heat and let cool completely until solidified.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the cooled brown butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
Turn mixer down to low; add 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Beat until incorporated (about 2 minutes). Slowly add in the heavy cream, turn mixer up to medium-high speed and whip until light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). Add additional ½ cup of powdered sugar if needed to achieve right consistency.
To assemble:
Once cakes have cooled completely, place one layer on serving dish and top with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting. Place the second layer (bottom side facing up) on top and frost the sides and the top of the cake.
Garnish with toasted nuts if desired.
  • *Original carrot cake recipe adapted from Joy of Baking.
  • *If using pineapple, add 8 ounces of crushed pineapple after adding the oil.
  • *To grate the carrots you can use a food processor until finely shredded or you can use a hand grater to grate them.
  • *For carrot cupcakes: pour batter into lined cupcake pan and bake 10-12 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.  Makes about 24 cupcakes.
  • *Cake will last in the refrigerator up to five days or frozen up to a month.
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  • Joann Mondo Joann Mondo on Mar 10, 2022

    if you add canned pineapple do you drain the juice first before adding it ?

  • Shar Shar on Mar 10, 2022

    my recipe is similar but calls for a small can of UNdrained crushed pineapple & a half cup of raisins. And it is a fantastic carrot cake!

    • See 2 previous
    • Hope Hope on Mar 11, 2022

      That’s how my recipe is too! It’s so good that we just skip dinner & bring on the cake!