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This is the best carrot layer cake recipe. It’s easy to make and covered in a cream cheese frosting. The cake layers are oil-based, which means it creates a moist carrot cake and there’s no need for your mixer! Perfect cake for Easter!
I don’t know what it is about bringing a cake to someone’s house. And when it’s Easter, I can’t resist bringing a cake – like maybe my Hummingbird Cake, a Homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake, a light and airy Angel Food Cake or my triple layer Coconut Cake. But nothing reigns more supreme during Easter, then bringing a homemade carrot cake. Everyone is always incredibly impressed. I always feel a tad guilty accepting all of the wonderful praise. Because a carrot cake I think is one of the easiest cakes to make.
And when you cover it in cream cheese frosting it’s always a hit.
I dare say carrot cake might be my favorite dessert out there. There I said it. My dad would agree with me. He can’t resist a carrot cake. Neither can I. Genetics is scary isn’t it?
What Does Carrot Cake Taste Like?
This carrot cake adapted from Cook’s Illustrated is moist and flavorful. It contains carrots of course but doesn’t taste “carrot-y”
It has some warm spices added to it- cinnamon and nutmeg added to it as well! And the brown sugar in the cake gives it a caramel note as well. You have to frost it of course with cream cheese frosting. It’s a must if you ask me.
- Flour – I used regular all-purpose flour. It’s the perfect flour for giving structure to this cake without making it dense.
- Baking Powder and Baking soda – Used to help the cake rise.
- Cinnamon and Nutmeg – I used both these spices, to give it more flavor and depth.
- Salt – You always want to add a bit salt to anything sweet to help balance out the sweetness.
- Oil – I recommend using a neutral flavored oil such as vegetable or canola.
- Carrots – I shred my carrots by hand, instead of using my food processor so it doesn’t make them too mushy.
- Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar – I love using both these sugars, to help create the perfect sweetness, and flavor.
- Eggs – You need 4 room temperature large eggs for this cake.
How To Make This Carrot Cake Recipe
To make this carrot cake you want to start by preparing your cake pans. I like to line mine with parchment paper so they easily release. You can get a step by step tutorial on how to line your cake pans here.
In a mixing bowl, you want to measure your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then just give it a whisk and set aside.
Then you want to grate your carrots by hand. This will take about 6-7 carrots. I do recommend grating by hand because food processor tends to break down the carrots too finely and you end up with mush (in my opinion!)
In a second mixing bowl you want to whisk your sugars and vegetable oil. Add in your eggs and whisk to combine.
You can now stir in your dry ingredients. Be sure to stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated.
Stir in your shredded carrots and now you’re ready to bake!
Bake the cakes. Then go ahead and divide the batter between your two prepared cake pans. Bake at 350oF (177oC) for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Heather’s Baking Tips
- Measure flour correctly. Be sure to measure your flour correctly by spooning into your cup and leveling with a flat edge. If you don’t, you may end up with too much flour and that will result in a dense cake.
- Do not overmix. Once you have combined your wet and dry ingredients, be sure to not overmix. Once your flour becomes wet, the gluten will be formed. Too much mixing results in too much gluten formed and that results in a tough cake.
- Room temperature eggs. Make sure your eggs are room temperature so they will be incorporated easily. Place them in a warm bowl for 10 minutes before using them.
- Grate your carrots by hand. A food processor will grate the carrots too fine and turn them into more of a mush.
- Allow your cake to cool completely before frosting. If the cake is too warm, your icing will melt.
I’m not a big fan of adding raisins to my carrot cake, but yes you can definitely add them. And yes you can stir in some pecans or walnuts. I recommend toasting them first before you do so.
Yes! In fact that’s what I did with this carrot sheet cake recipe. It still keeps it moist but also lightens it up a bit.
If you use all applesauce it may affect the texture.
If it’s unfrosted, you can keep this cake on the counter for 2-3 days. Just make its covered. I like to wrap my layers in plastic wrap. If it’s frosted, then you should store in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting. It should keep if it covered for 5-6 days as well, making this a great make ahead dessert for Easter!
Yes you can freeze the cake, or slices of it that are leftover, for up to 3 months. Wrap each piece of cake seperately and then wrap again in tinfoil or place in a plastic bag. When ready to enjoy, let thaw overnight in the fridge and then unwrap and enjoy.
More Cake Recipes
- Chocolate Layer Cake
- Berry Chantilly Cake
- Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe
- Vanilla Sponge Cake
- Homemade White Cake
- Strawberry Layer Cake
If you try this carrot cake and love it let me know and leave me a comment and star rating below!
Carrot Layer Cake
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups (300 g) all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound shredded carrots (about 6 to 7 medium carrots)
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (107 g) packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) vegetable oil
For The Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 226 g) unsalted butter softened
- 16 ounces cream cheese softened
- 5 cups (568 grams) confectioners (icing) sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Prepare pans and oven. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 8 or 9-inch round pans) with nonstick cooking spray (or butter) and line with parchment paper on the bottom. Grease the parchment paper.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
- Grate carrots. Grate 6-7 medium carrots by hand. (if using food processor, use a large hole grater so it doesn't turn the carrots to mush). Set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until evenly combined.
- Add dry ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients, with a spatula, just until no flour remains. Do not overmix. Fold in the carrots.
- Bake. Divide the batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool the cakes in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to continue cooling to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat to combine. Add in vanilla extract and beat to combine. Frost the cooled cake or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Storage/Make ahead: If it’s unfrosted, you can keep this cake on the counter for 2-3 days. Just make its covered. I like to wrap my layers in plastic wrap. If it’s frosted, then you should store in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting. It should keep if it covered for 5-6 days as well, making this a great make ahead dessert for Easter!
- Freezing: Yes you can freeze the cake, or slices of it that are leftover, for up to 3 months. Wrap each piece of cake separately and then wrap again in tinfoil or place in a plastic bag. When ready to enjoy, let thaw overnight in the fridge and then unwrap and enjoy.