Easy Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting

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If you are looking for a simple recipe that’s both easy to bake and downright delicious, then look no further than this easy carrot cake recipe. 

With its warm spices and lightly spiced touch, it bakes up beautifully, and is topped with my favorite cream cheese frosting. 

It’s sure to be your new favorite recipe. Want some?

Reasons to Love This Recipe

  • Perfect Dessert – Everybody loves carrot cake! Special occasions, or just with a morning coffee – it’s perfect anytime.
  • Beginner Friendly – Due to all the carrots, you’re basically guaranteed a moist cake every time. No disappointments!
  • Simple – Whisk it all together by hand. You don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe.
  • Efficient – With a small food processor, preparing the carrots and pecans takes hardly any time.
closeup view slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting sprinkled with toasted pecans on top of frosting

Ingredients

You’ll find all the key ingredients to make this classic Carrot Cake recipe in your local grocery store:

Carrot Cake

  • Carrots: Naturally sweet and moist, they are the star ingredient. Buy already-grated carrots or do it yourself. 
  • All-purpose flour: The foundation of the cake. 
  • Eggs: Act as a binding agent.
  • Vegetable oil: Imparts enough moisture to the cake, giving it a moist crumb.
  • Vanilla extract: Improves the overall flavor, complementing the cake’s natural sweetness.
  • Baking powder: Leavening agent that helps the cake rise.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger – all warm spices.
  • Pecans: Add a delightful crunch to the cake. Easily chopped with a food processor and are best when lightly toasted – see the tip section below
  • Butter: The foundation of our creamy frosting. For best results, use soft, unsalted butter.
  • Cream cheese: Tanginess and creaminess – the ideal base for the best cream cheese frosting.
leftover carrot cake in a cake pan

How to Make Carrot Cake

Follow these simple instructions to make this easy Carrot Cake. See the recipe card below if you need more help.

Carrot Cake Batter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  4. Fold the carrots and pecans into your mixing bowl. 
  5. Pour the wet batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Let your cake cool in the pan for about 8 to 10 minutes, then remove. Let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth in a medium bowl. Use a mixer to beat everything until the frosting is smooth and creamy – a stand mixer helps.
  2. Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top of the cake. Then, garnish with your toasted pecans.

Expert Carrot Cake Tips

Follow these expert tips, and your Carrot Cake will be perfect every time.

  • Time Saver: Buy your carrots already shredded, then just rinse them off, and you’re good to go!
  • Toasted Pecans: Lightly toast the pecans for a rich, nutty flavor. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Spice Things Up: Use cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to spice it up! Some recipes call for cloves, too, but I find the flavor just too strong – but that’s just me.
  • Fluffy Secrets: Spoon your flour into a measuring cup, and use exact measurements. This makes sure that air stays in the flour, which makes a nice light cake.
  • Multi-task: Whip up that yummy cream cheese frosting while your carrot cake bakes.
  • Food Processor: Unsure about the perfect food processor? We can help with our food processor guide.
  • Prepare that Pan: I use butter to grease my cake pans. PAM baking spray also works wonders.

How to Serve

To be honest, this carrot cake with cream with cream cheese frosting is right up there on the sweetness scale – so I never really pair it with anything. You really only need a small piece.  

How to Store

Keeping your Carrot Cake fresh is a breeze if you follow these steps:

  1. Keep your cake in an airtight container or wrap well with plastic wrap. It’ll last on the shelf for up to three days, and a bit longer if you keep it in the fridge. 
  2. Sitting the cake on a little parchment paper will help further preserve its deliciousness.
carrot cake recipe with cream cheese and toasted pecans on top

FAQs

Here are some of the questions people have asked me:

What size of pan should I use to bake my cake?

You’ll find the ingredients here are just right to fit a 13×9 baking pan. 

So, let’s get baking!

How do you make the best cake from scratch?

Preparation is key – I recommend getting all of the ingredients out first, and measuring them. You also need to follow the recipe exactly, and measure those ingredients carefully – measuring cups make this easy. 

Bake with me – just like I do in the video! It really helps.

Is the recipe better with oil or butter?

I think you could use either, but my preference is oil. Use a good quality vegetable oil, one that’s fresh. I think it helps to keep your delicious carrot cake moist.

What’s the best way to shred carrots?

We use a small food processor – they are so versatile! But if you don’t have one, a box grater works fine too, just a little messier.

easy carrot cake recipe, one small slice of cake stacked on top of another on a white plate

You might also like…

Craving more recipes like this? 

Next time, why don’t you try carrot cake cupcakes? You might find these reusable muffin cups handy.

Looking for more cake recipes? We have a collection of the best cake recipes here.

Check out these particular favorites:

simple carrot cake slice up close with cream cheese frosting and pecans sprinkled on top

Final Thoughts

This is the best carrot cake recipe, and I know it will become your favorite, too! Just the smell of it baking will make you want to eat it right away! But let it cool, so that you can layer on that amazing cream cheese frosting, ok?

THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the Pie Lady Bakes community! We’re all about sharing easy-to-make vintage recipes that remind us of the ones our moms and grandmas used to make.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for my weekly email newsletter using this link. It’s absolutely free, and you’ll never miss out on any of my new recipes.

See you soon!

Judy

★★★★★ 

If you’ve made this delicious Carrot Cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Be sure to give us a 5-star rating!

★★★★★ 

carrot cake recipe with cream cheese and toasted pecans on top

Easy Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 from 4 votes

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Judy Kahansky
This simple carrot cake recipe will serve a crowd or makes amazing muffins too! A great recipe for carrot cake that is perfect for beginner bakers.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Cake Recipes
Cuisine North American
Servings 24
Calories 403 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1  cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ cup applesauce - unsweetened
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans - toasted

Frosting:

  • ½ cup butter - softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese - softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans = toasted to sprinkle on top – some people like to mix them in we prefer them added at the very end.

Instructions
 

  • Making the cake batter Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan. I use butter to grease my cake pans.
  • greasing and flouring a 13 x9 baking pan for the best carrot cake recipe
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, brown & white sugar and the vanilla
  • simple carrot cake mixing eggs and sugars with whisk in a glass bowl
  • Mix in all the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,nutmeg & ginger
  • carrot cake recipe mixing wet and dry ingredients in a glass bowl with wooden spoon
  • Using a wooden spoon mix in carrots. The final step is to add the pecans.
  • easy carrot cake recipe mixing in carrots and pecans
  • Pour the batter  into your greased and floured 13 x 9 pan.
  • pouring carrot cake batter into the prepared cake pan
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let your cake cool in the pan for about 8 to 10 minutes.

  • Making the frostingIn a medium sized glass bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered (icing) sugar and vanilla. Using a mixer (stand mixers are great for this step!) beat everything until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
  •  
    mixing cream cheese and butter for cream cheese frosting
  • Spoon it all over your delicious carrot cake.Sprinkle with the toasted pecans
  • easy carrot cake spreading cream cheese frosting
  • easy carrot cake sprinkled pecans on top

VIDEO

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment, star rating or post your photo on Instagram and tag @pieladybakes
two pieces of carrot cake stacked one on top of the other on a white plate with text how to make the best carrot cake the easy way

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Judy Kahansky is an experienced writer and baker, creating delicious desserts (including pie!) for over 40 years. She loves to take classic and vintage recipes and update them to fit the busy lives of her readers. When not baking, Judy and her husband Mark are passionate golfers, travelers and dog lovers, spending as much time as they can with their sweet pup Millie.