This moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting will be your new go-to recipe. It’s tender and soft with a delicious carrot cake flavor and can be made with or without pineapple for the perfect carrot cake recipe!
If you’re looking for a carrot cake recipe that’s tender, easy to make, and never boring – then this moist carrot cake recipe is just for you! I’ve tested and retested so many carrot cake recipes over the years, and this carrot cake is my new go-to.
So I figured I’d share it just in time for Easter.
Moist Carrot Cake Recipe
I actually shared a carrot cake recipe here on Just So Tasty a few years ago, and as much as I love the flavor of that carrot cake recipe – it’s a little fussy. So I wanted a new, easier carrot cake recipe that’s just as delicious, even more moist and simpler to make. My original carrot cake used both pureed carrots and grated carrots which was a bit of a pain, and the bake time was ridiculously long.
The batter for this moist carrot cake recipe can be made in just 4 steps:
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, baking soda & salt.
- Beat together the wet ingredients: oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and milk
- Mix the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients.
- Fold in the grated carrot and walnuts.
Then pour the batter into the greased and floured cake pan, and bake for about 35 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake
This carrot cake recipe is topped with a simple, easy cream cheese frosting. It’s made with butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, a little salt, and fresh lemon juice. I like adding a little lemon juice because it adds a little bit more tanginess that tastes delicious with carrot cake. The only real “tips” for making cream cheese frosting are:
- Make sure your butter and cream cheese are softened to room temperature before getting started
- Use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese
- Avoid over mixing the frosting – this can actually make it lose its thick and creamy texture.
- If your frosting seems too sweet, you can add in 1 tablespoons of cream or milk. Be aware though – this can make the frosting thinner.
Carrot Cake with Pineapple
If you’d like to make carrot cake with pineapple, drain one 20 oz can of crushed pineapple. Fold in the drained pineapple with the grated carrots and walnuts. When adding pineapple, I typically reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup since the pineapple adds extra sweetness.
How to Make Carrot Cake with Different Pan Sizes
This carrot cake recipe is designed for a 9×13 inch pan. But it can be easily adapted for other pan shapes & sizes.
- 8×8 or 9×9 Inch Pan: Divide all the ingredients by 1/2. The bake time will be about the same. Just ensure that the sides of your pan are at least 2 inches tall to ensure the cake doesn’t overflow.
- Carrot Layer Cake: To make a layer cake, grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, and bake for about 35-45 minutes.
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes: To turn this carrot cake recipe into cupcakes, you’ll get 24 cupcakes. Line 2 muffin pans, and divide the batter evenly between them. The bake time will be about 15-18 minutes. You may need to double the frosting recipe for making cupcakes if you like a lot of frosting.
- Carrot Cake Bundt Cake: For a 10-inch bundt cake, the bake time will be about 45-55 minutes. Make sure to grease and flour the pan very well to avoid sticking.
For more classic sheet cakes, try these other flavors:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola
- 1 3/4 cups brown sugar lightly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or use 3/4 cup milk and 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrot*
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 8 oz cream cheese full fat, brick-style
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 11/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch metal cake pan (ensure the sides are at least 2 inches tall).
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & salt.
In a separate large bowl beat together the oil, brown sugar, eggs & vanilla extract. Turn the mixer down to low speed and beat in the milk.
With the mixer on low, mix the flour into the oil mixture about 1/2 at a time.
Turn off the mixer and gently fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts using a rubber spatula
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool fully.
In a large bowl beat the butter until soft.
Mix in the cream cheese.
Add in the salt and lemon juice, then mix in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time. I usually taste test the frosting after adding about 1 1/2 cups sugar to see if it's sweet enough for your liking.
Frost the cooled cake, then optionally sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts.
*Cake can be stored covered, at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Unfrosted cake can be wrapped tightly and frozen. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature before frosting.