This is the best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever used. We prefer to use a hand grater when preparing the carrots since it creates delicate carrot shreds that melt into the cake batter. Pre-shredded bags or shredding carrots using a food processor are also options, but the carrot shreds will be larger.
This recipe is forgiving. You can make this with or without the nuts or raisins. We love the combination of granulated and brown sugar, but if you only have one of them, use it, and the cake will still be delicious.
Frosting: Our creamy frosting recipe shared below is not a traditional cream cheese frosting. Thanks to whipped cream, it’s creamier and has soft peaks (you can see it in our video). We love it, but if you prefer a more traditional frosting, see the tips section below the recipe. We have provided instructions for a classic cream cheese frosting that works nicely with this cake.
TOTAL 1hrs 5min
Makes 1 (9-inch) double layer cake (16 thin slices) or 22 to 24 cupcakes
FOR CARROT CAKE
- 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ¼ cups (295 ml) canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (190 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups (300 grams) grated peeled carrots, 5 to 6 medium carrots
- 1 cup (100 grams) coarsely chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) raisins
FOR CREAMY FROSTING
- 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) cold heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) coarsely chopped pecans, for topping cake
MAKE THE BATTER
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and then grease the top. Or grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176C).
- Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until very well blended.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one.
- Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients in three parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth.
- Stir in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.
- Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
- Cool cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely. If you find that a cake layer is sticking to the bottom of the pan, leave the cake pan upside down and allow gravity to do its thing.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
- Beat in the powdered sugar, a 1/4 cup at a time, until fluffy.
- Pour in the whipping cream. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the frosting is whipped and creamy. This frosting resembles the texture of whipped cream. Chill covered until ready to frost the cake.
- When the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer, and place the second cake layer on top.
- Add the remaining frosting to the top of the carrot cake and use a butter knife or small spatula to swirl the frosting around. Leave the sides of the cake unfrosted. Finish with a handful of nuts on top.
- Frosting Substitute — Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large bowl, beat 16 ounces of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of softened butter together for a minute or two until smooth. Add 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until extra creamy. If it is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of cream or milk.
- How to Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes: For cupcakes, we’d recommend baking for 14 to 18 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean). Then let them cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The recipe should make 22 to 24 cupcakes.
- Using a bundt pan: We have never done this in our kitchen, but a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan should be fine for this recipe. You will likely need to increase the baking time by about 30% in the 10-cup pan, somewhat less in the 12-cup.
- Using a 9-inch by 13-inch pan rectangular pan: Simply add all the batter to the rectangular pan and bake. Bake time may be slightly longer.
Serving Size 1 slice (1 of 16) / Calories 535 / Total Fat 33.4g / Saturated Fat 6.9g / Cholesterol 69.3mg / Sodium 315.9mg / Carbohydrate 56.4g / Dietary Fiber 2.4g / Total Sugars 40.5g / Protein 5.6g