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Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A fully-loaded Moist Carrot Cake that’s packed with pineapple, coconut and raisins, and topped with ultra decadent and creamy Cream Cheese Frosting. Whether you bake it as a show stopping layer cake or an easy sheet cake you’re guaranteed perfect results.

This is the BEST Carrot Cake Ever!

There’s carrot cake, and then there’s Carrot Cake. This is the ultimate, hands-down, over and above Best Carrot Cake Ever. Let me count the ways: fluffy, tender cake loaded with carrot and pineapple, sweetened with raisins and shredded coconut, with added walnuts for the perfect crunch. It’s moist and delicious and to top it all off is a melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting that’s absolutely to die for.

What To Expect From This Recipe:

  • A mega-moist carrot cake with TONS of texture
  • If you’re not a fan of any of the add-ins that I use like raisins, walnuts, coconut…it’s ok, just omit them from the recipe! Don’t omit the pineapple, however, as it imparts moisture and you really don’t taste it anyway!
  • A versatile recipe that can be made in both a 9×13 pan, perfect for travel or ease of prep. OR a show-stopping layered cake that you can make as a 3 layer or 2 layer cake depending on the pan size you use!
  • This cake recipe is topped with the creamiest cream cheese frosting, that is good enough to eat with a spoon!
  • I created this recipe many years ago and it continues to be one of my most beloved and highly rated cake recipes from readers!
lifting a piece of carrot cake off of a cake plate

What Makes this Recipe So Good?

This isn’t an out-the-box cake mix; this homemade carrot cake recipe is chock full of unbeatable flavor, texture, and moisture. I’m a huge fan of an easy carrot cake that still has all the fixings that make it positively the best! Here’s what I consider to be non-negotiable for the best cake ever:

  • Fresh Grated Carrots: If there’s one takeaway from this carrot cake recipe, it’s that grating your own carrots is what gives this cake the freshest texture and flavor! Pre-grated carrots are often thicker and can end up crunchy even after baking. Plus, there’s a chance they’re coated in preservatives. No thank you!
  • Texture and Flavor: The addition of crushed pineapple, shredded sweet coconut, crushed walnuts and fresh raisins are what take this carrot cake to a whole other level in terms of depth of flavor and rich, moist texture. Each ingredient brings something special to this recipe for the most fluffy, juicy, delightful version of a carrot cake you’ll ever taste!
  • Little Details: Small things, like using half brown/half granulated sugar, the addition of cinnamon, and an extra hearty tablespoon of vanilla, all come together with big impact for the perfect moist and fluffy cake.
  • The Ultimate Cream Cheese Frosting: A perfect, ultra-creamy cream cheese frosting is truly the icing on the cake for any carrot cake recipe. It’s the one detail I’ll never compromise on! This recipe involves a tangy, delicious and classic cream cheese frosting that’s insanely fluffy, totally pipe-able or spreadable, and really can’t be beat.

What You’ll Need/Ingredients:

Here are the key ingredients for the perfect Moist and Fluffy Carrot Cake, plus my recipe for the best Cream Cheese Frosting.

For the Cake

  • All-Purpose Flour: The foundation of any cake, let’s be honest.
  • Sugar: Using half granulated white sugar and half brown sugar brings extra moisture to the cake.
  • Vegetable Oil: A moist yet light cake calls for oil! Canola oil can also be used.
  • Eggs: 4 large eggs to bind everything together.
  • Vanilla: A whole tablespoon of pure vanilla extract lets the flavor stand out next to the other ingredients.
  • Cinnamon: Fresh or pre-ground cinnamon compliments the flavors of the cake and gives it a hint of spice.
  • Grated Carrots: Freshly grated large carrots will bake to the perfect texture.
  • Pineapple: Fresh or canned crushed pineapple adds an extra dimension of sweetness and moisture to the cake. Make sure you drain the pineapple well to avoid the cake becoming too mushy. If buying canned, the pineapple should be in water and not syrup.
  • Walnuts: Finely chopped walnuts give the otherwise tender cake an unexpected and satisfying crunch! Walnuts also pair perfectly with the fruity, savory flavors.
  • Coconut: Sweetened Flaked Coconut for another layer of flavor and texture.
  • Raisins: Fresh raisins and carrot cake are a match made in baking heaven, always and forever! Absolutely magic when scattered throughout the cake like little pockets of juicy sweetness. Use regular or golden, just don’t skip them.

For the Frosting

  • Cream Cheese: A whole block at room temperature.
  • Butter: Unsalted and also at room temperature.
  • Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar, a nice quality powdered sugar for a fluffy, smooth frosting.
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract or almond extract for an extra punch of flavor.

How to Make Carrot Cake in a 9×13 pan

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to preheat at 350°F. Meanwhile, coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and leave this aside for now.
  2. Combine the Sugar & Wet Ingredients: You can use a stand mixer or standard mixing bowl and a whisk to combine both the brown and white sugars, plus the vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla, and mix thoroughly until smooth.
  3. Add the Dry Ingredients: Next add in the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the wet batter. Continue to mix and don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed! Slowly mix in the flour, being careful to not overmix.
  4. Add in the Extras: Finally, toss in the grated carrots, pineapple, walnuts, coconut, and raisins and stir until you have an even consistency.
  5. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the carrot cake to cool completely before frosting.
slicing a piece of carrot cake and serving with a spatula

How To Make A Layered Carrot Cake Using the Same Recipe!

Since this best ever recipe for carrot cake it can be baked as a single layer sheet cake pan, OR as an impressive layer cake!

  • The cake recipe itself is exactly the same.
  • For a layered cake use 3, 8- inch cake pans or 2, 9-inch round cake pans.
  • You will see in the images below that I sliced off the dome of the layered cake after they baked. This is to allow for perfect stacking like a bakery cake. I use a serrated knife to carefully remove just the top of the domes.
  • Make sure the cake pans are greased and the bottoms of the pans are lined with parchment rounds. Coat the parchment rounds again with baking spray.
  • Adjust the baking time to about 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes pass the toothpick test!
  • See below for tips on the frosting for a layered cake!

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

If you do decide to make this into a layer cake you will need to increase the amount of frosting the recipe calls for my 50% if you make this into 3 layers as shown, baked in 3, 8- inch pans, especially if you like to get fancy with frosting swirls or decorations! You don’t have to increase the frosting, however, if you choose to leave this as a “naked” cake and don’t frost the outside.

  1. Mix the Cream Cheese & Butter: First, in a mixing bowl you’ll need to blend together the cream cheese and butter until they’re fully combined. You can use a whisk or spatula to do this, but it’s always easier with a stand mixer! 
  2. Add in the Sugar & Beat Until Smooth: Slowly add in the powdered sugar; if you’re using a stand mixer, do this on the low setting. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, switch the speed to medium and beat to get a frosting that’s smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Assembly: Once the frosting is done and the cake is cooled, spread a healthy layer of frosting over top of the carrot cake, and serve!

Tips for Success

  • Change Up the Frosting: If you are fully opposed to cream cheese frosting, there are alternatives! My delicious Buttercream Frosting, Heritage Frosting, or Brown Sugar Frosting are all wonderful for topping this fully-loaded carrot cake.
  • I Use Vegetable Oil Instead of Butter: For a lighter cake that doesn’t sacrifice the combination of flavors!
  • Line the Pan: Lining the cake pan with parchment paper and giving it a light spray with cooking oil will ensure that cakes don’t stick!
  • Make the Cake Ahead of Time: Allowing the freshly baked carrot cake to rest for a day will let the flavors develop, the frosting to mingle with the cake, and the overall texture to settle.
a whole layered carrot cake sliced

How to Store Carrot Cake

For longer storage and fresher cream cheese frosting, keep your frosted carrot cake covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. This cake will also keep well on the counter at room temperature, albeit for a shorter time, due to the cream cheese frosting. Store the cake using a cake carrier or airtight container to keep everything protected!

Can I Freeze Extras?

Carrot cake is surprisingly easy to freeze after baking, and even after frosting! For best results, let the cake chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the icing to firm up. Afterwards, wrap the whole cake well in a double layer of plastic wrap, plus a layer of aluminum foil to help with freezer burn. Store the whole cake in an airtight, freezer-safe container to freeze for up to 2-3 months.

More Easy Cake Recipes to Try

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a whole layered carrot cake sliced

Moist & Fluffy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Cookies & Cups
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Description

A fully-loaded Moist and Fluffy Carrot Cake that’s packed with pineapple, coconut and raisins, and topped with ultra decadent Cream Cheese Frosting. You can’t beat this unbelievably easy recipe for the best carrot cake ever!


Ingredients

Scale

Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups grated carrots, approximately 5
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins (regular or golden)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Frosting

  • 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • optional – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • note: if making a 3 layer cake you will need to increase these amounts by 50%

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 pan (or 3, 8- inch pans) with nonstick spray *see note. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix both sugars, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla together on medium speed until smooth, 1 minute.
  3. Add in the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and continue mixing for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Mix in the flour until just combined.
  5. Add in the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, coconut, and raisins and stir until evenly incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes for 9×13 cake (or 25 – 30 if making a layered cake), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

Frosting

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until combined.
  2. With mixer on low, slowly add in the powdered sugar.
  3. Once incorporated, turn the speed up to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake.

Notes

Store airtight for up to 3 days.

*You can bake this as a sheet cake style cake in a 9×13 pan of a layered cake in 3, 8- inch round pans or 2, 9- inch round pans. Coat the pans with baking spray and place a parchment round into the bottom of each pan and coat again with baking spray. 

Frosting a layered cake: You will need to increase the amount of frosting the recipe calls for my 50% if you make this into 3 layers as shown, baked in 3, 8- inch pans, especially if you like to get fancy with frosting swirls or decorations! You don’t have to increase the frosting, however, if you choose to leave this as a “naked” cake and don’t frost the outside.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 595
  • Sugar: 58.1 g
  • Sodium: 409.3 mg
  • Fat: 28.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 85.1 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 76.2 mg

Keywords: moist carrot cake, best carrot cake, homemade carrot cake

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324 comments on “Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Getting ready to make it again. An absolute winner! Friends at the office told me I should be selling it. Thank you for a great recipe.

  2. I’ve tried a few different carrot cake recipes over the last few years for Easter and others were a bit disappointing. This one was the absolute winner! It is so moist, has great flavor and the perfect balance of all the fillings. If you are searching for the best carrot cake recipe, this is the one!

  3. Getting ready to make this for a work event and I have someone who is allergic to coconut. Can I just leave it out or would I have to make some other adjustments?

  4. Me and my sisters made this it it the best carrot cake I have ever eaten it is just so good and squishy/moist it is delicious make it guys

  5. Our family adores this recipe, thank you so much. I have made it multiple times and everyone can’t get enough. Here are some things I learned:
    — ditch the can of pineapple and just grate any peeled, cored apple. So much better and no processed fruit. The sugar-fest of the pineapple is not missed, even using fresh isn’t worth the trouble
    — we always use pecans over walnuts, so choose your weapon
    — soak the raisins in hot water 20″-ish so they don’t absorb moisture away from the cake
    — UNsweetened flake coconut please. There is no need for more sugar in this
    — Never, ever almond extract. Never (but of course, that’s just me. I don’t think it belongs here against the coconut, carrots, raisins, etc.)
    — As she says in the instructions, take the time to grate carrots fresh. The first time I made this recipe, I had a surfeit of pre-grated carrots and used them. The cake was still good, but I could tell that it would be superb with fresh grated and that has been true

  6. I’m from the Philippines and we have fresh coconuts available here… can I use fresh grated coconut instead of the sweetened coconut flakes?

    1. The flakes are dried and do absorb a bit of liquid as the batter bakes. Fresh coconut would not only not really absorb moisture, but could release some, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Sorry!

  7. Another point: I made muffins with the batter this time round and they turned out beautifully, just like the cake. I was able to make 12 large (bakery-size) muffins with this recipe.

  8. This is hands-down the best carrot cake recipe! It’s exactly as described – fluffy and moist and full of flavour. I add in an extra 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg and cloves because I prefer my carrot cake on the spicy side, but other than that, it’s perfection. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect carrot cake for a while now, and this is definitely the one. Thanks! 🙂

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