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Whether you think of it as the ideal vehicle for cream cheese frosting (we feel you!) or are in it for its moist, spiced flavor that makes it a standout against standards like vanilla and chocolate, having a quality carrot cake recipe is a must. Our tried-and-true recipe is tender and perfectly spiced with all the textures and flavors you’re looking for (no big chunks of carrot here 🙅). Covered with plenty of tangy cream cheese frosting, this recipe is bound to be your new go-to for spring celebrations, Easter dinner, or any time you’re craving this beloved dessert. Read on for all our top tips to perfecting this classic cake:

The secret to moist and tender carrot cake.

The best way to guarantee your cake doesn’t turn out dry or crumbly is to swap butter for vegetable oil in the cake batter. Why? Consider the ingredient on its own: Vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, while butter is solid, meaning this cake will stay soft long after it’s been baked.

Also, though it’s very tempting, please do not buy preshredded carrots. We recommend using the large holes on a box grater for the best texture and size, but if you’re pressed for time, you can use the grater attachment on your food processor if you’ve got one.


— Can I leave the nuts and raisins out? Absolutely! Not a fan of pecans? Sub in walnuts or pistachios, or leave the nuts out entirely. Want to skip the raisins? Feel free to, or switch them out for dried cranberries, cherries, or any other dried fruit you want.

— Can I add pineapple? Sure thing—simply add ½ cup canned pineapple (drained well!) to the batter along with the carrots, raisins, and pecans.

— Do I have to make a layered cake? Nope—you can bake this in a 13″-by-9″ pan if you prefer. Just keep in mind that your cake will be slightly thinner and will bake more quickly. We recommend checking after 35 minutes to see if it’s done: If a toothpick comes out clean, it’s good to go.

Storage and make-ahead tips.

While we’d recommend waiting to frost your cake until the day you want to eat it, you can bake the cake layers ahead of time. After baking, let the cakes cool completely before wrapping each layer separately in plastic wrap. If you’re going to use them within 5 days, you can just refrigerate them; if freezing, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. The night before you want to frost, thaw them in the refrigerator, then stack and frost them while they’re still cold.

As for the frosting, resist the urge to make it ahead of time. Carrot cake is all about the frosting, after all, and making it day-of guarantees it will be the best it can be (and that you won’t have to wait for it to defrost to a spreadable consistency). That said, you can bake, let cool, and then decorate this cake up to 5 days in advance of serving—just make sure to keep it in the fridge in an airtight container.

If you love this cake as much as we do, don’t forget to leave a comment and rate it below!

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  • Cooking spray

  • 2 3/4 c.

    (320 g.) all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp.

    baking powder

  • 2 tsp.

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 tsp.

    kosher salt

  • 1 tsp.

    baking soda

  • 2 c.

    (400 g.) granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 c.

    vegetable oil

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1 tsp.

    pure vanilla extract

  • 3 1/2 c.

    (347 g.) shredded peeled carrots

  • 1 c.


  • 1 c.

    toasted pecans, coarsely chopped, plus more for serving

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2

    (8-oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened

  • 1 c.

    (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/2 tsp.

    kosher salt

  • 8 c.

    (960 g.) confectioners’ sugar

  • 2 tsp.

    pure vanilla extract

  • Nutrition Information
  • Per Serving (Serves 12)
  • Calories1215 Fat67 gSaturated fat20 gTrans fat1 gCholesterol144 mgSodium669 mgCarbohydrates147 gFiber3 gSugar122 gProtein9 gVitamin D1 mcgCalcium139 mgIron2 mgPotassium331 mg
  • Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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  • Cake

    1. Step 1Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Grease 3 (8″) round cake pans with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
    2. Step 2 In another large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed (or in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat granulated sugar and oil until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients until just combined, then fold in carrots, raisins, and pecans.
    3. Step 3Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then invert cakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting

    1. Step 1In a large bowl, using handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth and spreadable.
    2. Step 2Using a serrated knife, cut off tops of cakes so surface is flat, if needed. Arrange 1 cake on a platter. Spread top with frosting. Top with the second cake, more frosting, then the third cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with pecans.

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Makinze Gore

Food Editor

Makinze is currently Food Editor for Delish, where she develops recipes, creates and hosts recipe videos and is our current baking queen.. Reigning from Oklahoma, she’s also our go-to for all things regarding Midwestern cuisine. She’s also our expert pie crimper.

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