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Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Welcome to the Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake is supremely tender, moist, and rich flavor. The frosting is creamy, smooth, and decadent. It’s even better the next day.

A slice of Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting on a white plate with a fork.
This Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is super moist with a creamy, decadent frosting.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Why This Recipe Stands Out

This Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is one of our favorite recipes for any occasion. It’s not just any carrot cake; it’s the ultimate blend of moist, flavorful cake and creamy, tangy frosting that makes it a standout. Here’s why:

  • Flavor: This carrot cake is bursting with rich flavors from the perfect blend of spices and the tangy cream cheese frosting.
  • Moist: Grated carrots and crushed pineapple combine to ensure a moist and tender cake. It’s perfectly moist, just like our Lemon Poppy Seed Bread.
  • Make-Ahead: This entire carrot cake with cream cheese frosting can be made ahead, making it perfect for parties and gatherings.
  • Versatile: This recipe is versatile, you can add raisins and nuts for extra texture and flavor. And if you’re in the mood for some cupcakes instead, try our Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe.
  • Family and Friends It’s a family & friends’ favorite recipe that has ruined all other carrot cakes for us…fair warning: it may do the same for you.
  • Occasions: This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a crowd-pleaser, perfect for birthdays, holidays, or any day you want to make special.

Key Recipe Ingredients

This genuinely is the best carrot cake we’ve ever sunk our sweet teeth into, and that includes many restaurant carrot cake tastings. Here’s why:

  • The combination of baking soda and baking powder gives this cake an extra tender crumb.
  • This cake doesn’t skimp on the spices; your taste buds will appreciate the generous combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  • Brown sugar is combined with granulated sugar for a boost in moisture and depth of flavor.
  • Four large eggs go into the batter, binding the ingredients and providing structure
  • The cake utilizes oil to give it that supremely moist texture – we often use light olive oil, which does not impart any olive flavors to the cake. Feel free to use vegetable or canola oil.
  • An entire pound of fresh carrots offer plenty flavor and moisture to the texture.
  • Whether you grate your fresh carrots using large vs. small holes of your box grater is your choice. If you prefer the carrots to “melt” into the cake more, grate them finer.
  • Crushed pineapple is a moisture-booster in this cake. You’ll squeeze out all the excess juice from pineapple to ensure correct liquid to flour ratio.
  • If you’re a raisin fan, feel free to drop in 1/2 cup of raisins.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

A bowl of a stand mixer with cream cheese frosting.

This carrot cake needs nothing else but a generous slathering of velvety cream cheese frosting. Feel free to embellish it to your heart’s content with carrot-shaped candies or orange and green swirls on top if you’d like.

Just know that the cream cheese frosting is really all you need:

  • It tastes like smooth, creamy soft cheesecake layers in between moist carrot cake layers.
  • Do use regular, whole cream cheese.
  • Salted butter provides smooth, rich, salty buttery goodness to the frosting.
  • A bit of sour cream give the frosting a tangy boost, helping to offset the sweetness.
  • Pure vanilla extract brings this cream cheese frosting home.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting with plates and fork.

Substitutions And Variations

This carrot cake is not only incredibly moist and flavorful, but also very versatile. Feel free to experiment with ingredients and flavors:

  • Spices: Feel free to add more ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger. You can also experiment with other warming spices like all spice, like we add to our Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bundt Cake.
  • Add-ins: Apart from grated carrots and crushed pineapple, you can also add in other ingredients like shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or some raisins to give the cake more texture and flavor, as in our Apple Bread Pudding.
  • Frostings: If you want to switch things up a bit, you can try other frostings apart from the classic cream cheese frosting. Try some lemon cream cheese frosting, maple cream cheese frosting, or even a simple vanilla buttercream.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Whisk together all dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl. 
  2. Beat both sugars with eggs until combined. Add oil while reducing the speed to medium, then increase to high speed until the mixture lightens in color.
  1. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the carrots and pineapple. Fold in the dry ingredient mixture until no flour streaks remain, being careful not to overmix.
  2. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake at 350F for 30-35 min., or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few tender crumbs attached. Let cake cool completely in pans.
  1. Mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until the frosting becomes very fluffy.
  2. Once the cakes are cooled, release from the pan and transfer to serving platter. Spread half of the cream cheese frosting on top. Repeat with second layer of cake and frosting.

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

Make the entire cake in advance

You’ll love the fact that this entire carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a make-ahead deal. You can frost and assemble the entire cake and keep it chilled up to a day or two in advance. Just be sure to keep it covered and not exposed in the fridge.

This handy cake container/carrier is super useful for storing cakes or bringing them to a friend’s house.

We love this cake so much, it shows up on birthdays and holidays often. We even have this simplified version for any day carrot cake cravings come calling.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting with plates and fork.
This carrot cake is perfect with just a slather of cream cheese frosting.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I need to drain and squeeze the pineapple?

Draining and squeezing the pineapple ensures that the cake doesn’t become too wet. Too much moisture can make the cake soggy and affect its texture.

Can I use a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?

Absolutely! A hand mixer will work just fine. Just make sure to beat the ingredients until they are well combined, and the batter is light in color.

How long does carrot cake with cream cheese frosting keep?

This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just make sure to cover it to prevent it from drying out.

Can I freeze this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

Yes, you can freeze the cake. However, we recommend freezing the cake layers separately and then adding the frosting after thawed. This will ensure the best texture and flavor.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

A slice of Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting on a white plate with a fork.

Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

5 from 113 ratings
This is truly the very Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting we've ever had the pleasure of sinking our teeth into! The cake is super moist and tender. The cream cheese frosting is smooth and velvety. Can be made a day ahead, and actually tastes better the next day!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Amy Dong


For the Cake

For Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower middle position. Line 2 (9 in) round cake pans with parchment paper on bottom. Grease parchment paper and sides of pan. Set aside.
  • Make the Cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat both sugars with eggs on medium high until combined, 45 sec. Reduce to medium speed and add oil gradually. Increase to high speed and mix until light in color, 1 min.
  • Remove bowl and using a rubber spatula, fold in the carrots and pineapple. Gently fold in dry ingredient mixture just until no flour streaks remain; do not over mix.
  • Scrape batter, divided evenly, into prepared cake pans. Smooth top to release air bubbles. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few tender crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes.
  • Remove pans and cool cakes completely in pans on a wire rack (at least several hours.)
  • Meanwhile, Make the Frosting: In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix the softened cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed until combined, 30 seconds, scraping down as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until very fluffy, 1 minute. Keep chilled until ready to use.
  • Be sure cakes are completely cooled. Run thin knife around edge of cakes to loosen and invert one round cake onto serving platter. Tap back of pan to remove cake and gently peel off parchment paper. Spread half of the cream cheese frosting on top of cake.
  • Repeat with second layer of cake, placing it gently over the top of frosting. Spread remaining frosting on top, and garnish however you like, but no garnish necessary. Cake may be covered and chilled 1 day ahead.


  • When preparing your carrot cake, ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature. This helps them blend together more smoothly. 
  • Use a mix of large and small holes on your grater for the carrots. This will give your cake a nice texture and ensure the carrot flavor is evenly distributed.
  • Be careful not to over-mix your batter after adding the dry ingredients. That can lead to a tougher cake, so only mix until no flour streaks remain.
  • To ensure your cake is baked perfectly, insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out with a few tender crumbs attached, your cake is done.
  • Always cool your cakes completely before frosting. If the cake is still warm, the frosting will melt. 
  • Cake can be fully assembled a day or two in advance. Keep covered and chilled until ready to serve. This cake container/carrier is helpful for storing or transporting. 
  • Optional: you can add 1/2 cup raisins if you like. Top with toasted chopped pecans or walnuts if desired.
  • Click here if you’d like to make carrot cake cupcakes.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 684kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 252mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 68g | Vitamin A: 6965IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: baking

More to Bake and Eat

5 from 113 votes (82 ratings without comment)

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Pat Galvin
    • 5 stars

    This was pretty easy to make (thanks to my standup mixer) and was absolutely delicious. Made for Easter. My family all loved it and I am making another one for my son’s Bday next week – he was crazy for it. Didn’t change a thing. Even grated the carrots with half coarse and half fine. Would definitely add nuts, but my kid is allergic. I filled one cake pan a bit more than the other and it took an extra 5 minutes for that toothpick to come out clean. The Buttercream Frosting has the perfect tang – I could eat that all day! Thanks for a super recipe!

      • Amy Dong

      SO happy you and your family loved this, Pat. Thank you for coming over to let us know! 🙂

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