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Carrot cake recipe on a cake stand.

Carrot Cake Recipe

Teri & Jenny
The only Carrot Cake Recipe, with the richest and creamiest cream cheese frosting, you'll ever want to have! This deliciously moist cake stands tall with four thick layers and is perfect for so many special occasions, all year long!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 28 mins
cooling and chilling time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 28 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 1193 kcal


  • Ateco Round Tip #4
  • Ateco Star Tip #15
  • piping bags
  • violet gel food coloring
  • lemon yellow gel food coloring
  • leaf green gel food coloring
  • sunset orange gel food coloring
  • buckeye brown gel food coloring


carrot cake

  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup dried currants (raisins are fine)

cream cheese frosting

  • 16 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 5 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch salt


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts


carrot cake

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 4 (9 inch) cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
    Oven preheated to 350 degrees.
  • Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
    Dry ingredients for carrot cake recipe.
  • In another mixing bowl combine butter, sugars, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla and whisk together.
    Carrot cake batter in a bowl.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, in thirds, stirring together after each addition.
    Carrot cake batter in a bowl with flour.
  • Continue to stir batter until completely combined and no dry spots remain. Fold in carrots and currants.
    Carrot cake batter with carrots and currants in it.
  • Fill each prepared cake pan evenly with batter.
    Carrot cake batter in cake rounds ready to go into an oven.
  • Bake cake rounds in center rack of oven for 24 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it, when inserted into the center of each round.
    Freshly baked carrot cake in a cake rounds.
  • Cool cake rounds for 15 minutes. Then remove each cake from cake pans, peel away parchment and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely. Refrigerate cake layers for at least 2 hours.
    Carrot cake layers on a cooling rack.

cream cheese frosting

  • With a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
    Ingredients for cream cheese frosting in a bowl.
  • Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and continue to beat together.
    Cream cheese frosting in a bowl with more powdered sugar.
  • Add vanilla and salt and scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to beat together until light and fluffy. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of frosting.
    Cream cheese frosting with vanilla in it.


  • Slice off rounded cake tops to level them. (Discard cake scraps or keep for snacking)
    Carrot cake layers with the tops cut off.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting onto the top of one cake round and top with another cake round. Repeat until all cake rounds are stacked into 4 layers with frosting between each layer.
    Carrot cake with frosting in between the layers.
  • Frost the sides and top with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate cake for an hour.
    A carrot cake recipe with a crumb coat on it.
  • While crumb coated cake chills, divide remaining cup frosting in 1/2. In one bowl add 2 drops violet food coloring, 3 drops lemon yellow, and 1 to 2 drops leaf green. Stir together until completely combined and you produce a moss green color.
    Frosting in two bowls being colored with food coloring.
  • In the other bowl of frosting add 3 drops of sunset orange food coloring and 1 to 2 drops buckeye brown. Stir together until completely combined and you produce a moss green color.
    Frosting in two bowls being colored with food coloring.
  • Fill orange frosting in piping bag with round tip and fill green frosting in piping bag with star tip.
    Frosting bags with orange and green frosting.
  • Remove chilled cake from the refrigerator and add another layer of frosting. Sprinkle crushed walnuts bits over the sides and top of cake. Refrigerate cake again for 30 minutes.
    Carrot cake with crushed walnuts on it.
  • Using the orange frosting, pipe small (3/4 inch) carrots all over cake. Using the green frosting, pipe stems on top of each carrot.


Variations for Our Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Although we use currants in our recipe, you can totally swap them out for raisins or even dried cranberries.
  • We use walnuts to decorate out cake, but pecans or even pistachios can also be used.
  • While we add the walnuts to the outside of the cake, you can definitely fold some into the cake batter along with the carrots and currants, if that's your preference.
  • If you prefer a more intense spice flavor in your carrot cake you can reduce the amount of cinnamon used to 2 teaspoons and add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of a combination of ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground allspice.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions

Make Ahead Carrot Cake

Our carrot cake recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Bake cakes and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap each round tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Alternatively, the cake can be fully assembled, decorated and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time. Set cake out at room temperature for an hour before serving. It's important to note that the frosted cake can absorb odors from the refrigerator, so you don't want to let it sit decorated and uncovered for more than 1 day, so the cake tastes as fresh as possible.

Freezing Carrot Cake

The cake rounds can be made and frozen for up to 3 months. Bake cakes and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap each round tightly in plastic wrap, then foil (label the foil with the freezing date) and store in an airtight container or a large ziploc bag.
When ready to use, transfer wrapped cake rounds in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Make Ahead Cream Cheese Frosting

Our cream cheese frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate.
When ready to use, set frosting out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer frosting to a large mixing bowl and whip with a hand mixer until rich, creamy and smooth.

Freezing Cream Cheese Frosting

I don't really recommend freezing frosting. It's too easy to make, isn't time consuming and really tastes best when made fresh.

Tips and Tricks for Carrot Cake Success

  • A lot of carrot cake recipes use oil instead of butter, which helps to keep the cake moist, but we love using butter in our recipe for the flavor and the tender crumb the fat in the butter provides. We also use plenty of applesauce and finely grated carrot to ensure that even without the oil, the cake is still fluffy and moist.
  • When measuring the dry ingredients, we use the scoop and level method. Using this method will give you the most accurate results for our cake!
  • If you would like to be able to pipe large designs onto the cake with our cream cheese frosting, add an additional 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of powdered to the frosting, 1/2 cup at a time, until your desired stiffness has been reached. The frosting will still be delicious, just not as creamy or decadent and it will be sweeter in flavor.
  • The applesauce is an important ingredient in our carrot cake recipe because it adds moisture to the cake, so you're guaranteed to have a soft and moist cake.
  • It's important to shred your own carrots! Pre-shredded ones are too thick and dry and won't add the best flavor or provide the needed moisture for this cake.
  • The recipe can be halved to make 1 (8"x 8") cake, with an increased bake time of 36 to 38 minutes.


Calories: 1193kcalCarbohydrates: 162gProtein: 13gFat: 58gSaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 225mgSodium: 808mgPotassium: 441mgFiber: 4gSugar: 123gVitamin A: 7172IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 208mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cake, carrot, carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, easter cake
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