Easy classic carrot cake is one of those all time amazing desserts that tastes so good and makes a great statement piece when you serve it. Everyone should have a simple, delicious and moist carrot cake recipe like this so you can make it when the urge strikes.
This simple carrot cake recipe is easy to make and I will walk you through all the steps to make the best carrot cake!
About this classic carrot cake recipe
If you grew up eating carrot cake, you know how amazing it tastes and we can all agree the cream cheese frosting makes it. If you did not grow up eating carrot cake (or know someone who hasn't) then it may sound weird the whole idea of carrots and cake.
This is a simple carrot cake recipe with no pineapples and I personally prefer it this way. This carrot cake is moist and fluffy and doesn't need the pineapples to help with that.
If you are skeptical about eating carrot cake, I promise you, you are not actually tasting the carrots. This is like a sugar cake of heavenly goodness and those carrots just blend right into the batter.
Ingredients you will need to make this easy carrot cake
- whole carrots (not pre shredded)
- all purpose flour
- walnuts (optional) for the topping only.
- baking soda
- baking powder
Ingredients for the cream cheese frosting on this carrot cake
Now I think most people will agree that the best part about carrot cake is the frosting. So of course, this carrot cake recipe has a delicious classic cream cheese frosting and it is so easy to make.
- Room temperature cream cheese
- Room temperature unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven and you just cannot have one without the other. The cream cheese frosting is so easy to make and so good.
Shredding the carrots the right way, and why it makes this the BEST moist carrot cake
The great part about this delicious and moist carrot cake recipe is it is so simple to make and made in one bowl. There is no special creaming or sifting that you need to do.
This is a simple carrot cake recipe!
How to shred the carrots for the carrot cake
The one important step that you need to make sure you follow is to grate your own carrots and not buy pre-shredded carrots.
When you shred your own carrots (vs buying them that way,) they will be moist and not dry. Make sure to shred them right before you are ready to add them to the batter.
This step will ensure you have a delicious and moist carrot cake.
I also like to shred my carrots with a box grater and I use the fine shred side. I find that the coarse shred side is just too coarse and it leaves large shreds in the batter.
You want the carrots to blend into the batter during baking.
How to make this really easy carrot cake
- Prepare 3 - 8 inch cake pans (or 2- 9 inch cake pans) by oiling and adding flour and parchment paper to the bottom of your pans. The better your cake pans are prepared, the easier the carrot cake will be to remove from the cake pans after baking.
- Now add all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Next you will add your wet ingredients and mix it all together.
- Then you will shred your carrots on the fine side of a grater (Like below) and then add that right into your batter.
First you will mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients into another bowl. Then you combine the two and mix together to until you have a smooth batter.
Then you add your freshly shredded carrots to your batter and mix until just incorporated.
Then go ahead and pour the carrot cake batter into your prepared cake pans making sure there is an even amount in all of them. Remember to first prepare your cake pans by buttering and flouring the pans.
This will ensure that the carrot cake releases from the pan easily after baking.
Very easy! I promise anyone can make this cake and it will come out amazing.
Just follow all the steps listed in the recipe and you will have success.
How to make this fluffy and moist carrot cake ahead of time
I like to simplify things for myself and make the cake portion a day ahead of time.
This way I am not making a cake and frosting all in one day. To do this, I let the cake completely cool and then stack the layers between sheets of parchment paper.
The parchment paper really helps keep the moist carrot cake layers from sticking so if you do decide to make it ahead of time, do not skip this step!
I will just store the carrot cakes on a cake stand on my kitchen counter. You can also store it in the fridge if you prefer.
Decorating your carrot cake
Frosting carrot cake
Now let's talk decorating! I am always the first one to tell you that I am no wizard when it comes to cake decorating.
This cake is no exception. I used the naked cake frosting method for this carrot cake recipe. This method of decorating a cake is where you add the frosting all around the sides and then scrape most of it away, leaving an almost naked cake.
Topping this easy carrot cake
For the topping on this carrot cake, I like use the walnuts (which I have toasted) to add a little interest to the top.
If you are great at decorating, the sky is the limit with what you can add to this. Cute frosting carrots, piping work, etc. Do not let my limits, limit you 🙂
As you can see it all works out even with limited decorating on the cake. The beautiful part of this cake is when you slice through it and see those beautiful layers!
Look at the closeup (below) of one of the slices of carrot cake! This is why I do like using three 8 inch cake pans instead of 2 - 9 inch pans.
I also like that there is more cream cheese frosting with 3 layers!
Classic Carrot Cake with and Without Nuts
Now when making a classic carrot cake recipe, walnuts (or pecans) are usually found in the cake. I have some members of my family who don't like nuts in their cake so I leave them out of this recipe.
I like to decorate the outside of my carrot cake with them making it easier for those who dislike nuts, to pick them off. For us who like the nuts, we just leave them on top and take a little bit with each bite 🙂
Definitely give this easy classic carrot cake a try and see why this classic cake is so loved. Make it at Easter, for a birthday, when you need to use up excess carrots or just because.
What our readers are saying
My husband’s eyes popped open so wide so with his first bite he loves carrot cake and had had tons and he said this was the best cake he’s had hands down!Ashley from Pinterest
My go to carrot cake recipe. Always looks and tastes great!Nicola from Pinterest
Best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten, my friends loved it, just perfect!Neren from Pinterest
Tips for this recipe
Converting this carrot cake to carrot cake cupcakes
You can easily make this carrot cake into carrot cake cupcakes. First you will need to half the recipe (this will yield 12 cupcakes).
You will follow the recipe the same way and instead of pouring the batter into 3 cake pans, just add the batter to a prepared cupcake tin.
For the baking time, bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out smooth.
Storing your carrot cake
Now no one loves cream cheese frosting that has been sitting in the fridge (well maybe some of you do) because it hardens back up and is not soft like we like it. When storing your carrot cake, you can keep it out for most of the day (the first day) but after that it does need to go in the fridge.
This carrot cake is moist and it is made with dairy so it will need to be refrigerated after the first day.
You can still have that soft and lofty carrot cake experience if you cut yourself a slice and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so.
Freezing Leftover Carrot Cake
I usually do not have any leftover cake that does not get eaten by the second or third day but we are a family of four. If you are not able to eat an entire cake, you can freeze your cake very easily even with the frosting on it.
To freeze the carrot cake, the first thing I like to do is gently place some plastic wrap around my cake. This plastic wrap is the first layer of protection against freezer burn.
After wrapping the cake, I find a container that fits the carrot cake nicely without pressing on the top or sides and place it upright in my freezer.
The carrot cake stores well without any freezer burn issues for up to one month this way.
To thaw: Just remove it from the freezer into your fridge overnight to thaw gently.
More Delicious Cake Recipes
- Basil Olive Oil Cake
- Italian Berry Cake with Mascarpone
- Italian Lemon and Ricotta Cake
- Rustic Apple Cake
- Vanilla Almond Layer Cake
- Bittersweet Chocolate Cupcakes
- Super Moist Chocolate Cake
Easy Classic Carrot Cake
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups finely grated carrots make sure to use the fine side of a box grater (see post for picture)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ⅓ cup vegetable oil (that is one cup plus ⅓ cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt if using regular salt, just use half the amount
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces softened cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted walnut halves
- Preheat oven to to 350 degrees
- Add all your dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Now add your vegetable oil and vanilla to your dry ingredients and mix it all in.1 ⅓ cup vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Next beat in your eggs one at a time into the mixture.4 large eggs
- Grate your carrots. See post for how to finely grate the carrots. I like to grate a bunch of carrots (usually about 4 large ones) and then scoop that into a measuring cup to measure out the 3 cups. You do not press the shredded carrots into the measuring cup when measuring.3 cups finely grated carrots
- Now add your 3 cups freshly grated carrots to the batter and gently mix it in until incorporated.
- Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8" round cake pans - try to make each pan have the same amount of batter.
- Bake for approximately 30- 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cakes. If you are using 9 inch cake pans then add a few more minutes. It will be ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Take pans out of oven and let the cakes sit in pans on cooling racks to cool for approx. 5 minutes.
- Then turn out cakes carefully & let cool completely on the racks.
- Once cooled you can frost your cakes right way or store them with parchment paper in between the layers if you are making the cake a day ahead of time.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a medium bowl add your softened cream cheese, room temperature butter, powdered sugar and vanilla16 ounces softened cream cheese, ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Mix on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until it is all light and fluffy
Frosting the cake
- Take ¼ of the frosting and place on one layer of the cake. Spread evenly over the cake with an offset spatula or knife.
- Place the second layer of your carrot cake evenly on top of the frosting.
- Repeat the step above with ¼ of the frosting and spreading it evenly over the cake.
- Now add your third layer of cake on top.
- Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake.
- Gently spread the frosting over the top of cake working from the middle out to the edges.
- Gently push the extra frosting from the top of the cake over on to the sides.
- Frost the sides of the cake until all the sides are covered in frosting, being careful not to drag the cake itself into the frosting.
- Once the sides are all frosted, gently scrape away a little of the frosting from sides until you can start to see the carrot cake.
- Touch up any imperfect frosting areas on your cake.
- Now add your toasted walnuts to the center of your cake.1 cup toasted walnut halves
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To make carrot cake cupcakes.First you will need to half the recipe (this will yield 12 cupcakes). To do this easily just toggle the serving size in the recipe from 8 slices to 4 slices. You will follow the recipe the same way and instead of pouring the batter into 3 cake pans, just add the batter to a prepared cupcake tin. For the baking time, bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out smooth. To Freeze Leftover Cake: The first thing I like to do is gently place some plastic wrap around my cake as the first layer of protection against freezer burn. Then I find a container that fits the carrot cake nicely without pressing on the top or sides and place it upright in my freezer. It stores well without any freezer burn issues for up to one month this way. To thaw, remove the cake from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight to thaw gently.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here