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This is Hands Down the Only Carrot Cake Recipe You Need in Your Life

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to the most iconic, timeless cakes, carrot cake is right up there with the best of them. Especially Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Moist cake laced with finely shredded carrots, topped with velvety smooth cream cheese, whipped into frosted perfection... Those are the markings of the best carrot cake recipe and we happen to have one right here for you, courtesy of Parade Chef Jon Ashton.

Related: 101 Best Easter Recipes

Best Homemade Carrot Cake

For the best old-fashioned carrot cake, you'll want to make it from scratch. Store-bought carrot cake just doesn't compare to a freshly-made, freshly-frosted homemade carrot cake from scratch—trust us. This isn't your basic carrot cake either. Thanks to secret ingredients like toasted pecans, golden raisins and crushed pineapple, this carrot cake is next-level moist, nutty and all-around delicious. Keep scrolling for Ashton's best carrot cake tips (even novice bakers can master this cake with his help!) and the best and easiest carrot cake recipe ever.

Related: 45+ Easy Easter Desserts & Recipes

What You’ll Need To Make Carrot Cake

Ingredients for homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Ingredients for homemade carrot cake

Parade

To make homemade carrot cake made from scratch, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup Canola oil

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 Tbsp orange juice

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple

  • 1 cup granulate sugar

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 3 medium carrots, grated

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 1 cup pecans

  • Butter

  • Flour

  • Parchment paper

  • Paper towels and tin foil (or store-bought cake strips)

Related: 13 Carrot Cake-Inspired Desserts

What You'll Need To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting for homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Ingredients for cream cheese frosting for homemade carrot cake

Parade

  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese

  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 Tbsp sour cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

  • Paddle attachment for blender

  • Palette knife for frosting

How To Prep the Carrots for Carrot Cake

The quick and easy way to prep your carrots for carrot cake is to begin by washing and drying the carrots. Next, grate 3 medium carrots with a box grater for the best-shredded carrot texture for your cake.

How To Make Moist Carrot Cake

Ashton's secret ingredient for super moist carrot cake is pineapples! 1/2 cup of canned crushed pineapple added to your batter will make all the difference in the world for a super light, moist cake. And if you don't have canned pineapple on hand, by all means, use fresh.

How To Make Carrot Cake

Prepping pans for homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Prepping pans for homemade carrot cake

Parade

1. To make this carrot cake, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, butter your cake tins and place parchment paper circles on top. You'll then want to the coat cake pans with flour by tapping the sides to evenly distribute.

<em>Prepping pans for homemade carrot cake</em><p>Parade</p>
Prepping pans for homemade carrot cake

Parade

2. To help the cakes set evenly and flatly, wrap the pan in paper towels rolled in tin foil, or cake strips soaked in water.

Making homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Making homemade carrot cake

Parade

3. Next, whisk your dry ingredients together in one bowl (baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and all-purpose flour) and your wet ingredients together in a separate bowl (Canola oil, eggs, orange juice, vanilla extract crushed pineapple). Add sugars to wet ingredients and keep whisking.

Homemade carrot cake batter<p>Parade</p>
Homemade carrot cake batter

Parade

4. Add grated carrots, golden raisins and pecans to the wet ingredients bowl and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula. Then add the cake batter mixture to the cake pans, spreading evenly with a spatula. Bake 20-24 minutes, rotating pans after 10-15 minutes.

Baked homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Baked homemade carrot cake

Parade

5. Use a cake tester or a toothpick to check if the cakes are done. If it slides out cleanly, they are ready.

Related: 24 Creative Carrot Cake Recipes That Are Anything But Ordinary 

How To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

How to make cream cheese frosting for homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
How to make cream cheese frosting for homemade carrot cake

Parade

1. While the cake cools, make your cream cheese frosting by adding cream cheese, unsalted butter, sour cream and vanilla extract to a blender; whip ingredients with a paddle attachment until nice and light. Add powdered sugar to the bowl, then turn the blender on the lowest setting (number 1) to whip.

How To Frost the Carrot Cake

Assembling homemade carrot cake and frosting<p>Parade</p>
Assembling homemade carrot cake and frosting

Parade

1. Refrigerate the frosting for 30-40 minutes before frosting your cake. To do this, remove the cakes from tins and take the parchment paper off, place the first cake on a cake stand and frost the top with 1 cup of the frosting.

Finished and sliced homemade carrot cake<p>Parade</p>
Finished and sliced homemade carrot cake

Parade

2. Add the 2nd cake later and repeat the frosting process with a palette knife, creating swirl designs with the knife as you frost. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, then slice and serve!

Chef Ashton's Top Tips for Making Carrot Cake From Scratch

  1. Have your mise en place ready. Before you start baking your cake, you'll want to have all your ingredients pre-measured and nearby for "putting in place," AKA mise en place.

  2. Let your oven warm up. Always pre-heat your oven for 30 minutes before adding the cakes to get it up to temperature and warm the walls.

  3. De-clump your flour. Make sure you remove any flour clumps when coating your cake pans.

  4. Foil the sides of your cake pan. To give carrot cakes a cleaner, flat top, wrap the pan with paper towels rolled in tin foil. You can even reuse these about five times, or purchase cake strips for the same effect.

  5. Add crushed pineapple. This secret ingredient adds tropical flavor and keeps your carrot cake moist.

  6. Rehydrate your raisins. Soak raisins in water for 5 minutes before adding them to the wet ingredients bowl.

  7. Toast pecans. Toasting your pecans in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes will give them an extra nutty flavor.

  8. Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature. This will help make the frosting nice and light.

  9. Adjust the frosting texture if need be. Add powdered sugar to thicken the frosting and milk or cream to thin it.

Best Type of Carrots for Carrot Cake

Shredded carrots are the best type of carrots to use for carrot cake. Anything too chunky won't bake as well, so shred away with your carrots. This will create the best carrot cake texture.

Carrot Carrot Frosting Alternatives

If you're not into cream cheese frosting on your carrot cake, you can also try carrot cake frosting alternatives like cottage cheese, mascarpone (a close second to cream cheese), ricotta cheese, sour cream frosting or dairy-free or cashew/almond cream cheese.

How to Omit Add-ins, Like Pineapple, Coconut, Raisins or Pecans

100%. If you don't happen to have these ingredients on hand—or simply don't like any—take them out of the recipe. Not into nuts? Make nut-free carrot cake. Hate raisins? Skip 'em all together! The only thing we wouldn't suggest omitting is the pineapple since this is what helps make the carrot cake so moist.

Other Carrot Cake Variations To Try:

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp ground allspice

  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ⅔ cup Canola oil

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 Tbsp orange juice

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • ½ cup canned crushed pineapple

  • 1 cup granulate sugar

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar

  • 3 medium carrots, grated

  • ½ cup golden raisins

  • 1 cup pecans

  • Butter

  • Flour

  • Parchment paper

  • Paper towels and tin foil (or store-bought cake strips)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Butter your cake pans, then place your parchment paper circle on top.

  3. Next, coat cake pans with flour by tapping the sides to evenly distribute.

  4. Wrap the pan in paper towels rolled in tin foil, or cake strips soaked in water.

  5. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl (baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and all-purpose flour.

  6. Whisk your wet ingredients together in a separate bowl (Canola oil, eggs, orange juice, vanilla extract crushed pineapple).

  7. Add sugars to wet ingredients; keep whisking.

  8. Add grated carrots, golden raisins and pecans to wet ingredients bowl.

  9. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula.

  10. Add cake batter mixture to the cake pans; spread evenly with spatula.

  11. Bake 20-24 minutes, rotating pans after 10-15 minutes.

  12. Use a cake tester or a toothpick to check if the cakes are done. If it slides out cleanly, they are ready.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. While the cake cool, make your cream cheese frosting.

  2. Add cream cheese, unsalted butter, sour cream and vanilla extract to blender; whip ingredients with paddle attachment until nice and light.

  3. After a few seconds scrape down the sides, then re-blend.

  4. Add powdered sugar to bowl, then turn blender on lowest setting (number 1) to whip.

  5. Refrigerate frosting for 30-40 minutes before adding to cake

  6. Remove cakes from tins and take parchment paper off

  7. Place the first cake on a cake stand and frost the top with 1 cup of frosting

  8. Add 2nd cake later and repeat frosting process with palette knife, creating swirl designs with knife as you frost

  9. Place cake in refrigerator for 20 minutes, then slice and serve!