Bake or Break
New to BAKE or BREAK? Start Here!

Carrot Cake

The moist crumb, rich spices, and the irresistible cream cheese frosting of carrot cake make it a beloved classic!

a partially cut carrot cake topped with chopped pecans, showcasing the moist cake layers and creamy frosting

There are so many things to love about carrot cake – the depth of flavor, the tender texture, and, of course, that heavenly layer of frosting. It’s a cake that promises comfort and sophistication in every bite, making it perfect for any and all occasions. And this simple recipe is sure to impress and satisfy!

Why You’ll Love This Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Easy to make. This recipe is straightforward, making it accessible for bakers of all levels. You’ll love how simple it is to create a cake that looks and tastes as if it came from a gourmet bakery.
  • Versatile. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, hosting a holiday dinner (perfect for Easter!), or just craving something sweet, this carrot cake fits the bill. It’s elegant enough for special occasions but easy enough for a casual family dessert.
  • Crowd-pleasing. This carrot cake strikes the perfect balance between sweet and spiced flavors, making it a hit with both kids and adults alike. It’s a classic recipe that never fails to please a crowd.
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get more of my best recipes in your inbox!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

By entering your email, you consent to receiving emails from Bake or Break. You can unsubscribe at any time.

overhead view of ingredients for carrot cake

What You’ll Need

See the recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions. Here are some notes about the ingredients needed to make your homemade carrot cake:

  • Granulated sugar – Just regular white sugar.
  • Eggs – Let these come to room temperature so they’ll mix more easily and create a better texture for your cake.
  • Vegetable oil – Canola oil will work, too.
  • Buttermilk – Set this out along with the eggs. You’ll have the best results using buttermilk, but you can use a substitute in a pinch.
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Cinnamon – Give your spices a sniff to make sure they’re still fresh. If they’re not strongly aromatic, it’s probably time to replace them.
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Salt
  • Carrots – Freshly grated carrots will work best.
  • Pecans – For more flavor, first toast the pecans. You can use walnuts if you prefer.
  • Cream cheese – Let this come to room temperature for a smooth frosting. Use full-fat cream cheese that comes in a brick.
  • Unsalted butter – Soften the butter before mixing. Learn more: How to Soften Butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Also known as powdered sugar. While not a requirement, sifting it will give you a smoother frosting.
  • Milk – I prefer whole milk, but most any kind will work – even plant-based.
two slices of carrot cake served on light beige plates with the remaining cake and a bowl of pecans in the background

How to Make Carrot Cake

The simplicity of making this cake rivals its deliciousness! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Make the Cake Layers:

  • Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. For easy removal after baking, first line the pans with parchment paper.
  • Mix the wet ingredients. Beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Mix in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Don’t over-mix; mix just until combined or a few small streaks of flour remain.
  • Finish mixing. Fold the grated carrots and pecans into the batter.
  • Bake. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Place the pans on wire racks, and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans, remove the parchment paper (if you lined your pans), and place the cakes directly on wire racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:

  • Start mixing. Beat the cream cheese, butter, 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, and the milk until smooth.
  • Finish mixing. Add more confectioners’ sugar if needed to get the desired consistency.
  • Frost the cake. Place one cake layer on a cake plate, and frost the top of the cake. Place the other cake layer on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Garnish as desired.
a carrot cake on a white cake plate with two carafes of milk, a small white pitcher, and a bowl of pecans in the background

Can I Make Cupcakes or a Single-Layer Cake from This Recipe?

You can make about 2 dozen cupcakes from this recipe. Grease or line standard muffins cups, and fill about three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

You can also bake this cake in a 9×13 pan. Grease the pan (lining with parchment paper first if you like), and spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tips for Success

Before you get baking, take a moment to glance over these foolproof tips. They’re the secret to ensuring your carrot cake is the talk of the table — perfectly moist, perfectly spiced, every single time.

  • Use fresh carrots. For the best flavor and moisture, grate whole carrots rather than using pre-shredded carrots from the store. Pre-shredded carrots can be dry and lack flavor.
  • Don’t over-mix. Mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined. Over-mixing can develop the gluten in the flour, making the cake tough.
  • Use light-colored metal cake pans. Your cake layers will bake more thoroughly and evenly.
  • Divide the batter evenly. To divide cake batter evenly, first weigh the empty mixing bowl. After mixing your batter, weigh the bowl again and subtract the empty bowl’s weight to find the batter’s total weight. Divide this by the number of cake pans you’re using (two for this recipe). Zero the scale with your cake pan on it, then pour in your calculated share of batter.
  • Cool completely. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. Trying to frost a warm cake can cause the frosting to melt and become runny.
  • Layers not flat? If your cakes dome too much while baking, use a long serrated knife to even the tops before frosting.
a slice of carrot cake on a cake server being lifted from the remaining cake


Want to make this carrot cake your own? No problem! Here’s a handful of easy twists to suit your tastes and preferences:

  • Coconut twist. Add a cup of shredded coconut along with the carrots. This can be in addition to or instead of the nuts. You can opt to toast the coconut for a bolder flavor.
  • Spice it up. Feel free to change and alter the spices in this cake to suit your tastes. Ginger and allspice are great additions to this cake, too.
  • Zesty flavor. Incorporate a bit of orange or lemon zest into the batter and/or the frosting for a refreshing citrus note that complements the richness of the cake and cream cheese frosting.
  • Raisin richness. If you’re a fan of raisins, you can add a cup of them to the batter. This is a great option if you want a nut-free cake.
  • Frosting variations. Flavor the cream cheese frosting with different extracts such as vanilla, almond, coconut, or even maple for a unique twist on the classic frosting.
  • Fun with garnishes. I like the simplicity of adding chopped pecans, but there are many other options, from toasted coconut to carrot-shaped candies. You can also reserve some of the frosting for piping a design on the frosted cake.
a slice of carrot cake on a light beige plate with more cake and a bowl of pecans in the background

How to Store

Store your carrot cake in an airtight container. If you’re serving it the same day, you can leave it at room temperature. Otherwise, it’s best to store the frosted cake in the refrigerator. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing other flavors from the fridge. The cake can be stored like this for up to 5 days. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

How to Freeze

If you’d like to freeze your carrot cake, first place the cake (whole, partial, or slices) in the freezer for a few hours until the frosting is firm to the touch. Wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and then wrap again in aluminum foil or place in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Properly stored, the cake should keep in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator. A few hours before serving, place the cake on the counter to come to room temperature for the best flavor and texture.

a fork cutting into a slice of carrot cake; another slice of cake and the remaining cake are in the background

Carrot Cake

Yield 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Indulge in the timeless comfort of this classic carrot cake, where moist, spiced layers meet a velvety cream cheese frosting, topped with a crown of crunchy pecans. It's a slice of home in every bite, perfect for both grand celebrations and cozy, quiet afternoons.

a partially cut carrot cake topped with chopped pecans, showcasing the moist cake layers and creamy frosting


For the cake:

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (236ml) vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (177ml) buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated peeled carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4-5 cups (440-550g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • pecan halves, for garnish (optional)


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. If you prefer, first line the pans with parchment paper for easier removal after baking.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until light yellow, about two minutes. Add the vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Mix until just combined. Fold in the carrots and pecans.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the cakes comes out clean.
  6. Place the pans on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and place on wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting and assemble:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese, butter, 4 cups of the confectioners' sugar, and milk until smooth. Add more confectioners' sugar as needed until the frosting reaches the desired consistency.
  2. Once the cakes have cooled, place one layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Frost the top of the layer, and then top with the other cake layer. Then frost the top and sides with a frosting spatula or a piping bag.
  3. If you like, garnish the frosted cake with pecan halves or another garnish of your choice.

Recommended Products

Bake or Break is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Show off your baking masterpiece!

Snap a pic, tag @bakeorbreak, and use #bakeorbreak on Instagram. Can't wait to see your creation!

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *