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homemade Carrot Cake recipe {with cream cheese frosting}

 

recipe for carrot cake from scratch

This is the best homemade carrot cake recipe you will ever find. It comes from my Grandma’s recipe box of homemade cake recipes and has been baked so many times I can’t count. In the spring, it is made. For birthday’s, it is made. With cream cheese frosting, as layer cakes, as bars, and even as cupcakes. This carrot cake recipe couldn’t be better or more faithful. If you are looking for a from scratch carrot cake recipe to count on…this is the one.

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Today the BEST homemase carrot cake recipe is being added to the collection of proper, every day from scratch cakes we should learn to make, rather than buy. The recipes Grandma made weekly, if not daily. You know, back when they had chocolate cake EVERY NIGHT (is that a good thing or a bad thing? :)).

This cake is one of my husband’s faves. Although, I think every time I make a new cake it turns into his “favorite”. He swears, though, that this has been his absolute favorite since the beginning of time (his time begins when he met me 20 years ago which, as a good husband, is exactly the right way to tell time! :)). When he heard I was “working” by making a carrot cake he conveniently took the day off. Handy dandy to be self-employed. Dang…self-employed, married to me, and carrot cake to boot?…that man has it GOOD! You all know that when I say he has it GOOD it’s a matter of attitude, right. We have had it hard our fair share too. Truth.

the BEST Homemade carrot cake recipe that you will use again and again.

Start with beautiful carrots. If you are making this with children it’s suggested the carrots with their tops still on. You know, the ones just like Bugs Bunny eats. Kids seem to better understand these as “real carrots” and simply adore working with them.

To keep this recipe as fast as possible, pop the carrots into the food processor (or use a blender) to get them into itty bitty bits. Save about about 1 cup of carrots to leave in larger pieces (minced is about right) to give great “carroty” texture to the cake.

Tip: Don’t make any of the carrot pieces too big, or they will sink to the bottom of the cake. 

Ask your kids why the larger pieces of carrot would sink to the bottom of the cake.

homemade carrot cake from scratch

carrot cake from scratch

There is absolutely no reason that you need multiple bowls. Get all your wet ingredients in the bowl and stir. Add the dry ingredients and stir again. But do not over-stir. Just until moistened and mostly mixed.

Tip: Don’t over-stir carrot cake!

homemade carrot cake recipe from scratch
Be sure to grease and flour your pan well so that it doesn’t stick. Really really well! Because of the moisture in carrot cakes, they can stick to the pans quite easily! After they come out of the oven, let them cool for about 15 minutes and then flip them upside down to cool completely prior to frosting.

Layer cakes are the best, but if you are a 9 by 13 pan kind of person just adjust the time of baking up about 10 minutes (be sure to check that the middle is done with a toothpick, knife, or chopstick!) to accommodate.

the BEST homemade carrot cake recipe from scratch

This homemade carrot cake is BETTER than any you’ll pick up at the supermarket. And it is just as fast to make this as it is to get in your car and run to the supermarket. AND…you KNOW the ingredients are good. Good stuff. REAL stuff. Real butter in the cream cheese frosting, even. That is something special! 

Tip: grab your favorite purchased cream cheese frosting to speed up the time it takes to get this cake on the table. 

4.47 from 13 votes
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the BEST homemade Carrot Cake recipe

this tried and true homemade carrot cake recipe is the BEST. If you want to make it from scratch, use this recipe!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade carrot cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 347 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs allow to stand at room temp for 30 min
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups carrots grated
  • 3/4 cup oil

Instructions

  1. Grease & flour two 9 inch round pans (one 9 by 13 works too!)
  2. In large mixing bowl ,stir together wet ingredients.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Add dry ingredients.
  5. Stir just until combined.
  6. Stir in carrots and stir just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into pans, dividing evenly.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
the BEST homemade Carrot Cake recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 186mg 8%
Potassium 212mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 48g 16%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 30g
Protein 4g 8%
Vitamin A 108.5%
Vitamin C 2.3%
Calcium 5.2%
Iron 7.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

4.8 from 10 votes
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Cream Cheese Frosting

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of soft cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat the cream cheese & butter well.
  2. Add powdered sugar and beat again.
  3. Add vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Recipe Notes

Beat in more powdered sugar if your frosting is to thin.
Add more milk if your frosting is too thick.

 

This collection of our favorite frosting recipes includes all the frostings we routinely use on our cakes! Full recipes included.
4.84 from 6 votes
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Naturally Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy.

  2. Gently beat in the maple syrup, honey, and cinnamon just until incorporated.

This homemade carrot cake recipe will be your tried and true recipe for years to come. In fact, we suspect you’ll be passing this one along to your children. Please take an afternoon with your children and make this. Come back and tell us about the recipe. And about the lovely memory you created!

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53 Comments

  1. Brenda
    September 3, 2018 / 11:52 pm

    I’m making this carrot cake tonight as I type this up and it smells relish! Even made the cream cheese frosting and I keep “tasting” it before the cake is done. May not have any for cake… Lol I’ll update on how the cake came out. Thanks!

  2. Megan
    March 17, 2018 / 10:29 am

    I never knew I even liked carrot cake until I tried this recipe! It’s my husband’s favorite kind of cake, and I’ve made this recipe at least 4 times since i found it. Super easy and delicious! You’re right about heavily greasing the pans though, and I find that they pop out the best if I’m patient enough to let them cool completely. SO delicious. Thanks!

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 17, 2018 / 11:40 am

      I am so glad to hear that!! Your husband has good taste :). Thanks for taking the time to come back here and leave a comment!

    • Mary Lumpkin
      April 3, 2018 / 5:38 pm

      What type of flour? All purpose, self raising or cake flour.

      • Nellie
        Author
        April 3, 2018 / 7:19 pm

        All purpose. Great question and I’ll go update the recipe.

  3. Shishir
    February 28, 2018 / 9:08 am

    Thank you for this amazing recipe.My family loved it.

  4. Paula
    February 6, 2018 / 9:53 pm

    Hi. The cake is in the oven!!! How long do you recommend to cool before frosting. I guess I should have let it cool overnight, then made the frosting. Darn it.

    • Nellie
      Author
      February 7, 2018 / 9:11 am

      You are just fine. And sorry for not getting a comment back to you in time for your cake, last night. Honestly, you just need to cool it enough to put the frosting on without melting the frosting. I often pop it into the freezer for a wee bit. Or, here in MN…just outside :). HOw did it go?

  5. Raquel
    December 9, 2017 / 5:30 am

    I’m not sure if I’ve made a comment already but thank you so, so much for sharing this recipe! I’ve made it severeal times, sometimes I make recipe and a half and bake in 3 times (only have one pan of the same size) for a bigger crowed. I’ve made cupcakes as well. I’ve made it with chocolate ganache and with a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting or just simple! And it is delicious! Everyone asks for the recipe! Thank you!

    • Nellie
      Author
      December 11, 2017 / 12:31 pm

      You are so welcome and than you so much for coming back and saying so. Hugs and happy Monday!

  6. Shobha Michael
    November 14, 2017 / 10:13 pm

    This is best carrot cake for my husband 30th birthday I ever made,☺ made more delicious and rich our party. Thanks for the detailed receipe with pictures made more easy to make..β˜ΊπŸ‘

    • Nellie
      Author
      November 15, 2017 / 7:39 am

      Oh I am so glad to hear that! And happy birthday to your husband!!

  7. Katie
    November 8, 2017 / 11:19 am

    What kind of oil should I use in this recipe?

    • Nellie
      Author
      November 8, 2017 / 11:20 am

      Good question. I need to update that. I would use canola or vegetable oil. Good luck and have a wonderful week!

  8. Ashley
    October 6, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Hi, I was wondering how this cake keeps overnight? I am going to be making this for a party tomorrow but wondered how I could make it the day before. I was thinking of making the cake and then frosting it tomorrow morning.
    Thanks!
    Ashley

    • Nellie
      Author
      October 9, 2017 / 1:12 pm

      You should be perfect! In fact, the cake will probably frost up much better instead of being fresh out of the oven. I would recommend covering it in wrap, if you can, so it doesn’t dry out on the edges.

  9. Jeanie Stiegelmeyer
    September 30, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    Hi Nellie, I was wondering if I need to add 2 tbsp. of flour to the recipe for high altitude?

  10. Sophe
    July 29, 2017 / 11:25 pm

    If you were doing this recipe in a 6 inch by 2 inch and an 8 inch by 2 in what would be the difference in baking time and temperature would you bake them at?

    • Nellie
      Author
      July 31, 2017 / 8:34 am

      Hmmm, I would take off about 8 minutes and check it. The temperature can stay the same, I think. Let me know!

  11. Judy
    May 4, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    Can these be made into cupcakes and, if so, how long do you bake them? Sounds so good!

    • Nellie
      Author
      May 4, 2017 / 7:08 pm

      Yes! I would check them at about 15minutes. I guess 16-18minutes.

  12. Deborah
    April 16, 2017 / 5:01 am

    Hi Nellie,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Carrot cake is my favorite cake and my mother always made it for my birthday (going back to the 1970’s). I love this recipe because I don’t like extra things in my carrot cake like pineapple or coconut.

    I was wondering why there isn’t any salt in the ingredients?

    • Nellie
      Author
      April 17, 2017 / 10:37 am

      Because we made an error on the recipe! Thank you so much for catching that. We’ve added it. Thankfully many have had great success without that in the recipe. Imagine how much better it would have been :). Appreciate it and have a great monday!

  13. April 12, 2017 / 8:16 am

    Would the cooking time be the same if you made this in a 9×13? I’ve made this as a layered cake before and it turned out awesome, but my family loves it so much that they end up taking HUGE pieces and the cake doesn’t last longer than a couple of hours lol! Thanks!!

    • Nellie
      Author
      April 13, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      I would cook it a wee bit longer because it will be thicker. But it should be very similar! And yay…so glad to hear everyone loves it!

  14. Edy
    March 29, 2017 / 4:38 pm

    I tried you recipe and it is delicious, but I have a few people that LOVE pecans in their carrot cake and have asked me to make it again with pecans. Do you have any idea how much nuts can be added? Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 29, 2017 / 5:01 pm

      Ooooh, what a great question! First, I’m so glad you had good success! I would try about 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans. Keep them chopped fairly small so they don’t sink to the bottom during baking. Add them into the batter last and you’ll get a good feel for if 1 cup is enough or if you want to go with more. I think you’ll end up with 1 1/2 cup. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  15. Trevor's Gramma
    March 15, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I made this tonight and OMG I’m on piece number three . I can’t stop eating. Thanks for posting the best carrot cake. I baked mine in 9×13 for about 7 mins longer and [email protected] is wonderfully moist!!

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 9:56 am

      Isn’t it amazing! Dangerous stuff. This is my grandma’s recipe and I swear I haven’t had better :). Go glad you enjoyed like we do here at our house.

  16. Michelle
    March 10, 2017 / 6:13 am

    The recipe just says flour, not cake flour. As I was reading reviews, someone was was asking about replacing the cake flour with regular flour. Also, if you do use the cake flour, do you sift then measure?

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 10, 2017 / 8:49 am

      ACtually, it was the other way around. She was subbing cake flour for the regular flour. Cake flour would give it a bit more height and lighter texture. Sometimes not preferred with a carrot cake but certainly not a bad thing. Usuall,y it depends on how the recipe reads. If it says 2 cups of sifted flour than you sift and measure. If it says 2 cups flour than you measure, then sift. Does that make sense?

  17. Alyssa
    February 26, 2017 / 12:23 am

    This was my first time baking a cake from scratch and it came out great! Absolutely loved the frosting. I topped it with coconut and walnuts, and would definitely include them in the batter next time if you’re about that crunchy life. Great recipe!

    • Nellie
      Author
      February 26, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      Adding coconut and walnuts sounds fabulous! I’m glad you had success on your first time out. Get a little confidence to try it again :).

  18. sophie
    February 23, 2017 / 5:25 am

    Hi Nellie,

    I’m a food lover but I’m not good at baking cake ! I want to do your cake for this Sunday’s brunch as it looks delicious.
    As I’m not native english speaker I would like to know what do you mean by Baking soda ? and you use cup as weighting reference, is this the correct reference in gr that we use in continental europe ?
    (flour) : 1 cup = 130 grammes (g)
    (sugar) : 1 cup = 245 grammes (g)
    (butter) : 1 cup = 240 grammes (g)
    thanks a lot !
    Sophie

  19. Teena John
    December 16, 2016 / 2:11 am

    From the pictures, I see that you’ve mixed your carrots with the eggs and probably oil, then added in the dry ingredients.
    But the instructions mention to stir in the carrots at the end.
    Could you please clarify when it should be added?

    • Nellie
      Author
      December 16, 2016 / 9:03 am

      I’m going to admit that either way works and I do it differently each time. I do think that adding the carrots at the end is the best but honestly, it isn’t going to matter terribly.

  20. Charissa
    December 2, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    Oh! One last question I forgot in my last post. Do you allow the cake to cool entirely prior to frosting?

    Thank you!

    • Nellie
      Author
      December 2, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      Yes! Otherwise you will have a messy cake. Delicious, but terribly messy. Good luck and Happy Birthday to your mom. What a sweet gesture!

  21. Charissa
    December 2, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    Hi Nellie!

    I plan to make this tomorrow for my mom’s birthday. It looks amazing! A couple of questions:
    1. Would you recommend parchment paper at the bottom of the round pans to aid in non-sticking? I’ve gotten paranoid since making a layer cake that stuck to the pan as I was trying to remove it and it all broke!
    2. How large of cream cheese packages are you using? 8 0z?

    Thank you!

    • Nellie
      Author
      December 2, 2016 / 4:41 pm

      Sure…parchment paper is always a good idea for non-sticking purposes! I’m using 8oz cream cheese packages (good question!)

  22. Michaela
    October 1, 2016 / 5:48 pm

    Simply the BEST carrot cake and so easy to make and the yummy cream cheese frosting, delish :)

    • Nellie
      Author
      October 4, 2016 / 6:29 pm

      Yay!! I’m so glad you tried it and loved it as much as we do. Now you reminded me to make a cake this weekend :)

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 19, 2016 / 4:59 pm

      Ahhh, thank you!! I am most certainly NOT good at everything :)

  23. Tracy
    March 2, 2016 / 9:40 pm

    My son loves carrot cake and I would love to make I with your recipe. Would you please tell me if I might be able to substitute all of the regular flour for cake flour?

    I’ve not used it before so I bought some to try. I’ve now run out of all-purpose flour, but will go buy some if it would be better for this recipe.

    Thanks for your time! :)

    • Nellie
      Author
      March 3, 2016 / 8:08 am

      Sure, you can. Cake flour has been ground much finer and allows the cake to rise a bit better. But all-purpose flour works just fine. Another cheat, to make your own version of cake flour… for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace it with cornstarch. Give it a beating with a mixer or sift it about 5 times before using. The cornstarch gives the flour extra rising power. But honestly, use All-Purpose flour :). Good luck and don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

  24. jas
    July 13, 2015 / 11:05 am

    I made this yesterday and it was PERFECTION! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Kathy
    July 10, 2015 / 9:08 pm

    This cake was awesome, and I will be making it for my daughter’s wedding. I’ve been looking for a good cream cheese frosting recipe too and have definitely found it! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Evelyn Adams
    May 31, 2015 / 12:53 am

    I have not used your recipe but the ingredients are exactly like my Carrot Cake recipe that I have made
    for at least 50 years, so I know it makes an excellent cake. (I make mine in three layers.) This is the first
    time I have read a recipe like mine. All others have nut, pineapple, coconut or what ever. My Carrot Cake is on demand for every birthday or family-get-to- gather. I am happy to have found that it freezes beautifully and slices beautifully after having been frozen. Blessings.

    • May 31, 2015 / 2:18 pm

      Thanks so much Evelyn for the freezer information! We’ve never had enough left over to freeze yet…but someday we will :) And we have had the same problem in the past, most carrot cakes have all sorts of extras in them that we think are just unnecessary. Classic is best in this case, we think.

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