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Moist Carrot Cake

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Loads of shredded carrots, raisins, and warm spices make this moist carrot cake recipe the ultimate treat.

side view of carrot cake slice on white plate

It’s so easy to make and tastes amazing with silky cream cheese frosting.

A simple carrot cake recipe immediately comes to mind when I think of Easter and spring recipes.

I’ll tell you how to make a carrot cake that is better than all the rest. The key is fresh carrots! Avoid store-bought shredded carrots.

I’ve shared the ultimate pineapple carrot cake before and today’s version is just as moist and flavorful, but with different spices and more carrots.

This easy carrot cake is covered in my favorite cream cheese frosting and decorated with chopped pecans. You can skip the nuts if you wish.


Why this recipe works

  • The carrots are shredded with a grater, so they are finer in texture as opposed to using a mandoline.
  • Greek yogurt is used to help keep the carrot cake moist.
  • Oil is used instead of butter, which also adds to the moisture of the cake.
carrot cake on marble cake stand

What you need

Freshly grated carrots are so important to quality of this recipe. Let’s discuss just a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • All-purpose flour: Make sure to measure the flour correctly because it affects the moisture level in the cake.
  • Baking powder & baking soda: These act as leavening agents in the recipe, which cause the cake to expand.
  • Cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, & vanilla extract: These add tons of flavor to the cake, especially cinnamon. However, you may leave out nutmeg and cloves.
  • Sugar: I prefer brown sugar because it adds flavor depth. You may also substitute with coconut sugar or use all white sugar.
  • Oil & yogurt: You may use any flavorless oil. I prefer yogurt, but you can substitute it with sour cream.
  • Eggs: These create the right level of structure and stability in the recipe.
  • Carrots: Don’t use store-bought shredded carrots because they are too dry and thick. I prefer to use a box grater to shred fresh carrots.
  • Raisins: These are completely optional. Leave them out if you don’t like them.

Equipment

This is a list of tools I used to make the carrot cake recipe. Some of the links are affiliate links.

  • Box grater: You’ll need a box grater to finely shred the carrots for the recipe.
  • Baking pans: You can use a 9×13-inch pan for this recipe. For Bundt cake, use a 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan.

How to make carrot cake from scratch

The Cake Batter – The batter is super simple to prepare. It doesn’t require a mixer like my vanilla cake, white cake, or chocolate cake.

All you need is a whisk and a large mixing bowl.

The Frosting – I used my favorite cream cheese frosting with one small change to make sure the frosting wasn’t too soft for a two-layer carrot cake.

1. Prepare the cake pans

  1. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Then, line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. The parchment paper will ensure the cake doesn’t stick to the pan.

2. Make the batter

  1. Use a whisk to stir brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, Greek yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together.
  2. Stir in finely shredded carrots and raisins.
  3. Then sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves into the batter.
  4. Stir it until everything is just combined.
process shots showing how to make carrot cake

3. Bake

  1. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
carrot cake in pan

4. Make the frosting

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Then, beat in confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
Close up of cream cheese frosting in a white bowl

5. Frost the cake

  1. Once the cake layers have cooled, place one of the layers on a serving platter and cover the top with frosting.
  2. Set the second layer over the top then cover the entire cake with frosting.
  3. Garnish if desired. If you like pecans or walnuts, coarsely chop about ½ cup. Then, press them into the sides of the carrot cake.
  4. Refrigerate. Refrigerate the assembled cake for 1 hour before slicing and serving. This will set the frosting and make the cake easier to slice neatly.
close up carrot cake dotted with pecans

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best way to shred fresh carrots?

I like to use a box grater to shred carrots. Wash and peel them before shredding.

Avoid buying pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store. They are too thick and too dry for carrot cake.

Can I make carrot cake cupcakes with this recipe?

Absolutely! Many of our readers have done this… Divide the batter among 24 paper-lined muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Can I make a Bundt cake with this recipe?

Yes, but the baking time will need to be increased. Use a 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan and bake for 55-75 minutes.

All ovens are different, that’s why the bake time varies. Keep a close eye on it.

Can I leave out the raisins?

The raisins are completely optional! If you’re not a fan, leave them out. Shredded coconut, chopped pecans, or walnuts are also great add-ins.

slice of carrot cake on a white plate with a fork

Storing & Freezing

To store: Keep carrot cake covered tightly and store in the refrigerator for no more than 5 days.

Unfrosted carrot cake layers can be covered tightly. Then, stored at room temperature overnight.

Frosting may also be made a day in advance. Keep refrigerated and bring to room temperature just before using.

You may need to mix it once again with the mixer.

To Freeze: Alternatively, the frosted or unfrosted carrot cake can be frozen for no more than 3 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.


What else can I make with shredded carrots?

If you have leftover shredded carrots to use up, try making my carrot cake scones. They are almost better than cake!

These tender carrot muffins are also fantastic!


Watch how to make it

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side view of carrot cake slice on white plate

Moist Carrot Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Loads of shredded carrots, raisins, and warm spices make this moist carrot cake the ultimate treat. It's easy to make and tastes amazing with silky cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup (165 g) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated white sugar
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (50 g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (384 g) finely shredded carrots
  • ½ cup (72 g) raisins, optional

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (453 g) cold cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (49 g) coarsely chopped pecans, optional

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Lightly grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper cut into a circle.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the sugars, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together in a second large bowl. Stir in the carrots and raisins. Add the flour mixture and fold everything together until just combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes then invert them onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar, meringue powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low until just incorporated then turn the mixer to high speed and beat for about 1 minute until everything is well combined.

Assemble the cake

  1. Place one layer on a serving platter. Spread about ⅓ of the frosting over the top. 
  2. Gently place the second layer on top of the frosting. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with toasted pecans if desired.
  3. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

Make-ahead Instructions

  1. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving. Bring to room temperature before slicing.
  2. The cake layers can be made ahead 1 day in advance. Wrap on plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. 
  3. The frosting can also be made 1 day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
  4. The frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Flour: Make sure to measure the flour correctly so the cake stays moist.

Spices: The spices add loads of flavor to the cake. You may leave out the nutmeg and cloves, but don't skip the cinnamon.

Sugar: Brown sugar adds flavor depth and I highly recommend it. You may replace brown sugar with coconut sugar or use all white sugar.

Oil: Any flavorless oil will work with this recipe.

Yogurt: Sour cream can be used in place of Greek yogurt.

Carrots: Avoid using store-bought shredded carrots. They are too dry and thick. Instead, use a box grater to shred fresh carrots that have been washed and peeled.

Raisins: They're completely optional! Leave them out if don't wish to use them.

Mix-ins: Along with raisins, shredded coconut or chopped nuts are great additions.

Carrot cake cupcakes: Fill paper-lined muffin cups ⅔ full and bake for 15-20 minutes. Yields about 24 cupcakes.

Carrot cake bundt cake: Bake batter in a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan for 55-77 minutes.

9x13-inch cake: Bake batter in a 9x13-inch pan for 35-45 minutes.

Baking in different pan sizes: All ovens and pans are different. Keep a close eye on the cake and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. The could take less or more time than listed depending on your oven/pan.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 309Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 527mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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