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Pineapple Carrot Cake

This pineapple carrot cake recipe features a moist carrot cake speckled with bits of pineapple. It's spiced with warm cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Cream cheese frosting with orange zest is slathered over the cake for the ultimate treat.

ultimate pineapple carrot cake on a grey marble cake stand

Pineapple carrot cake is well-loved. It's my preference over regular carrot cake any day!

But, I am partial to carrot cake scones and will almost always choose those over cake. You're in for a real treat if you are here because you love carrot cake!

If you are not a fan of bland carrot cakes, you have come to the right place. This one is loaded with spices and the lush orange cream cheese frosting goes so well with the cake. I'm fairly certain you are going to declare this recipe a hit!

Why this Pineapple Carrot Cake recipe works

  • The right amount of sweetness is added to balance the flavor of the cake.
  • Pineapple makes the cake superior when it comes to moisture!
  • The frosting is flavored with orange zest to add brightness to the cake. It really stands out when compared to regular carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting.
carrot cake with pineapple on a pewter plate with fork

Pineapple Carrot Cake Ingredients

The cake is slightly adapted from my moist carrot cake. I changed the spices, reduced the amount of carrot, and added crushed pineapple.

The frosting is my favorite cream cheese recipe with the addition of orange zest. I garnished the top and sides with a few coarsely chopped walnuts. Here is an overview of the ingredients:

  • Flour: I like to use all-purpose flour for carrot cake. The fine crumb from cake flour doesn't hold up well with the amount of shredded carrot.
  • Leavening: Baking powder and baking soda are used to help rise while staying soft and fluffy.
  • Spices: Cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg give warm flavor to the cake plus they pair so well with carrot and pineapple.
  • Sugar: A combination of light brown sugar and granulated sugar add the right amount of sweetness. And the molasses flavor from the brown sugar adds to the cake.
  • Oil: Use a flavorless oil like canola or vegetable oil.
  • Eggs: 4 whole eggs are needed for the cake.
  • Carrots: Don't use storebought shredded carrots! They are too thick and dry. Shred your own carrots with a box grater.
  • Pineapple: Use crushed pineapple from a 20-ounce can and drain it well. I like to press and squeeze the pineapple to get as much moisture out as possible.
close up of pineapple carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting

How to make pineapple carrot cake

The cake batter is simple to put together and requires only a bowl, whisk, and silicone spatula.

The wet ingredients are mixed together first then the dry ingredients are sifted in and everything is folded together.

Here’s how to put it together…

Prep the pans. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper that has been cut into a circle to fit.

Make the batter. Whisk both sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots and pineapple.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg into the wet ingredients. Fold until everything is well combined.

Pineapple carrot cake process shots

Bake. Divide the batter evenly between both pans and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

Cool the cakes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and let them cool completely.

pineapple carrot cake in cake pan

Make the orange cream cheese frosting

The frosting is made with butter, brick-style cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, vanilla, orange zest, and salt.

Meringue powder is used to thicken the frosting and keep it stable. If you don't have access to meringue powder, simply leave it out.

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Sift in the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and salt. Then mix until well combined. Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix until well combined.

slice of pineapple carrot cake with a fork taking a bite out

Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a serving platter. Spread about ⅓ of the frosting over the top. Place the second layer on top and spread the remaining frosting over the entire cake.

Garnish the cake with coarsely chopped walnuts if you wish.


Tips for pineapple carrot cake

  • You can make your own crushed pineapple! Place 1 cup of pineapple chunks in a blender and use the chop setting for 30 seconds.
  • Follow the recipe closely! This includes using carrots that you grate yourself.
  • Make sure you measure the flour correctly. Using too much flour by mistake will ruin the cake's texture.
slice of carrot cake with pineapple on a pewter plate

If you like this recipe, try my other fun Easter recipes:

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carrot cake with pineapple on a pewter plate with fork

Pineapple Carrot Cake

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

This pineapple carrot cake recipe features a moist carrot cake speckled with bits of pineapple. It's spiced with warm cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Cream cheese frosting with orange zest is slathered over the cake for the ultimate treat.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour - SEE NOTE 1
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup (165 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (164 g) vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) finely shredded carrots - SEE NOTE 2
  • 1 cup (165 g) crushed pineapple, well-drained (from a 20-ounce can) - SEE NOTE 3

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (454 g) full fat cream cheese, softened - SEE NOTE 4
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder - SEE NOTE 5
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (59 g) coarsely chopped walnuts, 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, salt, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a second large bowl. Stir in the carrots and pineapple. 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, orange zest, 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 walnuts if desired.
  3. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  1. When measuring the flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Use the spoon and level method instead.
  2. Don't use storebought shredded carrots. They are too thick and dry. Instead, peel and grate your own with a box grater. You need about 4 whole carrots to equal 2 and ½ cups.
  3. You can make your own crushed pineapple - Add 1 cup of pineapple chunks to a blender and use the chop setting for 30 seconds.
  4. Make sure to use brick-style cream cheese. The whipped stuff in a container will not work!
  5. If you don't have access to meringue powder, simply leave it out. Just take extra care to not over mix the frosting or it will turn runny. In the case that is too soft to use, pop the frosting in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes until it firms up slightly.

Make ahead tip

  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 up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 307Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 482mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 7g

* 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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Chandra

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Can I use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup oil instead? And also use the creaming method?

Jen Sobjack

Monday 24th of May 2021

You could but keep in mind that the oil keeps the cake incredibly moist. Substituting any amount of the oil will change the texture of the cake.

CaitieB

Friday 16th of April 2021

I made the cake, the pineapple curd which was so amazing, and the orange frosting! Then I added a little too much curd, I ate the first batch after it had been in the fridge overnight, it was a little bit more thicker. So the one I used was more liquidy and I poured it in between the cakes. Had to do a bit of surgery. But I got a crumb coat on it and left it in the fridge.

How much curd should I have poured on?

Jen Sobjack

Friday 16th of April 2021

When adding a filling such as a curd to any cake, you want to make sure the curd has refrigerated and thickened before using it. Also, pipe a dam with frosting and add the curd inside the dam. This will prevent the filling from squishing out when you add the top cake layer. You can see an example of this in my pineapple coconut cake recipe where I used pineapple curd as a filling. You can use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of filling. I base this on how tall/thick I piped the frosting dam.

Toni

Thursday 25th of March 2021

I made this recipe as is and loved it. I was wondering if I would be able to make this recipe as cupcakes? If so, what would you recommend for temperature and baking time? Thanks!

Jen Sobjack

Friday 26th of March 2021

I haven't baked this recipe as cupcakes before so I can't give you an exact baking time. Just keep a close eye on them. I would keep the oven temperature the same though.

LindaY

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

I added pecans and raisins. I used pineapple tidbits the second time I made it, the ground pineapple was not identifiable in the cake after baking. I did use a sheet cake pan but cut it in half and made it a square 2 layer cake. I convince myself that this is a healthy breakfast... fruit and veggies snuck in.

Whitney

Friday 9th of October 2020

This is the 4th recipe I’ve tried from baked by an introvert, and the only time I felt disappointed with the outcome. It was far too moist and wet. I baked for 30 minutes. The toothpick came out clean. I iced it after it cooled. Then cut into it and... way too wet and undercooked, especially in the middle. I should have known when I transferred it to ice it, it was wet and floppy. Also in the other cake recipes I’ve tried, I had to bake longer by at least 5-10 minutes (even with the white cake). But I’m not sure a lot ge baking time would have resolved my issue. Seemed like the ratios of wet to dry were too much. The amount of oil, pineapple, and carrot to just 2 cups of flour...? I did use a gluten free flour too - bobs red mill 1 to 1 - but I don’t think that would be the issue either?

Jen Sobjack

Friday 9th of October 2020

Hi Whitney! I'm sorry you had an unfavorable experience with the recipe. This cake is definitely meant to be moist and I've had nothing but positive reviews on it. But a few things to note: Make sure you are thoroughly draining the pineapple. Put it in a fine-mesh sieve and squish the juice out. Don't just pour the juice out of the can. That won't get it drained enough. If the toothpick is coming out clean, the cake is fully baked and I imagine there's excess juice from the pineapple that is leaving a wet texture. Also, it sounds like your oven temperature may be off slightly since you mentioned you always have to bake cakes longer than instructed. This is quite common as no two ovens bake alike. Use an oven thermometer to ensure the oven temperature is accurate and adjust it if needed. I actually have three in my oven because even oven thermometers can be wrong. I've not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour so I can't say for sure if that had an effect. But I can say that anytime you may the slightest change to a recipe, you run the risk of it not turning out properly. Unless a recipe specifically states that it's okay to use certain substitutions, it's best to make it exactly as written.

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