Pineapple Carrot Cake

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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 or carrot cake cupcakes 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 store-bought 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:

Pineapple Carrot Cake

4.47 from 104 votes
carrot cake with pineapple on a pewter plate with fork
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.
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Serving Size 12

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 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
  • 1 cup (165 g) crushed pineapple, well-drained (from a 20-ounce can)

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (454 g) full fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (59 g) coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions

Make the cake

  • 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.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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

  • Place one layer on a serving platter. Spread about ⅓ of the frosting over the top. 
  • 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.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  • When measuring the flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Use the spoon and level method instead.
  • 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.
  • You can make your own crushed pineapple – Add 1 cup of pineapple chunks to a blender and use the chop setting for 30 seconds.
  • Make sure to use brick-style cream cheese. The whipped stuff in a container will not work!
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 665kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 403mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 5528IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
4.47 from 104 votes (99 ratings without comment)

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101 Comments

  1. Can I make this in a 9 by 13 pan? How does the baking time change?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I haven’t made this cake in a 9×13-inch pan but it should be fine to do. You may need to increase the bake time by 5-10 minutes, I’m not sure exactly. Just keep a close eye on it.

  2. Can I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I haven’t tried this myself so I’m unsure how it will turn out.

  3. This carrot cake is the best recipe I have made. It is a winner. I don’t add the nutmeg(don’t like). I added some orange zest to cake. I love the orange zest in the frosting.
    My guests loved, loved this cake.
    Thank you!

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Orange zest sounds wonderful in both the cake and frosting! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Hi there! Can I mix my frosting with gel colours ??

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      That should be perfectly fine.

  5. Hi,
    I tried your recipe (the first time I ever made carrot cake) and the result was terrible, it didnt bake properly and it didnt grow at all, looked like a flan more than a cake. The only thing I did differently was to put butter (melted) instead of oil. I baked it at 200C for about 30-40 min, it passed the toothpick test so I let it cool in the oven for another 20min initially and then on the counter.
    Can you please tell me what went so wrong? Thank you

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      You didn’t follow the instructions. 200°C is 392°F. You baked the cake almost 50° higher than the temperature called for in the instructions. You also left the cake in the oven for 20 minutes after it was finished baking. Also, butter and oil are not equally interchangeable so using all butter in place of the oil will have an effect of the final result.

  6. Love the recipe. Can I add nuts or raisins, or both? If so, could you help out with measurements. Thanks

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I wouldn’t add more than 1/2 cup.

  7. I’ve tried this recipe and my daughter loved it. Though I haven’t frosted it. Thanks for all the nutritious recipes!

  8. Hi,
    Did your old recipe have butter in it? And did you put walnuts in the cake? Can’t find the recipe that I have used in the past and am thinking this is the updated version. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      The only difference is the ginger and nutmeg. Everything else in the cake is exactly the same.

  9. I make this cake for all my parties because people love it so much! I see that it’s been updated recently, did ginger and nutmeg always go in this? I don’t seem to remember that. If not, do you have the old ingredient list to go off of?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      The ginger and nutmeg are new additions to the recipe. You can leave them out and everything else is the same.

  10. I cant wait to try to bake this cake! can i use fresh pineapples instead of canned ?

    thanks 😀

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I haven’t made it with fresh pineapple but I imagine it would be okay.