This southern style Carrot Cake recipe is super moist, loaded with warm spices and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s truly the BEST CARROT CAKE you’ll ever make!
Who doesn’t like a good old fashioned, southern style carrot cake? It’s such a wonderful dessert that is perfect to serve during the holidays, or any special occasion. It’s a dessert that’s made from the heart!
Carrot cake is easy to make and you’ll be proud to serve it with these simple little carrot decorations on top!
How to make the Best Carrot Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cake pans with oil and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Coat the inside of the pans with flour by rotating a handful of flour in the pan so it adheres to the bottom and sides.
- Use a food processor or box grater to grate 6 medium sized carrots that have been peeled and washed.
- Chop 1 cup of pecans into small pieces.
- Toss raisins in flour to coat them evenly. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom while the cakes are baking.
- Dry ingredients. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together with a whisk.
- Wet ingredients. In a separate batter bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the oil, eggs, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes on high speed.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until smooth.
- Add the carrots, raisins and pecans and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes and then place onto a cooling rack to let cool completely.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. Place the room temperature butter, cream cheese and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar 1/3 third at a time, mixing with the electric mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.
- Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Frost the cake. Stack the layers onto a cake stand and use an offset spatula to spread the cream cheese frosting in between the layers, the top and the outside of the carrot cake.
- Decorate the cake. Use your hands to press the extra pecans onto the outside of the cake. Place a baking sheet under the cake stand to help catch any nuts that fall off during the process.
- Peel 4 large carrots and cut the pointed end off. They should be at least 2.5 inches long. Cut the pieces in half lengthwise to get 8 little carrots. Place them on top of the cake with the pointed ends towards the center as you see in the picture below. Use cilantro leaves or any kind of herb you have, to create the “carrot leaves”. Place these on the cake right before you are ready to serve.
Your friends and family will enjoy every single bite of this carrot cake!
*See recipe card for tips and tricks!
More Easter Dessert Recipes:
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The BEST Carrot Cake ever! It’s loaded with cinnamon, warm spices and topped with a delicious homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect dessert for the holidays or any special occasion!
- 2.5 cups (350 g) all purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the cake pans and tossing the raisins)
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (284 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (198 g) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cups (115 g) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (150 g) grated carrots
- 1/2 cup (75 g) raisins (toss with flour to prevent them from sinking in batter)
- 1/2 cup (60 g) chopped pecans
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1–2 cups chopped pecans to press on the side of the cake
- 4 whole carrots
- cilantro leaves or any other herb to use as carrot leaves
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease two 9″ cake pans with oil and cover the bottom of the pans with parchment paper (optional). Add a handful of flour to the pans and rotate the pans to coat with flour to prevent sticking.
- Dry Ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 2.5 cups flour, 4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder and set aside.
- Wet Ingredients. In a medium sized batter bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup vegetable oil on high speed for 2 minutes.
- Combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir them together using a spatula until combined. Stir in the 3 cups of carrots, 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
- Bake. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool. Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes before transferring the cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Cream Cheese Frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat the room temperature butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract using an electric mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/3 at a time and beat until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Decorate the cake. Place the first layer on a cake stand and cover with cream cheese frosting. Stack the second layer on top and spread the top and outsides of the cake with frosting. Use your hand to press the additional 2 cups of toasted pecan pieces to the outside of the cake. Right before you are ready to serve, cut the ends off the whole carrots and then cut them in half lengthwise. Place them on top of the cake with the pointed ends facing the center. Use a the cilantro leaves as the carrot tops.
- Store the cake in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- If you are using the carrots to decorate the cake, place them on the cake right before you are ready to serve. If they are left on overnight, the moisture from the carrots will seep out and cause the frosting to become “wet” around the edges of the carrots.
- For a 3 layer cake use three 8 inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- This recipe makes 18-24 cupcakes. Use cupcake liners and bake for 25 minutes.
- A 10 ounce bag of pre-shredded carrots and be used instead of grating the carrots. I recommend cutting them into smaller pieces before adding them to the batter.
- Vegetable oil can be substituted with 1 cup melted coconut oil or 2 sticks melted unsalted butter.
- The pecans can be substituted with walnuts.
- For even more nutty flavor, toast the pecans in the oven at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.
- Use a good quality cinnamon for the best taste.
- There are a few ways to tell if the cake is done. A toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, the sides are pulling away from the cake pan or the cake springs back when pushed down in the middle.
- Parchment paper is not necessary but helpful in ensuring the cake does not stick to the pans when removing. Run a knife around the cake to help release the sides before trying to remove it.
- Carrot Cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap the layers individually in 2 layers of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil.
- The original recipe called for 1 cup granulated sugar. We cut that down to 1/2 a cup and added 1 cup of light brown sugar to create more moisture in the cake.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 766
Keywords: carrot cake, easter dessert, holiday dessert
This recipe was originally posted in 2014 and updated in April 2019 with new photos, an enhanced recipe card and expert tips.