World’s Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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The world’s best carrot cake recipe is so simple but has the absolute best flavor and perfectly moist texture, and is then piled high with the most heavenly, fluffy and rich cream cheese frosting

For more amazingly mouthwatering delicious cake recipes check out my posts for Cream Cheese Lemon Crumb Cake, Zucchini Sheet Cake, and Strawberry Poppyseed Cake.

three layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

The first time I made this carrot cake, it was for a big pre-Easter get together at my parents’ house. It was pretty much immediately devoured except for two little slices I was able to save for my in-laws. On the way home we dropped off the cake to them, and before I even got the kids in bed I had a text from my mother in law — the connoisseur of carrot cakes — thanking us for the cake and swearing it was the best she’d ever had! Best compliment ever!

This cake is absolute perfection and pretty much foolproof! Three moist layers of the best carrot cake you’ve ever tasted (plus that frosting topper!) and no crazy ingredients or tricks, just straightforward easy-to-follow steps that will make this the best carrot cake recipe you’ve ever made!

whole cake with white frosting and pecans on cake stand

Why This Recipe Works 

Shredded carrots — It’s an absolute must that you use shredded carrots in this recipe. Why? Well, because shredded carrots will bake into the cake quickly (you don’t want to crunch into carrots, right?) and shredding them will release a lot of the moisture into the cake batter which is key to making this carrot cake recipe super moist. 

Easy ingredients — A three-layer carrot cake might seem intimidating but I promise it’s really not. And, it’s made all that more easy when you use simple ingredients that you probably already have like flour, sugar, cinnamon, and brown sugar. 

Applesauce — Now, if you’ve never added applesauce to a cake mix before, this might be a game-changer for you. I add it for two reasons: To cut back on the oil and it makes the cake more moist and chewy and a little bit denser. 

Cream cheese frosting — I’d argue that this moist carrot cake recipe just doesn’t work with any other kind of frosting. It has to be cream cheese because the slight sourness of it offsets the sweetness of the cake and just works so well, no other icing could compare!

side by side images of carrot cake on metal cake stand

 Here’s How You Make It

Making the carrot cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Take out a medium-sized bowl and in it whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
  3. Now get out a separate, large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and cream together the oil, applesauce, vanilla, sugar, and the brown sugar. 
  4. Add the eggs to the wet mixture, one at a time. Then stir in the shredded carrots. (If you want to add the optional raisins and/or nuts, gently fold them in at this step.)
  5. Now add the dry ingredients into wet ingredients until there are no more streaks of flour in the batter (you can do this in 2-3 batches if you prefer). Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.
  6. Put the pans in the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Carefully turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool.collage of four images showing step by step preparation of carrot cake

Preparing the icing 

    1. Make the icing while your cakes are cooling by first getting out a sauce pan, and melting the butter over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, let it continue to cook 2-4 minutes longer, or until the color goes from a pale yellow to a dark amber color. Then, take the butter off the heat.
    2. In a large, clean bowl cream together the cream cheese and butter. Then, add in the vanilla and salt and mix again. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix thoroughly after each add, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.collage of four images showing step by step preparation of carrot cake

Putting the carrot cake together

      1. Assemble the best carrot cake recipe ever by spreading frosting on top of all three layers, stacking them as you go, and then spreading the remaining icing around the sides of the cake.
      2. Top the cake with chopped pecans if you like. 
      3. Store the cake in an airtight container until you’re ready to dive in!

carrot cake with slice missing and pecans on top

Expert Tips 

  • If you don’t have three round cake pans, don’t worry. You can bake one layer at a time if you only have one pan. Or, if you want to make a larger sheet cake, use a large, 12″ x 18″ x 3″ rectangular cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. Bake for 5-minute increments thereafter until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  • You can buy pre-shredded carrots, but I find that they are often already dried out while they’re sitting in the bag waiting for you to purchase them. I much prefer to shred my own carrots on a box grater for best results.
  • If you don’t have an airtight container that will fit a whole cake, you can put the cake on a large plate, and then put some toothpicks or bamboo skewers into the top of the cake and plastic wrap around the cake and skewers/toothpicks. This method will keep the plastic wrap from touching the icing and pulling it off when you remove it.

More Amazing Carrot Recipes

Did you make this Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe? YAY! Please rate the recipe below! 

World's Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | lecremedelacrumb.com

World's Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The world's best carrot cake recipe is so simple but has the absolute best flavor and perfectly moist texture, and is then piled high with the most heavenly, fluffy and rich cream cheese frosting.
4.92 from 46 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups shredded carrot
  • optional: 1/2 cup raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese (2 8-ounce bricks), softened
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 1 teaspoons vanilla + 2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
  • chopped pecans for topping, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl cream together oil, applesauce, vanilla, sugar, and brown sugar. Mix in eggs, one at a time, then stir in carrots. (If adding raisins and/or nuts stir in now).
  • Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until there are no more streaks of flour in the batter. Divide between prepared cake pans.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick into the center comes out clean.
  • Turn cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool.
  • Prepare the frosting while your cakes cool. In a sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once completely melted, continue to cook 2-4 minutes longer until the color goes from pale yellow to a dark amber color. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl cream together cream cheese and butter. Mix in vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time mixing after each, until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Assemble cake by spreading frosting on top of all three layers, then spreading around the sides of the cake. Top with chopped pecans if desired and store in airtight container until ready to serve.

Notes

Pro Tips
  • If you don't have three round cake pans, don't worry. You can bake one layer at a time if you only have one pan. Or, if you want to make a larger sheet cake, use a large, 12" x 18" x 3" rectangular cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. Bake for 5-minute increments thereafter until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  • You can buy pre-shredded carrots, but I find that they are often already dried out while they're sitting in the bag waiting for you to purchase them. I much prefer to shred my own carrots on a box grater for best results.
  • If you don't have an airtight container that will fit a whole cake, you can put the cake on a large plate, and then put some toothpicks or bamboo skewers into the top of the cake and plastic wrap around the cake and skewers/toothpicks. This method will keep the plastic wrap from touching the icing and pulling it off when you remove it.

Nutrition

Calories: 770kcal | Carbohydrates: 123g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 618mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 102g | Vitamin A: 4520IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
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Comments

4 stars
Add nuts raisins, pineapple if you like it comes out delicious, thank you.

5 stars
Can crushed pineapple be used Instead of apple sauce

8cups of powdered sugar for thr frosting sounds too sweet what is the least amout of powdered sugat
R i can use.

5 stars
mADE THIS CAKE FOR EASTER AND YOU DEFINITELY NEED 3 CAKE PANS – AND THE ICING IS FABULOUS – MAKES ENOROMOS AMOUNT BUT REALLY GOOD – WILL MAKE THIS AGAIN!

    So happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe!

Hello is it possible to use crush pineapple instead of apple sauce and then do l add more oil

    Yes, you could swap it for crushed pineapple! I used crushed pineapple in my new carrot cake muffins recipe 🙂

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