Learn how to make the world’s best carrot cake! This recipe is so simple but has the absolute best flavor and perfectly moist texture, piled high with the most heavenly, fluffy and rich cream cheese frosting.
This cake is absolute perfection. Three moist layers of the best carrot cake you’ve ever tasted and the best part is that this cake is pretty much foolproof. Very forgiving with no crazy ingredients or tricks, just straightforward easy-to-follow steps and basic ingredients in the perfect balance.
I took this cake to my parents house for a big pre-Easter get together last weekend and it was devoured except for two little slices I snuck away at the beginning of the party to save for my in laws. On the way home we dropped off the cake for my husband’s parents 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 (even better than her trusty old recipe she’s been making for years!). I’m pretty obsessed with this cake myself and I am positive you will be too!
- 3 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1¼ cups vegetable or canola oil
- ⅔ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1¾ cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- optional: ½ cup raisins and/or ½ cup chopped pecans
- 16 ounces cream cheese (2 8-ounce bricks), softened
- 1 cup butter
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract OR 1 teaspoons vanilla + 2 teaspoons maple extract
- heaping ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
- chopped pecans for topping, optional
- 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, 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.