This Best Carrot Cake recipe is an insanely delicious special occasion cake. The flavorful cake batter is embellished with crushed pineapple, coconut and toasted pecans and the layers are sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting.
Easy Carrot Cake Recipe
Carrot cake seems to be synonymous with Easter and Spring. It’s far too delicious to limit to just those two occasions! This cake is scratch made with a creamy batter featuring freshly grated carrot, juicy crushed pineapple, sweetened flaked coconut and toasted chopped pecans. It’s an impressive dessert whenever it’s served, and one that’s certain to become a family favorite.
How to Make the Best Carrot Cake Recipe
- Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: All purpose flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, granulated sugar, finely grated carrots, crushed pineapple, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, buttermilk or sour cream, shredded flaked coconut, chopped pecans, large eggs and chopped pecans.
- To make a homemade Cream Cheese Icing you’ll need: Softened cream cheese, softened butter, powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), vanilla extract, salt, buttermilk or heavy cream for thinning.
- Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A stand mixer or a hand mixer, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk to sift the dry ingredients, a box grater or or food processor, mixing bowls and rubber spatula.
- How do you make carrot cake? First, spread the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and place into a preheated 350°F oven to toast for 6-8 minutes. Set them aside to cool, while you make the cake batter.
- To make the cake batter, use a whisk to sift together the dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium high speed beat together the oil, granulated sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the finely grated carrots, pineapple and coconut.
- Divide the batter between three 8 inch round cake pans and bake per the recipe until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Cool completely then frost with the cream cheese frosting and chill until serving.
- The carrots for this cake need to be finely grated fresh carrots that you’ve grated by hand or using a food processor if you have a blade that makes small shreds. It makes ALL the difference. Long shreds won’t work here, you want finely shredded carrot. Loosely packed to measure 3 cups total.
- Store Carrot Cake chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.
- Freeze Carrot Cake for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. You can freeze in individual slices, in quarters, half or whole.
- You can also make the cake layers, cool and then wrap in freezer wrap and foil. Freeze the layers for up to 3 months. This is a terrific time saver for make ahead baking.
- If the cake layers have been frozen, thaw in the refrigerator and frost before serving.
More Southern Layer Cakes to Make
I’m an avid baker and it doesn’t have to be a special occasion for me to bake a cake in any form. That’s well demonstrated in the Recipe Index. More cake layers you may also like to try:
- Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake is delicious with or without a glaze.
- Buttered Rum Cake is a holiday must make.
- Banana Pudding Cake is dressed to impress.
- My Italian Cream Cake recipe is the only one you’ll ever need.
- Best Chocolate Cake Recipe is one that everyone needs in their recipe file for birthdays and special occasions.
- Easy Strawberry Layer Cake is a cake mix hack that bakers of all skill levels can make.
- Orange Chiffon Cake from Southern Living.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Best Carrot Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk OR sour cream
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups finely grated carrot (not packed)
- 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple well drained
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 cups chopped pecans toasted and divided
- 2 8 oz blocks plain cream cheese
- 1 cup salted butter
- 6-8 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla
- heavy cream or buttermilk for thinning
- Spread pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. (use one half in batter and remaining on top)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 (8 inch) cake pans or spray with baking spray; set aside.
- In a medium-size bowl, use a whisk to sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, salt, ginger and nutmeg.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl periodically, until creamy.
- Lower speed of mixer and gradually add dry ingredients. Beat just until fully combined. Mix in carrots, pineapple, coconut and 1 cup pecans by hand until evenly distributed.
- Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Cool completely in the pans on a cooling rack.
- To make the frosting: In a medium-size mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add 6 cups powdered sugar beating on medium speed just until fluffy and smooth. (See Cook's note)
- Remove layers from pans and place on cake stand or platter. Frost between layers, top and sides of carrot cake. Decorate top as desired and and sprinkle with reserved toasted pecans.
- Cover and chill for at least 6 hours. Slice and enjoy.
- Store carrot cake chilled in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- The amount of frosting can be adapted depending on how you intend to decorate the cake. If using a pastry bag and piping decorations, or if you prefer a thicker frosting, you'll need 8 cups (or two 1 pound boxes) of powdered sugar. If you prefer a simpler approach and plan to spread the frosting by hand, 6 cups may be ample.
- Stop after adding 6 cups of powdered sugar then adapt adding in 1/2 cup increments for a stiffer frosting.
- If needed, you can also add heavy cream or buttermilk one tablespoon at a time just until spreading consistency is reached.