The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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How do you like your carrot cake? For the longest time, I was on a hunt for the best carrot cake recipe. I tried several cakes that were good, but they just didn’t measure up to my lofty expectations.

Then I found Ree’s carrot cake recipe and let me tell you, this baby measures up. Moist, sweet and lightly spiced, that Carrot Cake Recipe is the stuff dessert dreams are made of. 

Best Ever Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

I haven’t tried another recipe since I made this one for the first time almost five years ago. I make it at least once a year, sometimes more often than that.

This carrot cake is moist and sweet and incredibly flavorful. Classic carrot cake often includes pecans in the frosting, so I’ve listed them below as optional. (I rarely include nuts in my cakes and frostings, so I usually skip them here.)

It shouldn’t come as news to any of you that I am not a cake decorator. Not even a little bit. My sister and I baked this cake last time I was visiting her and while the word “rustic” covers a multitude of mistakes, it might be pushing it here.

When you’re spending time with your sister, laughing at your mistakes is way more fun than attempting to fix them.

The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

As long as a cake is covered in frosting, I’m happy. I’ve tried to force myself care what a final cake looks like, but even for a pretty blog post, I’m just not that girl. (You can thank my sister Jenny for the fact that she added flowers to the cake the first time I photographed this cake and managed to make it \presentable.)

My favorite cakes are baked in sheet pans or flipped out of a bundt pan.

Last time I baked these cakes with my sister, Jenny and I doubled the recipe and make two cakes–a layered round cake and a bundt cake–to serve a ton of people.

The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

That said, I don’t recommend doubling the recipe unless you want to have a LOT of cake leftover or you’re making cake for a big party. (Not that I was complaining about the extra cake!)

This recipe makes a cake that’s large enough to provide dessert for an average family a few times over.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake

I can think of few cake and frosting combinations more perfect than carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The carroty, cinnamon-y flavor in the cake is enhanced and heightened by the addition of creamy, sweet cream cheese frosting.

There are a couple of ways to enjoy this cream cheese frosting. The first method is to just spread the thick butter and cream cheese frosting over the top of the cooled cake in whatever method you desire. When you frost your Carrot Cake this way, each bite will include a layer of moist carrot cake and another layer of frosting.

This Carrot Cake is everything I want in a dessert! Topped with cream cheese frosting, it's pure heaven! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Cream Cheese Frosting

The Cream Cheese Frosting in this incredible carrot cake recipe is truly one of the best frostings I’ve tasted.

It has just the right amount of vanilla flavor and powdered sugar mixed in with the butter and cream cheese. I make this Carrot Cake Frosting even when I’m not making carrot cake; that’s how good it is!

Cream Cheese Frosting is also delicious on cinnamon rolls, spice cakes, pumpkin cupcakes and gingerbread recipes. If you end up with any leftover frosting after you make this carrot cake, it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. (Or go ahead and dig in with a spoon, I won’t tell.)

When I make this Carrot Cake Recipe in a bundt pan, I prefer turning the frosting into a pourable glaze.

By stirring heavy cream or whole milk into the cream cheese frosting, you create a thin icing that looks beautiful drizzled over an inverted bundt cake. I like this method for topping my cakes as it requires very few decorating skills and flaws are easily hidden.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Homemade Carrot Cake

Homemade Carrot Cake is a hit every time I make this recipe. While other recipes I’ve made have turned out dense, dry or too crumbly, this one is moist and tender with every bite.

I’ve had some very good carrot cakes from bakeries too but I have to say this homemade carrot cake recipe is the best I’ve tasted. It makes a great birthday dessert or after dinner treat and a slice of this cake is just perfect to share with a friend over a cup of coffee in the afternoon.

I love a good old-fashioned carrot cake with cream cheese frosting but I also get a kick out of other homemade treats inspired by carrot cake. You might also enjoy these Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese Syrup and these Ginger Spice Carrot Cake Cookies.

To enjoy the richness of carrot cake flavor in a nourishing hearty breakfast form, you must try my Carrot Cake Oatmeal. It’s almost as good as having cake for breakfast but even better since you get to skip the inevitable sugar crash.

Another great carrot cake for breakfast idea is this recipe for Carrot Cake Muffin Tops with Cream Cheese Frosting by Shugary Sweets.

I can not resist this Carrot Cake any time it's in the house!

The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan thoroughly with butter. (A sheet pan, a 9×13, a bundt pan or (2) 8″ rounds will all work well.) Mix the sugar, oil and eggs until smooth.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add to the wet and mix to combine. Add the carrots and mix again. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. A sheet cake should be done in about 25 minutes, a bundt cake will take closer to 45 minutes. Cool the cake completely before frosting.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and the butter together until well combined. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again until smooth. Stir in the pecans, if desired.
  4. When the cake is completely cool, frost as desired. If you prefer a glaze over a spreadable frosting, gradually add cream or milk while stirring constantly until the frosting is the desired consistency. Invert the bundt cake over a large plate and pour the glaze over the top.

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This Carrot Cake is everything I want in a dessert! Topped with cream cheese frosting, it's pure heaven! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.67 from 3 votes
Recipe slightly adapted from and with thanks to The Pioneer Woman
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18 -24 servings

Ingredients 

  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light flavored olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • Icing Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 4 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream half and half or milk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan thoroughly with butter. (A sheet pan, a 9×13, a bundt pan or (2) 8" rounds will all work well.) Mix the sugar, oil and eggs until smooth.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add to the wet and mix to combine. Add the carrots and mix again. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. A sheet cake should be done in about 25 minutes, a bundt cake will take closer to 45 minutes. Cool the cake completely before frosting.
  • Beat the cream cheese and the butter together until well combined. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again until smooth. Stir in the pecans, if desired.
  • When the cake is completely cool, frost as desired. If you prefer a glaze over a spreadable frosting, gradually add cream or milk while stirring constantly until the frosting is the desired consistency. Invert the bundt cake over a large plate and pour the glaze over the top. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcal · Carbohydrates: 64g · Protein: 4g · Fat: 9g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Cholesterol: 57mg · Sodium: 213mg · Potassium: 114mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 52g · Vitamin A: 2677IU · Vitamin C: 1mg · Calcium: 36mg · Iron: 1mg
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{originally published 9/23/13 – recipe notes and photos updated 9/16/19}

I never can resist this Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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    • Mary says

      I've never tried this with Crisco, but it would probably work if that's more your style. If you decide to try it, let me know how it works for you!

  1. Sharon Davis says

    something that drives me crazy about carrot cake is the addition of pineapple! that’s not carrot cake in my opinion!

  2. Sdw says

    I made this last Easter as a bundt cake, and it was a hit. My family was impressed I made this myself. Haha I’m going to make again this weekend, but as cupcakes.

  3. Kerri says

    I’m making this cake right now and all I can taste is olive oil. I’m a little concerned. Should I be??

    • Jennifer says

      Olive oil should not be used in baking. I’ve learned the hard way. It completely ruined my chocolate cake.

    • Mary says

      I adore olive oil in cakes, Jennifer, but it does depend on the cake AND the oil. This is a light olive oil, absolutely not a heavier flavored virgin olive oil. I hope that helps.

  4. Robert J. Booth says

    I’ve made this several times, i add 1/2 tsp vanilla..
    To the mixture as well.
    I also toasted my pecans and sprinkle W/ brow sugar while they’re still hot.
    Toss em around and sprinkle over cream cheese frosting😎🇺🇸5 stars

  5. Rachel Kohls-Lunt says

    Made this for my 11 yr old’s birthday party — he & his friends all thought the cake was excellent or fantastic. Overall it’s a very good recipe – the cake had a wonderfully moist crumb while the outside had a wonderfully crispy coat (45min on the nose). I did modify the spice in the batter to punch up the flavor a bit (tip from Cook’s Country Tropical Carrot) — instead of cinnamon, I used 3 t. pumpkin pie spice (which is my own blend) and 3/4 t. ground ginger. I made the cake in a bundt pan and used only about half of the icing from the recipe (with chopped toasted pecans & walnuts). The icing was also a bit more sweet than I’m used to, so may cut the sugar by about half next time with 1 t sour cream for tang (tip from Cook’s Illustrated Simple Carrot).4 stars

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