Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

53 Comments 4.8

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

Moist, sweet, and lightly spiced, this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is the food of which sweet tooth dreams are made. 

carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with pecans

Pioneer Woman Carrot Cake

For the longest time, years actually, I was on a hunt for the best carrot cake recipe. Carrot cake is one of Sean’s favorite cakes and I tried several cakes that were good, but they just didn’t measure up to our expectations. We both have a hard time resisting carrot cake anytime it is served, so the idea of making the perfect carrot cake at home was irresistible.

Then I found Ree Drummond’s carrot cake recipe and let me tell you, this baby measures up. I haven’t tried another recipe since I made this one for the first time over ten years ago. I make it at least once a year, sometimes more often than that.

Save The Recipe

Want to save this recipe?

Enter your email and I’ll send this recipe right to your inbox! Plus, I’ll send you new recipes every week!

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 often skip them when making a cake just for my family to enjoy.)

Simple Carrot Cake

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 one time when 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.

As long as a cake is covered in frosting, I’m happy.

carrot bundt cake on plate covered with cream cheese frosting

I’ve tried to force myself to 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 almost always baked in sheet pans or flipped out of a bundt pan. Jenny and I doubled the recipe and made two generously sized cakes–a layered round cake and a bundt cake–to serve a ton of people.

The recipe as written below makes a cake that’s large enough to provide dessert for an average family a few times over. I don’t recommend doubling it unless you want to have a LOT of cake left over or you’re making a cake for a big party. (Not that anyone complains about extra cake!)

Can You Freeze Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting?

That’s an emphatic YES, my friend. So, if you’re as big a fan of carrot cake as my husband is, go for it and double the recipe.

Refrigerate the cake overnight to make sure the frosting is set and then wrap either the whole cake or individual slices airtight in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil, a zip-close bag, or an alternate container.

frosted carrot cake topped with flowers

Best 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 carrot and cinnamon 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 frosting over the top of the cooled cake in whatever method you desire.

When you frost your cake this way, each bite will include a layer of moist carrot cake and another layer of frosting.

When I make this cake in a bundt pan, I usually turn the frosting into a pourable glaze. By stirring heavy cream or whole milk into the cream cheese mixture, you’ll create a thinner icing that is perfect for pouring over an inverted bundt cake.

I like this method for topping my cakes as it requires very few decorating skills and any imperfections are easily hidden.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The 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 frosting even when I’m not making carrot cake; that’s how good it is!

This 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.)

This Carrot Cake is everything I want in a dessert! Topped with cream cheese frosting, it's pure heaven!

Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your pan thoroughly with butter. (A sheet pan, a 9×13, a bundt pan or (2) 8″ rounds will all work well.) Combine the sugar, oil, and eggs and beat 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.
  3. 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.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
carrot cake on clear plate

Classic Carrot Cake

Dessert is a hit every time I make this recipe. While other carrot cakes I made in the past turned out dense, dry, or too crumbly, this one turns out 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. A slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting 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.

Get New Recipessent to your inbox!
We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
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

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.80 from 5 votes
Moist, sweet, and lightly spiced, this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is the food of which dessert dreams are made. 
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 18 -24 servings

Ingredients 

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light flavored olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 4⅓ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans OPTIONAL
  • ¼-½ cup heavy cream, half and half, or milk OPTIONAL

Instructions

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your pan thoroughly with butter. (A sheet pan, a 9×13, a bundt pan or (2) 8" rounds will all work well.) Combine the sugar, oil, and eggs and beat 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.

Frosting Instructions

  • 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.

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
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 9/23/13 – recipe notes and photos updated 5/24/23}

recipe slightly adapted from and with thanks to The Pioneer Woman

cream cheese frosting on homemade carrot cake

Filed under: , ,

Tagged with:

Share this Article

PinYummly

Related Posts

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.

Reader Interactions

53 Comments Leave a comment or review

    Rate & Comment

    Rating




    • 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

  6. Silvana says

    Hi Mary, I love your recipes and this one looks delicious. Just wondering how long do you bake 2 8-inch rounds. I’m planning on making it tomorrow. Thank you!5 stars

  7. Sharon Wooden says

    Hi Mary, do you happen to know how to make this a gluten free recipe? I am sensitive to gluten.

    Thank you so much.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi, Diana! I haven’t tried making muffins with this recipe before; I would recommend watching the pan and checking with a knife occasionally. When the blade of the knife is no longer wet, you should be all right. I hope you love the recipe!