Dessert | April 2, 2020

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe From Scratch

This moist, spiced, carrot cake recipe from scratch is the most tender and delicious carrot cake you will ever make.  Made from simple ingredients and easily assembled – this cake will be your new holiday favorite.
Side view of Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch on a marble cake stand. Garnished with herbs and caramel.

What Is carrot cake recipe from scratch?

While grating carrots to prepare this cake, my husband exclaimed “I didn’t know there were really carrots in carrot cake!” Carrot cake recipe from scratch is cake that contains carrots mixed into the batter. Now-a-days, these cakes are frosted with a cream cheese frosting. Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from such carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages. Sugar was expensive and many people used carrots as a substitute for sugar. Variations of the carrot pudding evolved to include baking with a crust (as pumpkin pie), steamed with a sauce, or molded in pans with icing.  Whatever the history of the dish, I’m sure glad it came to be – because carrot cake is one of my very favorite desserts! This recipe was given to me by a friend.  She brought me this carrot cake after my middle son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2.  I still remember that moist and flavorful cake and what a treat it was – and now I’m sharing it with you!
Slice of Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch with a fork stuck in it.

What Do I Need To Make this Carrot cake recipe from scratch?

Here is what you’ll need to put on your grocery list for the cake.  I’ll go over the frosting in a bit.
  • canola oil
  • granulated sugar
  • carrots
  • eggs
  • all purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • cinnamon
Ingredients for carrot cake.

How Do I Make this Carrot cake recipe from scratch?

  1. Start by grating your carrots.  Skip the pre-shredded ones – they are too dry.  You’ll need 4 cups of carrots – about 4 carrots worth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine canola oil and sugar.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Add eggs and mix until well blended.
  4. Toss in shredded carrots and stir until combined.
    How to make carrot cake.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  6. Mix until well combined.
  7. Generously grease your baking pans. 
    How to make carrot cake batter from scratch.
  8. I’ve found that adding a piece of parchment to the bottom of your pan prevents sticking.
  9. Transfer batter to your greased pans.  Bake at 350 degrees.  Time will depend on your pan size.  I’ll talk about that in a bit.
  10. After baking – let cake cool completely before frosting.
    How to make carrot cake batter.

Let’s Talk About The Cream Cheese Frosting!

For the frosting you’ll need the following:

  • salted butter
  • cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
Ingredients for cream cheese frosting.

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and cream cheese.  Whip until well combined and smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix until smooth and well combined.
  4. Use frosting to ice cooled cakes.
  5. If making a layered cake – frost layers and then stack.
  6. Frost the outside of the cake last.
Pro Tip: let your butter and cream cheese come to room temperature before using.
How to make cream cheese frosting.

Cake Size Options

There are a few options when it comes to cake size with this recipe:
  • Here I have made a 3 layer cake with a 9 inch cake pans – the cook time for this is 25-30 minutes.  Double your frosting for this option.
  • Another option is to make a 3 layer cake with  6 inch cake pans.  The cook time for these is 45-50 minutes because the cake layers are thicker.
  • You could also make the cake in a 9×13 pan.  The cook time is 45-50 minutes for this size.
  • You could also do cupcakes.  Bake them for 13-15 minutes.
Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch, missing one slice.

What Can I Add To My Carrot Cake?

I am a purist when it comes to carrot cake. I don’t like to add anything else to it, but you totally can!  Some additions include:
  • chopped walnuts
  • raisins
  • shredded coconut
Side view of Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch on a marble cake stand. Garnished with herbs and caramel.

What Should I Garnish My Cake With?

You don’t need to garnish it with anything, but feel free to add some garnishes if you’d like.  Some fun option include:
  • carrot ribbons (peel carrots with a peeler and then peel off ribbons)
  • walnuts
  • caramel
  • fresh herbs
  • fresh fruit

I prefer to serve my carrot cake cold – so after you frost it – chill it for a few hours before serving. You can serve it at room temp, but trust me on this one – a cold carrot cake is delicious!

Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch, missing one slice.

Oil VS Butter

Often times people ask if they can substitute butter for the oil in cake recipes.  I do not recommend this.  I find that using oil rather than butter keeps the cake moist and also keeps it moist for longer.  So when it comes to carrot cake – stick to using oil.
Carrot cake being sliced.

I Love Making Carrot Cake For Easter – Do You Have Other Easter Recipe Ideas?

We sure do!  Be sure to check out our:

Side view of Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch on a marble cake stand. Garnished with herbs and caramel.

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If you tried this Carrot Cake or any other recipe on the blog then don’t be shy! Let us know! Rate the recipe and leave us a comment below. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest to see what else we’re getting up to!
5 from 1 vote
Side view of Overhead shot of Carrot cake recipe from scratch on a marble cake stand. Garnished with herbs and caramel.
The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe From Scratch
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
cooling time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
 

This moist, spiced, carrot cake recipe from scratch is the most tender and delicious carrot cake you will ever make.  Made from simple ingredients and easily assembled - this cake will be your new holiday favorite.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake with vegetables, Carrot Cake, carrot cake from scratch
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 561 kcal
Author: Kadee
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 1.5 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups shredded carrots loosely packed (about 4 carrots)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
Carrot Cake
  1. Start by grating your carrots.  Skip the pre-shredded ones - they are too dry.  You'll need 4 cups of carrots - about 4 carrots worth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine canola oil and sugar.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Add eggs and mix until well blended.
  4. Toss in shredded carrots and stir until combined.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  6. Mix until well combined. Add nuts if desired and stir to combine.

  7. Generously grease your baking pans. (See notes for pan size options.) I've found that adding a piece of parchment to the bottom of your pan prevents sticking.

  8. Transfer batter to your greased pans.  Bake at 350 degrees.  Time will depend on your pan size.  (See notes for baking time based on cake pan size.)

  9. After baking - let cake cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and cream cheese.  Whip until well combined and smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix until smooth and well combined.
  4. Use frosting to ice cooled cakes.
  5. If making a layered cake - frost layers and then stack.
  6. Frost the outside of the cake last.
Recipe Notes
There are a few options when it comes to cake size with this recipe:
  • Here I have made a 3 layer cake with a 9 inch cake pans - the cook time for this is 25-30 minutes.  Double the frosting recipe for this option - you'll need more frosting for this larger cake.
  • Another option is to make a 3 layer cake with  6 inch cake pans.  The cook time for these is 45-50 minutes because the cake layers are thicker.
  • You could also make the cake in a 9x13 pan.  The cook time is 45-50 minutes for this size.
  • You could also do cupcakes.  Bake them for 13-15 minutes.

With all of these options - you'll want to test your cake to make sure it is done.  There are a couple of methods for this.  My favorite is to press your finger lightly into the center of the cake.  If it bounces back, the cake it done.  It if leave and impression - the cake needs to cook longer.

The second option is to insert a toothpick into the center.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Every oven is different, so cooking times may be slightly off. 

What Can I Add To My Carrot Cake?

I am a purist when it comes to carrot cake. I don't like to add anything else to it, but you totally can!  Some additions include:
  • chopped walnuts
  • raisins
  • shredded coconut
Nutrition Facts
The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe From Scratch
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 561 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 41mg14%
Sodium 342mg15%
Potassium 274mg8%
Carbohydrates 93g31%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 73g81%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 7618IU152%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 75mg8%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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