classic carrot cake

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This is classic carrot cake at its finest: fluffy and tender carrot cake, perfectly spiced, topped with plush piles of vanilla cream cheese frosting (the best!). As a carrot cake purist, you won’t find nuts or raisins here, just plenty of sweet spring carrots, warming spices, and buttermilk for a lovely tender crumb.

Classic Carrot Cake

Swirls of cream cheese frosting make the perfect adornment to this cake. Mini chocolate eggs and a shower of pastel sprinkles add a lovely spring feel, or top with toasted pecans or coconut for an Easter showstopper (and if you adore lemon, a touch of lemon zest in the frosting is divine!).

Classic Carrot Cake

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake – I love this easy carrot cake recipe because it comes together in minutes! Whisk up the batter in a large bowl, no mixer required. With plenty of sweet carrots and my favorite blend of warming spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves), the flavor is perfectly balanced.

Baking Pans – This cake batter is divided between two 8-inch round cake pans for nice layers (and the perfect ratio of cake to cream cheese frosting!). You can also divide the batter between two 9-inch cake pans. For even cake layers, place your cake pans on a scale and weigh each pan as you add the batter.

Bake Time – Bake 8-inch rounds for 26 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges are pulling slightly away from the pan. Cool cakes completely in pans on a wire rack. The bake time for 9-inch rounds is 22 to 24 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting – This is the best vanilla cream cheese frosting: silky smooth and delicious by the spoonful. For best results, use full fat cream cheese and unsalted butter at cool room temperature. If your kitchen is warm or the frosting seems too soft to use immediately, chill frosting for 30 to 40 minutes before assembling the cake. If you’d like to make lemon cream cheese frosting, omit vanilla and beat in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest.

Assemble the Cake – Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula to spread cream cheese frosting over cake. Add top cake layer and frosting, swirling the frosting over the cake layer. If desired, use an offset spatula to apply frosting to the sides of the cake while you rotate the cake stand. Chill frosted cake for 30 minutes before serving.

Classic Carrot Cake

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Classic Carrot Cake

Classic Carrot Cake

  • Author: Laura | Tutti Dolci
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 28 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 8-inch cake, serves 12

Description

This is the BEST classic carrot cake recipe: fluffy and tender carrot cake, perfectly spiced, topped with delicous swirls of vanilla cream cheese frosting.


Ingredients

Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, slightly cooled (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz full fat cream cheese, cool room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cool room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl; make a well in the center. Combine melted coconut oil, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, then add to flour mixture and fold in until almost incorporated. Fold in grated carrots.
  2. Divide batter evenly between cake pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Tap pans sharply to reduce air bubbles. Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges are pulling slightly away from the pan. Cool cakes completely in pans on a wire rack.
  3. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and salt. Reduce speed to low; add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and beat well, scraping down bowl as needed. If frosting is soft, chill for 30 to 40 minutes before assembling the cake.
  4. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula to spread frosting over cake. Add top cake layer and frosting, swirling the frosting over the cake layer. If desired, use offset spatula to apply frosting to the sides of the cake while you rotate the cake stand. Chill frosted cake for 30 minutes before serving.
  5. If desired, serve cake topped with mini chocolate eggs and sprinkles. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: For lemon cream cheese frosting, omit vanilla and beat in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest.

9-inch round cake pans: For a two-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between two 9-inch rounds and bake for 22 to 24 minutes.

Keywords: Carrot Cake, Layer Cake, Cream Cheese Frosting, Easter Dessert

More layer cake recipes you’ll love:

Meyer Lemon Crunch Cake
Classic Hummingbird Cake
Meyer Lemon Layer Cake
Rum Tangerine Layer Cake

17 comments
  1. Your blog looks fabulous, Laura! As does this carrot cake. I need to make your version for my nut averse daughter—she and I both love carrot cake!

  2. Looks fabulous! But where is the carrot cake recipe? I keep clicking different spots, but the recipe doesn’t appear!

    1. Hi Cynthia, so sorry for the delay – we just relaunched the site after a redesign and some things went missing in the process, including this recipe! I’ve just updated the post. 🙂

  3. Oh Laura, if this tastes half as good as it looks it will be heavenly. I like the addition of coconut oil. I used to make a carrot cake but this looks so good, I will try it again. The icing is an important part of the total cake.
    Thanks for including it. I know it will make my husband and friends very happy. Carrot cake was very popular years ago and I am glad it’s making a comeback.

  4. I’ve made this cake quite a few times both as one 9inch and 2-9inch and have loved it, I made a few Changes though, added flakes of coconut, raisins and just add one cup of sugar. This is now my go to carrot cake recipe…five stars!!!!

  5. I have a favorite recipe for this but I am going to make yours because so far everything I have made of yours is delish.
    I know its a 5 star already.
    Could I make a bundt cake instead? Just curious.

    1. Thank you so much, Sandy! 🙂 I haven’t tested this particular recipe in a bundt pan – since carrot cake is fairly moist, I’d probably go with a butter-based cake for more structure in a bundt pan. You can also bake this carrot cake as a sheet cake!

  6. This cake turned out fantastic! I followed it to the word (although I only made half of the icing). I never thought I could make such a lovely carrot cake! Thank you for the recipe!

  7. GREAT carrot cake recipe! It’s rare that a recipe actually makes enough frosting (usually I find myself doubling it) but this one pulls through! I even had a bit of extra frosting left over. Made this for my boyfriend’s family and they LOVED it! Thank you!

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