Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The week is here: happy spring!

While the calendar shows spring this week, the snow piles on our lawn beg to differ. Mother nature is a tad confused, but one thing’s certain: Easter is less than a month away. And with longer days and fresh tulips blooming on the horizon, we HAVE to have carrot cake on the mind.

And, really, any and all spring baking.

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I’m in freak out mode over this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Which isn’t much different from any other time I eat carrot cake, but this time it’s a little excessive because this is 100% + honestly + literally the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s similar to this spiced carrot cake (which I may have to rename “my 2nd favorite carrot cake”), but there’s a massively flavorful addition today: crushed pineapple. It brightens up the entire cake.

Do you usually add pineapple to carrot cake? I feel like this is a norm for a lot of bakers. And while I’ve tried it before, I usually default to applesauce, raisins, or coconut as a flavorful add-in. But this year I decided to be like the cool kids and I beg you to give pineapple a whirl too. Grab a can of crushed pineapple OR crush your own OR a can of chopped pineapple and pulse until crushed. You won’t regret it.

This pineapple carrot is absolutely a cut (slice?) above the rest.

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s get into the cake details.

This sweet and spicy cake is uncomplicated where all you’ll need is 2 bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. No mixer required, but a little arm muscle to really get those wet and dry ingredients combined. Easy, yes, but that doesn’t mean the carrot cake is plain. It’s bursting with spice flavor and completed with a dense and tangy blanket of cream cheese frosting on top. Baking this carrot cake as a sheet cake in a 9×13 pan makes it even more effortless. Just one layer of cake and one layer of frosting. Easy to frost, easier to cut, easiest to eat.

Crushed or chunks? I vote for crushed. Crushed pineapple acts more like a wet ingredient than an optional addition. (Read: added moisture, a good thing!) I also didn’t want large chunks of pineapple in my slices, which could take away from the cake’s other flavors. And because pineapple is sweet, I slightly reduced the sugar in this carrot cake recipe. While most carrot cakes are cloyingly sweet, this one hits the mark where you KNOW it’s dessert but also don’t feel a cavity forming at first bite.

On a moist level (ew?), this pineapple carrot cake reminds me of my favorite banana cake. Remember the one I obsessed over and recreated last summer? Just like that. If it’s not stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist, it’s just not worth it.

We aren’t lacking on the flavor scale either, like I mentioned above. The cake is sweetened *mostly* from dark brown sugar. Light brown works just the same, but I love the extra hint of molasses from dark– especially when baking carrot cakes, spice cakes, and the like. There’s also the mighty gang of spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. And pineapple too, of course.

As for the texture? This pineapple carrot cake is between a dense pound cake with tight crumbs and fluffy white cake with looser crumbs. Somewhere in the middle where it’s a little bit of both. Distinctively cake-like and moist, sort of fluffy and a little dense with speckles of carrots swirled throughout. Make sure you grate your own carrots. Extra moisture that way. (Again, a good thing!) Here is the grater I own and love.

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I told you: an actual blanket of cream cheese frosting. ↓

Super moist and spiced pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Feel free to get fancy with a piping tip or you can garnish the cake with chunks of pineapples, extra walnuts, toasted coconut, whatever. I decided for a rustic look. Aka: the hungry lazy girl’s method. Spread & serve.

Super moist and spiced pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Slice & devour.

Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground cloves, ground ginger, + ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup canola (240ml) or vegetable oil1
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (250g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)2
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained3
  • 1 cup (125g) Diamond of California chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the grated carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
  4. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The cake is just as moist.
  2. Don't use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They're typically on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 2 moist cups of carrot shreds.
  3. I use canned crushed pineapple. You can also crush fresh pineapple to use in the cake batter. Crushed pineapple, as opposed to pineapple chunks, acts like a wet ingredient keeping this cake extra moist and tender. Keeping that in mind and if you want larger chunks of pineapple in your cake, you can use chunks instead.

Want a layer cake instead? Follow this recipe and the assembly/baking directions in my carrot layer cake.

Did you make a recipe?

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This recipe is adapted from this super moist spice cake, which is basically a deliciously spiced apple version of today’s carrot cake recipe!

Super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Icing Spatula | Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish

In partnership with Diamond of California. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

83 comments

  1. Hi Sally! Another amazing recipe. Do you have any ideas about making the batter into muffins? How many do you figure the recipe would make and how long in the oven? Also, should I use the 425 degree and then down to 350 after the first five minutes method like we do in some of your other recipes?

    Congratulations on your cookie addiction! I really hope you come to Boston to promote so I can come and get my book signed! Thanks as always! Jess

    • I’d say about 20-24 muffins. The bake time? I’m unsure. I would still do the 425F for 5 minutes then 350 for the remaining time, like I usually do with muffins. The muffins will be done when a toothpick comes out clean. Thank you for the congrats Jess!

  2. We exchanged emails this morning Sally…I’ve printed this recipe and am going to gift it to a friend for a pick-me-up/end-of-something-stressful celebration treat. The frosting recipe for this is slightly different and (makes less frosting?) than for the layered cake, correct? If I’d like to use more frosting to create a decorative edge as you suggest, is it better if I use the layered cake frosting recipe so as to have more to work with? I hope I do you proud! Thank you for your prompt reply!

    • That’s correct! It makes *slightly* less frosting. You can make the frosting for the layer cake if you need a little extra, yes!

      • Hi again Sally! I made the cake as written here in your post for this recipe for frosting. The frosting was perfect amount for the 9×13 ‘bake-and-go’ aluminum pan I used. I added a simple carrot design to the top, which I did with your layered cake recipe too. I’ll make this for my family because I really want to know how different it tastes with the pineapple v. apple. Thanks again for being a supportive blogger. I really appreciate you taking time in replying. I’ll connect with you on FB too with an update (tomorrow which is when I’m gifting my friend this cake). Thank you!

      • Hope your friend LOVES it as much as we did!!

      • Just following up here to say my friend liked the cake and said it was “amazing.” Thank you!

  3. Very intrigued by the addition of pineapple. Looks gorgeous, very nice work (:

  4. Sally, this sounds like another winner to me. I’m still behind on last week’s stuffed crust pizza. I got sick but didn’t miss Beauty & the Beast – it was wonderful – you have to go see it! Anyway, I have never put pineapple in carrot cake, but will certainly give it a try. Sounds yummy to me and that blanket of cream cheese frosting looks divine and I think it would be a huge hit for my Easter crowd.

    • beauty and the beast is on the agenda! I even talked my husband into seeing it with me. I hope you love this cake!

  5. Such a dreamy cake – those swirls of frosting are everything! 🙂

  6. This is very close to the recipe I have used for several years. Add-ins are pecans, raisins, pineapple and carrots. So good. I found the recipe in an old Regis and Kathy Lee Cookbook. A guest brought it to the show. I bought the book second hand. Don’t remember the year it was published. Was thrilled when I found that recipe! My carrot cake is always the best one!

  7. This looks delicious and I’m going to use it for my son’s first birthday. Would it work as a cupcake?

  8. Hi Sally!
    Thank you soooo much for posting another carrot cake recipe. I have a good friend who doesn’t like sweets (I know!) but loves carrot cake. For her birthday, I have made her your spiced carrot cake and last year made her your bundt carrot cake with cream cheese swirl. She adored both. I can’t wait to make her this one with pineapple for her birthday this year! 

  9. I have made your My Favorite Carrot Cake several times and it has been a huge hit every time. I love it actually. So i just cant beleive this one can be any better. I also tried the cream cheese carrot bundt cake which was okay. Hmmm i suppose i will just HAVE to try this one too. You are not going to beleive this, but i was already planning to make the Favorite Carrot Cake for Easter but i am going to turn it into BUNNY! I did that last year with a Chocolate zuccini cake and the kids said it would be funnier with a Carrot cake. So thier wish will come true. Hmm but i think i might have to try this before hand. If i wanted to use two 9 inch pans instead of the 9 x 13 pan what temp should i do and how long would it be do you think?

    • Sounds like you’re a carrot cake junkie like I am 🙂
      For a layer cake, see my recipe note!

      • Yes i am. i went thru a crazy faze over the winter and thought i was going to drive my husband nuts with carrot this and carrot that. haha. I made your cake three times over the fall / winter. Oh yeah baby so good. And the icing makes me drool. Leftovers of th icing is good on graham crackers or right off the spoon. Snicker. i make extra just for the “Icing Time”. Thanks i appreciate it. Oh and i made your Triple Chocolate Cake yesterday for the second time as my best friend is coming a visit with her big pup today. She wanted chocolate so she is getting major overload “eat it during the day as you cant sleep at night cake”. So guess what i may have at lunch today. The icing was so drool worthy i was in heaven getting it on the cake. So thanks for all of your recipe’s. I adore your stuff. Have made tons and tons of stuff. But my husband adores you for the scones:) He calls you the Scone Lady! Keep cranking them out!

  10. Oh funny, I’ve got a similar carrot cake recipe with pineapple on the blog that I have published exactly a year ago. This is the best carrot cake I ever had, perfectly moist and so tasty! Plus I have been told by a reader that her American grandmother used to make this recipe with pineapple too, so I guess it’s a good sign! As I am crazy about baking I will try your version as well to see if/how it’s different from mine. We can never have too much of a carrot cake, right? 😉

  11. I have been craving carrot cake for the past week but I’ve been dealing with a nasty cold running thru the house, yuk! But once we’re plague free, I am going to make one. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips 🙂

  12. Hello Sally I love all of your recipes and most of them are staples in my daily baking! I was wondering If I could still make the cake without the pineapple addition, as I am allergic to it Bummer!! hehe I was thinking about adding that cup as a form of grated carrots, or do you have any other suggestion?
    I love all of your sheet cake recipes they are so easy to follow and wonderful in texture and flavor. I cannot wait for the Sally Cookie Addiction Book to be released! I already own your first cookbook and Oh Boy it is a hit at home, my mom want to steal it from me hehe.
    Regards from Venezuela.

    • Thank you Claudia!

      And for this cake– use unsweetened applesauce instead of the crushed pineapple. Somewhere between 3/4 cup – 1 cup.

      • Hi Sally!
        Thank you so much for your prompt reply. My mom’s birthday is next week and she wants the carrot cake plus the samoa girl scout cupcakes nom nom! I cannot wait to try both of them. Once I make them I will let you know how they turned out, obviously delicious as all of your recipes.

  13. This sounds yummy! I have a wonderfully moist pineapple carrot layer cake recipe that is a hit wherever I take it. It has pineapple in the cake as well as a pineapple filling, and of course cream cheese frosting. It’s not difficult to make, it just takes time, but it is so worth it.

  14. Sounds yummy! I think I will try this for Easter. I like the addition of pineapple! My mom is gluten free though, so I will be attempting this with gluten free flour!

  15. I’m planning on using this recipe for my first carrot cake.  It’s for my church bake sale so I’m using two 8×8 pans. What should the baking time be? 
    Thanks,
    Lynn

  16. Made this to take to work for morning tea, was well received and reviewed 🙂 Growing up my mother’s recipe had pineapple so i can’t imagine a carrot cake without it! Wonderful and easy too, I will definitely make it again.

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