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, spoon & leveled
  • 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

114 comments

  1. I cannot wait to try this cake! I’ve made a carrot cake before, but have never added pineapple to mine either! So this will be a tasty new venture!! 

  2. normally i stay away from making carrot cake because i don’t want to deal with grating carrots, but this sounds too tasty not to make! plus, those cream cheese frosting swirls

  3. Never heard of adding pineapple, this sounds awesome! 

  4. Yay for spring and all about anything with cream cheese frosting 😉

  5. It’s called Hummingbird Cake (at least in the South)!

    • So good! But I thought hummingbird cake has banana?

      • True. I always put both banana and pineapple in mine so that’s why I assumed it was hummingbird, oops! I’m sure this cake with just pineapple will be equally delish.

  6. This screams Easter and springtime! I love it! Also, I need that fork. 🙂

  7. This cake looks yummy and I  really would love to make it to take to a friend’s home for Easter dinner. One problem, one of the guests is allergic to nuts. The recipe contains a whole cup so I am assuming just leaving them out would cause a consistency problem. Would you have any suggestions on what I could possibly do…other than bring a different dessert, ha!
    Thanks!

    • No consistency problem at all! You can leave out the nuts with no changes to the recipe. Or add shredded coconut or even raisins!

  8. OMG yum! This sounds absolutely perfect! I’ve made your original carrot cake recipe and your “favourite” carrot cake recipe too. Saved this one for future carrot cake cravings haha.

  9. Where I live in, Nicaragua, I’ve always known they add pineapple to Carrot Cake. I’ve never liked it too much because they add it in chunks, so I’m excited to try this recipe! Looks delish! 

  10. Could coconut oil be used instead of vegetable/canola?

  11. Hi Sally! This looks AMAZING. I’m going to make this cause everyone in my family likes carrot cake (awesome, I know). In the recipe you said to drain the pineapple, but in the pictures, it doesn’t look very drained (??). Do you mean to drain the syrup that comes with the canned pineapple and then crush it without draining the rest of the juice?

    • That picture is before I drained it! I do a light drain– so a little liquid is OK.

      • Hello again! I made the cake yesterday (21st) and IT WAS SO GOOD. I made it without the frosting and used canned pineappple. It had the perfect sweetness and the hint of spices and the soft, moist texture….ADDICTING. I made it when a group of people came to our house, and they alllllllllll said it was so good. It’s so easy to make too, which I love. Thank you for such another AMAZING recipe (it tastes as amazing as it looks!). You’re the best!
        (P.S. I especially love that all your recipes have grams. Always precision! 🙂 )

      • I’m so happy to read it was a big hit!!

  12. Sally,

    I remember the first time my mom made carrot cake…I was young enough to think the idea was disgusting. So for YEARS I went without even taking one bite. Then it happened and I fellllll in love.
    Her’s did not have pineapple…but I’m eager to try your recipe. Oh…to just have my mom for a baking day. I’m certain the heavens smell divine.

  13. My yummy carrot cake has crushed pineapple,sweetened coconut and chopped walnuts. It’s delicious and is the cake my son requests for his birthday every year. Of course cream cheese frosting but I use Tofutti cream cheese to keep it non dairy. I did a side by side taste test with dairy cream cheese and no one could tell the difference. I make it either in a 9×13 pan or as a layer cake or sometimes adorable mini cupcakes. The most distinctive feature of the cake is the marzipan carrots on each piece. I color the marzipan and pinch off small pieces to make the carrots and I use a dedicated garlic press to squeeze out green marzipan for the leafy carrot tops. Always a crowd pleaser.

  14. This cake looks amazing…but I’m in LOVE with that rainbow whisk!! Where did you get it??

  15. I think I need to be like one of the cool kids too! I love the addition of pineapple in carrot cake, I’ve actually never had it before, but it sounds so delightful. I can just imagine how moist and bright this cake is! Pinned for sure:)

  16. This recipe was printed in the Canadian Living Magazine back in the 1980’s. It’s the only carrot cake recipe most young homemaker’s made. Compared to our mother’s ‘dry’ version we thought we were so modern and up to date. ha The cream cheese frosting was a bonus too. To this day I could grab a spoon and eat it from the bowl and eliminate the cake all together. yum.

  17. Your layer cake version is my personal favorite to make, but will be replaced by this 9×13 version just because it’s easier.  All my family likes raisins in their carrot cake so I throw in a couple handful of raisins.   Love, love this cake and the frosting is the best I’ve ever had.  

  18. Hi Sally !
    I like the idea of using a food processor to pulse pineapple down to “crushed”.  A good to know tip for the times only canned chunks or slices are on hand in the pantry. 
    I’ve had a hankering for carrot cake. The timing of this recipe being posted today is perfect!  Mental telepathy or is it a “Spring Thing” !
    When I shred carrots for a recipe I try to make it worth while using the food processor. 
    I like to shred a few pounds all at once and bag and freeze the shredded carrots in 2 cup increments.  Then I use them through most of the year to drop into soups/stews and also use for baking such as today. I treat the frozen carrots like baking with frozen blueberries. 
    I’ll def be making this recipe this week but I would really like to give a small cake to my elderly neighbor. Do you think I can bake this in two 8″ glass pans?  If so, what would you recommend for baking time?
    I just adore your recipes. 
    Thank You Sally!!  

    • Hi Brenda! I think you’re going to love this one– and your neighbor will appreciate the other half! Two 8-inch pans will work. The cakes will be tall though, keep that in mind. Do you have 9-inch cake pans? Because that would be the better choice. I’m unsure of the bake time. 30 minutes at least. Use a toothpick to test for doneness 🙂

      • So your saying use two 9″ round metal cake pans ?
        I’m laughing at myself because Metal never even occured to me !!
        I had 8″ Pyrex Glass on the brain and couldn’t think beyond using glass baking dishes. 
        Genius !!  Thank you.
        Oh and the frosted round cake will look so pretty to present to my neighbor.  
        At first it was going to be a “just because” cake but her birthday is friday. So……my newfound reason for this cake will be…….. Just because..it’s your Birthday !!
        She will love it. 
        Thank you so much Sally  😉

      • 9-inch round cake pans is what I’d use!

  19. Yum-o!! Bring on the spring baking!! I like the addition of pineapple to your carrot cake! I will need to try that!! Xoxo
    PS- can’t wait for your new cook book! Then I will have the Sally Cookbook Trilogy!! 🙂

  20. Hi Sally — Your cake looks scrumptious. My mother made a fabulous carrot cake, and every year it was my birthday cake of choice.  When she passed on several years ago, I started adding crushed pineapple and shredded coconut (which I love and she did not), along with golden raisins.  I guess it’s more of a tropical carrot cake.  Your recipe is very similar to my mom’s original — but I’ve always wondered why carrot cakes call for oil instead of butter.

    • Patti, it’s funny. I’ve been thinking about that too. And I’d say it’s because carrot cake is supposed to be a denser cake. Creaming butter adds air, which yields a fluffier cake. And oil keeps cakes extra extra moist. And moist is KEY in carrot cake recipes. That’s my thought at least!

  21. Ah I’m not a fan of raisins in my carrot cake, but I warmly welcome the additions of pineapple and nuts! Can’t believe it’s finally the first day of Spring; after the winter we’ve had up here, we really deserve a nice, warm Spring filled with all the Spring desserts we can make. Can’t wait to make a carrot cake to celebrate the beginning of Spring – planning on making your lemon cake today for a little gathering, but carrot cake is next on the list for me this season 🙂

    • And even if it doesn’t start to *feel* like spring soon, it can taste like it in our kitchens. I’m pumped for spring baking too!

  22. Sally,

    I forgot to mention it before but I make my carrot cake totally in my large 14 cup Cuisinart. I start by mixing the oil and sugar and then tossing carrot chunks down the feed tube while the machine is on. The carrots are not shredded but almost, but not quite, pureed giving the cake a lovely orange color. Then I add the rest of the ingredients, leaving the flour for last and just pulsing a few times to combine. I got this method of making carrot cake from the original Cuisinart cookbook that came with my machine 36 years ago. That recipe was for a light and fluffy lemon flavored carrot cake. Your hands don’t turn orange and no extra grater to wash. Can’t wait to hear why you are not doing a full book tour this time. I really enjoyed meeting you in NYC last time around. I can guess what the reason is. Good luck!

  23. I don’t even like carrot cake, but adding pineapple to it? I’ll have to try this!

  24. Carrot cake is my favourite cake! Yum!

    I don’t bake a lot of cakes so please forgive this question – is there a time difference if using a metal cake pan instead of glass?

    Also, if I want to use raisins instead of walnuts, would I use the same amount? I wasn’t sure if the wetter raisins would make the cake too moist (I hate that word but it’s hard to avoid when discussing baked goods!).

    • Glass doesn’t heat up as quickly as metal, so cakes typically take a little longer in the oven. But still within the time range given in this recipe.

      And yes, use the same exact amount of raisins!

  25. Happy Spring!  Your recipe sounds delish! I do add pineapple, coconut, and raisins to my carrot cake and it, too, is moist and not too sweet. I’m going to try your recipe today. Thanks for all of your extra points too!

  26. I LOVE carrot cake! It was my wedding cake, and each of my kids and husband requests it as their birthday cakes. I’ve struggled for years to find a substitute for my Grandmothers old recipe that has pineapple! Most recipes it’s just too moist and dense, and I just couldn’t get the ratios right. This is perfect!! So delicious, just like Grandma’s. My only change is switching out the nuts for raisins as my family isn’t found of “nutty” cakes. Thanks so much for brightening my Spring!

  27. hey girl- yummy!

  28. I am a proud member of team pineapple always in carrot cakes! (and also raisins, my favourite!) I have always chosen the pineapple option for your carrot cake recipes and it makes the most amazing cakes! I don’t think I’ve ever made a carrot cake without pineapple in fact. Very excited to try this new version. Carrot cake is the best spring dessert ! <3 

  29. Gosh, I’ve never made it WITHOUT pineapple. I first started making it when I lived in Oklahoma so maybe it’s a Southern thing. Anyway, your cake looks both beautiful and delicious!

  30. Looks delicious!! Can I do this recipe without adding pineapple ?

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