Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

This cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is moist and perfectly spiced with cheesecake swirls hidden inside!

I’m working with McCormick this year, a brand I’ve been longing to work with for years, to bring you fresh and flavorful recipes. I grew up spicing and flavoring food with McCormick, so I’m thrilled to be on their blogging team!

Look what we’ve got today! Carrot cake + cheesecake in one.

But first, how was your weekend? Do anything fun? It’s been my first weekend home with zero plans in months, so guess what I did? Spring cleaning! I promise I’m not as boring as that sentence. But when you haven’t been home for, like, 6 months straight and are moving in 2 months– cleaning out closets and cabinets and junk drawers horror drawers feels like a dream come true. Pair that with a morning of baking carrot cake, 2 long runs, a lunch date, the couch, a bottle of wine, and some marathon Friends watching– that’s my idea of the perfect weekend these days. Man, I really AM 30.

This cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is moist and perfectly spiced with cheesecake swirls hidden inside!

But let’s discuss that carrot cake business.

I first made this carrot bundt cake the other week. Loved it, of course. The recipe is quite similar to my favorite carrot cake recipe, with only a couple changes. When I made it again this weekend, I added something completely new in the form of cheesecake. A tunnel of sweet cheesecake running through the entire carrot bundt cake. And, yes, it’s as incredible as it sounds. But what makes this carrot bundt cake even better are my other tiny additions. There’s fresh orange zest and raisins (sorry) inside the batter, sweet orange glaze on top of the cake, and the entire thing is sweetened with just brown sugar. So it has that whole brown sugar molasses flavor going on.

Every bite tastes as dreamy as spring cleaning feels. ♥

The reason I fancied up my carrot cake recipe? Test-baking for Easter! Do you do that too? I really want something to impress at Easter brunch. Though carrot cake and pineapple upside-down cake usually make appearances on my Easter table, I wanted an updated spin on our tradition. And maybe you do as well? Maybe you’re hosting Easter this year and want that show-stopper dessert? Look no further because this cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is it.

Moist and perfectly spiced carrot bundt cake with cheesecake swirled inside! Recipe found on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This carrot cake is as simple as folding a bunch of ingredients together. You’ll need a mixer for that cheesecake layer, which I’ll chat about in a sec, but that’s about it. Since we’re not creaming butter, the carrot cake batter can be made by hand. Add-ins like pecans and raisins are completely optional and I swear you won’t hurt my feelings if you leave those sweet ‘n’ plump raisins out. Sniff sniff.

Oil makes the carrot cake lusciously moist and tender, while applesauce prevents the cake from tasting too oily (and flavors it, too!). It’s all about balance. Brown sugar, eggs, and freshly grated carrots also keep the carrot cake super moist. Make sure you are grating your own carrots, rather than buying pre-shredded carrots from the store. Why? Store-bought shredded carrots are usually very dry in comparison. When you grate carrots yourself, you’ll notice how wet they are– and how much they’ll moisten the cake.

For flavor, we obviously have the brown sugar. We also have a powerhouse pack of spices: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground cloves all tied together into one blissfully spiced carrot cake. The spice flavor is the BEST part about carrot cake, so don’t skimp on quality or quantity. We’re using McCormick brand and we’re using a lot of them. Mostly cinnamon, but there’s a good amount of ginger as well. Not that this carrot cake will taste like gingerbread, but there’s just enough to make you notice its little flavor zing. I love ground ginger in carrot cake and you will too. In addition to the brown sugar and spice flavors, we have fresh orange zest in the carrot cake as well.  Plenty of spice + vibrant citrus + sweet cheesecake = carrot cake kicked up about 12 million notches.

This cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is moist and perfectly spiced with cheesecake swirls hidden inside!

The cheesecake batter is layered between the carrot cake batter, so you get this rippled cheesecake layer throughout the baked carrot cake. Sort of like the cheesecake swirls in my pumpkin cream cheese bars– but you’ve got a thicker, solid layer in this carrot bundt cake. It’s super simple: just cream cheese, egg, a little sugar, and pure vanilla extract. All tasty and easy ingredients, but when combined? You have a tunnel of actual cheesecake. The (delicious) whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

And let’s not forget the sweet orange glaze. Cherry on top, if you will.

This cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is moist and perfectly spiced with cheesecake swirls hidden inside!

My plan: taste and freeze the extras.

My reality: I couldn’t put down the fork.

Between all the flavor, texture, cheesecake, orange glaze, and moist carrot cake texture– your tastebuds won’t even know what happened to them. This is most definitely the impressive Easter dessert masterpiece we all need!

Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

Don't be overwhelmed. I know it looks like a bunch of ingredients, but they're all pretty basic! Make sure the cake cools completely before cutting into it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (133g) smooth unsweetened applesauce1
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick pure vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 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 McCormick ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick ground cloves
  • 2 cups (260g) grated carrots (about 3 large)
  • optional: 1 cup (150g) raisins
  • optional: 2/3 cup (95g) chopped pecans

Cheesecake Layer

  • 12 ounces (336g) brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature2
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick pure vanilla extract

Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (30-45ml) fresh orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest together until combined and no brown sugar lumps remain. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined. Then, fold in the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan.
  3. In a medium bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer filled with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until completely combined. Spread in an even layer on top of the carrot cake batter. Do your best to spread- it's a thick mixture.
  4. Spread the remaining carrot cake batter evenly on top. Bake for 55-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. This cake will take awhile to bake because it is so moist and very thick. All ovens are different, so do not feel discouraged if your cake is taking a long time. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil if you begin to see the top browning quickly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes inside the pan.
  5. After 30 minutes, invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  6. Whisk the glaze ingredients together and spoon over cake prior to serving. Cover up extras tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepare cake 1 day in advance. Allow to cool, then keep cake in the refrigerator, covered tightly, until ready to serve. Cake may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Instead of applesauce, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple.
  2. Don't use cream cheese spread; use brick-style cream cheese. Full-fat preferred, though low fat works too. Don't use fat free.

If you'd like to switch up the raisins and pecans, you can use shredded coconut or even chopped walnuts instead of either. Or you can leave the cake plain without any add-ins.

Here is the bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

For more fancied up traditional Easter dishes, check out McCormick’s selection. 🙂

I’m working with McCormick to bring you today’s recipe. Thank you for helping me work with brands I love!

This cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is moist and perfectly spiced with cheesecake swirls hidden inside!

136 Comments

Comments

  1. Sue Ann Lucas on October 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I made this recipe but substituted a Gluten Free Pillsbury cake mix (yellow) for the flour and baking soda and baking powder, as I have a Gluten Free daughter and it was delicious.  I added a little more sugar to the cheesecake layer than called for and my daughter said it was the best cake she has had. You couldn’t even tell it was gluten free.  I would have used a gluten free baking mix instead but I was pressed for time.  I WILL make thi again. The glaze on the top makes a nice crunch:-) DELICIOUS!!!

  2. Margaret Mills on October 27, 2016 at 12:45 am

    If you could see my spice cabinet, yes a whole cabinet with three shelves, full of spices! You’d notice the majority are McCormic and I’m way into the McCormic grinders recently, don’t get me started….
    Anywho…This cake!! I’m going to give it a whirl this weekend. Truly my two favorite cakes combined in one and I will definitely keep the optional raisins and pecans included! 
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

    • Sally on October 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Margaret, I hope you enjoy the cake! Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Ruth on November 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Just wondering, you said you could substitute the apple sauce for canned pineapple. Would that Include the juice or Drained?

    • Maureen on December 24, 2017 at 10:20 am

      I did not drain the crushed pineapple, and it turned out beautifully.

  4. Maggie on December 4, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Can I make this 2 days in advance?

    • Sally on December 5, 2016 at 6:52 am

      Absolutely!

  5. Ofel on December 28, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Whoa!!! I looove the idea of carrot cake and cheesecake combined

  6. Max Alligood on January 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    I made this for  a dinner party last week and it was a big hit. With only six people I was sure I would have a lot of leftovers, but after everyone had a second slice there was little left. But it was great cold.
    I soaked the raisins in orange liqueur for about 30 minutes. This helped them to plump up a little and added a little more orange flavor. 
    I didn’t tell anyone about the cheesecake swirl and they were happily surprised.
    This was a delicious, easy cake.
    I’m so happy I found your blog.

  7. Sammi Harasymchuk on April 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Sally, I’m excited to try out this recipe for Easter! I looked at the bundt pan that you used but couldn’t see how many cups it holds. I have a different style bundt pan and want to make sure it will be close enough in size. Thanks!

    • Ali on August 7, 2017 at 1:11 am

      My bundt pan seems to be a wee bit smaller, so i put the “extra” cake batter in muffin cups. My boys devoured them!

  8. Pandora on April 6, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    My niece just asked me to make this cake for her, and she’s not really a fan of sweets.  My mom, my brother, and I totally like our cakes & cheesecakes, but for her to ask, the cake must be exceptional.  I will bake this very soon!

  9. Ryann on April 12, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Hello, if I am making this the night before, should I add the glaze and then refrigerate it for the night, or add the glaze the next day? Thank you (and can’t wait to make it!)

    • Sally on April 13, 2017 at 7:41 am

      I would add the glaze the next day before serving.

  10. AF on April 16, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Made this for Easter! I soaked golden raisins in Grand Marnier before adding them to the batter. I also added the coconut and used walnuts instead of pecans (didn’t have enough pecans on hand). My cheesecake layer separated a bit (may have been in the oven just a bit too long…it baked in 50 minutes) but the cake was very good. The batter is thick and yummy. So many goodies crammed into one festive cake. I also piped some Grand Marnier cream cheese frosting, like Nothing Bundt Cakes, to really put it over the top. People loved it!

  11. jeffrey holland on May 9, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    never stated the amount of applesauce ,to add to cake everything else is listed

  12. anna on May 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Sally do you think it would work if I were to do more than one layer of cream cheese in the middle? essentially split the cake batter into thirds and do 2 layers of the creamcheese (doubling the creamcheese ingrediants?)

    • Sally on May 30, 2017 at 9:25 am

      You can try it that way. I haven’t!

  13. Olivia on August 6, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I made this cake for friends coming over for dessert tomorrow night and was so nervous it wouldn’t cook properly, it wouldn’t turn out of the tin, the filling would be oozing out etc. I needn’t have worried at all. It turned out perfect! Yay!!! It is taking ALL of my will power not to glaze this right now and dive in but I will try to resist in the name of good-hostessing! Thank you for such an awesome recipe!

    • Sally on August 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      You are welcome, Olivia! So happy it turned out and I hope your friends love it! 🙂

  14. Ali on August 7, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I was thrilled about the impact of the orange zest; wow was that amazing! I always add more carrots and less sugar, so the real power of the carrot comes through. Complimented with the cheesecake layer, the carrot batter is fabulous!

    • Sally on August 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      So happy you liked this, Ali! I love the little extra something the orange zest gives this cake 🙂

  15. Betsy on August 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I didn’t see this recipe until a few days ago when it came up on my FB feed. I decided to make it for my birthday. It was excellent! The spices were perfect. Not too clovey. Just enough cinnamon. The orange zest is a nice addition. Really loved it. It was a huge hit.

    • Sally on August 20, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Happy birthday! And I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  16. Julia Valentine on August 29, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Ms. Sally can I freeze this cake?   Having a party  the end of September 2017.  Need to do a lot of desserts in advance.

    • Sally on August 29, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Yep! See make ahead tip.

  17. Jenny on August 31, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Dumb question… How do you get orange zest? Thanks

  18. Monica on September 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I made your cake last night and it was fabulous! So moist and flavorful. Since I don’t like raisins I substituted chocolate chips. Yum. Was disappointed in one thing though. My glaze was clear rather than white so it didn’t have that pretty finish. What did I do wrong? Should I increase the amount of sugar, use less orange juice or do I need to let it sit a little first? Thanks, this recipe is a keeper.

    • Sally on September 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Glad you liked it! If the glaze was too thin/clear then try adding more confectioners sugar next time!

  19. Josie on October 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    This is simply the best carrot cake ever! Thank you for sharing!

  20. Liz on November 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

     This question was asked before if you’re going to substitute crushed pineapple does this need to be drained 

  21. Sabrina on May 14, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    This was amazing, thank you so much for sharing! Now, I know some people would be unhappy because I did my own adjustments, but I’ll still share in case if it helps anyone. I lessened the sugar to one cup because I added raisins and a white chocolate cream cheese frosting; used 1/2 C melted butter instead of the oil, and added some extra applesauce to make up the balance; mixed half white and half whole wheat flour. I didn’t have any problems getting the cake out of the bundt pan, just buttered and floured, and it was fine. For those with issues of the cheesecake layer floating to the top, I used a spoon to dig a mote around the circle and filled it with the cream cheese filling, then covered with the other half of batter – worked beautifully! This was a genius recipe and I wowed my family for mother’s day 🙂

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