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Adapted from carrot cake and pumpkin bread, this supremely moist carrot cake loaf is even more wildly delicious than it looks. It’s dense, yet ultra soft and flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Serve plain or spruce it up with walnuts, raisins, pecans, and/or top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. No matter how you serve it, this quick bread will become a staple in your kitchen. 1 loaf disappears FAST!

carrot cake bread with cream cheese frosting

Unless you keep oodles of baking ingredients on hand, you may be having a hard time finding canned pumpkin right now. And if you’re craving fall flavors– and don’t want to make homemade pumpkin puree– why not turn to pumpkin’s equally spiced and readily available cousin? This is carrot cake turned into a carrot cake loaf and you have total control over its sweetness and dessertyness.

Why yes, dessertyness is a new word we’ll explore today.

Is it Cake? Is it Bread?

Both.

As pictured, this carrot cake loaf is basically carrot cake in a loaf pan. If you skip the frosting and reduce the sugar, you have a lightly sweetened carrot quick bread. I tested this batter with all different amounts of brown sugar. 1 cup (200g) of packed brown sugar produced a sweet cake-like loaf. 3/4 cup or 2/3 cup produced a lightly sweetened loaf. Any less than that produced a bland loaf. Feel free to use anywhere between 2/3 – 1 cup depending on the flavor and level of dessertyness (ha!) that you want.

Also, feel free to substitute the brown sugar with white granulated sugar or coconut sugar. But keep in mind the loaf won’t be as tender and moist.

slices of carrot cake loaf

Video Tutorial

This Carrot Cake Loaf Is:

  • Wonderfully spiced and flavorful
  • Stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist
  • Sweetened with brown sugar
  • Easy to make– from mixing bowl to oven in minutes
  • Excellent plain or with cinnamon cream cheese on top

Most of its flavor comes from cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, and carrots. Ginger adds a tasty zing, but isn’t overpowering at all. Like my favorite apple cinnamon bread and banana bread, the crumb is dense but still super soft.

Plus, you can create plenty of variations from this recipe. Leave it plain or add raisins, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, etc. Turn the loaf into carrot cake muffins or even add a cinnamon swirl & topping like we do with this cinnamon swirl quick bread. The streusel topping from orange cranberry bread would taste awesome on this loaf too. I always appreciate basic & multipurpose recipes like this!

Overview: How to Make Carrot Cake Loaf

You need 2 mixing bowls: 1 for the dry ingredients including flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and another mixing bowl for the wet ingredients including oil, brown sugar, applesauce/yogurt (either work), eggs, vanilla, and carrots. Combine everything together and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake time is about 1 hour, give or take.

shredded carrots on wood cutting board

Success Tip: When baking with carrots, my #1 tip is to shred whole carrots at home. Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. When you shred them, you’ll notice how wet they are– that’s essential moisture for your carrot loaf!

carrot bread batter
cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Optional Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I LIVE FOR toppings on my baked goods. Cinnamon swirl? Totally. Streusel? Yes, please. Glaze? Absolutely.

Keeping this in mind, trust me when I say that this bread tastes phenomenal without an accessory on top. But if cream cheese frosting fits, we’re definitely wearing it. You need block cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add a little vanilla and cinnamon and you have a whole new level of flavor to complement your spiced carrot loaf.

You will not regret this.

carrot cake quick bread
carrot cake slice
Recipes with Carrots

Carrots are an underrated baking ingredient. They add natural sweetness, extra moisture, and taste wonderful with fall’s favorite spices. Why not bake with carrots more often?! Here’s a list of my favorite recipes using carrots.

  1. Carrot Cake: This is the golden standard for carrot cakes. It’s equally spiced, moist, and soft as today’s quick bread.
  2. Super Moist Carrot Cake: This is my go-to simple one layer carrot cake. It tastes a little denser than today’s carrot cake loaf.
  3. Pineapple Carrot Cake: This cake includes pineapple, a flavorful pairing with carrot. It’s slightly denser than today’s carrot cake loaf.
  4. Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes: These cupcakes include shredded coconut and coconut extract. They taste cakier than today’s quick bread.
  5. Harvest Spice Bread: Equally dense, yet soft. This bread is sort of like carrot cake, pumpkin bread, and apple bread all in one. One of my favorites!
  6. Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake: This big bundt cake is denser than today’s recipe. Fresh orange zest adds a pop of flavor and that cream cheese swirl is out of this world.
Print
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slices of carrot cake loaf

Carrot Cake Loaf (Quick Bread)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 4 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This carrot cake loaf is dense, yet ultra soft and flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Serve plain or spruce it up with walnuts, raisins, pecans, and/or top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar* (see note)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened applesauce or yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) peeled and shredded carrots* (about 3 large carrots)
  • optional add-in: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional)

  • 4 ounces (114g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. See notes for muffins or mini loaves.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and carrots together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until *just* combined. Fold in the nuts/add-in. Batter will be semi-thick.
  3. Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes. (I like to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent heavy browning on top.) Baking times vary so keep an eye on yours. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with zero raw batter. Remove the bread from the oven.
  4. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing and frosting.
  5. Optional Frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt (I usually add a little less than 1/8 teaspoon), then beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Taste. Add more cinnamon and/or salt if desired. Frost cooled bread, slice, and serve.
  6. Storing without frosting: Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to about 10 days. Storing with frosting: Cover and store leftover bread in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Loaf freezes best without frosting. Freeze baked & cooled loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If desired, bring to room temperature and frost before serving. To learn more details about how to freeze quick breads, see my post called Make-Ahead Baking.
  2. Brown Sugar: I tested this batter with different amounts of brown sugar. 1 cup (200g) of packed brown sugar produced a sweet cake-like loaf. 3/4 cup or 2/3 cup produced a lightly sweetened loaf. Any less than that produced a bland loaf. Feel free to use anywhere between 2/3 – 1 cup depending on the flavor you want. You can substitute with white granulated sugar or coconut sugar, though the loaf won’t be as moist or flavorful. I don’t recommend liquid sweeteners.
  3. Applesauce/Yogurt: You can use either. If you don’t have either, use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream.
  4. Carrot: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 1 and 1/2 cups of moist carrot shreds. Instead of carrots, you can use shredded apple or even shredded zucchini.
  5. Muffins: Prepare this batter as directed in step 2 and follow the baking instructions for morning glory muffins (steps 1 and 3). Makes about 14 muffins.
  6. Mini Loaves: Grease a mini loaf pan. Prepare batter as directed in step 2. Spoon batter evenly into greased cups, filling to the top. Bake at 350°F (177°C). Bake time and yield depend on the size of your mini loaf pan.

Keywords: carrot cake loaf

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I love, love, love this recipe. Tried it out with mini loaf pans (foil pans) and gifted one out. It tasted so delicious!!! It was so moist as well…used 3/4 cup brown sugar & yoghurt (cos I couldn’t find applesauce). The feedback I got was marvellous from all who tasted it. Thank you so much.

    Pls, can I use this recipe for a 6-inch cake?

    Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Grace! So glad you loved it. We haven’t tested it, but this should be just about the right amount of batter for a 6 inch cake pan. Let us know if you try it!

      1. This turned out to be really good! I loved it so much that I intend to bake it again. Can I replace all purpose flour with whole wheat flour ?

  2. Hello, i was curious as to the weight in grams of 188 versus 180 of 1.5 cups. Why is it 8 grams more? Thank you, looking forward to making this recipe.

    1. Hi Jerry, different ingredients weigh different amounts. For example, 1 cup of flour weighs less than 1 cup of sugar. Not sure if this is what you were asking? For flour specifically, we measure 1 and 1/2 cups of spoon and leveled flour as 188g. (Anywhere around 188-190g would be fine here.)

  3. I baked my carrot loaf for 65 minutes (30 of it with foil tent), did the toothpick test with the moist crumbs. But the entire center sank. It was still delicious and the frosting was heavenly. I’m guessing i shouldve baked it longer? Awhile back, i had the same problem with the zucchini bread.. Would appreciate any incites.

    I am a huge fan and use Sallys recipes all the time!

    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes.
    Lynne

    1. Lynne,
      Odds are it was not quite cooked. Baked goods tend to fall when the middle just isn’t there yet. You can try to cook it for an extra five minutes. Alternatively, it’s possible there was too much leavener.
      Good luck on round two!

  4. This is a really superb recipe. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting really kicks up into heavenly territory.

  5. I’m still wondering why my carrot loaf and also zucchini bread both sunk in the middle? I weigh all the ingredients.
    Thank you Lynne

    1. Hi Lynne, a sunken loaf usually means they are slightly undercooked — a few extra minutes will help for next time!

  6. This is a great recipe. I made a few slight changes; i did not include any mix ins (no nuts or coconut), as well as i accidentally forgot to include the yogurt (had it weighed out and everything, was super mad at myself lol). But it turned out such a beautiful loaf! I also added about a teaspoon of orange zest, and used an orange mascarpone frosting instead. was super wonderful, thanks for this great base recipe!

  7. Hii !! I was wondering if i can substitute the applesauce or sour cream with something else besides yoghurt?

    1. Hi Kyra, you can use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream in place of the applesauce/yogurt.

  8. Hi there, any advice on adding in coconut flakes? Would one need to reduce the amount of nuts?

    I LOVE all your recipes. This site is my go to search when I I’m trying to find a new recipe.

    1. Hi Bianca, you can replace some of the nuts with shredded coconut flakes. You’ll want to keep the total amount of add ins to about 3/4 cup. Enjoy!

  9. Delicious! Your recipes have not disappointed me yet! I did not put cream cheese frosting on it as I wanted to taste it as is.. moist, sweet, and great with a cup of tea. Highly recommend it even if you think you don’t like carrot cake( and who doesn’t?? lol The carrots were finely shredded and absorbed into the cake as it was baked. I added chopped walnuts. Next time, I will try this as muffins.

    1. Hi Nicolette, whole wheat flour would result in a much denser loaf. You can certainly try it, but the results will be different than intended. Let us know how it goes!

    1. Hi Kathy, whole wheat flour would result in a much denser loaf. You can certainly try it, but the results will be different than intended. Let us know how it goes!

  10. I’ve made this carrot loaf about 10 times now, and it keeps getting better every time as I perfect it. The cinnamon in the cream cheese frosting is amazing.

    I would recommend using freshly grated nutmeg, It accentuates all the spice flavours without overpowering.

    Walnuts are also highly recommended as per the mix in amount in the recipe.

    1. Hi Jackie, There is a huge variety of sizes of mini loaf pans. Bake time and yield will depend on the size of your mini loaf pan.

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