Carrot Cake Loaf (Quick Bread)

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

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.

Here are all of my recipes with carrots.

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
  • 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

  • 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.

160 Comments

  1. Can I bake this in a 9×13 pan? What would the temp and baking time be if I at least double the recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Salina, we haven’t tested that but don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Same temperature, we’re unsure of the bake time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. You may also love this carrot cake sheet cake recipe instead!

  2. I’m going to try this recipe this week as I have to make 10 loaves for a fundraiser and they want all the loaves baked in the the same size pan:8.5×4.5×2.5. Should I adjust my baking time since your Recipe calls for a 9×5 pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nettie, Bake times vary with this loaf for many reasons but it should still be around 55-65 minutes. Just keep an eye on yours and be sure to test the loaves with a toothpick. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with zero raw batter.

  3. Stephanie Gerrish says:

    Hi Sally! Love your recipes. Quick question, is there a difference when choosing which oil? (vegetable, canola, coconut, avocado) Or do they all result in a similar end product?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie! We prefer baking with neutral-tasing oil like canola and vegetable. Other oils can have a strong flavor that doesn’t always work for baked goods.

  4. Would this work in a Bundt pan?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi K, we’d recommend using our Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake recipe instead (with or without the cheesecake swirl). Enjoy!

  5. Turned out great. First recipe in ages that turned out exactly as planned. I used Greek yoghurt instead of apple sauce. 200g of grated carrot equated to 2.5 carrots for me. I really like that you put the ingredients in grammes and cups. Baked for 55 minutes.

  6. Hi Sally,thank you for sharing this lovely recipe,however can you please let me know if I can use bottled ginger stem in this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sonia, We’ve never used stem ginger in this recipe before – I’m sure you can I’m just not confident the correct amount to substitute. Let us know if you try it!

  7. Delicious flavours.
    I added about 150 g carrot and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Recipe gave me 4 mini loaves! Took about 30-35 minutes in oven. Started checking at 25 minutes. Cinnamon Cream cheese icing…wow, tastes out of this world!

  8. This turned out so so good! So fluffy on the inside and smells amazing. Full of taste, nothing less!
    The only thing I swapped was yogurt, I didn’t have any plain or applesauce so I put almond yogurt instead.
    Thanks for the recipe Sally 🙂

  9. Can I use whole wheat flour and if so, are there any other changes I should make?
    thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashley! Whole wheat flour will dry out this carrot cake loaf. You could try replacing just half the flour if you would like to use whole wheat. Hope you love it!

  10. Hi Sally, firstly thank you for so many great recipes and tips. Double thank you for the info on what room temperature actually means.
    This loaf – well – despite my recovering chemo brain mucking it up – 220g flour, then trying to compensate with 100g Greek yoghurt, the optional add ins (somehow mucked up 3/4 cup to be 1/2 cup walnuts, nearly a cup of sultanas and currants (soaked in black tea as they were a bit sad and dry), zest of a large orange (I think I mixed that up with your swirl Bundt which I originally was going to make) and an extra tsp of mixed spice – it is apparently the ‘best cake ever’, ‘where did you find the incredible recipe’, ‘no carrot cake has ever tasted this good’… and the icing – I can’t relay the comments – a little too colourful in their ecstatic praise! Next adventure is your Bundt- my first – fingers crossed!

    1. Anita, I’m sure your chemo brain didn’t ruin anything! Your adjustments made it taste extra good because you made it with love! Hope your treatments go well and you celebrate beating your cancer by baking more delicious things for your family! Good luck!

  11. I’m a big fan of your recipes! Out of curiosity, around how much would the final loaf weigh? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Martina, thank you for the kind note! We’re so glad to hear you enjoy our recipes. We’ve never actually weighed the final loaf of this bread — so sorry we can’t help more!

    2. I use grams and scales (not volume and cups) so I’m not convinced this tip will work if you use cups FYI. But, I add up the raw ingredients in a recipe (or my actual amounts) to get the amount of batter in grams. I do this for layer cakes etc. so I know how much batter to put into each pan (and get even layers). As written , the grams measurmenets with no extras would yeild 888g batter. As a starting point, 1 cup = 240ml so the final batter would be 3 3/4-4 cups – hopefully that points you in the right direction 🙂

  12. Hi Sally! First I would like to thank you for your amazing posts! Just love browsing your website for great recipes!… Do you have a recipe for Carrot rollup cake with cream cheese frosting?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Riki, we don’t at this time, but we do have a pumpkin roll recipe — while we haven’t tried it ourselves, we imagine a carrot puree would work in place of the pumpkin puree there!

  13. This came out as a very good spice cake/bread. I’m missing the carrot flavor. Not sure why. I followed the recipe exactly except I used all stone ground whole wheat flour. I love the texture. It wasn’t too dry as you mentioned in another reply. My oven seems always a bit off, so I checked carefully during baking and it was ready at 50 minutes., but I used an odd loaf pan (4×11) and that probably made bake time a little less. Thank you so much for your treasure trove of wonderful baking ideas. It has been so appreciated during our Covid isolation.

    1. I find the carrot flavour comes through stronger on day 2 after baking. It could also be the spices are too much – overpowered the delicate carrot flavour. I use 1 1/2tsp mixed spices and I tasted the carrot on day 2. Hope that helps!

  14. Absolutely delicious, and very easy! Thanks Sally! 🙂

  15. Hi Sally, i need to bake around 10 of this (goodluck to me!) how do i go abt baking by batch? Do i need to turn off the oven after first batch while i prepare the next batch or leave it on? I can only bake 4 loaves at a time. I’m scared if i leave oven for too long, it will get to hot and when i put on the next batch it will brown the bread too early.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Fatilyn, that really depends on your oven and how much it potentially overheats. Do you have an oven thermometer? If so, that will give you the most accurate read. If you’re worried about them browning too quickly, we’d recommend turning it off while you prepare the next batches.

      1. Thank you! Right after i sent my comment I immediately went and bought a thermometer

  16. Thanks Sally!
    I love how well detailed your instructions is! Very helpful especially for first timers like me. God bless!

  17. Hello! Can I use shredded pumpkin instead? Will it be a one to one replacement in terms of quantity? Sadly, I couldn’t find carrots at 2 supermarkets so I grabbed a pumpkin instead.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, we’ve never tried using shredded pumpkin here in place of the carrots, so we’re unsure of how it would work. Your best best (and so you don’t waste your ingredients) would be to use the pumpkin to make a puree and try our pumpkin bread recipe instead. Let us know if you give it a try!

  18. Hi, could i added shredded coconut to this recipe? If so, how much? Thanks Sujata

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sujata, absolutely — about 3/4 cup of shredded coconut would be delicious.

      1. Hi Lexi, Just made this with the frosting but without coconut & it is delicious Will definitely give It a try with shredded coconut Next time. thanks sujata

  19. I have had some of the best carrot cake/bread or at least i thought so. This was the moistest carrot cake i ever ate. I used applesauce and a mix of light and dark brown sugar. Absolutely scrumptious!

  20. This recipe produces a carrot cake that is veryyyyy rich and moist!! I used sour cream instead of apple sauce.
    The besttttt

  21. This is an amazing recipe!! My husband went back for more and more, and he’s not a carrot cake fan usually! Thank you!!;

  22. Hello, instead of oil, can I use melted butter? Would it not yield similar results?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy, we don’t recommend it — the cake will not be nearly as moist.

  23. Can I use greek yougurt insted regular yogurt ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Juan, Greek yogurt will work just fine — enjoy!

  24. wow this tastes AMAZING

    1. Avril Saunders says:

      How much flour should I use if I wanted to use whole wheat flour ? Or a would it be best to do a blend of whole wheat/white?

      Thanks!

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Avril, we suggest trying half whole wheat and half all purpose flours. Let us know how it goes!

  25. Gianna Fernandez says:

    can i use honey instead of brown sugar?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gianna, that would take some recipe testing to ensure results. For best results, we recommend sticking with the recipe as written. Hope you enjoy it!

  26. Gianna Fernandez says:

    for the flour can i mix all purpose and cake flour?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gianna, all-purpose flour is best here. Cake flour is much too light with all the heavier ingredients in this bread.

  27. What type of loaf pan works best, glass or the cheap aluminum ones from the store? Or does it not matter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Becca, you can use either here. Bake time may slightly vary by a few minutes depending on which you use (for example, glass pans take longer to bake through). Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  28. This cake loaf is amazing! So moist. I used Greek Yogurt. You’re right to watch oven. Mine was done about 48 min. Thank you for sharing a great recipe. The frosting was perfect.

  29. Can I use olive oil in place of the canola/vegetable oil?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hanna, you could, but since it is not as neutral tasting as canola or vegetable oil, you may be able to taste the difference in the final product.

  30. Can I use crushed pineapple in place of the applesauce or add it?

    1. She says in the notes, you can replace applesauce with crushed pineapple. In her other pineapple carrot cake, she says to use all the crushed pineapple, but only some of the juice to yeild a similar texture to applesauce. All of the juice would make a very wet batter that would be harder to cook through. Hope that helps!

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