Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

slice of cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake on a white plate with a fork

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.

cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake

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.

2 images of dry ingredients for cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake in a glass bowl and cheesecake layer spread into bundt pan

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.

cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake in a bundt pan

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.

slice of cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake on a white plate with a fork

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!

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slice of cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake on a white plate with a fork

Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: serves 10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Perfectly spiced and moist homemade cheesecake swirl carrot Bundt with cheesecake swirls hidden inside! 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 applesauce*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) 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 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon 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 temperature*
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 23 Tablespoons (30-45ml) fresh orange juice

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Applesauce: Instead of applesauce, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple.
  3. Cream Cheese: Don’t use cream cheese spread; use brick-style cream cheese. Full-fat preferred, though low fat works too. Don’t use fat free.
  4. Add Ins: 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.
  5. Bundt Pan: Here is the Bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!

Keywords: cheesecake carrot cake, cheesecake swirl carrot cake

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!

74 Comments

  1. MeAnn Sepulchre says:

    Hi, Sally. Is there a substitute for apple sauce? It is rare to find in our local grocry store here in the Philippines. Thank you.

    1. Instead of applesauce, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple.

  2. Cynthia Burrell says:

    Thank you for the wonderful cake recipe! I had made it yesterday and shared it with my neighbors. It was delicious.

  3. I have a mini bundt cake pan would this recipe work for those?

    1. It would, yes. I’d start checking the mini Bundt cakes at 20 minutes– all mini Bundt pans hold different amounts (due to their designs), so it’s best to start checking early. I’m unsure exactly how many this recipe will yield.

  4. AMAZING! Best cake I’ve ever made. Followed the recipe exactly but made a simple cream cheese frosting because….cream cheese frosting. The orange zest, applesauce, spices made it a fragrant and moist cake. Seriously awesome and worth the time! Thank you for this recipe!

  5. Do you know what the cup equivalent would be for this bundt pan you have listed? I’m trying to figure out how to adapt this to my 6-cup bundt pan!

    1. Hi Ali! The Bundt pan I use here fits 10-12 cups of batter.

  6. I just made this the other day for our quarantine Easter festivities and OMG it is delicious!! I didn’t hear my timer go off for the 55 min mark, so I ended up overbaking it because it was in for 74 minutes (only one min to go on the 75 min timer). And even though it was a bit overcooked and more brown than I would have liked it, it still tasted delicious, my husband was raving about it. In its current state he has already requested I make this weekly, I can only imagine how amazing it will be when I bake it next time and pay better attention to the time. Thanks for helping make our little Easter feel special!

  7. I made this for our Easter dinner dessert last week, and my family absolutely loved it. I could tell they were a little concerned that I hadn’t made my usual layered carrot cake, but this delicious bundt cake started a new tradition in our home. I followed the recipe exactly (using crushed pineapple instead of applesauce), and it couldn’t have turned out more perfectly. Several people in my large family commented that the glaze made with fresh orange juice was a game-changer, haha – so glad I took that extra step! I’ll never again used pre-shredded carrots, either – the freshness made such a difference. Thanks so much for this terrific recipe!

  8. I made this cake for my sisters birthday yesterday, when I first took it out of the pan the centre around the hole wasn’t cooked enough so I put it back in on a flat baking pan and covered the outside rim with foil. The result tasted amazing even though the outside was a little overdone. But I like those crispy bits of sweet cake!
    Any tips on how to get it to bake evenly all the way through would be greatly appreciated as I’d love to make it again.
    I used a 9in silicone pan and used the leftover batter to make 4 muffins which came out perfect.

  9. Made this using the pineapple instead of apple sauce, part white sugar instead of brown, and a little less cream cheese, as we only had about a bar and a half in the fridge. Also omitted the glaze. The cake is really good! Moist and delicious. I got a little hung up on the size of my bundt pan after reading some comments, but my pan, which seems to hold only 7-8 cups worked just fine. We were not in danger of overflowing. Just a note, if you don’t use all the cream cheese the recipe calls for, the cheesecake part comes out just a bit spongy and eggy, so next time I’ll definitely go buy more. Great recipe!

  10. Hello! Can the apple sauce be replaces by other than crushed pinnapple? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Victoria, 3/4 cup of plain yogurt or sour cream would work instead! (Or even mashed banana!)

  11. Made bite size mini muffins to share with family and friends

    Thank you!

    Delicious

  12. Holy Moly! Made this for Christmas and it was a hit! My husband keeps eating it, and he does NOT like carrot cake. I left out all the orange (I’m not an orange person), and it was AMAZING! I also added cream cheese frosting (for on the side) because I have a cream cheese addiction. And the lovely cream cheese ribbon in this is still not enough for me I will definitely be making this again! Thank you!!

  13. I made this for my brother’s birthday and the cake turned out beautifully. More delicious than any store bought carrot cake. The orange zest is such a refreshing addiction and the cake itself is moist and soft. I didn’t even have to put it in the fridge until three days had passed. My only advice is that when making the glaze slowly add orange juice to the powdered sugar to avoid creating runny transparent icing like mine. Cream cheese icing would be a great substitute also.

  14. I made it yesterday. Amazing. My husband had stage 4 throat cancer so most cakes are too dry and he can’t taste it. He really liked this. I’m sending the recipe to my cake-making granddaughter.

  15. Lisa Moffat says:

    Absolutely delicious! I, like other reviewers, halved the recipe and baked in a regular loaf pan. I did use the pineapple instead of the applesauce and wow, perfection! Definitely making this again.

  16. Hi Sally! If preparing this cake a day in advance, do I coat with the glaze before storing in the fridge or the following day? I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’m already in love with your normal carrot cake recipe and this is just to yummy sounding not to try!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Marlee, Top with the glaze just before serving. Hope this cake is a hit!

  17. This recipe was amazing. I have made it several times and it never disappoints. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi,
      If using the crushed pineapples instead of the applesauce. Do I need to strain the crushed pineapples?

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Lisa, You’ll want to pour off most of the extra liquid, but no need to strain out every drop!

  18. Delicious! Thanks a lot for this great recipe.

  19. This is fantastic! I didn’t follow the recipe 100%. I subbed gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1), and in place of the applesauce, I used kumquat puree (halved seeded kumquats and sugar blended into a thick liquid.) I also used some of the kumquat puree to make icing.

  20. Raquel M Reisinger says:

    I was very worried about this coming out but it came out perfectly! Baked about 70 mins, may have overbaked. It did overflow a bit.

  21. Added walnuts and omitted raisins and orange zest. Also cut down the brown sugar from 1 & 3/4 cup to 1 cup and it tasted amazing! Finished in 3-4 days! When it was fresh from the oven, we found the cream cheese filling a bit stiff/dry. However, it was softer and smoother tasting the next day (after sitting in the fridge overnight). Would love to know why is that 🙂 also, is it possible to make a gooey cream cheese centre?

  22. Thanks for the recipe , mostly I am overjoyed that you provided the ingredients in grams as well!!! I look forward to baking this cake. I can taste it already .

  23. Hi, whats the substitute of eggs in this recepie? Thank you!! I love all your recepies, they always come out great!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Benu, We haven’t tested this recipe with egg substitutes, so can’t give any advice. Let us know if you try any! Here are all of our egg free baking recipes if you are interested in browsing there.

  24. Molly Falsetti-Yu says:

    Hello Sally,

    This looks like a yummy recipe. I made your lemon bars this summer and they were a hit with all.
    Quick question: Could I use a 9×13 Pyrex for this cake?

    Thank you,
    Molly

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, this batter will fit into a 9×13 inch pan. We have not tried layering in the cheesecake swirl in that size pan but it should work. Bake time will be similar to this carrot cake. Let us know if you give it a try!

  25. Hi, how long will this store? Does it need to be refrigerated?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leslie, you can cover up extras tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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