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Here’s to a glorious mash-up of two desserts! This carrot Bundt cake is rich, tender, and flavorful just like my original carrot cake recipe and rippled through each slice is a creamy swirl of cheesecake. A 12-15 cup capacity tube pan is ideal for this large cake.

I originally published this recipe in 2016 and I’m bringing it back from the archives with new photos, step-by-step details, and simpler instructions.

slice of cheesecake swirl carrot Bundt cake

At first thought, putting vegetables in cake makes as much sense as cheese in apple pie. Hmm. There’s something here that doesn’t belong. But after you have a slice of today’s carrot Bundt cake, your mind may be swayed. Carrots are a sweeter vegetable– they’re excellent roasted with brown sugar sauce or warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. When grated or shredded, carrots release a lot of moisture which directly transfers into your baked cake.

Carrot cake is a popular choice because when done right, it’s super moist, flavorful, and tender! And when you have something as thick and heavy as Bundt cake, moisture is most certainly favorable.

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

  • Cake is generously spiced with ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  • It’s moist without being overly wet and greasy.
  • Add-ins like chopped nuts and/or raisins add flavor, but are optional.
  • Excellent plain, but you can garnish with vanilla or orange glaze.
  • No complicated assembly required.
  • It’s like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, only inside out!

What’s the skill level? A beginner baker can absolutely handle this, but there are a few steps requiring your focus. This carrot cake batter is as simple as whisking and folding a bunch of ingredients together. You need a mixer for the cheesecake layer. And since we’re not creaming butter and sugar together, the carrot cake batter can be made by hand.

carrot cake Bundt cake with cheesecake swirl

Key Ingredients in Carrot Bundt Cake

  • Oil: Butter is great in cakes, but it can’t compete with oil’s lasting moisture. A lot of big cakes including pumpkin cake and chocolate cake do not rely on butter’s flavor and use oil instead.
  • Brown Sugar: I tried to love carrot Bundt cake made with all or some white granulated sugar, but nothing compares to carrot Bundt cake made with all brown sugar. In such a big, heavy, essentially-upside-down cake, you want all the moisture you can get. End of story on that one!
  • Eggs: This is a big cake and therefore requires 4 eggs in the batter for proper structure. You also need 1 egg in the cheesecake swirl. To ensure the batter comes together easily and evenly, bring any cold ingredients to room temperature first.
  • Unsweetened Applesauce: Surprisingly, oil, brown sugar, eggs, and carrots don’t supply enough moisture to really make this an over-the-top tender cake. More oil lends a greasy cake, so add some moisture that will complement the other flavors. Unsweetened applesauce is KEY in this recipe and I swear by it in this carrot cake loaf as well. Another popular choice is crushed canned pineapple, an addition we all love in pineapple carrot cake!
  • Baking Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves make a powerhouse pack of spices. I use a careful ratio of these spices because it’s easy to go overboard. Ginger adds a delicious zing and I swear by it in my regular carrot cake, too. Nutmeg and cloves can be overpowering, so use only 1/4 teaspoon of each.
  • Carrots: Make sure you’re grating or shredding your own carrots rather than buying pre-shredded carrots. Why? Store-bought shredded carrots are usually very dry in comparison. When you grate carrots yourself, notice how wet they are– this is GOOD because it moistens the cake. There’s a difference between grating (small pieces) and shredding (larger pieces), but either are fine for this recipe. I usually shred large peeled carrots with a box grater and then give the shreds a rough chop with a knife.
  • Block Cream Cheese: Not all cream cheese products are the same. In today’s cheesecake swirl, cream cheese frosting, and even regular cheesecake, it’s in your best interest to use full fat block cream cheese and not the kind you spread on a bagel.

You also need pantry staples like flour, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract. If you’re up for trying something new, add fresh orange zest like I recommend in the recipe below. Sounds odd, but it absolutely works and the flavors really come together if you choose an orange glaze for garnish.

applesauce, shredded carrots, eggs, spices, and other ingredients pictured in bowls

How Do I Make Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake?

It’s really easy and let me show you.

Make your carrot cake batter by whisking the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately and then combining. At this point, you can fold in your chopped nuts and/or raisins. I used chopped pecans in the pictured Bundt cake. Spread half of the batter into your greased Bundt pan.

carrot cake batter in bowl and shown in Bundt pan

Make your cheesecake batter with room temperature block cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and do your best to spread on top of the cake batter. Try to avoid spreading the cheesecake batter all the way out to the edges of the pan.

cheesecake mixture layered in Bundt pan

Spread remaining carrot cake batter on top and gently swirl with a knife:

cream cheese mixture swirled with carrot cake batter in a Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt pan

Gorgeous! Each slice is already pretty and you barely had to do any “decorating.”

carrot cake Bundt cake with a cream cheese swirl in Nordic Ware Bundt pan
carrot cake Bundt cake with a cheesecake swirl in the center

Between all the flavor, texture, cheesecake, glaze, and moist carrot cake texture– your taste buds won’t even know what happened to them. This is most definitely the impressive spring, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, brunch, birthday, no-occasion-necessary dessert masterpiece we all need!

Bundt Cake Success Tips

  • Select a lighter-colored Bundt pan: Darker cake pans often mean a darker cake that can quickly over-cook on the edges.
  • Capacity: Because of how much this cake rises, any tube pan holding 10 cups or less is not large enough. Look for 12-15 cup capacity.
  • My favorites: I love and use Nordic Ware. (Not sponsored!) I love this Bundt pan and this Bundt pan and both are large enough for today’s recipe. This fluted tube pan also works.
  • Generously grease: If your cakes continuously stick to the detailed edges of your Bundt pan, your pan is not greased enough. Even if the pan is non-stick, make sure you generously grease it.
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carrot cake Bundt cake with a cheesecake swirl in the center

Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake

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

Description

Find cheesecake swirls when you cut into this deliciously moist and perfectly spiced carrot Bundt cake! The ingredient list looks long, but most items are pantry staples and repeated in other layers of the cake. Make sure the cake cools completely before slicing.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil*
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 3/4 cup (133g) smooth unsweetened applesauce*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (can omit if desired)
  • 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 (260gpeeled and shredded carrots* (about 4 large peeled carrots)
  • optional: 1 cup (130g) roughly 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 (Optional)

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease a 12-15 cup (2,839-3,548ml) capacity Bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, 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. Fold in the carrots and pecans. You will have about 6 cups of batter. Pour and 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 fitted 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 cream cheese mixture in an even layer on top of the carrot cake batter and try to avoid spreading it all the way to the edges of the pan. It’s a thick mixture, so do your best to spread.
  4. Pour and spread the remaining carrot cake batter evenly on top and then use a knife to very gently swirl the batters together.
  5. Bake for 55-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. This cake is large and heavy and takes quite some time to bake, so do not be discouraged if yours takes longer. 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.
  6. After 30 minutes, invert the slightly cooled Bundt cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Make sure cake has cooled completely before glazing, slicing, and serving.
  7. Whisk the glaze ingredients together. If desired, use more liquid to thin out or more confectioners’ sugar to thicken. Drizzle over cake. Slice and serve.
  8. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake 1 day in advance. Cool completely, cover tightly, and then refrigerate until a couple hours before serving. Set out at room temperature for a couple hours before serving. It’s best to garnish with glaze close to serving the cake. To freeze, cool cake completely, wrap tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.
  2. Oil: This recipe is best with vegetable oil. You can use melted and slightly cooled coconut oil if desired, but be sure that all other ingredients are room temperature so the coconut oil does not solidify before baking the batter.
  3. Applesauce: Instead of applesauce, you can use 3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple.
  4. Cream Cheese: Do not use cream cheese spread. Use block cream cheese which is sold as 8 ounce blocks. You need 1.5 blocks since this recipe calls for 12 ounces.
  5. Pecans & Other Add Ins: You can add up to 1 and 1/4 cups add-ins to this cake. I usually use just 1 cup (130g) roughly chopped pecans. You can use raisins, chopped walnuts, and/or shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened). A combination of any works as long as the total amount isn’t over 1 and 1/4 cups. Or you can leave the cake plain without any add-ins.
  6. Loaf Pan: Some readers have halved this recipe and baked it in a loaf pan at the same oven temperature for about 1 hour, though my team and I have not tested it. You could also try this carrot cake loaf instead.
  7. Special Tools (affiliate links): Vegetable Peeler, Box Grater, 12-15 cup Bundt Pan (such as this Bundt pan, this Bundt pan, or this fluted tube pan)

Keywords: cheesecake swirl carrot Bundt cake

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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.

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

    1. Can this cake be made in a 10 inch springform pan? If so, should I increase the amount of cheesecake batter?

      1. Hi Richard, we have not tested this in a different shaped pan, but we would try a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Let us know how it goes!

    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.

      1. Hi Sally
        Love you recipes, thank you for sharing. I have a question about the vegetable oil. What do you think about cutting back on the oil and adding more apple sauce. Would that be ok?

      2. Hi Elaine, It’s best to stick with the listed amount of oil for this recipe. With there already being applesauce in the cake, we fear it may be too rubbery without the 1 cup of oil. Let us know if you give this cake a try!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

    1. This recipe looks amazing. Do you think it could be made into cupcakes instead of s bundt pan? Would love to make it for our coffee time but needs to be individual servings. Thanks for my go-to recipe site and your excellent directions and educational commentary. Have learned so much.

      1. Hi Lorie, You can definitely bake this carrot cake batter as cupcakes and swirl or layer in the cream cheese filling. The only change would be to reduce the baking time.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

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

      1. (I came looking for this exact comment, as I was checking out your carrot cake loaf recipe did the same! thanks!)

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

    Thank you!

    Delicious

  10. 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!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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 .

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

    1. 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.

  20. 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. 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!

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

  21. I made this today with pineapple instead of applesauce, and I also used the pineapple juice instead of orange juice in the glaze. It was a big hit. It’s so moist, and I love the cream cheese layer.

  22. I made this recipe today and it was wonderful. I made a tweak to the cream cheese since Philadelphia cream cheese comes in 8 oz packs and the recipe called for 12 oz. I went ahead and used 16 oz and added an extra egg, an extra 1/8 cup sugar and extra 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. This made the cream cheese filling a bit more runny instead of being thick, more like what you would have for a cheese cake. I used my Nordic ware pro cast aluminum non stick Bundt pan which is nice and heavy, which I prefer over the non stick forged steel pans that rust and I greased and floured my pan rather than using bakers joy. I would never suggest using cooking spray on your non stick pans that contain silicone, it creates a sticky film that ruins your non stick pans. Baking at 350 deg. this was perfectly baked in 55 minutes and the cream cheese layer was nice and thick and added the perfect dimension to this carrot cake! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  23. I love when you update recipes. Sometimes it’s just that added tweak that makes it easier and taste even better than it already is. Thanks for always trying to make us better cooks.

    1. Thanks Lulu! There are SO many older recipes on my website and it’s really fun to bring them back to life. I didn’t even change this one– just needed some fresh new photos and instructions!

  24. I absolutely love this recipe, I’ve made it for family and friends several times. I have a friend that needs gf options. Has anyone tried this with a one-to-one flour substitute? Thanks!

  25. Baked this for our annual St Patrick’s Day party along with Sally’s Guinness brownies. Both were so delicious and a huge hit. I used the applesauce in this recipe and followed all directions as written. Sally, you never disappoint. I especially appreciate your instructions which are always concise and usually answer any questions that form in my mind while reading the recipe. You are are my “go-to girl” for any dessert. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your positive feedback, Barbara. We’re thrilled you enjoy our recipes and that this was a hit for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!

  26. I am looking forward to doing this for Easter but whenever I make any kind of batter, frosting, etc., involving cream cheese no matter how softened it is, it always turns out lumpy. Any recommendations to help with this?

    1. Hi Amanda, we’re happy to help troubleshoot. Make sure you’re using full fat, block cream cheese. The brand of cream cheese could be contributing (we like to use Philadelphia Cream Cheese when we can — not sponsored, just genuine fans!). You may simply need to mix it a bit longer! If using in frosting, you can sift the confectioners’ sugar before adding to make sure that’s not adding any unnecessary lumps either. Hope this helps and that you enjoy this Bundt cake!

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