Pineapple carrot cake is incredibly moist, bursting with spice flavor, and garnished with smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting. This simple from scratch recipe comes together quickly and easily– baked as a sheet cake there’s no fancy decorating required!
I’m in freak out mode over this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Which isn’t much different from any other time I eat carrot cake, but this time it’s a little excessive because this is truly the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s similar to my classic carrot cake recipe, but there’s a massively flavorful addition today: crushed pineapple.
Today’s cake is incredibly moist, bursting with spice flavor, and completed with a dense and tangy blanket of cream cheese frosting on top. Baking this pineapple carrot cake as a sheet cake in a 9×13 pan makes it even more effortless. Just one layer of cake and one layer of frosting. Easy to frost, easier to cut, easiest to eat. Let’s get started!
Why You Should Add Pineapple to Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is my #1 favorite cake flavor, but did you know you can turn things up about 800 notches by adding pineapple? The flavor this fruit brings is divine and it reminds me of my hummingbird cake, another personal and reader favorite. When it comes down to it, pineapple brightens up the cake’s flavor. Grab a can of crushed pineapple (or crush your own) OR a can of chopped pineapple and pulse until crushed. You won’t regret this!
How to Make Pineapple Carrot Cake
Just like classic carrot cake, this is a quick and easy homemade cake recipe– no complicated steps or kitchen utensils required.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Mix the wet ingredients together.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 baking pan.
- Make the frosting.
- Frost the completely cooled cake.
- Refrigerate the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
- Slice & enjoy!
You can also make today’s pineapple carrot cake as a layer cake or bundt cake.
As a layer cake: Use this cake batter recipe, then bake and assemble following the directions in my carrot cake recipe. Use that frosting recipe, too– it makes a little bit more than today’s so you’ll have enough frosting for in between the layers and around the sides.
As a bundt cake: Follow this cake batter recipe, pour evenly into a greased 9.5 or 10-inch bundt pan, then bake for 55-70 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.
Should I Use Crushed Pineapple or Chunks?
I vote for crushed. Why?
Crushed pineapple acts more like a wet ingredient than an optional addition. This means more added moisture to your cake– a good thing! I also didn’t want large chunks of pineapple in my slices, which could easily take away from the cake’s other flavors. Using either kind of pineapple yields a delicious result, it comes down to personal preference. 🙂 (If you love pineapple, you have to try my pineapple upside down cake recipe next!)
We’ll garnish our pineapple carrot cake with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. It’s sweet, silky, and tangy, and pairs wonderfully with the cake’s warm spice flavor. I love baking sheet cakes because there’s no fancy or intricate decorating– a simple swipe of frosting does the trick. Try adding extra walnuts, sprinkles, toasted coconut, a sprinkle of cinnamon, or pineapple decor once frosted. Still simple, but totally beautiful!
Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is super moist and bursting with spice flavor.
- 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 ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground cloves, ground ginger, + ground nutmeg
- 1 cup canola (240ml) or vegetable oil*
- 1 and 1/4 cup (250g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)*
- 1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained*
- 1 cup (125g) chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the grated carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
- Special Tools: Box Grater, Icing Spatula, KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Glass Mixing Bowls, and Glass Baking Dish
- Oil: Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The cake is just as moist.
- Carrots: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re typically on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 2 moist cups of carrot shreds.
- Pineapple: I use canned crushed pineapple. You can also crush fresh pineapple to use in the cake batter. Crushed pineapple, as opposed to pineapple chunks, acts like a wet ingredient keeping this cake extra moist and tender. Keeping that in mind and if you want larger chunks of pineapple in your cake, you can use chunks instead.
- Layer Cake: Follow this sheet cake batter recipe, then follow the assembly/baking directions in my carrot cake recipe. Use the frosting recipe in the layer cake (makes a little more than this).
- Bundt Cake: Follow this sheet cake batter recipe, pour evenly into a greased 9.5 or 10-inch bundt pan, then bake for 55-70 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. 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. Then invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Keywords: pineapple carrot cake, carrot cake
Today’s recipe is adapted from my spice cake recipe– a deliciously spiced apple cake with cream cheese frosting!