Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Bake my super moist spice cake next.

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The week is here: happy spring!

While the calendar shows spring this week, the snow piles on our lawn beg to differ. Mother nature is a tad confused, but one thing’s certain: Easter is less than a month away. And with longer days and fresh tulips blooming on the horizon, we HAVE to have carrot cake on the mind.

And, really, any and all spring baking.

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 100% + honestly + literally the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s similar to this spiced carrot cake (which I may have to rename “my 2nd favorite carrot cake”), but there’s a massively flavorful addition today: crushed pineapple. It brightens up the entire cake.

Do you usually add pineapple to carrot cake? I feel like this is a norm for a lot of bakers. And while I’ve tried it before, I usually default to applesauce, raisins, or coconut as a flavorful add-in. But this year I decided to be like the cool kids and I beg you to give pineapple a whirl too. Grab a can of crushed pineapple OR crush your own OR a can of chopped pineapple and pulse until crushed. You won’t regret it.

This pineapple carrot is absolutely a cut (slice?) above the rest.

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s get into the cake details.

This sweet and spicy cake is uncomplicated where all you’ll need is 2 bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. No mixer required, but a little arm muscle to really get those wet and dry ingredients combined. Easy, yes, but that doesn’t mean the carrot cake is plain. It’s bursting with spice flavor and completed with a dense and tangy blanket of cream cheese frosting on top. Baking this 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.

Crushed or chunks? I vote for crushed. Crushed pineapple acts more like a wet ingredient than an optional addition. (Read: added moisture, a good thing!) I also didn’t want large chunks of pineapple in my slices, which could take away from the cake’s other flavors. And because pineapple is sweet, I slightly reduced the sugar in this carrot cake recipe. While most carrot cakes are cloyingly sweet, this one hits the mark where you KNOW it’s dessert but also don’t feel a cavity forming at first bite.

On a moist level, this pineapple carrot cake reminds me of my favorite banana cake. Remember the one I obsessed over and recreated last summer? Just like that. If it’s not stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist, it’s just not worth it.

We aren’t lacking on the flavor scale either, like I mentioned above. The cake is sweetened *mostly* from dark brown sugar. Light brown works just the same, but I love the extra hint of molasses from dark– especially when baking carrot cakes, spice cakes, and the like. There’s also the mighty gang of spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. And pineapple too, of course.

As for the texture? This pineapple carrot cake is between a dense pound cake with tight crumbs and fluffy white cake with looser crumbs. Somewhere in the middle where it’s a little bit of both. Distinctively cake-like and moist, sort of fluffy and a little dense with speckles of carrots swirled throughout. Make sure you grate your own carrots. Extra moisture that way. (Again, a good thing!) Here is the grater I own and love.

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I told you: an actual blanket of cream cheese frosting. ↓

Super moist and spiced pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Feel free to get fancy with a piping tip or you can garnish the cake with chunks of pineapples, extra walnuts, toasted coconut, whatever. I decided for a rustic look. Aka: the hungry lazy girl’s method. Spread & serve.

Super moist and spiced pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Slice & devour.

Print

Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: serves 12-15
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is super moist and bursting with spice flavor.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flourspoon & 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Special Tools: Icing Spatula | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Layer Cake: Follow this recipe and the assembly/baking directions in my carrot layer cake. Use the frosting recipe in the layer cake (makes a little more than this).

Keywords: carrot cake, cake

This recipe is adapted from this super moist spice cake, which is basically a deliciously spiced apple version of today’s carrot cake recipe!

Super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

252 Comments

  1. I went over the top and used 4 cups of grated carrots ( used food processor, twice grated for smaller pieces ). Insane cake!

  2. Made this cake last week and it was a huge hit!!! Absolutely amazing!!!
    Now I’m wanting to make it as cupcakes. Do you know how many cupcakes this recipe will make? Thank you

  3. Hi Sally,
    Planning on Making this for Mother’s Day. Would this work in a decorative bundt pan?
    Thank you,

  4. Hello. My name is Sally (also). And I have a serious Baking Addiction with no intent to enter rehab. I love your recipes- planning to make this one on my next day off.
    Thanks-

  5. I made this one to take into work. Whole cake literally disappeared in minutes. I even had one person almost in tears because she thought she had missed out (luckily I still had some in the freezer to bring in for her!).

    For me personally, l think it needed a touch more spice so l am going to up the cinnamon next time. But this will definitely be replacing my old carrot cake recipe (it used apple sauce and I think the pineapple brings a lot more moistness)

  6. I made this cake and layered it. It was a huge success. Someone even asked me if I could make this in a whole sheet cake. Would you recommend? I wouldn’t even know where to start with measurements.

    1. Hi Marie! Do you mean a larger sheet cake, such as 12×17 inch? Or a full sheet cake that’s larger? Use the batter as written– it will be enough for a thinner and larger sheet cake. The bake time will be shorter since the cake is thinner.

      1. They want a large sheet cake. For like 100 guests. I was thinking to make 4 regular 9×13 cakes and use the yummy frosting to glue them together on a large sheet cake board.

  7. SOOOOOOOOO delicious and moist! Made it as a layered birthday cake last night (with non-dairy “tasted-like-cream-cheese” frosting for the birthday girl) and it was a HUGE hit. Everyone said it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had. Received a text this morning from the birthday girl saying, “even better the next morning with coffee!”

  8. Dear Sally

    Hi! My name is MAIR, and I’m (Today) new to your site. I made a connection with that starting line… “I’m in freak out mode…” done deal! I will be making this cake 5/25 for my beloved DIL. So, I did read a message from one of your followers about using a bundt pan, I’m curious to know how it turned out, as I would love to use mine. Do you have any suggestions about using the bundt pan?
    Very happy to have found you and your freak out mode site. Love that! Thank you! Warmest Regards, MAIR

  9. I’m planning to make this for my 1 year old’s birthday – could I make it without nuts? Do you you recommend adding anything in their place? Thanks!

    1. You can absolutely leave them out without making any other changes. If you want to add something else in you can add raisins or even shredded coconut!

  10. i need to make a two layer 9×14 cake , should i double this recipe for that?
    Also, what is your approximate food costs to make this cake, minus the nuts?
    Thank you greatly (:
    Aurora

  11. I made this for a co worker’s birthday. Many people said it was the best cake that they had ever had. Not the best carrot cake, the best cake ever. Thank you very much. I added currants and coconut and lemon zest. Upped the ginger to 1 teaspoon. Once again, thank you.

  12. I’m thinking of making a two tier (10 and 8 inches) cake with fondant covering for my daughter’s birthday. Do you think this will be firm enough to hold the fondant? What would be proportions in that case? Awaiting your reply!

  13. This carrot cake is to die for! I made it for a party last night and it was a huge hit and was the star of my dessert array. I baked it in a metal pan because I didn’t have my glass pan available, and it was done in 33 minutes and I had to cover the top with foil because the edges were browning too quickly and crusting. My only thing with this recipe is that the frosting is way too sweet for me. Is there a way to make it more tart? Maybe adding lemon zest? I did add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar and an extra pinch of salt but that did not cut the underlying sweetness.

    1. Hi Ro! So glad you tried this carrot cake recipe. So adding a bit of lemon zest would definitely help cut that sweetness. Or reduce the sugar slightly, but keep in mind that makes the frosting creamier.

  14. Hi, this carrot cake is lovely! And the cream cheese frosting so delicious!
    Just confused about pineapple – it says drained crushed pineapple in your recipe, however there isn’t much juice left after draining and the cake isn’t very moist in my opinion.
    I will not be draining the pineapple completely next time because I really want that extra moisture in the cake.

  15. I’m baking this tomorrow for my father-in-law. He likes coconut in his carrot cake. Any suggestions on how much and what kind to add to your recipe?

  16. Hi Sally,

    Is it possible to make this recipe with 2 layers ? Would I have to double the ingredients?

  17. THIS IS THE BEST CARROT PINEAPPLE CAKE RECIPE EVER!
    Always a hit from my kitchen to my customers. I’m a home based baker in Philippines and everyone loves it! No bias, my favorite too! Thank you so much sally! ♥♥

    1. Hi Susan! Feel free to play around with the spices you like. You can skip them all or leave just the cinnamon or reduce the cinnamon. I think cinnamon and ginger in particular really add something special, but feel free to leave them out or reduce them.

  18. Made this for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was such a hit among carrot cake connoisseurs at the table! I did add 1 cup of shredded coconut and topped the icing with roasted shavings. It’s the best carrot cake ever!

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