Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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!

slice of pineapple carrot cake on a silver plate with a fork

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!

spreading cream cheese frosting onto pineapple carrot cake in a glass baking pan

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!

ingredients for pineapple carrot cake

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.

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 baking pan.
  5. Bake.
  6. Make the frosting.
  7. Frost the completely cooled cake.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

walnuts, pineapple, and carrots in glass bowl of cake batter

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!)

pineapple carrot cake batter in a glass bowl

overhead image of pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass baking dish cut into squares

Let’s Decorate!

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!

slice of pineapple carrot cake on a silver plate with a fork

Print
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slice of pineapple carrot cake on a silver plate with a fork

Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours (includes cooling)
  • 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 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

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: Box Grater, Icing Spatula, KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Glass Mixing Bowls, and 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 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).
  7. 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!

spice cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass baking dish

469 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! Can I use apple instead of pineapple? How much? Chopped or sauce? Thanks and kisses from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Laura

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, instead, we’d recommend using our Favorite Carrot Cake recipe which calls for applesauce instead of pineapple — enjoy!

  2. Way too much sugar for our health….if i cut the amount in half, will it come out ok or do ineed to adjust any other ingredients? Thnx

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Terri, sugar plays a large roll in recipes beyond taste. You can certainly try reducing the sugar, but know that the texture and structure will change as well and we can’t guarantee results. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it turns out for you!

  3. Hi Sally if I want to make a square 9×9 cake how much batter do I have to use and the baking time will change?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Greysha, you can use our handy Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions guide to scale this recipe for a 9×9 pan. Bake time will be a little less — we’re unsure of the exact timing, but keep a close eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!

  4. Hi Sally
    Which is better for this recipe, can crushed pineapple drained or fresh crushed pineapple? And if using fresh crushed pineapple, do I need to drained the juice ?
    Thanks heaps
    ps: I love your recipes!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Syuhada, we use canned crushed pineapple, but you can also crush fresh pineapple to use in the cake batter. Whichever you choose, be sure to drain. Enjoy!

  5. Hi Sally.
    I want to make your pineapple carrot cake into a layer cake. And I would like to add coconut. How much coconut should I add and do I have to delete anything else from the recipe to compensate for the coconut? Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rose! You can reduce the walnuts to 1/2 cup and add 1 cup shredded coconut. Stick to around 1 – 1.5 cups total add-ins. Hope it’s a hit!

  6. Love the ingredients in this recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Should I use the large or small side grate for the carrot?. Also can I add a little of the pineapple juice to the icing? It just sounds like it would make it even better.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Char! We usually use the large side, but if you prefer smaller pieces small will work as well. We don’t see why some pineapple juice in the frosting wouldn’t work – let us know if you try it!

      1. Hi Sally,
        Wondering if I use organic cold pressed cocoanut oil with natural cocoanut flavour , Wouldn’t that had a nice twist of a cocoapine overtones?

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Lloydd, melted coconut oil should work in the place of canola oil. Enjoy!

  7. Lisa Borroughs says:

    I made this recipe two years ago for Easter. My friends have talking about it ever since.
    I couldn’t find the recipe until today!! So excited to make it again. Best carrot cake ever!
    Thanks!

  8. This is a fabulous recipe! I made it for my boyfriend’s birthday and have also made these into 12 muffins and 2 mini loaves! I do find that the frosting was a bit thin and don’t want to add too much powdered sugar so I’ve left it in the fridge to firm up before applying to the cakes, then topping with chopped walnuts. Delish!!

  9. We have a nut allergy in the house. Can we use raisins instead of walnuts?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Deb, yes you can add raisins! We recommend keeping the total amount of add-ins to 1 cup – so simply replace the nuts with raisins.

      1. 1.5 or 1?

  10. I want to make this for my husbands bday but could I possibly make this same recipe in 8 in round cake pans Instead? If so do you think split betweeen 2 or 3 , 8-inch Round pans ? Do you know how much baking time approx? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liseth! Definitely, see recipe notes for layer cake directions!

  11. Hi Sally! Love love love your recipes ! I usually always make your classic carrot cake ( which is amazing) , but I’m so intrigued by this recipe because of the pineapple ! So I was wondering if the pineapple takes away from that classic carrot cake taste, meaning would the cake taste more like pineapple than carrot cake ? Or is it just there for added moisture? Thanks !

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Monica, when it comes down to it, pineapple simply brightens up the cake’s flavor — if you enjoy our classic carrot cake, you’ll enjoy this one, too! It doesn’t overpower the carrot but is a wonderful compliment. Let us know if you decide to give it a try!

  12. This is a very moist and oh so delicious cake. Made it today and I know this is going to be gone well before the week is over. Glad I didn’t come across this recipe when we were on total Covid-19 lock down. I would have gained soooo much weight LOL!!!. Everyone who likes carrot cake should make this NOW.

  13. I don’t have all purpose flour, can I use wheat flour or self rising? Thanks I love your b recipes.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Linda, we don’t recommend self-rising flour here, and wheat flour would result in a very dense and heavy cake. Best to stick with all-purpose flour here!

  14. I’m making this for Easter. Can I shred the carrots in my food processor rather than grating? Forgive me if someone has already asked this; I read a lot of the reviews (not all) but didn’t see this question.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely, Karen. Hope you enjoy this cake!

  15. Hi Sally, love the recipe, would definitely be trying it. One question is the crushed pineapple, how do you make homemade crushed pineapple if the canned is not available?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mis! You can use a food processor or blender to make your own – here’s a helpful guide: https://www.thefoodieaffair.com/crushed-pineapple/

  16. christina newman says:

    can I also add coconut to this recipe

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christina! You can reduce the walnuts to 1/2 cup and add 1 cup shredded coconut. Stick to around 1 – 1.5 cups total add-ins. Hope it’s a hit!

  17. I assume these would come out fine as cupcakes?

    1. Was wondering the same!!

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Yes, this recipes does work as cupcakes! It yields about 2-3 dozen. Bake cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes and use a toothpick to check for doneness. Happy baking!

  18. Hi Sally!
    I am looking at making your pineapple carrot cake for easter but I wanted to make cupcakes instead. I was wondering if anything needed to be changed or if it would work out. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mallory! This recipe would yield about 2-3 dozen cupcakes. Bake cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes and use a toothpick to check for doneness. You may also love this coconut carrot cake cupcakes recipe for a smaller batch. Happy baking!

  19. I would like to make this in a sheet pan size 17×13 about. How do I adjust cooking time. Thinking like 20 min?
    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathy! We’re unsure of the exact bake time, so keep an eye on it in the oven. Enjoy!

  20. Before I try making the cream cheese icing in this recipe, I would like to know whether I can substitute Neufchâtel which has 33% less fat than the “full-fat” cream cheese. You specify full-fat, but I only have Neufchâtel and would like to use it if it is ok.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Trent, Your frosting may end up a bit runny without full fat cream cheese. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

      1. Hi Sally,
        My wife and I made this yesterday. It was very easy and tastes great. A couple comments and a question –
        (1) We used the Neufchâtel cheese, and it worked great. As your instructions indicate, we did add a little extra confectioners sugar, but it firmed up just fine.
        (2) My wife thought your recipe would make more frosting than necessary so we made 2/3 the amount, and we had plenty to adequately cove the 9 x 13 pan.
        (3) Even though the cake tastes great, the one thing we were missing was the taste of pineapple. If we didn’t know that we had added pineapple, we weren’t sure we would have been able to detect it. Any suggestion as to how we could get more pineapple taste? Do you think we could use the crushed pineapple as specified & add an additional 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple, or would that make the batter too wet?

      2. Thank you so much for trying this recipe and for the feedback. For added pineapple flavor, try removing 1 egg and replacing with an extra 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple. You could certainly add 1/2 cup of pineapple without changing anything, but we fear the cake would be too wet. So that’s why we recommend skipping an egg.

  21. A huge fan of Sally! says:

    I will never make another carrot cake again! I made this for my mother in law’s birthday In 2 layers with the cream cheese frosting recipe for your other carrot cake. There is just no comparison with any of the best carrot cakes I’ve eaten over the years . I used a total of 1 1/2 tsp of spices but otherwise followed the recipe exactly . It was even better the next day and 2 days later out of the fridge was still moist and flavorful. Your recipes are the best ! Thank you for writing the measurements in grams as well.

  22. Have you (or anyone else out there) heard of anyone trying this cake with cup4cup or a similar gluten free blend such as Bob’s Red Mill?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi C, we haven’t tested it ourselves, but let us know if you give it a try!

  23. Hi Sally, Can your recipe for Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting be made into cupcakes? If so, do you happen to know how many cupcakes the recipe would make?

    Thanks,
    Renee

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Renee, yes, this recipes does work as cupcakes! It yields about 2-3 dozen. Bake cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes and use a toothpick to check for doneness. Happy baking!

  24. Hands down BEST carrot cake I have ever made, even making it into cupcakes right now for Easter! Made it many times now and get nothing but rave reviews, cut into pieces, wrap in gladwrap and kept in freezer also worked an absolute treat! I come from a big Greek family, I do a lot of cooking and have found the best carrot cake recipe yet. I feel like using a glass dish makes a difference as well. Thank you so much for this recipe❤️ Love from Australia!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for this sweet review, Beckie! We’re so glad this cake was a hit for you.

  25. I made the cake for Easter and it was quite a hit. I followed the instructions and added 1/4 teaspoon of green Cardamom spice and 1 tsp of Mexican Vanilla. So glad I found this recipe. Thank you.

  26. Rose Wandler says:

    Would it be possible to list the nutritional information with your recipes ? I have a diabetic husband who needs to know the carbohydrate and sugar amount per serving. Thank you

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rose! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  27. This recipe just didn’t work for me. I used fresh crushed pineapple and the applesauce/oil combo, and it was just SO dense. The flavor was great, but it was too moist and didn’t rise much at all. The texture kind of reminded me of a traditional English pudding. Not really what I was going for.

  28. I was pretty disappointed that this recipe is not adequately tested when it comes to the frosting. The cake is good, but the frosting is a disaster. I made it exactly to the recipe, using a metric scale, with exact measurements, and I also chilled the frosting overnight in the fridge. I used full fat cream cheese. It was just a runny mess and didn’t look at all like the pictures or harden enough to spread. It was more like a sauce, and extremely sweet. Won’t be making the frosting again, probably a simple glaze would have been enough. I was expecting a rich, whipped frosting texture. Didn’t turn out like that at all. I also cut back on the sugar, and even with less sugar, it was still extremely sweet.

  29. I have made this cake multiple times and everyone loves it! I gave them as gifts to families for Christmas last year and decorated with dried edible flowers. I was just wondering, have you made a vegan version of this cake? And if so, what replacements did you use for the eggs and cream cheese? Want to make one for a vegan friend so am interested, I saw somewhere unsweetened applesauce could be an egg replacement?

    Thanks for the recipe! ❤️

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, we’re so glad you love this cake. We haven’t tested a vegan version, but let us know if you try anything!

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