Pineapple carrot cake is incredibly moist, full of spice flavor, and topped with smooth tangy cream cheese frosting. This simple from-scratch recipe comes together quickly and easily. It’s baked as a sheet cake, so there’s no fancy decorating required!
Tell Me About This Pineapple Carrot Cake
- Flavor: This cake has all the spiced flavors you’d expect from a classic carrot cake, but with a flavorful addition: crushed pineapple. This simple addition brightens up the cake’s flavor and reminds us of another reader favorite– hummingbird cake. While wonderful on its own, the sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting pairs beautifully with the cake’s warm spice flavor.
- Texture: This is a moist cake finished with a dense and silky blanket of cream cheese frosting.
- Ease: Baking this pineapple carrot cake as a sheet cake in a 9 × 13 inch 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.
- Time: The batter comes together quickly, but the baked cake needs a considerable amount of cooling time before it’s frosted. If desired, you could place it in the refrigerator after about 45 minutes to speed things up.
Choosing the Right Ingredients: Pineapple
Carrot cake with its wonderful texture and spiced flavor is a cake classic BUT it can also be turned up about 800 notches with one notable ingredient: pineapple.
Crushed pineapple or chunks? We vote for crushed. Crushed pineapple acts more like a wet ingredient rather than an optional add-in. The result is a remarkably moist cake, which is a good thing! We didn’t want large pineapple chunks in the slices, because they could easily take away from the cake’s other flavors. However, it’s all a matter of personal preferences – you can use either crushed pineapple or chunks and still yield a delicious result. Use fresh or canned. (If you’re a fan of pineapple, try this pineapple upside-down cake recipe next!)
What you’ll love about sheet cakes is that there’s no fancy or intricate decorating required – a simple swipe of frosting does the trick. Today’s frosting recipe is adapted from our spice cake, a reader favorite in the fall months. For garnish, try adding extra walnuts, sprinkles, toasted coconut, a dash of cinnamon, or pineapple decor once frosted. Still simple, but beautiful to serve.
Make It a Layer Cake or Bundt Cake
Today’s pineapple carrot cake also works as a layer cake or Bundt cake.
- Layer Cake: Use this cake batter recipe, then bake and assemble following the directions from our regular carrot cake recipe. Use that frosting recipe because it makes a little bit more than today’s recipe– this way you’ll have enough frosting to spread between the layers and around the sides.
- Bundt Cake: Follow this cake batter recipe, pour into a greased 9.5- or 10- inch Bundt pan, and then bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. This cake will take a while to bake because it is so thick and moist.
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!