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!

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 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!

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

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!

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 with cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

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!

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

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 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!

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

342 Comments

  1. Made this to take to work for morning tea, was well received and reviewed 🙂 Growing up my mother’s recipe had pineapple so i can’t imagine a carrot cake without it! Wonderful and easy too, I will definitely make it again.

    1. Your co-workers are lucky to have you bake for them! So happy everyone liked it 🙂

  2. Jennifer Le says:

    I made this yesterday, and wow!  What a hit!  Everybody gushed over its moistness and out of this world flavor!  Almost everyone had seconds and I didn’t even have any leftovers.  What a great recipe–will pass this down for future generations!

  3. edgar mathews says:

    Made this over the weekend and it was hit!! Thanks for the super recipe!!

  4. Teara McCoy says:

    Awesome. I made into cupcakes. Yielded 26 cupcakes. Piped frosting on and had plenty of leftovers. People loved the cupcakes and frosting. Remaining frosting was topped with chopped walnuts and ate with a spoon  So good and dangerous. 

  5. Hi Sally, I would love to cut down on the oil and use 1/2 apple sauce but I’m scared to try it on a cake I’m going to serve to company. Does it change the taste or texture very much?

    1. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 cup oil makes a carrot cake that is just as tasty and moist in my opinion!

  6. I have a coworker who does not like nuts. Can I omit or would I be cheating the cake?

    1. You may leave out the nuts, no problem!

  7. I noticed when you adapted this recipe from the previous one you switched from pecans to walnuts. Is there a reason? Does it matter which one you use?

    1. No reason! Just what I had on hand. Either work!

  8. Taylor White says:

    Made this cake for a group date night, and everyone loved it! My husband couldn’t stop eating it. At first, I thought it would be too much frosting but it was PERFECT. So yummy! Thank you Sally, and congratulations on your little baby! 

  9. Dangerous(ly delicious) cake but have convinced myself it is healthy using 3/4 of the oil, a really sweet fresh pineapple (extra juicy to make up the moisture) and fresh ginger. 

    I also added a 1/4 cup cocoa which gave it an added dimension. 
    Making second rounds now for the Easter bunny – pretty sure he is sick of plain carrots but now. 
    Thank you so much for such a brilliant resource. 
    PS. Left over icing freezes perfectly and is brilliant as a sugar fix on a milk biscuit :). 

    1. Intrigued to try it with your cocoa addition!

  10. Good morning!! I made this recipe as cupcakes last night and they came out absolutely amazing. My husband said it is the best thing I’ve ever baked, so thank you!! I made about 30 cupcakes and baked them at 425 for the first 5 mins, then down to 350 for 15 more minutes, as you suggested. This recipe is amazing and is definitely a new staple. 🙂 Happy Easter!

  11. I made this cake this weekend for my family for Easter and it turned absolutely perfect! First time baking a cake from scratch, or making cream cheese frosting, for that matter but I couldn’t have been happier with the results. Thanks so much!

  12. Sandy Sabatell says:

    Hi Sally, This looks like a great recipe. I am going to make this for our Men’s and Ladies Society Meeting in May. They all love sweets and last month is was all about chocolate so this will be perfect. I can’t wait to try a piece with the pineapple addition. i will let you know how they all like it , I will have your recipe with me just in case.
    Thanks Sandy

  13. Hi Sally I made this last weekend and my family loved it!!!! It w as addictive…In a good way

  14. Everyone, Sally was right, I used 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce and the carrot cake was killer! I made it into the bundt cake Easter nest and it was very moist and flavorful. I used crushed pineapple like Sally advised. It’s not even a full week after Easter and I want more carrot cake!

  15. Kristy Howard says:

    Hi Sally,

    I made this for a bunch and everyone raved about it! Several people said it’s the best carrot cake they ever had. Thanks for another hit!

  16. Moist and delicious. I made cupcakes (just spooned the batter into my cupcake pan) and shortened the time (~25 minutes, ’til toothpick came out clean). An A++

  17. This cake is delicious. Wishing I would have added raisins.

  18. Hi! I plan to bake this as cupcakes since my oven can only handle 12 cupcakes or 11×7 pan max. Question though, do I put the unbaked batter in the ref while the other cupcakes are being baked or should I just cut the recipe into half so as not to affect anything? I’m just learning how to bake.

    1. You can just leave it at room temperature until the pan is ready.

  19. wendy jones says:

    Can i make this into a sheet pan cake like your best yellow sheet cake?

    1. You should have enough batter, yes.

  20. Stephanie Travis says:

    Hi! I’m making thus cake and decorating it with fondant accessories. The fondant accessories really shouldn’t go in the fridge so my question is- can this cake be left out overnight if it’s in a tightly sealed container?

    1. Overnight for 1 night would be just fine.

  21. I wonder if I could add crushed dark chocolate.

  22. Can I substitute the sugar for Splenda.  I have a diabetic to feed.

  23. Hi Sally! Just made this in two 8in rounds and it was the perfect amount of cake batter. A helpful tip is if you think the cakes look/feel done.. keep baking a few extra minutes! I found my cakes didn’t jiggle and were perfectly browned but were *slightly* underdone. The spice is perfect and the cake is SO MOIST. Definitely a recipe I will repeat! I paired it with my go to cream cheese frosting! 🙂

  24. Hi Sally !

    As mentioned in your recipe note ” Follow this recipe and the assembly/baking directions in my carrot layer cake.” 
     Meaning to follow the recipe in this Pineapple carrot cake and the assembly/baking direction in the Carrot cake ? However the ingredients in the cream cheese frosting is slightly different.. Will it affect the layering ? 

    1. Use the frosting recipe for the layer cake 🙂

  25. Pamela Zarzycki says:

    This sounds like my mom’s, only she used golden raisins instead of nuts really good. I’ll be trying this for sure minus the nut…

    1. Hi Pamela, I want to do the same thing you mentioned, omitting the nuts and adding raisins. I am going to use golden raisins. How much would you add to the batter, a cup maybe? Thanks.

  26. Hi … planning to bake pineapple and carrot cake… i was planning to experiment with the recipe by folding egg whites after whipping it separately…any experience with this method???

    1. Hi Kiran, I don’t recommend that. I’ve done that before with very light textured cakes, but this is dense– and formulated to be so. Mostly to mask the chunks of carrot.

  27. kristin yancey says:

    I’d been looking for a carrot cake recipe with pineapple in it for awhile. I came across your blog and gave it a try. I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and I used a cup of regular sugar in the frosting(omitted the confectioners entirely). It baked much faster than the 45 – 55 minutes indicated. Best carrot cake i have ever had. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. You are welcome, Kristin! So glad you found this one and liked it!

  28. Delicious. Lovely texture and flavor. I doubled this recipe to fit a 12×18 sheet pan. It was full but stayed in pan. Created nice height.

  29. Hi Sally! I want to make this but I don’t have nutmeg. Could I sub allspice and if so how much would I need to use. Thank you 

    1. Same amount– 1/2 teaspoon. Enjoy!

  30. Hi Sally! I make a very similar recipe but I do make a few interesting additions: 
    I soak 1/4 cup of raisins in the poured- off pineapple juice 
    I add the grated rind of an orange to the wet ingredients to add a subtle flavour
    Some other nuts to add: slivered almonds and coconut in very moderate amounts (too much and the cake does not hold together)
    I use a bit of pineapple juice and orange rind to make the cream cheese icing.
    The orange really complements the cake very well for an extra special cake!

    1. Your variation sounds so good! Thank you for sharing.

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