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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!

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

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

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 preferencesyou 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!)

ingredients for pineapple carrot cake
pineapple carrot cake batter in a glass bowl

Let’s Decorate!

What you’ll love about sheet cakes is that there’s no fancy or intricate decorating requireda 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 at special events like Easter brunch. See more Easter brunch recipes.

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

Make It a Layer Cake, Cupcakes, or Bundt Cake

Today’s pineapple carrot cake works as other size cakes and cupcakes, too:

  • 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.
  • Cupcakes: While I usually make these carrot cake cupcakes, you can absolutely turn this batter into cupcakes. Today’s recipe yields more batter, so you’ll have about 24-28 cupcakes. Line your muffin pan with liners and bake the cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes at the same temperature. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.
  • 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.
slice of pineapple carrot cake on a silver plate with a fork

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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 1215 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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
  • 2 cups (260g) shredded carrots (about 4 large peeled carrots)
  • 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. Cupcakes: While I usually make these carrot cake cupcakes, you can absolutely turn this batter into cupcakes. Today’s recipe yields more batter, so you’ll have about 24-28 cupcakes. Line your muffin pan with liners and bake the cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes at the same temperature. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.
  8. 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. The more I make this carrot cake the better it comes out. I might tweak it here or there but basically I stick to the recipe. Everyone at work and at home loves it. I’m not sure what the issue is with other people who have made it and complain about it. They must be doing something wrong. If you like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting then you have to try this recipe.

  2. I used to make this cake many years ago I somehow lost my recipe so I googled it and found this one it’s absolutely my old one and as delicious as ever !! Thank you from the bottom of my heart my 51 yr old son is pleased as punch I made it for his birthday today !

    1. Me too. I haven’t made it in years and tried to find it. This is it though. ❤️

    2. Have you ever made these into a cupcake? If so what would the baking temp and time be?

  3. Hello! Love your recipes! I’m wondering if is this cake posible to use in a fondant cake?

    1. Hi Josue, This carrot cake is sturdy enough to hold up under fondant.

      1. Nice complex flavors with real carrot, pineapple, raisins ( I added 1/2 c), and spice, but mine came out quite dry also. Took it out at 45 minutes ( 2 layer pans). The delicious frosting helped, but what’s the solution? More oil? Birthday cake for my son, so a bit disappointed.

      2. Hi Cathy, we’re happy to help troubleshoot. Dry cakes are usually the result of over baking (baking time for two rounds would be closer to that of our carrot cake — about 30-35 minutes), or too much flour. Be sure to spoon and level to ensure just the right amount. This post on how to prevent dry and dense cakes may also be helpful to review. Hope these tips are helpful for next time, and thank you for giving this recipe a try!

      3. I love the recipes in this site! Thank you for sharing! I live in high altitude (in Denver, Colorado) and knowing that high altitude affects baking, what modifications do I need to make to this carrot cake recipe to achieve a nice moist cake that doesn’t fall? Thank you!

      4. Hi Helen! We wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html Thank you so much for making and trusting our recipes!

  4. Hi! I’m really looking forward to trying this! Have you made cupcakes using this recipe before? If so, we’re there any modifications? Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    1. Hi Laurie, you can absolutely make these into cupcakes. Bake cupcakes for about 19-22 minutes at the same temperature. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Enjoy!

      1. I like coconut in mine. If I add a cup of coconut do I need to adjust anything else?

      2. Hi Deb! 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!

  5. Found this recipe online after searching for a recipe for carrot cake with pineapple. I chose this one because it included a recipe for cream cheese frosting which saved me some time. I was making carrot cake because I had a craving for it. I had not had carrot cake in at least 25 years and my 73 year old had never had it.
    This cake was absolutely delicious! It was moist with just enough pineapple and spices to make it perfect. I appreciated Sally’s suggestions regarding how long this cake takes to cool prior to frosting. I baked the cake after dinner so that I could let it cool overnight. I also made the frosting in the evening so that it was ready to go in the morning. My husband is now a fan of this cake. We also loved the frosting. I will be making it frequently in the future. Thank you, Sally!

  6. This cake is amazing! I’d love to switch it up and make muffins out of it. What’s a good substitute for some of the sugar? It’s a bit much. Switched the oil for apple sauce and walnuts for raisins. Any more healthy substitutes? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Danielle, We are so happy you enjoy this recipe! Sugar is used for moisture and texture in baked goods as well as taste. You can certainly try reducing the sugar, but the resulting texture will be different than intended. We have not tested this recipe with any sugar substitutes but let us know if you do!

  7. This is my go to carrot cake recipe , so delicious, easy to make easy to eat and so full of flavour , this recipe is a keeper for sure

  8. This is the worst cake I have ever made. I followed the recipe exactly and it came out really dry and I couldn’t eat it. I had to throw it away.

    1. Same, the flavour was great but texture was super dry and crumbly, wasn’t too impressed considering how highly the cake is rated

    1. Hi MB, cream cheese frosting isn’t as stable as traditional buttercream frosting, but simple piping designs should work okay. You may find it helpful to refrigerate the cream cheese frosting in the piping bag for a short bit to keep it extra cold while piping, and feel free to put it back in the refrigerator periodically as it starts to warm up from your hands.

    2. Carrot cake is my absolute favorite cake and with Easter a week away my 7yr old son and I decided to make this cake tonight before dinner. I love adding crushed pineapple to Carrot cake, which is a huge reason I picked this recipe!!
      We added 1/2 cup golden raisins to thr batter and shredded coconut to the frosting. Just perfectly delicious

  9. I made this for a luncheon at work and it was a huge hit !! People were calling it crack cake ! Thanks for another amazing recipe !

  10. This was the best carrot cake my family has ever had! I made this as an 8 inch three layer cake and it was absolutely stunning. 10/10 will make again and again. Loved it so much I printed the recipe and put it in my recipe binder of “tried and true” dishes etc. This one is a winner for sure. Sally’s recipes NEVER steer me wrong!

  11. Baked for 45 min, very dry. Threw it out. Made it fir Easter, good thing we had more dessert .

    1. Hi Donna, thank you for giving this recipe a try. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on your cake in the oven. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  12. I guess it’s about time I post a review of this recipe. I’ve been making this for a few years now and it always turns out amazing! It is a family favorite. It is so flavorful and not the least bit dry. Sorry I can’t type that ‘m’ word. I have also used this to make cupcakes and they were great!

  13. by far, the best! why does this recipe use baking soda and baking powder? other recipes I have tried have buttermilk. does the acid in buttermilk take the place of the powder? I am trying to understand………… any thoughts on cupcakes ? quantity? bake time? really appreciate all of the time to have taken to help us!!!!

    1. Hi Sue, I’m so glad to read that you enjoy this recipe! By far one of my favorite ways to prepare carrot cake. The pineapple is quite heavy, so I like to have a little extra “insurance” with the leaveners. That’s why I use both. See recipe note for turning this batter into cupcakes.

  14. The cake was really lovely and very moist, but we felt the frosting was too sweet and took away from the cake. It was also too much frosting. I cut it down by 75% but if I make it again, I’d cut it down by at least half. (My husband said he’d prefer it without the frosting at all, but I’m not going that far!)

    1. Also, I’ve noticed other bakers said the cake came out dry. I checked mine at 30 minutes and was surprised to see it was done! It was quite moist, and perhaps could have gone another few minutes, but I’m glad I checked it when I did. The texture was terrific.

    2. Instead of frosting, I sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Mostly for look. Cuts down on our sugar intake for diabetes, and just as yummy!

  15. Go to recipe for carrot cake! Super moist and a fan favourite!!

  16. Just got done making a batch of cupcakes from this recipe, Made a few changes,, non gluten flour, added raisins, also put 1/2 tsp of black pepper in too.. I got 24 regular sized cupcakes and 3 of the big muffins. Love them,,, will be my go to recipe now for carrot cake. 19 minutes for the regular cupcakes and 22 minutes for the large muffins at 350. Super moist.

  17. I recently made this recipe for a group of friends and everyone loved it! I did make a couple of small changes. I used allspice instead of cloves since as I’m not a fan of strong clove flavor. I didn’t have crushed pineapple so I used a 20oz can of pineapple chunks. I used my food chopper to make small tidbits. I put 1 cup of pineapple in the cake per recipe and folded remaining pineapple (about 1/2 cup) into the frosting.

  18. Whenever I’m craving something sweet and delicious Sally’s website is my go to.
    I didn’t particularly enjoy baking until I started using your recipes,and now everything I make tastes delicious!
    So naturally when I was feeling for a carrot cake I turned to your recipes and wow,this cake was easy to make and it was incredibly delicious!
    All I need to do is follow the recipe to the T and I Know it will yield great results!
    Thank you Sally!!!!

  19. I just put the cakes in the oven. Used 2- 9″ round pans. What I thought was a genius idea was the check boxes next to each ingredient. I don’t bake often, but I have on occasion missed an ingredient and that doesn’t fare well in baking! And doesn’t require a mixer! Gave my arm some exercise! Will report back on the cake itself.. For my husband’s birthday

    1. Thanks so much for reporting back, Liz! The check boxes are actually a newer feature on the site, so we’re glad to hear you found them helpful. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  20. Thanks for this recipe. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and it turned out really good. I’m eating it while writing this comment, lol. I couldn’t find crushed pineapple at the store so I used pineapple chunks. I drained the juice out, blended for 15 seconds and added everything to the mix. The frosting was delicious but it was too runny. Maybe I overbeaten it? Or maybe it was just a hot day (30C or 86F)? Do you have other foolproof and weatherproof frosting recipes? It was my first time making cream cheese frosting so any tips would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Hazel! We’re so glad you enjoyed this cake. Cream cheese frosting can definitely be on the softer side, especially in warmer weather. Be sure your cream cheese isn’t too warm when making the frosting, and you can also try adding more confectioners’ sugar to thicken it up. Otherwise, vanilla buttercream or Swiss meringue buttercream are also excellent options!

  21. Good morning I haven’t made this cake yet but sounds awesome, can I replace the Flour for Gluten Free.

    1. Hi Roslyn, we haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, but some readers have reported success using 1:1 flour substitutes. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

  22. I followed the recipe exactly and my cake came out dry and tough. I would’t recommend this recipe. It’s a lot of work for something that bombed.

  23. I have made this recipe many times and many ways(gluten free, lactose free and reduced carb). Every time I make it, it’s delicious and only one time has it been dry(my fault-I used baked pineapple instead of fresh or canned). I usually make the icing less sweet and use pineapple juice instead of vanilla extract but that’s personal preference. Thank you!

  24. I really wanted to like this recipe. I love carrot cake. This was the driest, crumbly cake I’ve ever had. It wasn’t moist at all

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