Super Moist Carrot Cake

Make scrumptious carrot cake at home with this easy recipe. Super moist and super flavorful!

Super Moist Carrot Cake by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Everyone has their own idea about what makes a good cake. Some like theirs light and airy, others like it dense and heavy. Some like chocolate cake, vanilla cake, bundt cake, or funfetti cake. Others don’t care about the cake and it’s all about the frosting. 🙂

My dad’s favorite cake is carrot cake and it has been my mission to make the BEST carrot cake in the entire world for him. And well, for me too.

Confession: I like carrot cake more than I like funfetti!

My personal preference is to have a cake that is as moist as possible. A carrot cake that is full of flavor and will melt in your mouth, without being mushy. And PS: the word “moist” should not send you running for the hills. It’s just a word!

The only carrot cake recipe you will ever need!

So how can you achieve a moist cake? Baking science ahead. #nerdalert

There are four main ingredients in cake recipes:  sugar, flour, eggs, and fat (in the form of oil, shortening, or butter). These four  ingredients have different purposes and effects on how your cake will bake, its texture, and how it will taste.

The structure of your cake is held together with the eggs and flour. The flavor of your cake comes from the sugar and the fat. The more sugar and fat you have in your cake, the more moist the cake will be. However, do not go assuming that simply adding more sugar and more fat to your batter will produce a moist cake. You have to maintain an equal amount of structure to hold up to the extra moisture you’re adding in. Adding too much moisture and too little structure and you’ll end up with a cake that won’t set.

The best homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Super-moist and easy!

Baking a cake surely is a science – and also a mathematical equation of sorts. Thankfully, I’ve found the perfectly balanced ratio of moisture and structure to produce one HECK of a moist carrot cake.

Be warned: you’re going to fall in love with this cake.

The best homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Super-moist and easy!

 You’re going to start with 1 cup of light brown sugar (or dark) and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil. This carrot cake, my friends, is not a health food. Although, sometimes I like to convince myself otherwise since I am eating my veggies.

I tried this carrot cake once before a few weeks ago using white sugar. There was nothing wrong using white sugar, but in my cookie baking experiences, I have learned that brown sugar yields a much softer and more moist product than white sugar does. It provides the baked good with more body of flavor as well. Plus, I love the taste of brown sugar/molasses. Brown sugar is a winner today – light brown or dark brown will do. I used light brown because that is what I had on hand.

The fat used in this recipe is oil, not butter. I have learned that oil produces a much softer, more moist cake crumb than butter would. However, I adore the taste of butter so I still like to use it in my cake/cupcake recipes (depending on the other ingredients in said recipe). With so much flavor from the spices, frosting, brown sugar, and sweet carrots – I knew I wouldn’t miss the taste of butter.

Along with the oil, I added some greek yogurt. Yogurt is a fantastic addition to cakes or cupcakes because it adds even MORE moisture to your finished baked product. You may use regular or greek yogurt here – vanilla or plain – nonfat or lowfat. Whichever is most convenient for you.

So we have 3 moisture-inducing ingredients so far (1) brown sugar, (2) oil, and (3) yogurt. Beat these all together with 3 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. This cake uses as many eggs as my ultra-fudgy brownies. You can imagine how dense and perfect this cake is!

The best homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Super-moist and easy!

 What’s next? The dry ingredients: 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon (LOVE the stuff), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. The first time I made this cake, I used more flour. I decided to try the cake again using as little flour as possible that I could get away with and still have the cake’s structure set in the oven. 2 cups is the magic number. You may use a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, but the cake’s texture may not be as soft as mine. I suggest using strictly all-purpose.

The cinnamon and nutmeg are crucial to the cake’s taste. Without an overpowering flavor like chocolate or pumpkin, for example, you really need those spices to give the cake that trademark “spice” taste that carrot cake has.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with a whisk or spatula, trying hard not to overmix the batter. Let’s see, what’s next? Ahhh the carrots. Let’s not forget those babies. Literally. I used baby carrots here. I grated my own baby carrots – I used a little less than one 14 oz package to get the 2 cups of shredded baby carrots. I used baby carrots only because they are more wet than regular carrots. Feel free to use regular carrots since grating such small baby carrots may not be tolerated  by many! It wasn’t so bad though, I promise. 🙂

While grating, make sure the carrot shreds/pieces are extra fine. You don’t want huge chunks of carrots in your soft piece of cake. The finely shredded carrots soften inside the batter as the cake bakes, making the cake even more soft and moist. So that is 4 moistening agents so far in this recipe! Have I convinced you yet?

The best homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Super-moist and easy!

 A good thing to know about my recipe:  the cake does not taste like carrots. Carrots, a sweeter vegetable, act more as a sweetener in this recipe than a flavoring agent. The brown sugar and spices mask the flavor of an actual carrot.

Fold the carrot shreds into the batter with a large spatula – no electric mixer is needed for this addition. I added pecans to the cake batter because I cannot imagine carrot cake without them! I used 3/4 cup of pecan pieces. You could even add raisins as well, another traditional addition to carrot cake. I was all out of raisins, so I only used pecans. The pecans do not stay crunchy inside the baked cake – they soften up, but still provide a nice texture against the cake’s crumb.

Pour the cake into a round 9 or 10 inch springform pan. I found baking the cake in a springform pan, rather than a regular circle of square baking pan was much easier. I highly recommend a spring form pan for this recipe. Bake the cake at 350F for 32-38 minutes.

Wasn’t that easy? Trust me, this cake is SUCH a breeze to make!

The best homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Super-moist and easy!

Now what would carrot cake be without the iconic cream cheese frosting swirled on top? I went a little heavy handed on the cream cheese frosting because I love it so much paired with the spice carrot cake. Even though I adore frosting so much, this is the kind of cake that probably wouldn’t even need it. I can’t believe I’m saying that! But honestly, this cake is so flavorful and moist on its own that it doesn’t even need frosting.

But let’s be serious. Frosting and I are two peas in a pod. It’s actually quite easy to make: 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of softened butter, 2-2.5 cups of powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I strongly urge you to use heavy cream here instead of milk or half-and-half – it will produce the thickest and creamiest frosting ever!

Frosting the cake is a… piece of cake. Just plop it onto the center of the cake and swirl it around. There is a lot of frosting, so don’t be shy about layering it on nice and thick. I opted out of frosting the sides of the cake because it is SO much easier to just frost the top. Save yourself the time! I decorated mine with some pecans, but feel free to use coconut, raisins, or even more shredded carrots. Decorating the cake is almost as fun as eating it. *Almost.

Carrot cake, like banana bread, tastes best the next day after the flavors have settled and have gotten friendly with one another. It is also more moist on the 2nd day as well. Sorry for saying moist so much in this post, but I truly am trying to get a point across!

So many readers call this the best carrot cake recipe ever! And it's so easy to make.

This is truly the best carrot cake that I’ve ever had. The frosting doesn’t taste fake like I’ve had in bakeries before. The cake doesn’t necessarily taste heavy either; it is just very dense, like the best piece of banana bread you’ve ever had. The sweet spice cake combined with the tangy cream cheese frosting is out of this world. Each bite will melt in your mouth and I was sad to see the cake end!

And again… don’t worry! You will not feel like you’re eating vegetables. Now if someone could make carrots taste like cake, life would be perfect.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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Super Moist Carrot Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make scrumptious carrot cake at home with this easy recipe. Super moist and super flavorful!


Ingredients

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil*
  • 1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (260g) very finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 22.5 cups (240-300g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray 9 or 10inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. I do not recommend a regular circle or square pan, as the cake may rise above. Set aside.
  2. Set out the cream cheese for the frosting so it may soften as you make the cake batter.
  3. Make the carrot cake: In a large bowl with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the brown sugar and oil. Beat in the yogurt until fully combined – about 60 seconds. Mixture will be gritty and thick. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With a spatula, manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and all flour pockets are gone – do not overmix. Fold in the finely shredded carrots and pecan pieces. Pour or spoon batter into prepared springform pan.
  5. Bake cake for 32-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, which will dry out cake. Check the cake at 30 minutes, then again at 32. My cake took exactly 34 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the frosting: beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy, and combined thoroughly. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until thick and combined. Add 2 Tablespoons heavy cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste. I used 1/8 teaspoon to cut the sweetness.
  7. Store cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Carrot cake tastes best the next day after the flavors have settled and have gotten friendly with one another. It is also more moist on the 2nd day as well.
  2. Oil: You can also use melted coconut oil or canola oil.
  3. Yogurt: You can also use regular yogurt– plain or vanilla.
  4. Heavy Cream: I strongly suggest using heavy cream in the cream cheese frosting recipe. Using milk or half-and-half will produce a less creamy and thinner frosting.
  5. Raisins: If you’d like to add raisins to the batter, I suggest using 2/3 cup of raisins and 2/3 cup of chopped pecans. If you’d like to only use raisins, I suggest 3/4 cup of raisins.
  6. Cupcakes: This recipe also can be made into 12 cupcakes. Bake time is 17-18 minutes.
  7. Layer Cake: Try my Favorite (Layer) Carrot Cake recipe.

Keywords: carrot cake

501 Comments

  1. Carole Henry says:

    How long should I leave the cake in the springform pan after it comes out of the oven?

    1. I let it cool completely in the pan before removing the sides and frosting/serving.

  2. Hi Sally, does this cake taste good without the frosting on top of it?

    1. Amateur baker says:

      I made 4 surplus cupcakes on top of the cake as I had extra mixture which didn’t fit into my tin. I tried a couple and yes they do taste great just like that. I’m making the frosting tomorrow for the cake, so no idea what the cake would taste like completed. I can only imagine it would taste even more beautiful than it does without. Have to say, this is the 3rd recipe I’ve tried from this website and the recipes taste amazing! I’m giving 4* as the cake isn’t fully completed. Once fully made I can assume I would give it 5* as I love the recipes I’ve tried on here so far.

      1. Amateur baker says:

        Hi, adding to my previous comment. I made the frosting, the cake tasted amazing fully done. However, the frosting was a bit too runny and I didn’t need all of it, so I froze some for next time. I used the ingredients listed for the frosting. I also added some mixed dried fruit to the sponge. This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten, much better than shop bought. The sponge was flavoursome with the spices and very delicate. Everyone who ate it, complimented on how good it tasted. Thank you sally! This cake and the triple chocolate cake are my 2 favourite recipes and I’ll be using both for future occasions.

  3. Hi Sally,

    Thank you for this simple and delicious recipe and step by step guidance and tips n tricks at the end. I tried adding a little orange juice to the wet mix to add a little twist to the already awesome recipe.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! Best carrot cake I’ve made. I really like that your ingredients list was organized by order of ingredients to add to mixing bowl. As opposed to a list organized by weight. This made the recipe a lot easier to follow!

  5. Hi Sally,

    Planning to make this for my daughter’s birthday. Will flax eggs work instead of eggs?

    Thanks!

    1. did you end up using the flax eggs? I was hoping to try this recipe with flax eggs this week!

  6. Hi Sally!

    This recipe rocks and so do you!

  7. Hi sally,
    Can I use this recipe to make a carrot Cake loaf shape. In a 9×5 inch loaf pan?

    1. Hi Shanza, I have not tested this in a loaf pan but you can check out my post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions to figure out how much batter you would need.

  8. I must say this is an easy straight forward recipe. I’ve just taken it out of the oven and my wife loves the smell. I’m not going to bother with frosting as we are having it with custard tomorrow

  9. Alison Scheuermann says:

    I made this for my dad’s birthday. It was a huge hit!! I substituded sour cream for the yogurt. I also found I had way too much icing. I mean, that’s never a huge problem. But I would have halfed the recipe. Also I used 1.5 cups of icing sugar and I thought that was sweet enough.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  10. I tend not to use websites aimed moreso at American audiences, as I find some recipes do not come out the same, here in the UK. However, this recipe is divine. The only change I made was using rapeseed oil instead of olive oil. I cannot fault the recipe. I will be making this a lot! I can’t wait to make more recipes from your blog! Thank you.

  11. Hi Sally. For the first time in my life I am baking and so far I have made 2 of your recipes – love them! Today I want to make your carrot cake as I have an abundance of carrots. The only problem is I do not have powered sugar. Have been to the shops twice and always out of stock. Can I use caster sugar instead?

    1. Hi Shanni, so glad you are loving my recipes! For cream cheese frosting, you really need the ultra fine texture from powdered/confectioners’ sugar. Castor sugar isn’t an ideal replacement. You might enjoy my Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead!

  12. Do you know if I can substitute brown cane sugar for regular brown sugar in this recipe?

    1. I used normal brown sugar and came out lovely

  13. Suzanne Donaghue says:

    Have made this for my daughters birthday cake. Haven’t tried it yet bit worried it will be too dry. Cooked it in two tins as planning to layer it. For 20 minutes. Do the people who comment really do it in the early hours or middle of the night? I’m up then but I work shifts in a hospital so that’s my excuse

  14. I was looking for a nice easy and tasty carrot cake recipe and I found it
    Thank you

  15. Hi I was wondering can I use a bag of shredded carrots that sold at the store or does this have to be grated? This will be my first time baking this and I do not want to disappoint.
    Thank you for any feedback i appreciate it.

    1. Hi Lisa! My #1 tip for carrot cakes is to grate whole carrots at home. Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. Happy baking 🙂

  16. Hi sally,
    I’m going to try to make my first ever carrot cake and I’m writing down the recipe as I don’t have a printer. I’m a bit confused with the amounts in cups. you say 1 cup for the brown sugar is 200g, then 2 cups of the flour is 250g, and 2 cups of the carrots is 260g. It’s always been my experience that 1 cup is usually 250g. I’m going to make the cake using the measurements that you’ve given by the grams you’ve mentioned. I’m really excited to make this, it sounds wonderful, I hope it works out!

  17. Melissa Alhambra says:

    I baked this carrot cake recipe and I loved it. However, the frosting seems to melt after a few minutes. What do I do?

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I know that blocks of full fat cream cheese are much creamier outside of the US and they typically produce a very thin frosting. Do you typically have trouble with US recipes for cream cheese frosting?

  18. A very reliable and easy recipe. The cake comes out soft and moist every single time. Tastes great!

  19. Hi Sally,

    I notice this recipe and you favorite carrot cake recipe has slight different (one used yoghurt and the other applesauce). Does it required the same amount of applesauce if i use the 1 layer recipe? Do you make your own applesauce?

    1. Hi Icha, you can replace the yogurt in this recipe with applesauce. Use 1/4 cup. I usually use store-bought, but homemade works too.

  20. Hi Sally,
    Just wondering if i can add flaked coconut in this recipe. 🙂 Im so excited to make this. Carrot cake / cupcake is one of my fave. Thank you for all the tips!

    1. Absolutely! I recommend 3/4 cup of sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut. You can skip the pecans or keep them in.

  21. Can I substitute greek yogurt with natural yogurt? Or with sour cream?

  22. Hi Sally,
    I’m really excited to make this. But quick question, do I need a springform pan? I don’t have one and I wanted to ask you just in case.

    1. Hi Tate! I do recommend a springform pan for this recipe. If you don’t have one, I would go with a 9 or 10-inch pan and then only fill halfway. Use leftover batter to make cupcakes (17-18 minutes bake time).

  23. Jill francis says:

    I followed the recipe to the letter and although the taste was lovely it was very stodgy, heavy and dense in texture. The frosting was runny even though I added heaps more icing sugar it was more like a sauce!

  24. LeeAnne Gelfand says:

    I made this cake; twice in one day. The carrot turned green in the first cake, which I learned is a sign of too much baking soda. I think I goofed and added two tsp soda to that batch as this is the first time to experience this chemical reaction in my baking. Just thought I’d share that. And the next cake turned out perfect; it was a gift for a birthday.

  25. Hi Sally,

    Just wondering why there is no baking powder used in your recipe.

  26. Tanya McNally says:

    I made this for my husband for Father’s Day since carrot cake is his favorite. It was delicious! The best homemade carrot cake recipe I have tried by far! Thank you so much!

  27. mycatsaysmawwhenhungry says:

    can this recipe be mixed with bananas so i could make a banana carrot cake?

  28. Hi Sally, I baked this cake yesterday and took it out of the oven at 30 minutes and tested it with a toothpick and it came out clean so I let it cool. We were so sad when we cut into it later and only the edges were cooked! Is there a better way to tell if it’s done for the future? Do you know why the toothpick would have come out clean even though it wasn’t cooked?

    1. Hi Amanda, the only thing I can think of is that the wet crumbs slid off the toothpick as you lifted it out of the center of the cake. This is a pretty thick cake and I find it takes closer to 38 minutes to fully cook through. (Of course all ovens vary.) Next time you can use the bounce back test– I explain it here (#8)!

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