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. 

Print

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

692 Comments

  1. YUM..my husband loves carrot cake,in fact that was the cake he requested for his groom’ s cake at our wedding five years ago. He will devour this for sure.

    1. I love that he had carrot cake as his groom cake! It’s definitely a favorite cake of mine, no doubt about it. Thanks AmyRene!

  2. My family is full of carrot cake lovers. I make it often. Moist is always better to me, nice and spicy with cinnamon (I love it and put it in so many things!), and cream cheese frosting is the icing on…well…the lovely carrot cake! Toasted nuts are the ultimate garnish for this cake…that toasty crunch with that creamy, tangy frosting is the BEST. I love the addition of the yogurt, too. Looks like a winning recipe to me!

    1. spicy with cinnamon – yes! toasted nuts – yes! And the frosting is always necessary, too. I’m so glad you all love carrot cake as much as we do! This cake was so easy to make too – which can be dangerous. I see a lot of it in my future 🙂 Thanks Marcie!

  3. Sally, I’m so impressed that you hand grated baby carrots. Now THAT is dedication! this cake is awesomely overloaded with moist, sweet, tender goodness. It’s appropriate for breakfast too, right?

    1. I wanted extra moist carrots, so baby was the way to go! Thanks Erin. And yes, I may have snuck a taste for breakfast last Friday… 😉

  4. Mmmm….I love carrot cake! And I love that your recipe includes yogurt. I love how moist it makes baked goodies.

    1. Same here, Regina! I try to add yogurt to a lot of my baked goods. It cuts the fat a little bit but still retains so much moisture.

  5. Yum! I love carrot cake and it’s often hard to find a recipe that’s moist but not too most (you know, the kind that makes you feel like it leaves oil on your hand). I can’t wait to try this out!

    1. Exactly, Anne! Moist, but not “wet” or falling apart on the plate. This cake holds its shape very well and no oily residue!

  6. It’s beautiful and I love hearing how and why you did what you did with it – from the oil/butter to the sugar decisions, to grating carrots finely to the spices. To the…FROSTING! Yes, that’s where it’s at with carrot cake (or okay any cake!). For you to say it doesn’t even truly need it, that’s saying something!

    I love the carrot cake loaf I made a month or so ago; it truly captured everything I wanted it to capture but now, I want to try your cake! It’s very ambitious to post a cake recipe for all the reasons we’ve talked about – and you nailed this one on every level 🙂

  7. I have been searching for a super moist carrot cake! (I’ve decided you’re the Queen of brown sugar.) I love how you added the extremeness of moist ingredients. Truly making a difference compared to regular carrot cake. But then again, THIS is no regular carrot cake! (=

    1. Hey Gloria! You are just so sweet. I adore all of your comments – they are always appreciated. And I love using brown sugar when I can. So much more flavor, depth, aroma, and moisture with brown sugar. Love the stuff!

  8. I love carrot cake, it has been on my must make list for a while. Your recipe looks amazing and so moist and delicious! This would be so perfect for serving at a Sunday Brunch.

  9. I love your blog so much Sally! It’s not just the pictures and the recipes, it’s the way you describe everything in detail and how I feel like I REALLY learned something after each and every one of your posts. You are seriously amazing. I admire you so much.

    1. Wow, Mimi! That really means a lot to me. Thank you so much for saying that you learn new things just by reading. I learn new things just by experience in the kitchen, so it is fun to share with you!

  10. What is it about dads and carrot cake?! It’s both my dad’s and my roommate’s dad’s favorite and therefore birthday cake of choice every year! Since his birthday is just around the corner, I’ve started craving carrot cake and looking for a delicious new recipe; this post has answered my prayers! Thanks Sally!

    1. Hey Chelsea! I’m pretty sure that all dads LOVE carrot cake. 🙂 I’m so glad this post came at the perfect time for you – please let me know how you and your dad like it!

  11. Oh Sally, would it be totally weird if I moved in next door to you so I could eat all of the deliciousness you make?! I love carrot cake so much! And you can keep the baking science lessons coming! I desperately need them, lol!

    1. That is so nice of you to say, Stephanie! I will keep posting everything I learn in the kitchen, don’t you worry! =)

  12. I absolutely LOVE carrot cake, and this looks so delicious! It’s one of my hubby’s favorites as well, so this is going to be my next baking project. Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  13. Carrot Cake is one of this things I really want to like! But I’ve always had cake on the dry side or with pineapple (yuck), so I’ve stayed away. But I like that this cake 1. doesn’t have pineapple and 2. uses yogurt! You’ve convinced me to give carrot cake another chance!

    1. I prefer carrot cake without pineapple too Tanya. And the addition of yogurt is fabulous. It adds moisture without adding even more fat. I love that! Thanks so much.

  14. ooooh boy! my daughter and i are heading to siesta key next week for 10 days of fun in the sun. maybe i’ll make this for my hubs before we leave since he will be staying in chilly wisconsin:)

    1. I think he would love this carrot cake since he won’t be joining you on that wonderful vacation! Have so much fun!

  15. Mmm, this cake looks moist and delicious. I’m such a nerd; I love the science behind baking. The chemistry and the way things piece together intrigues me. I’m currently reading Bakewise to improve my baking chemistry in the kitchen. This post was a pleasure to read. Thanks, Sally!

  16. We love carrot cake! This reminds me that I need to make it again soon. I love the fact that you used Greek yogurt in your recipe – what a fantastic way to add some moisture and prevent the cake from drying out. I still can’t believe you said that this cake didn’t need any frosting. It’s gotta be a phenomenal cake for you to say that! 🙂

  17. Although your pictures are making me question myself, we don’t like carrot cake in our house! Good thing because I want to make the mint chocolate chip cheesecake brownies and the cake batter chocolate chip cookies! Catch up time:)

  18. I’m gonna be honest… I’m not a carrot cake fan. BUT this post makes me want to go out and buy some baby carrots and make a dang carrot cake.

    And I LOVE the line, “And PS: the word “moist” should not send you running for the hills. It’s just a word!”

  19. This looks SO good…I can’t wait to try it!

    If you were to add raisins, how much would you add? Would you do both pecans AND raisins, or just the raisins? I think it would be yummy with both!

    1. Hey Michelle! I noted that in the recipe card – *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.

  20. I have been really craving carrot cake lately and I love how straight forward this one is Sally! It sounds perfect!

  21. You had me at carrot cake and then omg I don’t even know where my mind went after that….so much deliciousness is happening I may swoon in excitement. I will even overlook how much the word moist grosses me out lol because you’re right – cakes should totally be moist. 😀

  22. Oh my, this looks SO good, Sally! Who doesn’t love a good (moist) carrot cake and cream cheese frosting! I’m in the mood for cake now…

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