Super Moist Carrot Cake

This one layer carrot cake is super moist, wonderfully spiced, and perfect for smaller gatherings and celebrations. Topped with sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans, it’s love at first bite.

Super Moist Carrot Cake by sallysbakingaddiction.com

While I love yellow cake, strawberry cake, and chocolate cake, nothing compares to carrot. There’s something simply magical about it– the texture! the flavor! the cream cheese frosting! Each bite is pure bliss and it will forever be my favorite kind of cake.

On my blog we’ve made a few variations of carrot cake including pineapple carrot cake, coconut carrot cake cupcakes, cheesecake swirl carrot Bundt cake, classic layered carrot cake, and today’s single layer carrot cake. Let’s get started!

The only carrot cake recipe you will ever need!

Why You’ll Love this One Layer Carrot Cake

  • Ultra moist
  • Perfectly spiced and so flavorful
  • Easy to prepare, no mixer required
  • Not too big– great for smaller gatherings
  • No complicated assembly or decorating
  • Topped with cream cheese frosting

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

Overview: How to Make One Layer Carrot Cake

Today’s recipe is pretty similar to my classic carrot cake— that one is a little larger (great for sharing) and I add ginger. You can certainly add ginger to this recipe, I recommend about 1/2 teaspoon. Both are incredibly moist and flavorful, everything a carrot cake should be!

  1. Mix the wet ingredients together. This includes brown sugar for sweetness, oil for moisture, a softer crumb, and flavor, yogurt for moisture, eggs to bind everything together, and vanilla extract for flavor. In my recipe testing, I found that brown sugar yields a much softer and more moist cake than when using granulated sugar. Plus, I love the taste that the molasses from the brown sugar adds.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together. All-purpose flour serves as the cake’s structure, baking soda helps the cake rise, cinnamon and nutmeg add warm, cozy flavor, and salt offsets the sweetness.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and all flour pockets are gone– do not overmix.
  4. Fold in the carrots and pecans. Make sure the carrots are finely shredded– you don’t want huge chunks of carrot in the batter. Carrots are a sweeter vegetable and act more as a sweetener than a flavoring agent. This cake does not taste like carrots! (Just like how my chocolate zucchini cake doesn’t taste like vegetables.) Pecan pieces are optional, but I can’t imagine carrot cake without them. They don’t stay crunchy inside the baked cake– instead, they soften up but still provide a nice texture against the cake’s crumb.
  5. Bake. Pour the cake batter into a 9 or 10 inch round springform pan. We need a large pan for all of this batter. A regular 9 or 10 inch cake pan is not big enough and the cake will overflow. This cake takes about 32-38 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Make the cream cheese frosting. I usually do this while the cake cools.
  7. Frost completely cooled cake. Slice and enjoy!

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

My #1 Baking Tip for Carrot Cake

My #1 tip for carrot cakes is to shred whole carrots at home. Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. You need about 3-4 large carrots for this recipe. And when you grate them, you’ll notice how wet they are. That is PRIME moisture for your baked cake and you don’t want to skip it!

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

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

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

Cream Cheese Frosting

It wouldn’t be carrot cake without a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top! We use the same cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake, pumpkin cake, and banana cake. It’s so smooth, tangy, and glides on the cake seamlessly. I call it spreadable cheesecake and it tastes unbelievable with this cake’s deep spice flavor.

Ingredients: You need block-style cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, a splash of heavy cream (or milk), vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. The salt helps offset the sweetness.

Frosting this cake requires minimal time and effort. Just spoon it onto the center of the cake and swirl it around– you could frost the sides but I chose not to. There is a lot of frosting, so layer it on nice and thick. Use toasted pecans, coconut, raisins, or even more shredded carrots to decorate!

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

Print
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slice of carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans

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 layered carrot cake recipe.

Keywords: carrot cake, one layer carrot cake

84 Comments

  1. Sally you are a genius!
    Just made this carrot cake (never made one before) and it turned out perfectly! Glad I picked an unhealthy recipe to fall in love with!
    Finally somewhere that gives recipes and they turn out how they’re supposed to!
    Thanks on behalf of me and my dinner party guests!

  2. This cake is PERFECT. Kudos! can I replace carrot with zucchini to make a super moist zucchini cake?

    1. You sure can. Zucchini would be a great sub. Enjoy, Ana!

  3. Katie Pedersen says:

    Okay, can I just say…SALLY!!!

    This cake is phenomenal. I have been wanting to make this cake for months & months for my mom’s 60th birthday & the day finally arrived. She LOVES carrot cake and I thought this recipe sounded excellent so I had to try it out. My siblings and I rented a lakehousein Washington state for the weekend and my dad helped to get her to the spot; she was completely surprised! We had dinner and alas, the cake. My golly, was it good. My brother is pretty much a complete food snob & he was raving! Everyone was. Anyone contemplating making this, do yourself a favor and go for it!

    Thank you so much for all that you do–I love your blog & I think that you are such a light! Thinking about making the gingerbread cupcakes you posted recently, and the pizza crust tonight. I am addicted. Your blog literally needs to be called Addicted to Sally’s Baking! Thanks again & Merry Christmas! 😀

  4. The carrot cake is definitely the best I have ever baked, and believe me, I have tried quite a few! Thank you very much for the recipe!

  5. Hi Sally, you are my new favorite baking addiction (and my husband’s as well!) This one in particular was his favorite. I made it on Thanksgiving, and since then I have literally made it at least 9 times. He devours it. Thank you so much!

  6. Hi Sally! This recipe looks ah-mazing and all the compliments have convinced me to make this for Easter this Sunday. One question, I was hoping to make the carrot cake in a bundt pan. Any thoughts on how that would effect cooking time? I don’t have a spring pan.

    1. Hey Tara! A Bundt pan would be fine – though the cake wouldn’t be very tall since the batter only makes a single layer cake. I’m unsure of the baking time. It may be a little longer.

  7. The very best cake I have ever had the pleasure of baking and eating in all of my 31 years. It’s soft but substantial, moist, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. It’s simply divine.

  8. Oh wow, this cake looks AMAZING and I’m dying to try it! On the cake pans-I do not have a springform and really wanted to make this into a cake and not cupcakes. I do, however, have a 9 inch round pan or a 9×9. Out of these which would you choose? Thanks so much!!

    1. I would go with a 9-inch pan and then only fill halfway. Use leftover batter to make cupcakes (17-18 minutes bake time).

  9. Sally, I want to make this cake this weekend but was hoping to also add some crushed pineapple. Do you have any suggestions for how much to add or if I should substitute or cut back on any other ingredients if I do?

    1. Hi Jules. Some readers have told me that they use 1.5 cups shredded carrots and 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup crushed pineapple. The bake is slightly longer and they seem to love it. I have never tried it this way before though.

  10. This looks so good! I want to make it for a friend’s birthday and wanted to follow your instructions to make it into a two layer cake, but just have one question–since we would only be filling the cake pans half way, should it be in the oven for less time or is the regular amount of time fine?

    Cant wait to try it!

    1. Yep! The bake time will be shorter. I am unsure of the exact time. Use a toothpick inserted in the center to determine doneness.

  11. Sally, this cake is INCREDIBLE! Thank you for all the recipes you share. All the ones I have tried have been amazing!

  12. Hi Sally,
    I was wondering if you knew if this recipe would work in a mini cupcake pan? I want to bring them for my family Easter dinner and thought the minis would be nice because often you don’t have much room left after turkey and ham dinner! We also have a lot of kids so thought that they would work well for them too. Anyways I would love to hear what you think.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Absolutely Jenny. I’m unsure of the bake time. I’d say around 8-11 minutes.

  13. Lorene Garnier says:

    Hi Sally,

    Do you think this cake would be dense enough to “build” an Easter bunny cake with? It involves cutting it in several pieces and holding it together with frosting.

    Thank you!!

    1. That should work. Sounds cute!

  14. Hi Sally! Can i substitute carrots with apples? 

    1. Sure can!

  15. Hi Sally! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I’m just wondering what’s the baking time if I want to make this into loaf? Thank in advance

    1. Hi Rizzy! Anywhere between 55-75 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Long gap of time with big loaves! Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  16. Hi,
    I was wondering if adding plain greek yogurt will make the cake bitter? Should I use vanilla Greek yogurt instead? Also, which do you think gives the cake the best flavor-Greek yogurt, sour cream, or apple sauce?

    1. You can use either plain or vanilla. I usually use plain but there isn’t much taste difference in this recipe and the plain will not taste bitter at all!

  17. How do I make this recipe on a 9×13 sheet pan? What is the temp. and duration of baking time?

    1. Hi Rina, For a 9×13 pan I recommend following this recipe (and see the notes at the end of the recipe for directions for a 9×13 pan): https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/my-favorite-carrot-cake-recipe/

  18. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering what are the differences from your Super Moist Carrot Cake, My Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe, and the Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes? They have different ingredients though. Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Nikol! This is a great question. All of the carrot cake recipes are pretty similar with regards to their taste and texture. All super moist! I add a little more spice to the carrot layer cake and coconut to the cupcakes. My usual favorite (and the one I make all the time!) is my favorite carrot cake, the layered one.

  19. I have a wheat allergy, but find I can tolerate a good quality spelt flour, so I used 1cup of spelt, and the rest a gluten free mix, the cake is perfect thank you

  20. Hi sally what can you substitute for yogurt, what will happen if i will not add yogurt, can i use milk instead? Thank you

    1. Hi Wilma! Sour cream or unsweetened applesauce work as a fine replacement for the yogurt. I do not recommend milk.

  21. Hi Sally, I would like to freeze this cake as making ahead of time (2 weeks) for my dads birthday. He has requested Carrot cake. He doesn’t like cheese or even cream cheese plus I want to ice a sea scene on top! Can you freeze or would I need to omit the yoghurt if doing so? Also hoping it will be firm enough to hold a thin layer of royal icing. Wondering if I need a firmer carrot cake recipe but yours sounds amazing!

    1. Yes, you can freeze the cake. This is exactly how I freeze my cakes.

  22. My favorite! I also made gluten free version with gluten free flour mix, just need to add some more yoghurt.

  23. Hello sally! I want to make this carrot cake but what is the different between this recipe and pineapple carrot cake recipe? Is the pineapple carrot cake as moist as this one?
    And, if i want to substitute this cake recipe into cupcake recipe, should i change anything? Thank you so much! Have a great day!

    1. Hi Kamila, My Pineapple Carrot Cake is even more moist! The pineapple acts as a wet ingredient keeping the cake extra tender. You can use it to make cupcakes: Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20-22 minutes.

  24. Very moist, very yummy, excellent!!!

  25. I baked this cake the other day and it was fantastic!! Moist and delicious. It was do good, I baked 2 more and have them yo people who couldn’t get out. Thanks for sharing!!

  26. Really amazing cake..all went in one day !!

  27. I tried this recipe, and the cake came out super moist as the name describes it. Loved it so much will be making again for Easter, and will also try out the other cake and bread recipes!

  28. Hi Sally!
    I’ve made this cake many times and absolutely love it!
    Which of your carrot cake recipes would you recommend for adapting to bake in a loaf pan to bake a carrot cake loaf?
    And any suggestions on baking time or how to best adjust the recipe to fit a loaf pan?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ness, I’m so happy you enjoy this cake! I have not tested any of my carrot cakes 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.

  29. This cake is in the oven as I type this! It’s the only one my husband ever wants on his birthday (which is tomorrow!) I suspect this old favorite will taste even more comforting in these scary and unknown times. Thanks for helping me make by hubby’s birthday special every year!

  30. Hi Sally – what is the difference in flavor profile between this recipe and your triple layer ‘My Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe’? I made the triple layer recipe last year for Easter and it was AMAZING. But sadly it will just be my immediate family of 4 for Easter this year and that will be too much cake. This cake appeared to make less… so I was debating between this recipe or just halfing the triple layer cake and making on layer. Thanks!
    Lara

    1. Hi Lara! They taste pretty similar in both spice flavor and texture. The layered carrot cake is obviously larger, but also has a little ginger. I love that addition!

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