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

690 Comments

  1. Hello! How should the cake be cooled in order to avoid the cake from drying out? (i.e. wrapping with cling wrap during cooling etc)

  2. I made this cake 2 days ago and it’s sooo good. I used 200 grams of carrots and 60 grams of shredded coconut that I had on hand. Baking time was a bit longer but the cake was oh so moist! Thanks for a great recipe.

  3. Hi sally!
    I just wanted you to know that I didn’t use a cake pan & the mix didn’t topple over . I enjoy & absolutely love all of your recipes

  4. Hi Sally!! I am making carrot cake petit fours and was wondering if this recipe would work for them. It looks delicious! My concern is if it would be too crumbly. I plan on putting them in the freezer then dipping them. What are your thoughts on this?

    1. I *think* that should work. Especially if they’re frozen before dipping. Please let me know how that goes– would love to try it sometime.

  5. this is my new go-to recipe! I’m known for my carott cakes, requests are frequent. But this one is hands down the best. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    BTW, I made it exactly as stated. No changes whatsoever.

  6. Hi Sally –
    I plan on making this cake for thanskgiving and you wrote that its best the next day would I just bake the cake and place in the refrigerator and frost the next day?

  7. Hi Sally,

    Just discovered your amazing website a couple of months ago. I absolutely love your recipes and have been trying out the cupcakes one by one.
    I would like to make a smaller carrot cake since I have a 18 Litres capacity oven. If I reduce the quantity of flour to 180 grams what would be the quantity of the other ingredients ?? Same question for your pineapple upside down cake.

    Thanks.
    Deepti

  8. Hi Sally!
    I absolutely love this recipe. I have made it several times (carrot cake is my husbands fav). I added a few extra ingredients but your base recipe is just amazing! Thank you for sharing it 🙂
    Sara

  9. Hi Sally,

    i love your recipes and already tried some of them. 🙂

    My next project is this carrot cake. Is it ok if I use whole wheat flour or spelt flour instead of all purpose flour?

    Thanks
    Wlada

    1. The cake will be extremely heavy and much too dense with either– I don’t suggest it unless you don’t mind that type of texture!

  10. I’m planning to make this cake for Christmas Eve. I will make it a day in advance per your instructions. Should I frost it when it is made or before serving? Also, is it best to store the cake in the fridge or out at room temperature overnight before serving? Thanks so much!

  11. Hi Sally,

    I would like to make this cake for christmas. Since I live in the Netherlands, I use the metric system. I noticed that the conversion from cups to grams in your recipe is not always the same (for instance: 1 cup of sugar is 200 grams but 2 cups of flour is 250 grams, while 2 cups of something else is 260 grams). Have you done this on purpose or should I be more consequent in converting the cup measurements into grams?

    Really hope you see this, because I want to bake the perfect cake with the right ratios 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Mandy

  12. After my boyfriend told me he loves carrot cake, I decided to search the web for an easy, delicious version. I was so happy to see the Google search have your website in the top 5. I’ve checked out your recipes before at the insistence of an American friend. The way you describe your foods, the way you make it seem so easy and the pictures totally made my tummy grumble and mouth water.

    I had to rough it a bit – the boyfriend is not in possession of a hand mixer. Nor did any grocery shop we went to have double cream. I did manage to get a spring-form cake tin and a spatula, though! But elbow-grease and finger-crossing seems to have prevailed. Another confusion was the metric/imperial systems, but luckily those weren’t too bad. Right now that beautiful cake is rising like a country sunrise, the whole house is smelling like cinnamon and nuts and I wish I could give you a hug to say thanks! This is the first recipe I’m trying of your website. But it will definitely NOT be the last!

  13. Fabulous recipe, came out moist and delicious and its like my 3rd time baking a cake. all those previous attempts turned out dry but this one is seriously good. Used blended baby carrots instead of grated ones though

  14. 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.

  15. Hello,

    I am currently making your carrot cake recipe as I type. But the problem that I am seeing is that the center comes out clean when I put the toothpick in, but on one side it isn’t getting done. Should I just stop the baking process and call it done, because it has been far over the 38 min mark for sure. By the way, I have a gas stove.

    Thanks so much!

    And lovely recipe so far, my apartment smells amazing!

    Aziza

  16. Sally! This is my second time baking a cake, and i appreciated this recipe soon much!! It’s funny that I noticed that you had a list of ingredients and step by step directions only now that I FINISHED that beauty xD It was anyways easy enough following all the explanations of why this is the MOISTest cake ever!
    I haven’t tried it yet, but it smells and looks delicious! I’ll be using more of your recipes definitely, you make them sound so scrumptious and tempting! Thank you again for posting this!

  17. I was wondering if it would work using shredded carrots instead of grating them myself. I’m curious because you mention grating into thin pieces however the bag of shredded carrots are reasonably thicker.

    1. Hi Cassandra, that is why I don’t recommend store-bought shredded carrots. They are a little dry and very coarse. Fresh grated is ideal.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe, my family was absolutely in love! They wanted to have it the next day for breakfast!!! Thank you thank, you it is just lovely!

  19. Hello,
    I absolutely adore how you talk about baking…makes we wanna jump right in my kitchen and start baking 🙂 I just wanted to leave a little tip for you to make this a little more healthy but offcourse without compromising the taste (but making it maybe even better if thats even possible). Instead of regular vegetable oil I used coconut oil and instead of all purpose wheat flour I used spelled flour (I hope that what it is called in english..I googled it 🙂 I am from Slovakia) The coconut oil will not add much different taste but the spelled flour makes everything taste a little more “nutty” I use it for everything now…especially pancakes get to a whole another level just by using this kind of flour…..
    Happy baking 🙂

  20. I just read about your Carrot cake, it sounds delious, I made one about 3 weeks ago, I also baked mine In 2 spring form pans. I used a 8 inches and a 6 inch, they both turned out great.. Since it was the first time making this cake, I was a little worried, because it was gluten free. I made it for my daughter-in- law. She shared it with her boss and office people.I love carrot cake,so was happy it turned out ok.. So now I am seeking recipes that are gluten free..if you run across any, please post them, for me..thank you so much..Happy baking….

  21. Hi Sally!

    First I just want to say that I have tried and loved most of your muffin and cookie recipes and they were amazing.

    I have never made a cake but I wanted to try this one for my mom for her bday last week. Unfortunately it didn’t go well.. I don’t know if its because I use a mini oven but the top of the cake was super brown and hard at the 20min mark but the rest of the cake was unbaked, especially the center even at 30 min. I’ve read about Aluminum Foil and how it helps, but at what minute mark should I use it?

    Hope you can help me since the rest of your recipes haven turned out great! 🙂

  22. Hi Sally, I am making this cake for a friend’s son’s birthday party- the party is Saturday I wanted to bake it Friday night. How would I store this? I will bake, cool, and frost it the night before. Thank you

    1. I saw it says to keep covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. I just don’t know how I feel about giving her a cold cake.

  23. Hi sally,
    I was wondering could I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour? Also would a cookie butter cupcake recipe be in the near future?

    1. Cake flour should be fine– I would add a Tablespoon or two extra. No need to sift it. Unsure about a cookie butter cupcake recipe. But it’s a great idea!

  24. Hi sally! I would like to know if the nutmeg is required. I cant find one in the supermarket. what can i use to replace it? Thanks 🙂

  25. Hi Sally,

    I have baked this wonderful cake twice and it tastes amazing but it always turns out so flat…it looks more like a tart than a cake, what could I be doing wrong?

    Thanks so much,

    Amanda xxx

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