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

693 Comments

  1. Hi  there- any thoughts on how to make this an ice cream cake? I found a recipe on crazyforcrust.com (I think you commented on her recipe as well!) but would like to use your carrot cake recipe and her ice cream recipe. Would your cake freeze well if I followed her steps to assemble the cake?
    thanks…trying to make this weekend for my hubby and brother’s birthdays…

  2. This is the best carrot cake i’ve ever tried.. Super super moist and heaven in my mouth. Thanks a lot Sally, you’re an inspiration to new bakers like me 🙂

  3. Looking forward to making this cake tonight for my housemate’s birthday tomorrow! Quick question – will the recipe still work out if I eliminate the nuts? Thank you x

    1. I tried it without the nuts and it worked! So decadent and succulent! My other adaptations include: 
      Omit nuts. 
      Add 1 tsp ground ginger. 
      Add pinch ground cloves. 
      Add 1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest to the frosting. 
      Sift all the dry ingredients together a few times. 

      This will be my go-to carrot cake recipe from now on, thank you so much! 🙂

  4. I made this cake yesterday and it came out very moist and smooth as described! I just followed the measurements and instructions and the only change I made is added broken cashews pieces instead of pecans and a dash of ginger powder to the batter!

  5. I would like to make this into a double layer cake and I’m wondering what adjustments I would need to make to the recipe. I know you have a different recipe for a double layer but I like this version best. Will I have enough batter for two round pans and how long will they take to cook?

  6. Just made this for my Dad’s birthday! His favorite cake..is it just me or is there something about dad’s and carrot cake?  Seems like most dads I know say it’s their fave.  I made it with gluten free flour (Domata) so my hubs can eat it, and baked it in a 10×10 for 25 minutes.  We haven’t even tried it yet but just had to say it looks amazing and the frosting is so creamy and rich but still light and fluffy!  Thanks for the recipe!!  The other recipe I had used jarred baby carrot food…..meh.  SUPER excited about this having real carrots!  

  7. It turned out great! Only thing I wish I knew was how much yogurt to add and the amount of raisins to put in, I guesstimated but was mildly concerned about how much yogurt to add

  8. Hi Sally,

    Thanks for sharing! Was just wondering if i can make this a 2 layer 6 inch cake without adjusting any of the measurements? Thank you 🙂

  9. I made this cake today .. After reading the comments , I set the timer to 1 hour ..however at 35th minute mark it was done with no wet spots.

    Bit confused with measurements where 1 cup is 200 gms and 2 cups is 260 gms.. to avoid confusion followed the cup measurement where 1 cup is 250 gms.

    perfect cake ever . moistest cake .. melting in mouth 🙂 

  10. I have cream cheese frosting all over my computer and I could not be happier about it. I’m making this as cupcakes for my mom’s birthday tomorrow (carrot cake lover) and added a little dollop of frosting in the middle and topped it off with more cake. Hope it comes out okay! Just peeked in at 11 minutes and they are looking good! =D =D =D

  11. Hi Sally. What four can i use from UK? We have plain or self raising? And is baking powder the same as.baking soda? 

    Thank you! Making this for husbands birthday! 

    1. Debbie- use plain flour. And here are the differences between BP and BS: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/06/11/baking-powder-vs-baking-soda/

  12. Hi Sally

    I just can’t thank you enough for sharing this wonderful recipe. I tried this out today without the frosting. Though I am not an ardent fan of carrot cake, I thought of making it for my husband who is very fond of carrot cakes. There were few changes from the original recipe like I used white sugar instead of brown, sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil and I did not have pecans so I used the raisins generously and added very very little walnuts. Plus I did not do the frosting as I did not want to feel more guilty while having it. My bake ware was also different from what you had suggested. Anyhow my cake was kept in the oven for like 30 minutes and it came out very well. It’s super moist and great even without the frosting. Everyone loved it here. Next time I will try the frosting as well. Thanks a ton. Would definitely check more recipes of yours and try them too. 

  13. In Australia, 2 cups of flour is 300g, however carefully it is measured. Can you confirm that the flour measurement in the carrot cake is 250g, which is about about 1 and 2/3 cups.

    1. 1 cup of properly measured all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled) weighs 125g or 4 and 1/2 ounces. So, 250g total for this cake.

  14. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was great. I hate carrots so this is the only way I can eat them. Do you know how the frosting would turn out if you put only 1 cup of sugar? I like to have less sugar but am afraid of screwing up the fluffiness. Thanks in advance.

  15. Hi Sally love your creations! I was looking at your carrot cake recipe and u mentioned grating up almost a whole 14 0z bag of carrots….that’s close to 1 pound ( 16 oz)but in the ingredient listing it shows 260 gms (which is much less than 1 pound) can u clarify in weight how much grated carrot I should use? My normal recipe uses about 2 cups packed grated carrot and I pack it in…but don’t weigh it….Maybe I should do the same thing here perhaps?

  16. Hi Sally! 
    Love this recipe, it looks great and super moist, which is amazing. So, i would like to bake this in the near future but i would like to adapt it into a 6 inch cake pan because i would like to make a layer cake but not the larger kind. What should i do to keep the loveliness of this cake if i changed the size of the pan? 

    Thanks a bunch!! 

    1. I’m not sure! Will you be using two 6 inch pans? Because it won’t all fit into one 6 inch pan. I’m sure of the bake time in the smaller pan if making two.

      1. I don’t think I’ll do it in a 6 inch pan, maybe an 8 inch pan hahaha. How about that? I can’t wait to try this recipe!! Already bought some yogurt and walnuts for this recipe 😀

  17. Hi Sally! Amazing recipe, the cake is heavenly! 
    Might I suggest sprinkling coconut flakes on the cake as an alternative to the icing  (as mine came out a little too runny so I decided to just pour it manually on each slice), if you use coconut oil to make it the flakes just compliment it and all the spices YUMMMMM

    Love this site!

  18. Amazing!  Completely moist!  I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and it was perfect. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. 

  19. Hey,
    I tried your super moist carrot cake recipe today…It came out really soft and yummy…Thank you very much.
    I have tried many recipes before.My carrot cake has never been so soft like this. I think the yogurt did the magic this time. Also adding brown sugar to the recipe makes it really tasty..Sometimes before I tried a recipe for banana muffins with yogurt. The result was awesome..Thanks once again for the awesome recipe..Keep motivating us.Happy Christmas in Advance.

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