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

690 Comments

  1. Hi Sally!!

    So keen to try this…was wondering if this recipe could be used for cupcakes or would it be too heavy?

    xx

  2. So. In the past two weeks my husband has come home with 3 bags of organic carrots. And…don’t get me wrong…I like carrots and all, but…really? lol

    My 17 year old son looked at all of those carrots sitting in the fridge and stated: “You need to bake a carrot cake.”

    And here I am at my favorite baking blog! Let’s get to er and bake me a carrot cake! 🙂

  3. Hi,
    Just wanted to tell you how awesome this recipe is (I know you already know that, but it’s so……AWESOME!!)
    I’ve always HATED carrot cake until now….This cake did not last a day in my house. Thanks so much!!!

  4. I just wanted to let you know I really liked how this recipe turned out!! But a topping for carrot cake like this that would go really well.

  5. Hey Sally! This recipe looks amazing. I can’t finde pecans where I live (at least not easily). What would you suggest instead? Thank you!

  6. Hello Sally! I have just used your carrot cake recipe and Oh My goodness it taste amazinggggg…. honestly the BEST cake that I have ever made. Thank you, thank you! I look forward to following more of your recipes.

    Cheers,
    Dana

  7. Hi Sally,
    If I wanted to make this into a layered 9 inch cake would I double the recipe? Also, I just want to say I LOVE your recipes and use them all the time! They are my go to-s and never disappoint, so thank you!

  8. haha, I love your breakdown of baking science! Though noone else I know seems to like carrot cake I always have and I might have to make this just for me! I’ve never made it before because I’m always worried about shredding my veggies too thin/thick and messing up the whole cake. Do you have any advice for this?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Sydney

  9. This recipe is amazing! I made this today and it was such a very yummy cake and a very smooth icing to pair it with… I love everything about your site and I really follow all ingredients and instructions carefully and they all came out well. Thank you for your recipes! I already bookmarked those that I want to bake and oh boy it’s almost 80% of the site and I can’t decide which one to make first I want to make them all!!!

  10. Hey Sally – should I fill the cupcake liners only halfway with batter for cupcakes? And should I double the frosting or is the written amount enough?

  11. Hey Sally.. I’ve been trying to make carrot cake for the longest time and haven’t got myself to baking one. It was my mum’s birthday yesterday and I baked one using your recipe. I also added grated apples and almonds instead of pecans. The cake was super tasty and so moist. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. My mum LOVED the cake and so did everyone else at home.
    I have just started a new food blog and am just 3 weeks old. If you can do check out my blog and let me know what you think as I could really benefit from your experience and expertise.
    Thanks once again for helping make my mums birthday extra special.
    Sarah

  12. Hi Sally, thank you for the carrot cake recipe. I just made it. I baked it in an 8″ pan n got a wonderful height. I added walnuts instead of pecans. I wish I cud send it across to you to know your honest feedback. I tasted a small piece while still warm and tastes gd. Waiting for my hubby to return from wrk. Hope he loves it.
    God bless you and may you succeed in all you do.

  13. Oh Sally forgot to mention that it took almost 1 hr to bake at 180 C. I did check after 35 mins n it was soft in d center. Mine is a gas oven. Nevertheless result achieved.

  14. Dear Sally! I just prepared your receipt. It was fantastic! I think that less sugar would be good in the cake. (I used cane sugar.) I tried with raisins and young carrots, therefore the cake is well moisty and needs long cooking… Delitious, waiting for my parents to arrive and taste it… 🙂 Thank you, Kati

  15. Omg Sally !!! This carrot cake is sooooooooo delish. Can’t even find the words… I made 12 muffins and holy moly, so moist, so …perfect ? 10000 times better than any store bought or restaurant recipe.

    Thank you so much for, yet again, a GREAT recipe.
    :-):-)

  16. Jambo Sally,

    Greeting from Kenya, my family and friends love love love your carrot cake recipe, and so do i of course. Always have to make three different cakes, one with nuts and raisins, one with just nuts and one with neither nuts or raisins. they all turn out rather tasty.Looking forward to trying out the rest of your recipes and let you know how they go possible pics of us on safari enjoying the sweet treats. 🙂 nom nom nom nom nom

    1. Hi Vivian,
      I have been trying this carrot cake and whereus it is very delicious, it does get heavy. I have not been adding the nutmeg and pecan pieces. Maybe we can meet up for baking. I am in Naiorbi Kenya

  17. This carrot cake was delicious!! I served it at a family party…what a crowd pleaser! Thanks Sally! 🙂

    P.S.- I used a bundt pan to bake this in (I didn’t have a springform pan) and it actually worked great!

  18. Hi Sally! Congratulations! Hope you enjoy your honeymoon and live many more happy years with your husband. When you get back from your honeymoon, I would like to know if you could help me with the cream cheese frosting. I made the basic pumpkin cupcakes which are delicious! My issue was with the cream cheese frosting which turned out too thin. I added about 2 more cups of confectionary sugar to make it thicker as you indicated in the recipe but it didn’t work. I thought it was the temperature in my kitchen that made it too thin so I put the frosting in the fridge for an hour. When I took it out, it was still too thin. I added about 4 teaspoons of corn starch to see if it would thicken and it didnt work. What could I do to make this frosting thicker please? I look forward to trying many more of your recipes.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Dimitra. How about leaving out the heavy/cream milk in the frosting recipe. That will help tremendously! Are you using full fat cream cheese, too? Make sure it is full fat – nice and thick cream cheese.

      1. Hi Sally! Thanks for responding! I used 1/3 fat cream cheese to cut some calories. Next time i will use the full fat cream cheese. I’m an inexperienced baker so I didn’t think it would make a difference. Thanks for your help!

  19. Hi Sally,

    I have been following your awesome blog for quite a while. I made this carrot cake just yesterday. Made it at night, and skipped the frosting. It was my first time making a carrot cake and I was apprehensive! Hence, I halved the recipe and made cupcakes.

    I couldn’t resist but to eat one when the cupcakes were ready and was disappointed when it did not meet my expectations. However, I tried one this morning (without frosting) and what can I say, it was lip-smacking-ly good! The cupcakes were incredibly moist and flavourful and just delicious on its own! Even my colleagues whom I shared my cupcake with couldn’t believe that it was my first attempt at baking a carrot cupcake!

    Thank you for the awesome recipe! I was trawling through your collection of recipes and has already bookmarked the chocolate cupcake for this weekend!

    P/S: Just one quick question though, is it possible to bake the carrot cake in a loaf pan?

    1. I always wait until the next day to enjoy – so glad you love them Jasmine! This recipe would wonderfully in a loaf pan. Fill it 2/3 of the way full. Any extra batter, make a couple cupcakes (20 minute bake time for cupcakes). I am unsure of the bake time for the loaf.

  20. Hi Sally,
    I want to make this recipe into mini cupcakes.can u pls help me with the timings n temp.also is it possible to make it eggless as this recipe is for diwali(festival in India).

  21. 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.

      1. i decided to make the recipe as written (why mess with perfection). I did cut the cake in half to make it a 2 layer and the frosting amout was perfect. This cake was awesome! I’ve never made a carrot cake before and it was so easy. I like that you show the ingredients in grams too as I have a kitchen scale and I think it helps to get the measurements correct.

  22. Hi Sally!
    I plan on baking this cake tonight for my boyfriends birthday tomorrow. I couldn’t find heavy cream, but managed to find whipping cream. Would I need to add more/less of this to get the correct texture/flavoring?

    1. Abby, heavy cream and whipping cream are very similar, the only different being the fat percentage. What you are using is just fine.

      1. Thanks Sally! I just got it in the oven to bake! 🙂 So excited to see the turn out. I used store bought shredded carrots and then just chopped them as fine as I could. Hoping it turns out as well as shredding the baby carrots. 🙂

  23. If I’m reading the recipe correctly it calls for 1cup of sugar!
    Not sweet at all. I think it could benefit from some extra sugar!
    But this is nothing a sweet frosting can’t fix or compliment.
    Thank you Sally cake is ver moist

  24. Best cake ever! Just made it now, and it was absolutely delish. Thanks for the recepie will defiantly use it again. Xxx 🙂

  25. Hi Sally,

    Yesterday i made your super moist carrot cake recepe and it turned out delicious! It was the best i’ve ever tasted:) I live in holland and it’s hard to find a really good carrot cake, that taste the same as i’ve tasted in New York.
    I just wanted to thank you and i think my family and friends are also gratefull you’ve put this recepe on your website!

    Thank you from the Netherlands, Ilona.

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