The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

5 from 3 votes

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This is the BEST carrot cake recipe, and so simple to make for any easy spring time (or anytime!) dessert. It’s moist and rich with the warm spiced flavor you love in carrot cake.

carrot cake on white cake stand next to slices of carrot cake on two round white plates with plaid pastel napkin
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If you love carrot cake then you have to give this easy recipe a try for your Easter celebration … or any celebration, for that matter! You could also try my Carrot Cake Roll Recipe , or these Whole Grain Carrot Cake Pancakes if you love carrot cake as much as I do!

Table of Contents

The Story Behind this Recipe:

Happy Easter! I have a recipe that my dad loves and we have been talking about for over a year to share with the world. My dad volunteered for two years as a missionary for our church, and during that time the local members at the church he volunteered at would often feed the missionaries. At the end of the two years, this is the only recipe he brought home. Yes, it is that good!

The story starts in 1980 in Northern Nevada in the town of Gardnerville, where Barbara and her husband invited the missionaries over for dinner one night. After dinner was over, she brought out dessert, and after one bite my dad fell in love. He asked what it was, and she said carrot cake. He couldn’t believe it … these were the best carrots he ever had!

He asked for the recipe, and Barbara hand wrote it out and told him the story how she got the recipe. Oh, yes, the story gets better as we go. On a trip many years earlier, Barbara and her husband were in one of the big cites on the east coast of the U.S. (Dad thinks it was New York City.) One evening, they went out to dinner at a big fancy restaurant, and Barbara got carrot cake for dessert. Yes, this carrot cake!

She loved it so much, she asked to talk to the head chef. He came to their table, and she told him how good it was and how much she loved it, and she said she wondered if she could get the recipe. To her delight, he said yes, and soon she had the recipe in hand. As they went to pay for their meal when leaving that evening, they noticed the bill was 4 or 5 times higher then they thought it should be. That is when she noticed there was a charge for the recipe. The recipe was not free … she had to pay for it!  She did pay for it, and has enjoyed ever since.

Enjoy this favorite recipe from my dad, at no charge. I hope you love it as much as our family does!


For the Cake:

  • Canola or vegetable oil: Oil adds the moistness to the cake that makes it divine.
  • Eggs: Eggs help the cake to rise.
  • Granulated sugar: Sugar sweetens the cake.
  • Applesauce (unsweetened preferred): Applesauce adds another element of moisture. You could use all oil and no applesauce, but I think it’s too oily then.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla adds a touch of warmth.
  • Flour: Flour gives the cake the bread-y texture
  • Baking powder and baking soda: Baking powder and soda help the cake to rise.
  • Ground cinnamon: Cinnamon brings a touch of warm spice.
  • Salt: Salt balances the other flavors.
  • Grated carrots: Carrots are what make this cake, carrot cake! They are shredded to be easily incorporated to the cake.
  • Raisins and chopped walnuts, optional: These add a little more texture and sweetness if you’d like.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese: Cream cheese frosting is SO good, and the cream cheese adds a little bit of salty, cheesiness to bring down the sweetness.
  • Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter makes it extra rich and thick.
  • Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is what sweetens the frosting and makes it velvety.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla give the frosting a warming flavor.
carrot cake with slice missing sitting on white cake stand with two slices of cake on round white plates on white surface with forks

Frequently Asked Questions:

What makes this the best carrot cake?

This carrot cake is so moist thanks to the combination of oil and applesauce used in the batter. It has those warm flavors from the vanilla and cinnamon, while the carrot gives it a nice spongey texture. I love this frosting too, because it’s rich, creamy, and sweet with subtle hints of nuttiness from the cream cheese.

How do you store carrot cake?

This cake is best enjoyed right away for within 24 hours. If making the night before, store on a cake platter with a cover in the fridge. Serve chilled or set out to let it come to room temperature an hour before serving.

More Cake Recipes to Consider:

slices of carrot cake taken from the 2 tier cake
5 from 3 votes

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This is the BEST carrot cake recipe, and so simple to make for a delicious spring time (or anytime!) dessert. It’s moist and rich with the warming spiced flavor you love in carrot cake.
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 19 minutes
Servings: 16


For the Cake:

  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots, (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 8- ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray the paper and the sides of the pans well with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the oil and eggs and whisk together well.
  • Add the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla, and stir well until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt over the top of the flour. Stir to combine.
  • Fold in the carrots and the raisins and/or nuts, if using.
  • Pour the batter into the two prepared pans, and smooth the tops with a spatula.
  • Bake in the hot oven until the cake is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool. Allow to cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then run a knife around the outside and invert onto the wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan and then peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Repeat with remaining cake.
  • Let the cake cool fully, about an hour, before frosting.
  • When you are ready to make the frosting, add the cream cheese and the butter to the bowl of your stand mixer or to a large mixing bowl. Beat well with the whisk attachment or with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and roughly half of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat until well combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar, and beat to combine.
  • Keep beating an extra 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • To assemble the cake, place one of the cakes, top side down, on a serving platter. Spread 1/3 cup-or-so of the frosting on top of the cake, spreading it evenly to cover the whole top of the cake.
  • Place the second cake on top of the first with the flat bottom facing up.
  • Spread the rest of the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  • Serve the day you make it or store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.


  1. I LOVE this cake. The original recipe called for all oil instead of a combo of oil and applesauce like I have made it. I like the applesauce so much; it’s just not quite as oily and still has the same moist and rich texture you are looking for.
  2. If adding raisins, I like to soak them in 2 cups of hot water for 10 minutes before draining well and adding to the cake. It makes their texture a lot better in my opinion.


Serving: 1 of 16 slices, Calories: 495kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 245mg, Potassium: 194mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 46g, Vitamin A: 4464IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Sierra says:

    5 stars
    Made this for Easter and it was a total hit. Everyone was swooning over it and they all begged for the recipe!

  2. Natasha Rogers says:

    5 stars
    I am a big fan of carrot cake and this is one of the best I’ve ever made!! It is moist, flavorful, and the salty frosting is amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe!