The Ultimate Carrot Cake from Scratch

Yes, it takes extra time and a little work to make a carrot cake from scratch. Our step by step instructions tell you exactly what to do to create a luscious carrot cake that will wow the crowd.

With this recipe you can make a carrot cake with 2 thick layers or 3 thin layers. Just spread evenly between cake pans.

Garnish your carrot cake as you wish.

  • for a rustic look, generously frost between layers but leave the sides unfrosted
  • for the classic carrot cake look, frost the sides of the cake and press 2 c toasted finely shredded coconut around side (toast on cookie sheet in 350°F oven, shaking pan often, for 5-10 minutes)
  • an easy garnish is to sprinkle finely chopped walnuts on top
  • or {go big} and encircle top with 8-12 marzipan carrots, one for each slice

Ultimate Carrot Cake from Scratch

Luscious carrot cake that will blow their minds.

Carrot Cake

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 c finely grated carrots
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2/3 c canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ c unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c walnut pieces

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 c butter (at room temperature)
  • 16 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 c icing sugar
  • 2 tsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Put a 9″ round cake pan on parchment, trace a circle and cut out. (You will need 2 or 3 depending on how many cake pans you are using.) Place on bottom of pan and generously grease pan and parchment. This will make the cake turn out of the pan easier.

  2. Combine in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl.

  3. Whisk together sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until there are no lumps.

  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.

  5. Fold in grated carrots and walnuts. (If walnut pieces aren’t small enough, put them in a resealable bag, unzipped and roll with a rolling pin.)

  6. Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 

  7. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

  8. For the frosting: using a handheld or upright mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese for 3 minutes on medium. Add the icing sugar, cream and vanilla and beat on low until the sugar is incorporated, then beat on high until the icing is fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  9. Turn pan upside down and tap edges to turn cake out. Remove paper. Center one layer on a foil cake board, plate or cake stand. Use 1/3 of frosting for icing between layers. Spread a layer of frosting on layer. (If making 3 layered carrot cake, place another layer on top and frost.) Place remaining cake layer on top. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides. Garnish as you wish.

  10. Refrigerate cake for at least ½ hour before serving so it won’t be crumbly.

To store leftovers: Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

To freeze: Can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in refrigerator.

Add-ins: You can add any of the following to make a signature carrot cake.

  • Substitute pineapple tidbits for applesauce
  • Substitute pecans for walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup coconut


We provide nutritional information but these figures should be considered estimates as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.


Want more? See all of our carrot cake ideas.

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