Moist Carrot Cake

This moist carrot cake recipe has been a long time coming. In the past, whenever I was asked to make a carrot cake, I used a very traditional carrot cake recipe.

Most classic or Southern carrot cake recipes include shredded coconut, chopped walnuts or pecans, and crushed pineapple.

Some even included raisins (gross, I know). But you know what?! I never have any of those ingredients on hand.

Getting all the ingredients from the grocery store felt like a chore. Which got me thinking, do I even like nuts and coconut in my carrot cake? Not really.

image of slice of carrot cake, frosted with cream cheese frosting

What Ingredients Really Gives Carrot Cake Its Flavor?

Most of the delicious flavor we associate with carrot cake comes from the spices that are added into the batter.

Ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and cinnamon are the dominant flavors in most carrot cake recipes. Some recipes also call for molasses or brown sugar, which pairs so well with these warm spices.

While the additional ingredients do add to the texture of the cake, I don’t really love the mouth feel they create.

image of decorated carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting

My Carrot Cake Modifications

If these spices create the carrot cake flavor that I know and love, why do I have to include those other ingredients I don’t even like? Why can’t a carrot cake recipe be a bit simpler, or have less ingredients?

That was when I took a step back, and realized I needed to come up with a new carrot cake recipe. A moist, delicious carrot cake recipe that was nut-free (my husband is severely allergic!).

It would use ingredients I actually had in my pantry. It also could be made without using a stand mixer. Yup, this carrot cake recipe comes together in one bowl.

unfrosted carrot cake, stacked and filled

What Makes This Carrot Cake So Moist?

There are three ingredients in this recipe that make it super moist. The first is the massive amount of carrots this recipe uses!

It uses an entire pound of shredded carrots. The water from all the carrots turns into steam as the cake batter bakes, which creates an amazing texture.

I am a maniac and shred them by hand on a microplane grater, but I highly recommend shredding them with a food processor or a kitchenaid attachment.

This cake recipe also uses oil as the fat instead of butter. This adds moisture to the recipe. It also allows you to mix the carrot cake batter by hand, without a stand mixer.

The final ingredient that makes this carrot cake so moist is buttermilk!

I love baking with buttermilk, and felt like this recipe needed a bit. Buttermilk adds a wonderful tang, and also adds…you guessed it! More moisture ๐Ÿ™‚

carrot cake slice frosted with cream cheese buttercream, with decorated carrot cake in background

Tips for Making the Best Carrot Cake:

  • Use a microplane grater to shred your carrots into super fine pieces! It’s a bit of extra work, but it gives the cake an amazing texture
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated; this will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use aย kitchen scaleย to measure your dry ingredients
  • Use aย serrated knifeย to level your cake layers once theyโ€™re fully cooled, to make it easier to assemble and frost your cake

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try my moist carrot cake recipe, Iโ€™d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment ๐Ÿ™‚

Also please tag me @chelsweets, and use the #chelsweets on social media so that I can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Moist Carrot Cake

carrot cake slice frosted with cream cheese buttercream, with decorated carrot cake in background

This carrot cake recipe is made in one bowl, and is super moist! One batch makes three, 8-inch cake layers, and is decorated with a delicious cream cheese buttercream frosting.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

Carrot Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup canola oil, or any flavorless oil (224 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4 grams)
  • 2 tsp baking soda (12 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature (336 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature (114 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)
  • 1 lb of carrots, finely grated (roughly 2 1/2 cups, about 450 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (7 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (1 gram)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (< 1 gram)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (678 grams) - 4 sticks
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (225 grams or 8 oz.)
  • 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)
  • green and orange gel food coloring

Instructions

Carrot Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch or three 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil until combined.
  3. Add in the eggs, 2 at a time. Stir until the batter is smooth.
  4. Mix in the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves), scraping the sides of the bowl while mixing.
  5. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the batter, and mix in.
  6. Add half of the flour, and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over mix!
  7. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.
  8. Mix in the remaining flour. Once the ingredients are fully combined, fold in the grated carrots.
  9. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
  10. For 7-inch cake layers, bake for 25 minutes. If you made three, 8-inch cake layers, bake for about 27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pans to separate the cake layers from the pan.
  12. Place cake layers in the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  13. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the cream cheese frosting.
  2. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  3. Add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on a very low speed, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. 
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Place 1 cup of frosting in a separate bowl, and color it green with gel food coloring. Place in a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M or 2D frosting tip.
  7. In a separate bowl, add 2 cups of frosting and color it orange with gel food coloring. Place in a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip, or an opening cut about 1.5 cm wide.
  8. Cover the uncolored cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap, to prevent a crust from forming until you're ready to use it.

To Assemble The Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Stack the cake layers, adding an even layer of cream cheese frosting between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
  3. Frost the top and sides of the cake with a moderately thick layer of frosting (thicker than a crumb coat), to fully cover the cake layers.
  4. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Pipe vertical lines of orange frosting on the sides of the cake to look like carrots.
  6. Pipe green frosting swirls around the top perimeter of the cake to look like carrot tops.

Notes

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 606Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 99mgSodium 394mgCarbohydrates 82gFiber 1gSugar 67gProtein 4g

101 thoughts on “Moist Carrot Cake

  1. It says to add eggs, but there are no eggs in the ingredients list. How many is there? It looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it!

    1. I don’t use them when I’m making 7 or 8 inch cake layers! but if I’m making cake layers bigger than that, I do use a flower nail <3

  2. I love the way you decorated this carrot cake! I wish I could replicate the look but I have my doubts it would look anything like carrots! lol I LOVE nuts in my carrot cake and wouldn’t bother eating it without them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. haha that’s totally fair! Some people live for the texture and taste they add, and I totally respect that <3 I bet if you give it a try, it’d turn out better than you think!!!

  3. I’ve been on the hunt for a new recipe for my carrot cake this Easter. I really wanted one with buttermilk!!! I’m sold. Im making it tomorrow (but i will sprinkle the top with pecans).

    1. sorry that was a typo!! Step #2 is when it should be added, but if you add it at step 7 the cake should still turn out just fine <3

    1. The carrot tops are made with a Wilton 1M and the carrots are made with Wilton 2A, but any round top (or even just sniping the tip of the piping bag) will work!

  4. Hello! This cake looks amazing. I am making my friends weeding cake soon which will be three tiers. She wants her bottom tier as carrot cake but I’ll be making 4 10inch sponges. What should I time your recipe by in order to get 4 10 inch sponges? Thank you!!

    1. I’d recommend placing two flower nails upside down in your pans to help them bake more evenly and quickly! with them, the baking time should be pretty similar to what it for 7 or inch layers, especially if you make layers that are the same height. I’d check on them after 25 minutes, and then every few minutes after that if they look like they need a bit more time. This recipe bakes pretty quickly because of all the carrots in it, so just keep an eye on them ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Hi Chelsea. I love the look of this recipe. I was going to make it in a 9×13 inch rectangle pan. Do I need to adjust the recipe or will this amount of batter be ok? Thank you.

    1. One batch of batter will make 2, sheet cakes that are 9x 13 inches (And about 1 inch tall)! I’d also recommend placing a couple flower nails upside down to help the layers bake more evenly and quickly ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. This cake recipe is already super moist, so I’d be worried that adding crushed pineapple would be too much liquid :/ Maybe you could try to reduce a bit of the buttermilk and swap in the pineapple though??

  6. I have a customer that request carrot cake cupcakes, I love this recipe for my cakes but wasn’t sure if you’d recommend it as a cupcake?

    1. This cake recipe makes great cupcakes! It’s a lot of batter though, so I think it’ll make 2-3 dozen cupcakes <3

  7. Chelsea, youโ€™re amazing. Thanks so much for all the very detailed instructions! Iโ€™m making a carrot wedding cake for my friend and it will be semi naked. Itโ€™s a 3 tier 12,9 &6 inches. For some reason all my layers turned out at exactly 2 inches tall. Theyโ€™re super flat too (not domed). I have two questions. 1) is the cream cheese frosting recipe here thin enough to be for a semi naked cake or should I add another tablespoon of cream? 2) Is 3×2โ€ plus frosting too tall for each tier (about 7.5 inches tall)? If so, do you think I should make the layers thinner by slicing off to make them 1.5 inches tall? Iโ€™m reluctant to just do two layers per tier because Iโ€™m going for the tall effect. But if you think I should just do that, I will. Thanks so so much!

    1. Hi Thamara! You are too sweet ๐Ÿ™‚ I think you comment may have posted twice, and I responded to the earlier comment <3

  8. Hi Chelsey,

    Two questions: 1) If I want to make a semi naked carrot cake, should I add more cream to the frosting recipe above? Itโ€™s a wedding cake: 3 tiers 12, 9 and 6 inches. Each layer within each tier cane in at 2 inches. Do you think that would make the cake too gigantic? Should a slice off a half inch from each cake or should I just leave it? Any suggestion on how tall it should be (avg and max) would be great! Thanks!!

    1. Hi Thamara,

      Since this is cream cheese frosting, it’s already a bit thinner than my normal frosting. I wouldn’t recommend adding anymore cream, it should be a great consistency for a semi naked cake as it ๐Ÿ™‚

      How many layers are going into each tier?? I usually make wedding cakes with 3 or 4 cake layers that are a little taller than 1 inch, with about 1/4 of an inch of frosting between each layer. My tiers usually aren’t super tall, but it’s all about whatever look you’re after!! My tiers are between 4-6 inches, but if you use layers that are 2 inches tall, maybe you do only 2 or 3 layers?? Tall tiers are definitely in right now, so there’s nothing wrong with making them tall!

  9. Hi, love your recipes and big fan.
    Can I use egg white instead of whole eggs in this recipe?

    Also can you provide me the adjustments to make a small batch (3 tier 6 inch cake) rather than the 3tier 8″ with this carrot cake recipe?

    1. Hi Martha!! I’ve never made this recipe with egg whites, but the conversion would be able 8 egg whites, or 1 1/4 cup of egg whites.

      To make this recipe in 3, 6-inch pans, I’d recommend using 2/3 of this cake recipe. Or you can use a full batch to make 4, 6-inch cake layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

    1. Hi Tammy! These should be done baking after 18-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or whenever a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few loose crumbs). Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Katherine,

      I actually haven’t tried it out as cupcakes yet! I plan to next week though, stay tuned!! Or if you try it, let me know how it turns out <3

  10. Hey Chels! I made this layer cake once and absolutely loved it. I had someone ask to make a 9×13 cake – 2 layers. Do you know how much batter I would put in?

  11. Oops I shouldโ€™ve read the comments above. I see that you already said this recipe will make 2 – 9×13 cake layers. Thanks anyway!

  12. Hi Chelsea! If I was going to make a 6in cake with 3 layers, would you adjust the batter/ frosting at all? Thank you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Nicole! So sorry for the delayed response! I usually use 2/3 of a batch of batter to make 3, 6-inch cake layers. Happy baking!

  13. I was hoping to make this cake using 9 inch cake pans and was wondering if that would work and how many layers would the batter make using 9โ€™inch pans?

    1. Hi Yvette! One batch makes 2 9-inch cake layers, so I’d recommend making 1.5 batches if you want to make a taller layer cake with 3 layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  14. Hey there!! Iโ€™m so excited to try this recipe! The customer had asked if I can add raisins to the cake? What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Heather! I think adding raisins should work just fine with this recipe! I’m not personally a fan of raisins in carrot cake, but if she likes it then power to her ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Vivian! This recipe makes a fantastic bundt cake! It should bake for 50-70 minutes, depending on the shape of your bundt pan. I recommend making a cream cheese glaze to drizzle over it! Happy baking!! <3

    1. Hi Teal,

      You totally can! use about 2/3 of the batter to make the cupcakes, then use the rest of the batter to fill your cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Aw thank you Holly! I have gotten so into TikTok lately it’s wild!! I hope your cake turns out great ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Destiny,

      So happy to hear that! It does!! Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full, and bake for 15 mins at 350 degrees F.

  15. Iโ€™m making this for Easter right now actually and I donโ€™t have 7 in or 8 in, I only have 9 in pans how many layers would you do for that?

  16. Hey!! I have a 10″ by 10″ pan that’s 4″ deep – could i bake the whole batter in this or should i only use half of it? How long would I need to bake it for?

    1. Hi Anca,

      You can bake one batch of batter in that! When I bake sheet cakes, I place two or three flower nails (like these: https://amzn.to/39oJK3I) spaced evenly apart in the center of each pan (and spray them), to help the layers bake more evenly and quickly. With flower nails, the cake layers bake in 37-40 minutes in my oven. I hope that helps, happy baking!!

  17. I made this recipe today into cupcakes. I made 12 good sized cupcakes, filled about 3/4 full, and I made a crumble topping for them. Very good!! Baked in my oven for around 18 minutes at 350. Love that this recipe doesn’t include nuts, raisins or pineapple!!!! They make a nice spice cake with a great texture, and I think the crumble on top just completes them beautifully.

    1. Omg that sounds incredible Paula!!! Now I want to try that ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Hi! Can I use this cream cheese frosting to pipe rosettes on the cake? Iโ€™m making a 3 layer 6โ€ cake with rosettes. How much frosting do you think I would need?

    1. Hi Mary,

      Apologies for the delayed response! You totally can! It’s quite stiff for a cream cheese frosting, and works well for piping! You can also add a touch less heavy cream if you want it to be thicker!

      The amount of frosting listed for this recipe should be enough to pipe rosettes on a 6″ layer cake. I hope that helps, happy baking!!

  19. Hello! I was planning on making this cake soon but I had a few questions! Do I need buttermilk? Could I use milk or milk with something in it? Also how much do these cakes rise, because in my past cakes they donโ€™t rise that much and Iโ€™m left with a very short cake :/ Thanks!

    1. Hi Ally,

      You can use whole milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice in place of the buttermilk in this recipe! This recipe doesn’t rise a ton, which is why I like to make 4, 7-inch cake layers with it! That way I get a pretty tall cake ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope that helps, happy baking!

  20. Hi. I made your carrot cake recipe and it turned out really good! I never had carrot cake before (because of all the extra stuff that does not belong in a cake – nuts, raisins, pineapple). It was my first attempt to bake a cake from scratch. Thank you for the yummy recipe. The only problem is that I had never made a layered cake and did not know the importance of leveling off the layers. The frosting, was yummy and was my first time frosting a multi layer not from a box cake. It was a very sad attempt. It was very good, but the presentation was pathetic. I am making the carrot cake again this week. Do you have any suggestions on making it into a sheet cake? Thanks again

    1. I am so happy to hear that Elizabeth! Leveling the layers definitely makes it easier to assemble!!

      Haha if only I could show you my first layer cake, you’d laugh ๐Ÿ™‚ It was lopsided and the frosting was a mess, but boy did it taste good! I promise layer cakes get easier the more you make them <3

      I actually have a sheet cake version of this recipe, here’s the link: https://chelsweets.com/2020/04/11/carrot-cake-sheet-cake/

  21. Hey! I want to make this cake but it seems like a really big cake, is it? If it is then i will half it :). I follow you on Tiktok ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Bea,

      You can totally halve this recipe!! And that’s awesome, I love TikTok ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy baking!

  22. Hello! Thanks for sharing all of this advice! I am going to be making my first wedding cake for a friend with the top tier being 4 layers 6inches as this amazing sounding carrot carrot cake and the bottom 8 inch being your moist layer chocolate cake.

    Can you recommend a frosting that would work with both as a semi naked cake? I was thinking you American Vanilla Buttercream as it will be out of refrigeration for 2 days.

    Also I only have room in the oven for 2 layers at a time. Will the mixture be affected if not cooked immediately?

    Thank you for all your help!

    1. Hi Vicky,

      That’s so wonderful! I think my american buttercream would work great for a semi naked cake! Just be sure to add simple syrup to the cake layers if you’re making it in advance and it’s going to be semi-naked, to prevent it from drying out <3

      Both of those batters should be fine to sit for a bit as you bake all the layers in stages. Hope that helps, and that the wedding cake turns out great!!

  23. Hello! You are so inspirational and you inspire me and so many others! I love your TikTok account and I cannot wait to make this cake for Mothers Day! This is my first cake I’ve ever made from scratch and I am really excited. Can I use pre-grated bagged carrots for this recipe, or is it best to just grate them by hand, to contract all the moisture. Thank you so much!

    1. Aw you are too sweet Isabella! I hope your Mother’s Day cake turns out great! You can use pre-shredded carrots, but the texture of the cake will be slightly different. It will still be delicious though ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy baking!

  24. Thank you so much! I just made the Motherโ€™s Day cake yesterday and it turned out amazing!!! I also decided to put the grated carrots in a kitchen blender, to contract more moisture. I am usually not a big fan of carrot cake, but I am in love with this recipe! I canโ€™t wait to try it again!

    1. Hi Patricia,

      It does! Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake at 350F for 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy baking!

  25. I used the cake recipe and I made 12 good sized cupcakes that I filled 3/4 full, and I made a crumble topping for them. Very good!!!

  26. Hi, I was looking at these ingredients and 11 cups of powdered sugar in the frosting seems like a LOT!!! I’m a bit confused how that works? Thanks!

  27. Oh! My! Goodness! I made this cake for my mums birthday (with a cup of walnuts because she loves walnuts) and it was INCREDIBLE. Thank you so much! Even though I am not a huge fan of carrot cake I loved it. Thank you again!

  28. Hi Chelsea, I wanted to make a smaller batch of this cake, any idea what the measurements would be for everything (including frosting) if I wanted to make a 3 layer cake with 6 inch pans? I have a hard time converting recipes into smaller or larger batches!

  29. Made cupcakes with this recipe, turned out amazing! the spices came through so nicely, and perfect amount of carrots. Moist, and delicious! paired them with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.

  30. How thin do the shredded carrots have to be? Could I just buy shredded carrots or do they need to be thinner and more like flakes? Iโ€™ve never made carrot cake before.

  31. Just curious if you think this cake would pair well with a caramel drip? Also curious how โ€œgratedโ€ the carrots should be? Making this today and very excited!

Let me know what you think!