Carrot Cake Sheet Cake

This carrot cake sheet cake recipe has been a long time coming. I shared my moist carrot cake recipe last spring, and that’s what this recipe is based on!

I made a few changes to it to help it bake up better in a sheet pan though. It doesn’t need quite as many eggs or as much flour since it doesn’t need to have as strong of a structure as a layer cake does.

Just like my carrot cake layer cake recipe, this recipe does not include shredded coconut, chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins or crushed pineapple.

While a lot of classic or Southern carrot cake recipes include these items, I prefer my carrot cake without them.

image of moist carrot cake sheet cake slice on a plate.

I also never have those ingredients on hand, and this recipe is a lot easier to make without them.

What Ingredients Really Give Carrot Cake Its Flavor?

Those add ins aren’t what really make carrot cake so great anyways! 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 this carrot cake recipe.

My recipes also uses some brown sugar, which pairs so well with these warm spices.

Getting the Texture Right

Now onto the texture of this carrot cake sheet cake! I really prefer my carrot cake to have the taste and texture similar to a spice cake, so I don’t like adding in nuts or raisins!

As an added bonus, if I omit the nuts my husband can actually eat this cake. He is severely allergic to tree nuts, so I like to bake without them when I can.

Another huge component of the texture of this cake is from the carrots. I really hate seeing big chunks of shredded carrots in my carrot cake.

image of carrots being grated on a microplane grater for carrot cake recipe

To avoid that, I actually use a microplane grater to grate my carrots. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s totally worth it.

It gives the cake an incredibly tender and soft texture because it allows the carrots to seamlessly mix and bake into the layers.

You could also shred them with a food processor or a kitchenaid attachment if you’re short on time.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

To ensure your sheet cake easily pops out of your pan, I highly recommend lining it parchment paper.

I like to clip the overhanging parchment paper to the sides of my cake pan with metal binder clips. This helps it stay in place while I pour the batter and while the cake bakes.

Another trick I love to do when I make sheet cakes is to use flower nails as heating cores.

These are usually used to make it easier to pipe buttercream flowers, but they work great as a heating core too!

image of sheet cake pan with flower nails being used as heating cores to help the cake bake more quickly and evenly

Just flip them upside down, and they’ll help conduct heat from the bottom of the pan into the center of your cake.

This helps your sheet cake bake up more evenly and quickly.

I order mine on amazon and a pair of them is $6. They last forever, I’ve had mine for over five years now.

Ingredient Swaps / Variations

While I love making this sheet cake exactly like the recipe calls for below, I know that some of you might want to make substitutions or not have all these ingredients on hand.

image of carrot cake sheet cake slice on a plate

Buttermilk

You can use full fat yogurt or sour cream in place of the buttermilk in this recipe.

Or if you want to make your own buttermilk, you can use whole milk plus a bit of vinegar or lemon juice! Add 1 1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice into a 1/2 cup measure then fill the rest up with whole milk.

Vegetable Oil

If you don’t have vegetable oil on hand, you can use any flavorless oil in its place! Canola or grapeseed oil would work great. You could even use olive oil if that’s all you have on hand.

Butter can also be used in place of the oil, but the texture of the cake will be less fluffy! It will still taste great though.

Brown Sugar

This recipe calls for brown sugar, and you can use light or dark!

If you don’t have any on hand, you can use another cup of granulated sugar in place of the brown sugar.

Unsalted Butter

The reason why most recipes including this one call for unsalted butter is that different brands of butter use different amounts of salt.

There’s no way to know how much salt is added to a recipe unless you use unsalted butter, then add in salt separately.

To ensure your frosting tastes just right, it’s best to use unsalted butter!

However, if you only have salted butter on hand you can use it. The frosting will taste a tiny bit saltier, but it will still taste great. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for.

Adding in Nuts or Raisins

If you’re a huge fan of walnuts or raisins in your carrot cake, I won’t judge you for adding them in!

You can fold 1/2 cup of raisins and/or 1 cup of chopped walnuts into the batter with the shredded carrots.

image of a bite of carrot cake on a fork with the slice behind it

Tips for Making the Best Carrot Cake:

  • Line your sheet pan fully with parchment paper to easily remove your cake once it’s baked
  • Use flower nails to help your sheet cake bake more evenly and quickly
  • 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
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated; this ensures your cake layers are tender and fluffy
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
  • Color your leftover frosting green and orange and decorate your cake with some frosting carrots!
image of ca\rrot cake sheet cake overhead with ingredients

Making This Cake in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your sheet cake in advance and freeze it: This 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 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • In an airtight container, this cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month in an airtight container.

Different Sized Sheet Pan

  • You can also use this recipe to bake a 12×17 in sheet cake, but the bake time will be shorter! Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Cupcakes:

  • This recipe can be used to make about 20 cupcakes. Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try my carrot cake sheet cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment 🙂

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: 30

Carrot Cake Sheet Cake

image of slice of carrot cake sheet cake with bit taken to show how moist the cake is

This carrot cake recipe is made in one bowl and is incredibly moist! One batch makes a 9x13" sheet cake, which is frosting with a silky smooth cream cheese buttercream!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Sheet Cake

  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup canola oil, or any flavorless oil (224 grams)
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature (280 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4 grams)
  • 2 tsp baking soda (12 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (325 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature (114 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (7 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (1 gram)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (< 1 gram)
  • 1 lb of carrots, finely grated (roughly 2 1/2 cups, about 400 grams)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113 grams)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (113 grams or 4 oz.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (494 grams) - or a 1 lb box
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (14 grams
  • green and orange gel food coloring (optional)

Decorations and Tools:

Instructions

Carrot Cake Sheet Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x13 (quarter sheet) pan with parchment paper
  2. Place two or three flower nails in the center of the pan, with the flat side resting flat against the cake pan. Make sure they are a few inches apart.
  3. Spray the flower nails with nonstick baking spray.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil until combined.
  5. Whisk in the eggs. Stir until the batter is smooth.
  6. Sift in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and half of the flour into the batter. Whisk until just combined.
  7. Whisk in the buttermilk, then sift in the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and the remaining flour.
  8. Mix the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  9. Once the ingredients are fully combined, fold in the grated carrots.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and re-center to flower nails. Make sure they're pressed all the way down against the pan.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  12. Leave the cake in its pan and place on a wire rack to cool. You can also pop the entire pan into the freezer for 45 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake bakes and cools, 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 extract 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. Cover the cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap, to prevent a crust from forming until you're ready to use it.

Decorating This Carrot Cake Sheet Cake:

  1. Allow the cake to cool completed, then remove the flower nails from the cake.
  2. Spread an even layer of cream cheese buttercream buttercream on top of the cake, making swirls with an offset spatula.
  3. Decorate as desired, then use a sharp knife to cut the cake into 30 squares.

Notes

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your sheet cake in advance and freeze it: This 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.
  • In an airtight container, this cake can sit out at room temp for a day, in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Different Sized Sheet Pan

  • You can also use this recipe to bake a 12x17 in sheet cake, but the bake time will be shorter! Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.


Cupcakes:

  • This recipe can be used to make about 20 cupcakes. Fill your cupcake liners about half way and bake for about 18 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven.

Nutrition Information

Yield

30

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 277Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 43mgSodium 260mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 1gSugar 29gProtein 3g

19 thoughts on “Carrot Cake Sheet Cake

  1. This looks fabulous … Now I understand the “viirtue” of using a microplane instead of a shredder-disk to make the cake: so the carrots become an integral part of the cake itself. Can’t waiit to try this recipe (once “social distancing” is over because this makes a LOT of cake to share!).

    1. Haha it’s definitely a pain to microplane them but I think it’s so worth it 🙂

      And I totally get that!! I’m actually sharing a mini cake recipe this Thursday for that very reason 😛 I feel you!

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Great question, it definitely does have an impact on bake time and temp!

      You should reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees and check in on the cake towards the end! It may be ready up to ten minutes earlier if you are substituting a glass dish for a metal baking pan. This is because glass doesn’t heat up as quickly as metal but will become very hot once heated up.

  2. This may be the best carrot cake recipe EVER. I am usually one for add ins but I followed this recipe exactly and it turned out amazing!

  3. I baked this with my 5 year old today – the 15 minute prep time turned into an hour and a half, but it was a fantastic way to teach him to measure and mix, and he even did a decent job at sifting the dry ingredients.

    We used the buttercream alternative (whole milk & vinegar) so we were able to make the whole thing lactose free. Thank you for that bit of information.

    It turned out delicious! (even without frosting).

    1. Haha that’s so sweet Sanaa!! I’m so happy to hear you had such a wonderful little helper in the kitchen, and that this recipe turned out great for your guys!! 🙂

  4. Just made this cake and frosting for my family to enjoy! Hands down the BEST carrot cake I have ever made/bought/tried. We all loved and devoured it 🙂

    1. Hi Osorio,

      You can make a 9 or 10 inch round cake layer with this recipe! The bake time should be similar, but I’d keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t overbake!

  5. I baked this cake last week and it is absolutely fabulous! Made it for my husband whois a carrot cake fan and he said it was perfection. I don’t typically like carrot cake and this made me realize what I don’t like is all the chunky add ins. I thought this one was amazing! You are right that using the microplane is worth the effort.

    1. That’s wonderful Shari! Thank you for sharing 🙂 And right?!?! It’s worth the extra work for that soft and fluffy texture!

  6. I want to make 6 inch cake rounds, but only have a 6 inch cake cutter, not a 6 inch cake pan. Would you recommend using this recipe or your carrot cake recipe to make a layered carrot cake (in which I would use a sheet pan and cut out 6 inch round with my cake cutter)?

    1. Hi Emily,

      It depends on how many 6 inch cake layers you want to cut out! I’d say making my carrot cake layer cake recipe in 2 9X13″ sheet pans and cutting out 4 6 inch circles would probably be your best bet. My sheet cake recipe makes a really thick layer that would be a bit much for a stacked layer cake. Hope that makes sense and helps, happy baking!

  7. Hellooo,

    Please can we add also pecan and rasains? And can we put in in a bundt cake instead please? Thank you, you are the best

  8. Hi there!

    LOVE this recipe! I am needing to do a 12×18 sheet cake. Would I need to make 1 1/2 batch’s for this pan size or would 1 batch be ok? What would you recommend? Thank you!!

Let me know what you think!