Baker Bettie

Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a simple recipe for classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The recipe uses tons of carrots and makes a classic version of carrot cake without pineapple, coconut, or raisins. The cake can be made a sheet cake or as a round layered cake.

A slice of Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I feel like Mr. BB and I have officially become “city people.” A few months ago he took a new job in the city instead of commuting to the burbs every day. This means we both walk to and from work every day, almost 3 miles each way. I know. These Kansas kids that drove less than a mile to work everyday just over a year ago are now walking almost 6 miles a day in the city!

To be honest with you, I absolutely love it. But this new development means that we didn’t need a car anymore. So we sold it. We are carless. What?! I’ve had my own car since I was 14 and now we don’t have one. It’s weird and awesome at the same time.

And being carless has also brought us into a whole new “city folk” lifestyle change: ordering our groceries and having them delivered. I always thought that was a rich person thing to do. Nope. It can also be a living in the city without a car thing to do.

I have to admit, I miss grocery shopping in the store. But I miss the kind of grocery shopping I could do in Kansas where I could stroll and peruse the aisles leisurely. I DO NOT miss the frantic mess of grocery shopping in the city where all you want to do is push everyone down and get out of there as quickly as possible.

Last week I ordered a pound of carrots and they ended up delivery 3 pounds. So I’ve been using carrots in basically everything I could think of.

Naturally, carrot cake came to mind. It’s one of my favorites but I never really think of making it. 2 pounds of extra carrots is definitely an excuse for carrot cake!

A lot of carrot cakes call for pineapple, coconut, raisins, and walnuts. For me, that is a bit of overkill. I mean, I’m not going to turn down a piece. But I like a simpler, more classic version. Tons of carrots, some warming spices, and walnuts for texture contrast.

Slices of Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

 To make the carrot cake… 


Peel your carrots and shred them on a box grater or in the shredder on your food processor. You need 2 1/2 cups and this took about 4 medium sized carrots.

I always like to toast my nuts for recipes. It brings out their flavors so much more. I used to think that nuts ruined baked goods until I tried them toasted. It really makes all the difference.

Just place the walnuts in a dry pan over low heat and stir occasionally. Keep a close eye on them. When they become really fragrant remove the walnuts from the heat and set aside to cool.

Carrots being grated and chopped walnuts


Whisk together all of your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. The lineup here is all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg.

Dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl


In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) mix together your wet ingredients on low speed until incorporated.

Remember from my zucchini bread tutorial video that sugar is often mixed in with the wet ingredients. 

Left side: wet ingredients measured out. Right side: wet ingredients mixed in a stand mixer.


Turn the mixer off and add all of the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. On low speed, mix for about 15 seconds. Turn the mixer off again and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Mix again for about 15 more seconds. Turn the mixer off.

As always, with cakes and quick breads and delicate baked goods you want to mix as little as possible. Over-mixing creates tough and dry baked goods. 

Dry ingredients added to wet ingredients in stand mixer.


Add the carrots and walnuts to the mixer and mix for a few seconds. Stop. Scrape down the bowl. Then mix for a few more seconds.

If you wanted to add in raisins or coconut or other things that make you happy (like chocolate chips!) go ahead and do that! I’m keeping this one simple and classic.  

Carrots and walnuts added to the cake batter.


This batter can be baked in 2- 9″ round cake pans to make a layer cake, or in a 9X13 baking dish like I made here. Grease the baking dish(es) and pour in the batter. Bake at 350ºF for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumb.

Allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Closeup of the cream cheese frosting topped with chopped walnuts

A slice of Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 8-12 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This is a simple recipe for classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The recipe uses tons of carrots and makes a classic version of carrot cake without pineapple, coconut, or raisins. The cake can be made a sheet cake or as a round layered cake.


For the Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups lightly packed, grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (more for topping the cake if desired)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Peel and shred the carrots either on a box grater or with a food processor. Toast the walnuts over low heat in a dry pan until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together.
  3. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Scraping down the bowl as needed.
  5. Add the carrots and the walnuts into the bowl and mix just until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. Spray either a 9X13" baking pan or two 9" round pans with pan spray. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the center with a moist crumb.
  7. Let the cake(s) cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter with the mixer on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium high until blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cover the frosting and set aside at room temperature until ready to frost the cake.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0

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24 comments on “Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. ahhhhh I miss walking!!! I try to walk more than most people do (ie instead of driving between the parking lots of 2 stores in the same complex I’ll just walk) but it’s not the same, so I’m feelin’ a bit jealouuuus.

    Anyway-this carrot cake looks gorgeous and comforting and like the perfect way to use up all those carrots!

  2. What a gorgeous carrot cake. I wish I could walk to work. I’m seriously tired of Baltimore traffic. I’m so jealous.

    • Thanks Jennie! I hear you on the traffic. It is really nice to not have to deal with that anymore and I really love my time walking and listening to podcasts. I didn’t realize you lived in Baltimore! We have been meaning to get down that way and check it out sometime soon. I’ve never been.

  3. Hi! I just made this and it was yummy, but it didn’t really rise. Its texture was closer to that of a blondie. Did you use baking powder in addition to baking soda? It seemed like the leavening may have been off in mine. Thanks!

    • Hi Sheila!

      So sorry to hear that this didn’t work out well for you. No, I did not use any baking powder, only the baking soda. Did you make sure that you used a full 1 tsp plus 3/4 tsp of baking soda? Did you also make sure to bake it immediately? With chemical leavenors they start releasing their gases as soon as they become moistened so they must be baked immediately. Another thing that could affect the rise of any baked good is elevation. Do you live at a high elevation?

  4. Thanks for a gorgeous carrot cake recipe, love cream cheese frosting, lots of it!
    Great that you’ve made it easy to make additions as required to each of our personal taste…
    Good tips & techniques are invaluable.
    Would it be okay to add some pineapple to the mix or would this make cake batter too wet?
    I shall add sultanas, pecans, orange zest to mix…
    Would adding some wholemeal flour make the cake too heavy & dense? I was thinking of perhaps a 1/3rd wholemeal to white flour to add extra ‘nuttiness’ to the flavor of cake, however, I don’t wish to spoil this beautiful cake or alter the chemical reaction of baking powder & soda.
    Any advice would be very welcome… Many thanks, Odelle Smith

  5. I am not sure if i need such a big carrot cake. Specially if i am making it for the first time. If i want a smaller one, should i simply take half of the quantity of all the ingredients?

    BTW i also tried your chocolate chip cookies receipe with 5 ingredients.. it turned out AMAZING ! Thank u so much for that receipe !!

    • Yes, cut all ingredients in half and bake in an 9X9″ square dish. Keep the temp the same, but will likely need to reduce the bake time. Just check on it, and remove when a tester comes out with a moist crumb. Glad you liked the cookies!

  6. Aaaahhhmazing. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out prefect. When I leveled the cake, I took that little cut off layer, smeared a little frosting on there and shamelessly ate over the kitchen sink. The rest of the cake is waiting in the fridge for my mom’s birthday dinner tonight. Mmmmmmmm……

  7. Very oily, cake layers fell apart (yes toothpick came out clean)…actually squished them together into balls flatten slightly and rebaked to a cookie …did not want to waste my ingredients

    • Hi Joan, I’m so sorry to hear that this cake didn’t work out for you. Can I ask if you made any changes to the recipe? I’m asking because I have tested it several times and several friends and family members made it this weekend without this problem. Would love try and identify what may have caused the problem for you!

  8. Great recipe! I don’t often make carrot cake but I tried this recipe (with very minor modifications) and it turned out perfectly. Instead of using 2 tins I used 1 tube pan and baked for 60 mins. I also opted out of the walnuts as I was making the cake for a work-related event and wanted to mitigate any nut allergies (otherwise I would def add walnuts!!) Also for the frosting, I just blended whipping cream to make the texture more light and velvety .. but otherwise, I stuck to the recipe to a T!

    Will def bookmark this one, Thanks Bettie! : )

  9. This carrot cake was the best carrot cake I’ve ever had no joke I made it for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it I’m going to make it again and I’m going to make it for my son’s birthday here in a few months I never want to lose this recipe LOL

  10. I made this cake and I’m not much of a baker but it came out amazing. 
    The only thing I didn’t like that much was the frosting, I added the measurements you suggested but it came out a little salty.
    Still, not too bad and the actual cake mix was amazing. It was full of flavor and the perfect amount of moist. This is a great recipe and thank you for keeping it simple and not adding pineapples, coconuts, or raisins. 

    • Hi Paola! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this cake and that you enjoyed its simplicity! I appreciate the feedback about the frosting and updated the recipe to my current cream cheese frosting recipe that I use that does contain less salt.

  11. Is there any way to turn this into a quick read recipe? Add more flour?

  12. Mom requested carrot cake for Mother’s Day, so I made her this recipe. I’d never made carrot cake before and this was delicious! Mom loved it. The only substitution I made was pecans for walnuts, because during Corona lock-down that’s what I had, and because Mom loves nuts I probably doubled the amount.
    The cake smelled absolutely heavenly while it was baking and the frosting is fantastic.

  13. This was my first carrot cake using real carrots rather than baby food carrots! When I made my mom’s recipe that uses Gerber Jr. Carrots, the middle always sunk as it cooled! Guess what, this one did it too! Do you have any idea why? Your cream cheese icing is spot on! I think we will be keeping this recipe for sure!

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