Easy Carrot Cake Recipe with Not-Too-Sweet Cream Cheese Frosting

This no-fuss, easy carrot cake recipe is a long-time family favorite. The cake is just perfect and the cream cheese frosting is not too sweet.

Tip

Cream cheese frosting is carrot cake's BFF, and we'd never mess with that. This recipe is a little less sweet and a little more tangy than some of the cloying versions you'll find. We think it's perfect.

Our favorite carrot cake recipe

Well, this is awkward. It’s my mom’s birthday today, and when I came here to my favorite food blog Umami Girl look up her favorite carrot cake recipe, I found it buried deep in my drafts box. Yeah, I thought I’d published this like two years ago. Damn.

So I just got back from the wedding of the decade (look out, William and Kate), and my sister and her HUSBAND, because she has a HUSBAND now, no big deal (!!) are coming over in a little while to celebrate mom’s birthday. Let me tell you, the wedding of the decade is a whole lot of celebrating, but it is apparently not enough celebrating for one weekend.

I’ve got to go grocery shopping now, and then I’m going to make this cake. And when I get to the store, I’m going to use this post as my shopping list. I think maybe you should take my lead on this one at some point soon, hint hint. One of these days I’ll post a few sneaky peeky wedding photos, because who doesn’t love that, and maybe my lady-of-honor toast. But today, it’s just a birthday, a carrot cake, and a quick fade to bliss.

Easy Carrot Cake Recipe with Not-Too-Sweet Cream Cheese Frosting

This no-fuss, easy carrot cake recipe is a long-time family favorite. The cake is just perfect and the cream cheese frosting is not too sweet.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves 16

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

For the frosting

  • 6 tablespoons good salted butter (such as Kerrygold), at room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove lumps

Directions

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add oil while mixer is running. Add vanilla, and then gradually add the sugar.
  2. In a separate medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture a little at a time, mixing everything thoroughly to make a smooth batter. 
  3. Add the carrots and nuts, then the coconut and pineapple and mix until all the ingredients are blended into the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.

For the frosting

  1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until the icing is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Notes

You can also make this a layer cake in 2 9-inch round pans. Reduce the cooking time to 35-40 minutes. When cooling, remove cakes from pans after 15 minutes and continue cooling on a wire rack. Double the frosting. Cake and frosting recipes adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 561 Total Fat:: 37g Carbohydrates:: 54.8g Fiber:: 2.5g Protein:: 5.1g