Easy Carrot Cake

This Carrot Cake is super moist, packed with big carrot cake flavor & slathered with tangy cream cheese frosting. Made as a sheet cake, it’s super easy and perfect for Easter!

This dessert is an Easter must-have, but if you’re looking for more, be sure to check out our carrot cake cupcakes or carrot chocolate covered strawberries!

Easy carrot cake recipe - slice on plate

An easter must-have

Why hello there! It’s Fiona stopping in from Just So Tasty, and today we’re making one of my favorite desserts – carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE carrot cake (Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a close second). While it’s delicious year round, I especially crave it in the spring and around Easter. The spices, moist cake crumb, and tangy cream cheese frosting (preferably lots of it) are all delish.

Now, I think a simple carrot cake should be in everyone’s baking repertoire. This easy carrot cake recipe is one to add to your list. No fancy layers or extravagant toppings! Just simple ingredients, easy prep, and a more-than-satisfactory result. It’s made in a jelly roll pan – sheet cake style – which means easy prep work and less baking time.

carrot cake batter in bowl

Tips for Moist Carrot Cake

This cake is super moist for a few main reasons:

  1. Oil. Because oil is liquid at room temperature, it keeps your cake soft. And since carrot cake already has lots of flavor, you won’t taste the oil.
  2. 4 large eggs. Make sure they’re room temperature before getting started.
  3. Shredded carrots. The shredded carrots release moisture as they are baked.

I like to finely shred my carrots so they blend into the cake crumb. Or, you can use a food processor too if you want to save time.

Whatever you do, DON’T use the prepackaged shredded carrots that you can buy at the grocery store. They’re too dry and crunchy, and won’t produce as good of results as freshly grated carrots!

Carrot cake batter poured into jelly roll pan

How to make carrot cake

Preheat the oven and prepare the jelly roll pan (AKA a rimmed baking sheet).

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a mixer, beat together the oil and sugars until evenly combined. Beat in the eggs until there are no lumps, scrape down the edges of the bowl, and then beat in the flour mixture. Lastly, beat in the grated carrots being sure to not over-mix.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread to the edges. Bake for 20-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the middle doesn’t wobble when you move the pan.

Let cool completely before frosting.

Using different pan sizes:

One of the appeals for this recipe is that you can make a large amount of carrot cake in one jelly roll pan. If you wish to use smaller pans you certainly can. 

Be sure to check the cake a few minutes sooner than the recommended time and watch carefully so the cake doesn’t overcook. Inserting a toothpick in the center will help let you know when the cake is perfectly baked. 

  • 9 inch squares or rounds: Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. 
  • Cupcake: bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes
  • Mini cupcakes: Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes

Cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake

Once our cake is done baking, it’s time for the cream cheese frosting (probably my favorite part). It’s perfectly smooth, creamy, tangy, and not too sweet. The only trick here is making sure both your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before getting started so they’ll mix together evenly without any lumps.

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, on medium speed, until smooth and evenly combined. Turn the mixer to low and pour in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla, then mix in whipping cream 1 Tbsp at a time until you get the consistency you like.

NOTE: Adding whipping cream will make it more thin and creamy, and adding more powdered sugar will thicken it up. You can change this based on the consistency you prefer.

Can you substitute the walnuts? Yes! You can sub chopped pecans for the walnuts, or just omit them entirely.

Be Nutty: Have a little fun with the walnuts. Instead of sprinkling them randomly over the top of the cake you can form them into beautiful patterns. Creating thick diagonal stripes or a swirl pattern across the pan is easy and pretty. You can also create thick horizontal stripes, this way some of the cut cakes will have nuts and others won’t.

Cream cheese frosting spread onto carrot cake

STORING + FREEZING

As long as it isn’t frosted, carrot cake can stay at room temperature for up to 3 days, covered with plastic wrap or foil. If it has frosting on it, you’ll need to store it in the fridge (since the frosting has perishable dairy items in it).

Stored in the fridge, the cake can last for about a week. You can either store the leftovers in the pan you baked it in, or slice it up and keep the individual slices in an airtight container.

Can carrot cake be frozen? Yes! It actually freezes really well, even if it’s iced. If you’re planning on making your cake in advance and freezing the whole thing, let the entire pan cool after baking, cover with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, and place in the freezer.

If you’re freezing leftovers that are already frosted, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and foil, or place in a heavy duty freezer bag. When they’re stored right, they should last for 4-6 months.

This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a classic – and for good reason. Super moist, delicious and with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect recipe. I love it for Easter, but it’s delicious any time of year too!

Carrot cake recipe slice on plate

For more Easter desserts, check out:

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Carrot Cake Recipe

5 from 12 votes
This Carrot Cake is super moist, packed with big carrot cake flavor & slathered with tangy cream cheese frosting. Made as a sheet cake, it's super easy and perfect for Easter!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 20
Calories 224 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs room temp
  • 3 tbsp sour cream (greek yogurt works too)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese bar softened
  • 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp whipping cream as needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional

Instructions
 

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 13x17 inch jelly roll pan.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
  • Then in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the oil and sugars until evenly combined. Then beat in the eggs, vanilla and sour cream until no sugar lumps remain. You may need to turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Then with the mixer on low speed, carefully beat in the flour mixture followed by the grated carrots. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan spreading it to the edges then bake in the preheated oven for 20-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and if you give the pan a gently nudge the middle doesn't wobble.
  • Allow to cool fully in the pan before frosting.

Frosting

  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and cream cheese until very well softened and evenly combined.
  • Then turn the mixer down to low speed and carefully beat in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, followed by the vanilla. Then beat in the whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, or add in a little extra powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Frost the cooled cake, then decorate with chopped walnuts if desired.

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This seriously looks delicious and perfect for any function! Thanks, Fiona! For more great recipes from her, be sure to head on over to Just So Tasty.

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About the Author

Fiona Dowling

My name's Fiona and I love to bake and blog. I share homemade, from scratch, classic recipes for desserts & sweet treats including cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more.

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    This was simply the BEST carrot cake ever! So good in fact, that my son and soon to be daughter-in-law want me to make it for their wedding this October. I was wondering how many 9-inch round cake pans this recipe will make. I was thinking three, but I want your opinion. And how long a bake time? Again, I was thinking 30-35 minutes, but again, want your opinion. This recipe is fabulous!

    1. That would be great at a wedding! I am so glad you liked it! I am thinking 3 as well, but I wouldn’t know the exact baking time. I would look on the back of a cake box mix & see the comparisons for the different size pans. I would think 30-35 min sounds close 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Actually I have saved from your website lot of recipes but today I tried this one! Firstly I was little worried if it wont come too sweet cause of too much sugar. It came incredibly good and tasty! Cake is so moist and the cheese frosting is just amazing! Everybody liked so much! Saved it as my favourite! Thanks!
    Love from Turkey xx

  3. Yikes…mine is in the oven and just realized the sour cream wasnt used. It’s not listed in the directions. Where was that to go and when?

  4. 5 stars
    this is an incredible recipe! i have tried many recipes on different websites but this one was just incredible! if you want a baking project, try this delicious cake 😀

  5. 5 stars
    This really is so easy!! My family loves this cake! My favorite is the cream cheese frosting. It goes so well with the cake. An Easter favorite!

  6. 5 stars
    This is my husbands favorite cake. I rarely make it from scratch because it’s such a pain. But this recipe makes it so easy and doable. Thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    Such a yummy version of carrot cake! I like the fact that its made In a sheet pan and makes alOt. So moist and love the cream cheese frosting.

  8. 5 stars
    I Cut this recipe down to 5 servings in An attempt to make a mini cake for two. It turned out perfect and so delish! I made it in a 6” round pan and Baked it for about the same tIme. Just had to do a little math to bake with the decimal measurements.