A simple carrot cake recipe that’s super moist and topped with the fluffiest 3 ingredient maple syrup frosting. This single layer isn’t too sweet, has the best texture, and is perfect for serving year-round! It’s one of my favorite cakes!
Cakes are the perfect dessert for celebration. Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or simply the joy of a weekend afternoon, a good cake can bring smiles and warmth to any occasion. And when it comes to cakes that mix pleasure with a sense of comfort, few can beat the wholesome deliciousness of a simple carrot cake.
This is a game-changer if you adore carrot cakes as much as I do. You’ll also love my carrot cake cupcake recipe too! They differ from this recipe and are made with pineapple, pureed carrots, and coconut.
Why You’ll Love This Carrot Snacking Cake
- Simplicity at Its Finest: This cake doesn’t call for complicated techniques or rare ingredients, making it a straightforward, enjoyable baking experience.
- Healthier Indulgence: With carrots as the star, this treat packs nutrition without skimping on flavor.
- Versatility: Perfect for a picnic, school snacks, or a coffee companion, it’s as versatile as delectable.
- Customizable: This recipe has several variations, from adding nuts to warm spices, so customize it with your dietary needs and flavor preferences. You can also eat this carrot cake without frosting too! It’s that good and moist.
How to Make The Best Carrot Cake Recipe
I’ll cover everything you need to know to make this homemade carrot cake. The full recipe and instructions are in the recipe card below.
Helpful Baking Tools
This easy recipe is straightforward, and you only need a few supplies; you don’t even need an electric mixer!
- Mixing Bowls: Small and Medium
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Cake Pan: Make this a sheet cake, or use a 9×9 baking pan square or round
- Silicone Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- Box Grater
Shopping List and Ingredient Notes
All-Purpose flour: I like to use King Arthur Organic all-purpose flour when baking. The flour provides structure to the cake, and it’s essential to measure the flour correctly to ensure you’re not adding too much flour to make the cake dry.
Brown Sugar and Granulated: Brown sugar adds moisture and a rich flavor, while granulated sugar sweetens the cake.
Baking Soda: Acts as a leavening agent to help the cake rise. Always check the freshness of the baking soda.
Spices: I use a lot of spices in this cake. Some carrot cake recipes can taste a little bland, so I like to add spices like ginger, cardamom, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg to enhance and add flavor.
Grated Carrots: The star of the recipe! Use a box grater to grate whole carrots to get a fine texture and avoid chunky bits in the cake batter.
Eggs: Use large, organic eggs when possible. Room temperature is best as they mix more easily with the other ingredients. Eggs add moisture and bind the ingredients together.
Canola Oil: Adds moisture to the cake. You can use any neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable oil or canola oil. I have used corn oil as well, and it works well.
Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor of the cake and frosting. Always use pure vanilla extract.
Gluten-Free Option: Use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend instead of regular flour.
Add Nuts: Mix chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds into the cake batter before baking for a crunchy texture.
Coconut: Some carrot cake recipes have shredded coconut, which I love. Add 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut if you like. You can also top this cake with coconut too.
Cream Cheese Frosting: If you prefer to pair the cake with a fluffy cream cheese frosting, I have an excellent recipe for decadent cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate Chips: For a touch of chocolate, add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the cake batter before baking.
- Peel the carrots before using a boxed grater to shred them.
- Don’t over-mix the batter; it can give your cake a tough texture. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Always use fresh, whole ingredients when baking. Check the expiration dates for freshness.
- Set the timer for 10 minutes less to check on the cake. Every oven is different, and baking times will vary.
- Bake this cake in a well-greased bundt pan or a round 8×8 or 9×9 pan. You’ll need to adjust the cooking time depending on your pan.
- Garnish with dried edible flowers, chopped nuts or a pinch of salt.
Serving and Presentation
Serve this with a side of fresh berries or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This cake makes a delightful dessert or the ideal comfort snack for any time of day. You can also serve it with any of these dishes when entertaining:
Fruit Platter: The tangy, sweet cake goes beautifully with fresh fruits like berries, kiwi, and pineapple.
Fruit and Cheese Platter: In other countries, cheese is served with sweets, and this cake pairs well with cheese.
Coffee: The warmth of the spices in this carrot snacking cake is a match made in heaven for coffee.
Serve this cake for any of these sweet occasions:
- Birthday Party
- Easter Brunch – Check out all of my Easter recipes!
- School Potluck
- End-of-the-year picnic
How to Store
- Room Temperature: This cake will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days. You can leave this cake out at room temperature, but if you’re in a warm or humid climate, it’s best to refrigerate it. Just let the cake come to room temperature before serving for the best flavor and texture.
- Freezer: You can make this cake ahead of time and freeze it for 3 months when wrapped properly in plastic wrap. If you do this, freeze without the frosting. Let the cake defrost in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to serve, top it with freshly made frosting.
How to Tell When A Cake Is Done
To check if the cake is baking, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. You want a toothpick to have a moist, crumb texture, not completely clean. You can also gently press down on the surface of the cake; if it springs back and doesn’t leave an indentation, then it’s done.
It’s always better to slightly underbake than over-bake a cake, as it can quickly dry out if left in the oven for too long.
For best results, I always set my timer for 10 minutes less than what the bake time says; that way, I can control how much time it needs in the oven. Every oven is different, so keep an eye on your cake as it bakes and adjust the time if required.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are several reasons this cake is moist and delicious. The oil and eggs add moisture to the cake, while the grated carrots release their natural juices as they bake. The brown sugar also adds a rich flavor and moistness to the cake.
That’s up to you! Raisins can add a nice texture and natural sweetness. I do not like raisins and nuts in my cakes, so I left them out of the recipe. However, add 1 cup of each if you want!
The unique combination of sweet, spiced flavors and the inherent moistness of the batter wins over hearts. It’s a great cake to serve year-round and is filled with flavor.
You can use pre-grated carrots, but I recommend grating them for the best flavor and texture. Pre-grated carrots are often drier and release less moisture than freshly grated ones. If you use these, you’ll want to chop them quickly for a finer texture.
I do not recommend olive oil for this cake recipe as it has a strong taste that can overpower the other flavors in the cake. However, I have a wonderful skillet olive oil cake recipe you will love.
More Cake Recipes You’ll Love
If you love this delicious carrot cake, try more of my favorite recipes:
- The Best Lavender Cake Recipe
- Buttermilk Cake Recipe
- Funfetti Sheet Cake
- Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Banana Cake Recipe
Let me know if you make this cake by leaving a comment and review below. I’d love to know what you think!
Carrot Cake Recipe Simple
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil , you can use corn oil or vegetable oil too
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups grated carrots
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease an 9×9 inch baking pan with oil or butter, then line it with parchment paper.
- Mix the all-purpose flour, sugars, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl and give them a whisk.
- Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Fold in the grated carrots and gently mix just until combined.
- Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, remove it from the pan, and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare my favorite frosting recipes.
- The cake has to be completely cooled before adding this frosting, or it will melt off. If you need, place it in the freezer for 10 minutes to cool. I do this sometimes, and it always works out. Once the cake has cooled, spread the frosting on top and decorate with chopped walnuts, if desired.
- Slice and serve the cake at room temperature for best flavor and texture.