The Best Carrot Cake

This is the Best Carrot Cake Recipe not because of the ingredients, but how they’re put together. If you think there’s nothing new to learn about good old carrot cake, think again! This cake is super moist with a lovely soft texture, and just look at that color!

One of my favorite things to do as a baker is to take a mediocre or even “pretty good” recipe and make it better. Often the smallest changes can make a huge difference in the outcome.

How you mix a recipe, and how you handle ingredients, can transform your baking. If you click on the Baking School tab in the main menu you’ll find a wealth of information about baking ingredients and techniques, including my favorite post about how to create the best cake recipes.

Why this is the best carrot cake

  • Most carrot cakes add thick shreds of carrot, coarsely chopped nuts and big raisins. The result is a cake with a chunky-lumpy texture.
  • In this recipe the carrots are finely grated, just shy of becoming a puree. The pulverized carrots release lots of juice so the resulting cake is extra moist, extra flavorful and is beautiful deep orange color.
  • Currants are much smaller than raisins and soaking them in warm water softens to the point that they almost blend into the cake. The pre-plumped currants won’t draw moisture from the batter.
  • Finely grated walnuts (pecans would also be good) are distributed throughout the cake so the crumb remains soft and fine rather than coarse and chunky.

Carrot Cake Ingredients

ingredients for carrot cake in bowls

Ingredient Notes

  • Carrots – Obviously integral to a carrot cake. Grinding the carrots finely releases more carrot juice than shredding for a moister cake with gorgeous orange color.
  • Currants – Are optional but add sweetness and moisture to the cake.
  • Walnuts – Also optional, but the walnuts are finely ground to keep the fine texture of this cake. Pecans can be substituted.
  • AP Flour – Medium protein flour has enough gluten to allow the moist batter to rise in the oven without collapsing, but not so much protein that the cake becomes tough.
  • Oil – Coats the flour proteins better than than butter. A cake made with oil will be more tender than one made with butter.
  • Lemon Extract – Sparks the flavor of the cake.

How to make Carrot Cake

See the recipe card for detailed instructions and measurements.

a bowl of currants
  • Plump currents in hot water before adding them to the batter.
a bowl of ground walnuts
  • Finely grind the walnuts.
ground carrots in a food processor
  • Grind the carrots in a food processor until they are almost a chunky puree.
carrot cake batter in a mixing bowl
  • Emulsify the oil, brown sugar granulated sugar and eggs for a smooth batter.
carrot cake batter in a mixing bowl
  • Add the currants, walnuts and carrots to the egg mixture.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the batter then divide the batter between two or three 8″ pans.
  • The batter can also be baked into cupcakes.
three cake pans with baked carrot cakes
  • Bake the cake until the center springs back when lightly pressed.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

an uniced 3 layer carrot cake on a plate.
  • Fill the layers with half a batch of Cream Cheese frosting.
  • Ice the cake with the remaining frosting.
a slice of carrot cake on a plate

You should also try this fabulous homemade Carrot Cake Ice Cream recipe. It’s outrageously delicious.

You might also want to try my Red Velvet Cake, Zucchini Cake and Dutch Breakfast Cake.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider giving it a 5-star review.

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4.62 from 57 reviews

Carrot Cake Recipe

If you think there’s nothing new to learn about good old carrot cake, think again! This is A Better Carrot Cake Recipe not because of the ingredients, but how they’re put together.
Prep Time1 hour
Bake Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
16 servings
Save Recipe


Carrot Cake Batter

  • 5 oz currants (1 cup)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 4 oz walnuts (1 cup)
  • 10 oz all purpose flour (2 cups, see note)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 oz vegetable oil (1 ¼ cups)
  • 8 oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 8 oz brown sugar (1 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract



Cake Batter

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line three 8"x3" round cake pans with parchment paper, or butter and flour the pans. (see note 1).
  • Place 5 oz currants in a small bowl and pour enough hot water over to cover. Set aside for 20 minutes to plump. Grind 1 pound carrots in a food processor fitted with a blade until finely ground (see photo). Transfer the carrots to a medium bowl. Grind 4 oz walnuts in the food processor until finely ground (see photo). Add the walnuts to the bowl with the carrots.
  • Sift together 10 oz all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamonn, 2 teaspoons ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl combine 9 oz vegetable oil, 8 oz granulated sugar and 8 oz brown sugar and mix on low speed until it resembles applesauce. With the mixer running on low, add 4 large eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Mix until the batter is smooth and emulsified.
  • Add the ground carrots and the walnuts. Drain the water from the currents and add them to the batter. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, scraping the bowl in between. Mix until completely combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. If you bake 2 layers they may take a little longer to bake.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and cool completely (see note 2)


  • Set aside half the frosting to ice the cake. Place one cake layer, flat side down, on the serving platter. Spread 1/2 of the remaining frosting over the layer. Repeat with the 2nd layer. Place the third layer, flat side up, on top.
    1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Ice the cake with a very thin layer of frosting. This is called the "crumb coat". Refrigerate the cake to set the crumb coat.
  • Ice the cake with a final coating. Press ground walnuts onto the sides of the cake. Chill to set the cake. (see note 3).

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If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
The cake can be baked in two pans for thicker layers. The batter can also be baked as cupcakes. 
The cakes can be baked several days before, wrapped and refrigerated. Or bake several weeks before and freeze.
I like to chill the assembled cake to set the layers. Leave the cake at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving to soften the frosting. Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen because of the cream cheese in the frosting.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 248mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 4804IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Utterly amazing. Cakes came out perfect, cream cheese topping complemented it exactly.

    I was a little stressed making it the first time, but having made many of your recipes in the past I had confidence it would turn out fine – and crikey it turned out better than that!

    Thank you so much for your knowledge and recipes!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Eileen, I love carrot cake, and yours looks both absolutely delicious and pretty straightforward to make, even for a novice like me.

    I really want to give your recipe a try, but I don’t have any round cake pans or muffin pans.

    Can I bake this is in a loaf pan or a sheet pan? If so, how should I adjust the temperature and or baking time?

    Thanks for your help – and for all the hours you spend perfecting your recipes and setting them down clearly and simply so that all of us can enjoy them too!

    1. Yes, you could bake it either way. If you use a half sheet pan it will certainly bake much more quickly. I would think maybe 15-20 minutes. You could slice the sheet into rectangles to make a layered rectangular cake. You could also bake it in a 9×13 pan if you have one for a single layer cake. The loaf pan would bake up more like a banana bread and would probably take longer, maybe 45-55 minutes. In any case just keep an eye on the oven and watch the progress. Whichever pan you use, if the cake springs back in the middle, it’s done. You could also use the “toothpick” test. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean the cake is baked.

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Very moist and flavorful . . . but who is surprised with a recipe from Eileen Grey? Very easy to follow instructions, unique approach with grinding the carrots and nuts. Substitution of Currants for Raisins was a great idea! I simply am addicted to Baking Sense for my
    Dessert and Sourdough recipes. Have never had a failure and I’m not a pro! Thank you so much Eileen, for all the work you’ve gone thru to share your knowledge so graciously.

  4. Hi Eileen,

    I love carrot juice, and find juicing my carrots reveals a very intense carrot flavor that I don’t necessarily always taste while eating the same whole carrot. I have a professional grade juicer and have carrots pulp leftover that is dry as sand. If I juice 1 pound of carrots and then mix the juice with the pulp to rehydrate, do you think it will be ok? It would in essence be the same pound of carrots your recipe calls for but am wondering if the dough would be more liquid and change the structure of the cake?

    I also plan to finely chop the walnuts, and mix with coarse sugar, cinnamon and a hint of orange blossom water (it reminds me the filling of a middle eastern pastry “maamoul” that my aunt used to make) and do a very lightly sweetened labne frosting.

    Thanks for your comments, love your concept of understanding the science behind baking.

    1. I’m intrigued by your idea of juicing the carrots and mixing them with the pulp. I can’t say for sure, but I think it would probably work out ok.

    2. @Eileen Gray,

      I did juice the carrots and then mixed the juice with the pulp. The purée was smooth and had zero lumps. The bright orange color was so beautiful. The cake came out moist and had depth of flavors.

      The tartness and richness of the very lightly sugared labne frosting (drained full fat yogurt) in my opinion balanced the sweetness of the cake. It also holds very well the layers so that is always a plus.

      I sprinkled the frosting with a mix of crushed walnuts, coarse sugar and orange blossom water. It gave it an oriental flair ☺️

      I am making it again today and I soaked the raisins in orange blossom water overnight
      and ended up not having hardly any water to throw as the raisins had drank it all nearly.

      I am a bit afraid of the amount of sugar + raisins in the recipe so I lower it by 20%.

      I would have loved to crush pistachios instead of walnuts for the topping, and maybe some add some mandarin wedges but didn’t have any at hand.

      I like to take liberties when it comes to following recipes so understanding the why’s has helped me lose my fear of baking and I now enjoy it more. THANK YOU FOR THAT.

  5. 5 stars
    Okay, this cake is divine.

    I am pregnant and craving carrot cake constantly, so I used half unsweetened apple sauce to replace half the oil to try and make it a tad healthier. Texture wise the results are great. I am wondering how it would turn out if I replaced all of the oil next time…?

    Taste wise I find the cake very very sweet, it might be sweater than you’d make it because of the applesauce and the raisins – I didn’t have currants so I used raisins, soaking was brilliant. What would happen if I was to half the white sugar, the brown sugar, or both? Would it only impact the color and sweetness or would it mess up the texture as well?

    I thought I liked the chunky texture but I learned that smaller carrot bits makes the cake taste more like carrot. I did half thin and half coarse grated carrots. No regrets. I used pecans and I haven’t made frosting yet, planning on topping it with roasted pecan and toasted coconut.

    I am literally eating a 3rd piece without frosting as I am typing this. I need to find a way to make this cake healthier for my baby…. Because I don’t care about eating less of it.

    Thank you!!

    1. I couldn’t say the exact outcome when you alter the ingredients without testing. I would gradually reduce the sugar to the point that you like the flavor and the texture is still acceptable.

  6. I made this as cupcakes. I needed 30 and thought 1 recipe might not be enough so I made 1.5 of the recipe. It made 46! I made the frosting as written, frosted 45 (we’d sampled one without frosting) and have some leftover. It is truly the best carrot cake we’ve ever had.

  7. Just to let you know I’m opposite of you I enjoy a chunky Carrot Cake but thanks for showing me another option.

  8. Hi! I’ve been searching for the perfect carrot cake recipe without using a lot of leavening. I’ve tried out a few recipes but there is this aftertaste from the leavening. The recipes I used, used both baking powder and soda. Can you explain why your recipe uses 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda? Thank you! I’m really curious.

    1. The leavening in carrot cake has to do a lot of heavy lifting. This batter is quite wet and has lots of chunky ingredients that can weigh the batter down as it rises. There are also some acidic ingredients (brown sugar, currants) which is why there is some baking soda. The eggs and flour provide structure for the cake crumb and the additional leavening helps prevent it from being dense and gummy. If you object to the amount of leavening you can experiment with gradually lower amounts to get to a flavor you like without compromising the texture too much for your taste.

  9. I have friends with diverticulosis but I dearly love walnuts, so do you have any information on how grinding the nuts to a much smaller size might affect her digestive system? Common sense tells me it would be worse, but maybe just the opposite is true. It would be wonderful if we could all eat this without consequences. (I will soak my currants/raisins in bourbon rather than water.)

    1. @Nelda Moore,
      You might want to make cupcakes. Pour some batter in a few cups for your friend, then add the nuts.

  10. Carrot cake is my absolute favourite. I now make it in a sheet pan. It bakes in only 10 minutes but to ensure the carrots are cooked, you add a bit of bicarbonate. The layers are thin, so you can make a 2 or 3 or 4-layer cake.

  11. For the frosting, when you say “toss in the softened cream cheese”, do you mean the whole block in one piece? Or cut in chunks first?
    I’m looking forward to bringing this to Easter dinner.

    1. I don’t think this cake is any of those things. It is moist and tender. Yes, you can omit the currants if you don’t like them.

  12. Hi Eileen, I’m wondering the recipe ask for a pound of carrots is it a pound before peelling?
    Thank you

  13. Hi Eileen, Back in 1981 when my mom found a carrot cake recipe in the Sunday Bulletin, the recipe called for 3 cups grated carrots. To my joy, I was the lucky one hand grating the carrots
    while studying for a Gov’t Economics Final in summer school. Grated carrots do make a big difference. Now i shred the carrots in the food processor and then chop them to a fine blend.
    best cake ever!

  14. I just made this cake and when I tasted the batter, the nutmeg completely overpowered everything. It tastes and smells more like a holiday spiced cake. I can’t taste the actual cake bc I’m making it for a friend. I’m so worried it’s going to be ruined with nutmeg. Does nutmeg flavor tone down after it’s baked?

    1. I’ve never had this experience with the nutmeg in this cake. There is significantly more ginger and cinnamon and I find that those come forward more than the nutmeg. I use freshly grated nutmeg and find that it blends nicely with the flavors in the cake. If you are really worried and want to taste the cake after it’s baked but before you assemble the cake you can trim a bit off the top as you prepare the layers.

      1. Thank you for your reply! My friend said it was delicious! I’m making it again, and will get fresh nutmeg. I think mine might be a bit old!

  15. I have a nephew that is crazy for carrot cake. This is definitely one that I am going to bake for him. I will see if he likes grated carrot and chopped nuts or this ‘food processor’ version. Just seeing your photos of the cake, makes my mouth water!! Will definitely let you know how it goes.

  16. Can pineapple be used in this recipe? If so how much would you recommend? Also can some butter be subbed for some of the oil?

    1. Each of those changes would make quite a difference in the recipe and would have to be tested. I couldn’t give you a specific answer without rewriting and testing the recipe.

  17. Trying your Carrot Cake recipe this week. Want to bake 1 (one) solid cake .
    I’m thinking 8 or 9” spring form pan.
    Any idea on time and temp?

    1. I would say a 9″ or 10″ pan. An 8″ round would be very full with the batter and might not bake up properly.

  18. Hi Eleen
    The recipe looks wonderful.
    Several questions-
    1. Can this be made as a bundt cake and then sliced into layers? What modifications should be made?
    2. Could I use half AP flour and half whole wheat flour?
    3. You say to use currants – are these black or red currants?
    3a. Could I substitute golden raisins for the currants?
    4. What type of vegetable oil do you suggest using.
    5. Is the baking on conventional or convection setting in the oven?

    1. Hi Nate – 1. I haven’t tried baking this in a Bundt pan, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. 2. Half and half ap/whole wheat might be a bit much. I would start with 3/4 ap and 1/4 whole wheat and see how that works. 3. Dried currents, found in the raisin aisle. 3a. Yes 4. Any vegetable oil is fine. 5. Unless specified the the temperature setting is for conventional. For convection, lower the temperature by 25 degrees. I bake almost every cake with convection.

  19. “Some recipes through in some coconut or pineapple for added flavor”. I’m pretty sure you meant to write throw, not through.

    The recipe does sound delicious. Sorry for nitpicking.

  20. Best Carrot Cake I’ve made! Super moist, super flavorful, fantastic texture due to grinding down of the carrots and walnuts. I used golden raisins that I soaked and chopped into smaller bits. I also do most of my baking that requires oil with coconut oil, I didn’t notice any coconut “essence” about the cake, but I wouldn’t have minded it either. This is one recipe I will hold on to and continue to use!

    1. Thanks, Ann. So glad you liked it. You could certainly use coconut oil in place of some or all of the vegetable oil. Did you use coconut oil instead? If so, how was it?

    1. Hi PJ. Do you usually add pineapple chunks or chopped up pineapple? Either way, pineapple is very juicy and would add a lot of liquid to the batter. My first thought would be to mix the currents and pineapple together and let the currents soak up the pineapple juice (rather than using water as is listed in the recipe). If you try it let me know how it works.

  21. I made this for the hubby’s birthday and it was the most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever made. Your instructions are so spot-on! Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Hi! My oven is small and can only fit 1 pan. Can this be baked 1 pan at a time? Will there be no effect to the batter which is not yet baked? Or do you recommend cutting the recipe in half?

    Apologies for too many questions. I just really want to try this. Thanks in advance.

    1. No problem, Kathy. I love questions. Yes, I think it would be fine to bake the cakes 1 at a time. Do you have more than 1 cake pan? If so, I would put the batter in the pans all at once and then bake each one as the oven is free. Let me know how it comes out. If you use social media I’d love it if you post a photo and tag Baking Sense.

  23. Carrot cake is my boyfriend’s favorite cake! This looks gorgeous! I love the layers. So delicious!

  24. Carrot cake is my personal favorite! Just like you… I believe mostly because of the cheese frosting. But this deep orange 3 layers carrot cake of yours looks like one I need to try ASAP! So pretty and surely yummy!

      1. I purchased your new book Easy Baking From Scratch and the first thing I made was the carrot cake, for my husband. It states to use 3-8×3 inch pans. So thinking how typical carrot cakes are baked I used just that, 8×3 inch pans. I wish the recipe in your book was clear just like your website is where it states to use 8 inch pans. The made one tall rectangle cake. But the cake was delicious and it’s my go to recipe for carrot cake. I just wish I knew to check the website before baking.

          1. I used a 8×3” loaf pan not a 8”round. I’ve neber seen a round cake pan described as 8×3” pan before.

          2. Oh, I see. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an 8×3 loaf pan. The 3″ refers to the height of the pan. Did you bake it as a loaf? How did it turn out?

  25. Every time I read your blogs, I want to run to the kitchen and start baking. ☺ thank you. I’ll save this one too.

  26. This looks delicious! I am definitely going to try it for the carrot cake fans in my family.