Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Triple Layer Carrot Cake Slice

Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts!  But I so rarely make it. After making this moist and flavorful cake and realizing how easy it is, (with just a bit of organization ahead of time), I will likely make it more often! Adapted from and inspired by the Ultimate Carrot Cake Recipe from Southern Living, this cake can be further enhanced by the addition of this Buttermilk Glaze. I did not do this, but I’m thinking this buttermilk glaze would be awesome with any cake at all!

To make it a 2-layer cake, just pour the batter into 2 9” cake pans, and bake for 28-32 minutes, instead of 22-26 minutes, and spread the frosting over the sides as well as between the layers and on top!

  • Author: Laura
  • Prep Time: 60 min
  • Cook Time: 25 - 30 min
  • Total Time: 2 1/2 hr (includes cooling time)
  • Yield: 1-9” cake 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking



For the Cake:

  • 2 1/2 c AP Flour
  • 2 t Baking Soda
  • 1 T Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1/2 c Butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 c Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c Brown Sugar (either light or dark)
  • 1/2 c neutral oil (I used olive oil, but canola or vegetable oil is ok)
  • 3 Lg eggs, room temp
  • 3/4 c Buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 t Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c Grated Carrots, (about 5 large carrots’ worth)- See Note 1
  • 18 oz. can crushed pineapple, well-drained
  • 1 c raisins (black or golden is fine)
  • 1 1/2 c Roasted, salted pecans, divided
  • 1/2 c coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), optional

For the Frosting:

  • 28oz. Blocks Cream cheese, at room temp
  • 9 oz. White chocolate
  • 2 oz. (1/2 stick), butter, at room temp
  • 2 T Brown sugar
  • 2 t Lemon juice


Prep all of your ingredients and the baking pans:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  If your pecans need toasting, place them in a bowl with 1 T melted butter and 1/8 t salt.  Stir, then pour onto a sheetpan.  Bake in preheated oven 8 minutes. Then roughly chop 1 cup of the pecans to go into the cake batter. Save the rest for garnishing the frosted cake.
  2. If using coconut, pour onto a separate sheetpan and toast 4-5 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Grate carrots in food processor or with a box grater. (See Note 2)
  4. Butter or grease and flour 2 or 3- 9 baking pans, or grease and line them with circles of parchment paper, also buttering the parchment paper.

Prepare the cake batter:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl and using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat together the softened butter, the 2 sugars until well-blended.  Add the oil,  beat until blended, then add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until each is just blended.
  3. Measure the buttermilk.  Then, to the egg and sugar mixture, alternate 3 additions of the dry ingredients with 2 additions of the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.  Then fold in the carrots, drained pineapple, 1 cup of the toasted pecans, raisins and coconut (if using).
  5. Spoon batter equally into baking pans.  Bake 3 pans for 22-26 minutes (mine took 24), or 2 pans for 28-32 mins. Cakes are done when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, and they are just beginning to pull away from the edges of the baking pan.
  6. Cool cakes on a wire rack in pans for 15 mins, then invert to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting:

  1. In a metal or glass bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate pieces, stirring regularly so the white chocolate does not burn. Set aside to cool while you whip the cream cheese.
  2. Using a stand- or hand-mixer, whip the room temperature cream cheese along with the brown sugar, until smooth, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour the cooled melted chocolate into the cream cheese. Then add the butter, and whip until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the 2 t lemon juice and continue to whip an additional minute.
  5. Frost the cooled cakes.  For a 3-layer cake, I like to generously frost just the tops of the layers.  If you are making a 2-layer cake, there should be enough frosting to frost between the layers, the top of the cake and the sides. Garnish with remaining pecans.  Refrigerate frosted cake prior to serving, and refrigerate any leftover cake.


  1. Grate carrots with a box grater or with a grater disk in a food processor.  A box grater will produce a “thinner carrot”, sort of a ribbon, whereas the food processor will produce a thicker carrot.  Both are fine in this recipe, just depends on your preference.
  2. For 2-layer cake, spread frosting between the layers, on top, and over the sides of cake.  You may have a bit of extra frosting.


Keywords: Carrot Cake, Southern Living, Cream Cheese, White Chocolate, Ultimate Carrot Cake Recipe, Best Carrot Cake Recipe

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