Looking for an Easy Carrot Cake recipe that’s not only simple but also delicious? Look no further! Packed with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavor with a moist texture and tender crumb, this recipe is comforting and refreshing. Topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting, it’s better than anything you’ll find in the grocery store!
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Why You’ll Love This Simple Carrot Cake Recipe
Nothing says spring quite like indulging in a big piece of homemade carrot cake! It’s one of our favorite Easter recipes. However, we love it so much, we’ve been known to make it all year. Not only is this recipe easy to make, but it’s also:
- Sweetened with date paste for the best flavor and an extra moist texture.
- Baked in under an hour.
- Topped with a rich cream cheese frosting that tastes like an absolute dream.
- Baked in a large sheet pan, making it the best option for all your special occasions!
What You’ll Need
Just a handful of simple ingredients are all it takes to make this easy carrot cake recipe. In fact, you probably already have most of them waiting on hand! Here are the key ingredients you’ll need:
For the Carrot Cake:
- Flour – Regular all-purpose flour forms the base of the carrot cake batter.
- Sugar – A combination of granulated and brown sugar is used to sweeten the cake while keeping it moist.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – Make sure they’re fresh so your cake turns out fluffy!
- Salt – Used to enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
- Warm Spices – Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves create the unique warmth associated with moist carrot cake recipes.
- Vanilla Extract – Helps bring out the natural sweetness of the ingredients.
- Grated Carrots – Make sure to use whole, fresh carrots. Don’t opt for pre-shredded carrots! They won’t have the same flavor or result in the fluffy texture we’re looking to achieve.
- Vegetable Oil – Used to combine the ingredients, making the cake extra moist and rich. If needed, canola oil would work as well.
- Sour Cream – This is the secret to creating the best carrot cake recipe as it makes your dessert unbelievably moist and fluffy.
- Nuts – Chopped walnuts or pecans add a nutty flavor and a satisfying crunch.
- Date Paste – Not found in your typical carrot cake recipe, this takes the dessert to the next level with extra sweetness and a sticky texture. You can find pre-made date paste at the store, but it’s easy to make on your own with Medjool dates, water, and baking soda!
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
- Cream Cheese – You can’t have cream cheese frosting without cream cheese! For the best results, use a full-fat variety. However, no matter what you choose, make sure it’s plain.
- Butter – This allows for a creamy cream cheese frosting that’s super spreadable while maintaining the tangy cream cheese taste.
- Powdered Sugar – Balances out the flavors for a sweet dessert.
- Heavy Cream – Makes your frosting extra fluffy and rich.
- Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Bean Paste – When paired together, these ingredients create tons of depth for a well-balanced frosting layer no one can resist.
How to Make the Best Easy Carrot Cake Recipe
There’s no secret to making this delicious cake recipe! It’s just a matter of following the steps and having a bit of patience. Follow the steps below, and you’ll have a classic carrot cake sheet cake that makes for the absolutely perfect dessert!
- Prepare the Date Paste. Bring the pitted dates and water to a boil in a saucepan. Then, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until most of the water evaporates. Add the baking soda, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Then, stir continuously, and gently smash the dates with the back of a spoon until a thick paste is formed. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool.
- Sift the Dry Ingredients. In a bowl, sift together the flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.
- Beat the Wet Ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, oil, date paste, sour cream, and vanilla together on medium speed. then, add the eggs one at a time, and don’t forget to scrape the sides down in between!
- Combine the Wet and Dry Ingredients. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the flour mixture just until it is incorporated. Be careful not to overmix! Next, use a spatula to fold in the carrots.
- Bake. Pour the batter into a baking dish lined with
parchment paper, and place the cake batter in the preheated oven. Bake until a toothpick can be inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean. Set the cake aside to cool before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Prepare the Frosting. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy. Add half the powdered sugar to the bowl, beat until smooth, and add the remaining sugar, beating again. Next, beat the remaining ingredients into the mixture until you have a fluffy cream cheese frosting.
- Serve. Spread the frosting on top of the cake, slice, and serve!
How to Store
Although many bakers will admit to leaving carrot cake covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container on the counter for 1-2 days, the cream cheese topping means it should really be kept in the fridge. Stored properly, it will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
Or, for a longer-lasting option, wrap your cake either iced or uniced, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and freeze it for up to 2-3 months. To serve, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, set it out at room temperature before serving, and enjoy!
Common Questions About This Carrot Cake Recipe
Raisins are a controversial ingredient when it comes to carrot cake! Some people insist they have to be included while others are adamant they don’t belong. Personally, we don’t feel they’re necessary for this recipe, but feel free to include them if you want!
The most common reason why your cake might turn out dry is that it was overbaked. For a moist cake, be sure to measure carefully, avoid overmixing the batter, and keep a close eye on your oven!
Yes! Use a vegetable grater to peel the outer layer of the carrots before you shred them. Otherwise, your cake will turn out a bit bitter. Then, use a box grater or food processor to shred the carrots into pieces.
Absolutely! To make carrot cake cupcakes, pour the batter into a greased muffin tin. Then, place them in the oven for roughly 18 minutes. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them as baking times are likely to vary!
More Springtime Treats
Looking for more refreshingly sweet springtime treats? We’ve got you covered with more great recipes below!
- Strawberry Lemon Bundt Cake
- No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Squares
- Strawberry Cheesecake Chimichanga
- Lemon Loaf
Easy Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup Medjool dates pitted
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 pound ~3 cups carrots, freshly grated*
- Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans chopped
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 8 Tablespoons butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the Date Paste:
- In a medium saucepan, add the pitted dates and water. Bring the ingredients to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until most of the water evaporated. Add the baking soda, and remove the pan from the heat.1 cup Medjool dates, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking soda
- While stirring, use the back of a spoon to smash the dates until a thick paste is formed.
- Place in the fridge to cool.
For the Carrot Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 13×9 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, oil, date paste, sour cream, and vanilla together until smooth.1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil, ¼ cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl in between.4 large eggs
- With the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Do not overmix!
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the carrots and nuts, if using.1 pound ~3 cups carrots, freshly grated*, Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.
- Set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add half the powdered sugar, and beat again. Add the remaining powdered sugar, beating until well incorporated.
- Add the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and heavy cream, and beat for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake, slice, and serve.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.