The Best Moist Carrot Cake

The Best Moist Carrot Cake

This amazing carrot cake is perfect for Easter or anytime of year! With its outstanding balance of sweetness and spice flavours, moist crumb, and velvety cream cheese frosting, this is truly the best carrot cake ever!

My go to carrot cake can be made into a multi-layered cake, cupcakes or a tray bake. And making it from scratch means that you can control what you decide to put in it, allowing you to personalize it to your taste. It’s written as I like it best, but you can make adjustments as you like. Check out my variations section for suggestions.

The frosting is delicious and the type of cream cheese used is very important. The number one reason for runny frosting is accidently using cream cheese spread or low fat versions. . I have included the recipe for the cream cheese with the carrot cake but I recommend reading my post on cream cheese frosting to help you get it spot on.

If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment below and rate it – it’s really helpful to me and the other readers. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #thegourmetlarder on Instagram. I love seeing what you come up with! 🙂


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    For this easy carrot cake recipe all you need are these ingredients:

    • Raisins – plump juicy raisins add a little sweetness and texture to the sponge.
    • Plain (all-purpose) flour – builds structure.
    • Shredded coconut – adds structure, texture and helps to keep the cake moist.
    • Baking powder and baking soda – are chemical leavening agents which increase the volume of the ingredients, creating a nice light fluffy texture.
    • Spices – add the most delicious aromatic flavour. The recipe calls for ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
    • Nuts – chopped pecans or walnuts are folded into the batter and used to decorate this cake for flavour and texture.
    • Freshly grated carrots and apples – give this cake a delicious flavour and add moisture.
    • Neutral-tasting oil (vegetable, rapeseed or sunflower oil) – creates moisture, makes the cake light and lengthens the cake’s life span. I prefer using oil in cakes where possible as oil remains liquid at room temperature, whereas butter solidifies and creates a much denser, less fluffy cake.  
    • Caster sugar – adds structure and sweetness to the sponge.
    • Light brown sugar – creates a caramel undertone and helps keep the cake moist.
    • Lemon juice and zest – add a little tanginess to the cake, cutting through the sweetness of the carrots and apple.
    • Eggs – helps to bind the ingredients together and add flavour.


    I highly recommend adding a good pinch of salt to your cakes. It might seem counterproductive, but it’s not. Salt helps balance out the sweetness and richness. It also elevates the other ingredients, bringing out the best characteristics of any recipe. In a seemingly absurd or contradictory way, salt intensifies the mouth’s ability to taste sweetness. It is the sodium that sends signals to move glucose into the sweet taste receptor cells in our tongue, triggering the cells to register sweetness. The result is that salt not only alerts our ‘salt sensitivity’, but also our ‘sweet sensitive’ taste buds.
    I recommend Maldon Sea salt flakes or Cornish sea salt for baking.


    While I am making recommendations for alternative ingredients, I haven’t necessarily tried them. If you try making any adaptions, I would love to know how you get on and share it with the other readers.



    As I mentioned, this carrot cake recipe can easily be adapted with a few simple ingredient changes, allowing you to personalize it to your taste.

    • Dried fruits: try different fruits, such as currants, sultanas, medjool dates, dried cranberries or pineapple. I almost always plump up my dried fruit, this way they don’t remove moisture from the cake when its baking. Before starting to make your cake, pour boiling water over the dried fruit, then begin making your cake and simply drain the fruit when the time comes to use them.
    • Citrus: try the grated zest of an orange and a tablespoon of juice instead of the lemon.
    • Chocolates: if you fancy a little chocolate, add some chocolate chips to the cake mix.
    • Nuts: replace the pecans with walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
    • Spices: use different spices, like cloves, cardamom or allspice. And instead of ground ginger, you can replace it with stem ginger giving a real warm and pungent complementary kick to the carrots and apple.


    Because frosting can be a little fiddly and time consuming, try making muffins or a tray bake instead.

    TRAY BAKE – half the recipe will make: a (20cm / 8in square pan), bake at 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F / gas 5 for 26-30 minutes. Check out my cream cheese frosting for the ultimate finish.

    CUPCAKES – this carrot cake recipe makes:

    12 large cupcakes (6cm base 4.5cm high cups), bake at 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F / gas 5 for 30 minutes.

    24 regular cupcakes (5cm wide base x 4cm high cases), bake at 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F / gas 5 for 16-20 minutes.

    Carrot cake


    Carrot cake is traditionally paired with cream cheese frosting, however you can frost it in a variety of different ways.

    • Swiss meringue buttercream – considered to be the superior buttercream, made using cooked egg whites whisked into a meringue. This recipe is lighter and silkier. It can be flavoured, coloured and holds its shape for longer. However, it is slightly more complicated to make.

    If you experiment, I would love to know how you get on and share it with the other readers.


    Serving: one carrot cake slice

    Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, or the source of nutrition data.

    I strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy.

    I encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.


    Cover leftover frosted cake tightly or store it in an air tight container in the fridge. The cake is best eaten within 4-5 days. I prefer to serve the cake at room temperature, so let the cake sit out for an hour prior to serving it.

    Make ahead – This carrot cake gets better with time, the flavours develop, the moisture prevails, and the cream cheese frosting sets into the layers. You can make and frost the cake a day in advance.

    Freezing: While you can freeze the frosted cake I would not recommend it. I would suggest wrapping unfrosted cooled cake layers in clingfilm/plastic wrap. Place them inside a freezer bag and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

    © THE GOURMET LARDER. All images and content are copyright protected. If you want to share this recipe, please do so using the share buttons provided. Please do not republish the recipe or its content in full instead, include a link to this post for the recipe. Further information can be found in my FAQ’s.


    Here is some kitchen equipment that I use and recommend for this recipe.

    I like the sturdiness of this bowl and its 4 litre capacity means I can use it for mixing just about everything in the kitchen. It is also microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.

    These different size mixing bowls are really useful depending on the amount of food you are preparing. They also have airtight lids that fit snugly to seal and keep food fresh, so this set can be used as dry storage bowls with lids on. The plastic lid of the largest bowl has a removable centre. Where one of 3 graters can be used.

    I do own a plastic mixing bowl but I am personally not a big fan of them. These 3 bowls are on the smaller size but good for the odd cake making.

    These aluminium pans are good, make sure to line them to avoid any disappointment.

    These springform pans make removing cakes from them after baking a doddle. I personally tend to line them as often as possible to ensure that my cakes don’t break for added security.

    I like this model of electric hand mixer because it comes with a large stand, meaning you don’t have to always hold it.

    The Gourmet Larder is an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    TIP: I highly recommend using metric measurements and a digital kitchen scale, rather than cup measurements. If you have ever ended up with dry, dense or crumbly baked goods, it might be because of inaccurate volume measurements, not all measuring cups are made equally. All my recipes on this blog are carefully developed so that you can easily recreate them in your own kitchen with success, using metric measurements. It is also a lot easier, less messy and you will get far better, consistent results. 🙂
    If you are interested in understanding conversions, here you will find the best conversion chart.


    Lining your pan – I highly recommend lining your pan with baking parchment paper, it makes it so much easier to remove the cakes.

    Domed sponges – I have not had an issue with this recipe but if your cakes come out of the oven with an extra large domed top I would recommend giving it a little trim. A flat cake can be stacked much more easily and looks visually appealing. Use a long serrated knife to carefully slice the rounded tops off each layer.

    Frosting – Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. This is important because it will prevent the frosting from melting when applied to a warm cake.

    Decorating – I lined the sides of the cake with crushed pecans and topped the cake with candied carrot curls.
    Alternatively, you can use a piping tip to pipe frosting swirls on top of the cake or create piped carrot shapes out of coloured frosting. For a more simple design you can just spread the frosting on top and garnish with sprinkles, cinnamon, flaked coconut or any chopped nuts. If you use lemon or orange instead, you can decorate it with lemon/orange slices.

    Carrot cake

    Best Ever Carrot Cake

    Preparation:25 minutes
    Baking:35 minutes
    Total:1 hour
    Servings: 16 slices
    This amazing carrot cake is perfect for Easter or anytime of year! With its outstanding balance of sweetness and spice flavours, moist crumb, and velvety cream cheese frosting, this is truly the best carrot cake ever!


    • 80 g raisins (or dried cranberries, optional)
    • 280 g plain or all-purpose flour
    • 50 g shredded coconut
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
    • 80 g chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
    • 350 g carrots (fresh finely grated )
    • 240 g apple (grated, 2-3)
    • 170 g neutral-tasting oil (vegetable or sunflower oil)
    • 120 g caster sugar
    • 160 g light brown sugar
    • half the juice and zest of an organic lemon (optional)
    • 4 medium eggs (200g total)

    Cream Cheese frosting

    • 400 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
    • 200 g butter (at room temperature)
    • 600-800 g icing sugar (US powdered sugar)
    • 1 pod of vanilla or ¼ tsp pure vanilla paste (optional)


    • 160 g chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


    • Preheat your oven to 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F / gas 5.
      Line the base of three 20cm (8") or two 23cm (10") cake pans with a circle of parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray. Alternatively you can line the sides with parchment also.
    • Next, place the raisins in a small heat-proof bowl and pour over just enough boiling water to cover them. Place aside until needed.
    • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
      Fold the grated carrots, apples and chopped pecans in until just combined.
    • In another bowl, whisk the sugars, lemon and oil together until smooth. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother.
    • Drain the raisins from the water and add them with the other wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk carefully to combine. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
    • Baking: Divide the batter into the lined cake pans. Bake for 35-38 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
      Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further.
      (At this point, the cakes can be frozen for up to 2 months; defrost in the fridge before frosting.)
    • Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined and smooth. Alternatively use an electric mixer, either hand-held or standing to make it easier. Add about half of the icing sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Then add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined. Add the remaining sugar until the desired consistency is achieved and it is well combined and silky smooth. For more details and tips, check out my cream cheese frosting recipe.
    • Assembly: Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Frost the top of the first cake. Add the second cake and repeat with another layer of frosting. Top with the final layer of cake. Use the remaining frosting to coat around the sides and on top of the cake, smoothing everything out with a cake scraper. It doesn't have to be perfect!
      Decorate as you like while the frosting is soft. I used toasted pecans and candied carrot curls.
    • Then remove the cake from the fridge about 1-2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature.

    Notes & Tips

    Cover leftover frosted cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    KEYWORDS best ever, cake recipes, easter baking, how to make carrot cake, nut recipes, spring recipes

    candied carrot curls

    Candied Carrot Curls

    Preparation:5 minutes
    Baking:45 minutes
    Cooling:40 minutes
    Total:1 hour 30 minutes
    Servings: 1 cakes worth
    These curls add a delightful crunch, taste great and add a special touch to this carrot cake. They are also surprisingly easy to make.


    • 1-2 pieces orange or yellow carrots (or a combination) (peeled)
    • 200 g caster sugar
    • 200 g/ml water


    • Choose a saucepan with a wide base, so that the carrot strips will lie flat in the bottom without curling up the edges. Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
      Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin strips from the carrot lengthways. I prefer to discard the first couple of strips and the last as they are very small. Using the strips closer to the centre of the carrot as they are wider.  
    • Place the strips of carrot into the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until very soft, about 15 minutes.
      Meanwhile, preheat oven to 120°C / 110°C fan / 230°F / gas 1/2 and prepare a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
    • Once the time is up, drain the carrots in a strainer over a heat proof bowl and leave them until they are cool enough to handle 5-8 minutes.
      Baking: arrange strips in a single layer on your prepared baking tray and bake until tacky but no longer wet, 30 to 40 minutes.
    • Working somewhat quickly, spiral the carrot strips one at a time around the handle of a wooden spoon. Allow to sit a few seconds then slip it off.
      (If strips harden before you curl them, bake for a few minutes to re-soften.)
    • Allow to cool completely, then add to the top of the carrot cake or store in an air tight container.
    KEYWORDS cake decoration


    If you tried this Carrot Cake or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you got on in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you’re there!

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    Nigel sig

    2 thoughts on “The Best Moist Carrot Cake”

    • I got to the point of putting the mixture into the tins and my daughter noticed the raisins we had put aside with boiled water . Did I miss this point above or was it excluded from your instructions? When do we add the raisins? Thank you

      • HI Pippa, Sorry if it was not very clear. I had originally meant for the raisins to be added with the wet ingredients at step 5, but I realised this may not have been clear. I have updated the instructions now. Thank you. I hope the carrot came out nice and you enjoyed it.

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