How to Make the Best Carrot Cake Ever

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I have been told multiple times that this was the best carrot cake ever. For years now I have been making this cake and this is why: There have been many of these carrot cakes that have been eaten, bought and even auctioned off. Some for well over $200.00 dollars. So, I tend to agree.  

Nice delicious slice of the best carrot cake ever.

What Makes It The Best Carrot Cake Ever?

Most carrot cakes have a lot of spices in them that I do not like. This one does not, which makes it perfect in my book. Plus, using the fruit and vegetable ingredients makes it super moist.

Oh raisins, I forgot to mention the raisins. That’s right NO RAISINS or NO NUTMEG in this recipe! Best Carrot Cake Ever!

Does It Take Long to Make the Best Carrot Cake Ever?

This recipe takes a little time so if you are going to make this plan on about 30 to 45 minutes prep time and then about 30 minutes to bake. You will need to cool completely before icing. Icing this cake will take around 10-15 minutes, too.

All depends on how neat you’re trying to be. Luckily this cake is great to prepare ahead, ice later and even freezes well for short periods of time. Which, if you are traveling over the holidays and you do the steps to freeze properly, it can travel well. 

Carrot Cake ready to eat - Pin 2

Quick overview of ALL the steps before actually mixing:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Get ALL of your equipment and ingredients out BEFORE you ever even start.

Get your Prep Work done before any mixing begins.

Parchment cut.

Pans sprayed.

ALL of your chopping completed.

Cans drained

Get all the “wet” ingredients close to the mixer first.

Ingredients sifted together and set aside.

Proper Prep Work Makes Baking the Best Carrot Cake Ever, Even Simpler!

This recipe makes enough batter for three 9in. Round pans. I cut out parchment or wax paper rounds to place in the bottom of the pan. This helps the cakes come out easily.

Just trace the bottom of your pan onto the paper and then cut them out. Believe me, you will be glad you took the time to do this. This is a very sticky cake batter, so this makes it easy to dump from pans.

BUT, you still want to use a baking spray to coat the bottom and sides of your pan well. If you only have non-stick cooking spray, it will work.

Old fashion Crisco or buttering the bottom and sides then sprinkling with flour still fills the bill. Just make sure that you shake the excess flour out over the sink or trash can before parchment or batter goes in.

Chop – Chop!!!

In your food processor chop enough carrots for 2 cups of grated/chopped carrots. I use the whole carrots with the peel still on. (Yes, I wash them well first and let them dry.) I think that these taste better. You can use those little mini ones if you want too. Set to the side.  

Next, you will want to chop your pecans. I chop what I will want for the batter as well as an extra ¼ – ½ cup for garnishing the top after the icing goes on.

Time to Drain and Strain

Drain the juice off your canned pineapple. Use a strainer to let all the juice completely drain (this is important). Save your juice to pour back on the left over pineapple if you had a larger can than needed for the recipe.

The juice can be saved and used for making cocktails, smoothies and punch. You can freeze in cubes for later use, too. The holidays are coming… Lots of drinks need pineapple juice.

If you happened to not have crushed, just use your food processor to do the job for you. There are many times I have pineapple chunks or rings and go this route. Save and add juice back to it. It can be stored for a few days in the fridge, or pop it into the freezer. 

Partial ingredients for the carrot cake.

“Wet” Ingredients Gathered for the Best Carrot Cake Ever!

Next to the mixer you want all the so-called “wet” ingredients. 

Crack the eggs one at a time. NOT over the mixer bowl (this makes shell salvage much easier…). Put all of them in the mixer. 

Add each ingredient in order, as listed one at a time. I do want to make mention of how to make buttermilk if you happen to not have any in the house. 

Here is a tip for making improvised buttermilk. For those of us who do not use a lot of buttermilk and never buy it here is a little trick my mother-in-law taught me: Add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular milk.

Stir and let it sit for a few minutes. Let it thicken before you use it. Viola! Buttermilk. Works perfect in recipes.

Sifting those Dry Ingredients: Ready and on Stand By!

In a medium bowl sift the following together: All-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set this off to the side, but not far from the mixer.

This gets us totally prepped and ready for actually mixing and baking the cake. More details are in the recipe, so I won’t be redundant. You can get all those details from it. 

Can’t Forget the Very Best Part – Cream Cheese Icing!

The icing is a cream cheese icing. Here is what you will need.

Cream Cheese (room temperature), butter (room temperature), vanilla, powdered sugar, and pecans for topping.

 Mix together butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar a little at a time at low speeds. If yours is too loose add a little more powdered sugar. I have learned that if the butter or cream cheese gets to warm this happens. 

Just set it in the fridge for a few minutes and start mixing again. This should thicken it up. Using private label cream cheese and butter can also keep this icing from setting up like it should. 

Learn how your private brands hold up for this. IT DEFINITELY MATTERS. When this cake gets to room temperature and this is what your issue is… your layers can definitely slide. NOT GOOD. If in doubt, use brand names for this recipe, especially if you will be serving in warm temps or it will be setting out for a while. 

Just a word from the wise. Been there & done that. I have had them slide off of each other. I have had to serve the leaning tower of cake. Scary when it’s for someone’s special occasion. 

Let’s Talk Layers

Take your cakes and place one of the layers on whatever you are going to serve it on. Ice it and repeat until you have all three layers iced. Top with chopped or pecan halves.

Best Carrot Cake Ever ready to serve.

Looking for a Simpler Cake Recipe?

Should you be one of those people that icing, layers and multiple pans aren’t your thing, then I have a perfect cake recipe for you. This easy, delicious Pumpkin Semi-Homemade cake would be exactly what you will want to try!

Nice delicious slice of the best carrot cake ever.

Carrot Cake

Southern Cabana Boy
The best carrot cake that you will ever eat.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 350 kcal


  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ¾ cups Canola, Vegetable or Avocado Oil
  • ¾ cups Buttermilk *Buttermilk substitute works fine.
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla NOT Imitation Flavoring
  • 2 cups Grated Carrots Food Processor for this. Large whole carrots are best.
  • 1 1/2 cup Chopped Pecans Keep back 1/4-1/2 c for garnish on the top after icing.
  • 1 1/2 cup Sweetened Flake Coconut
  • 8 oz can Crushed Pineapple (drained)
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour** All dry ingredients sift together. **Flour mixture.
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda**
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon**
  • 1/2 tsp Salt**

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

  • 3 8 oz Cream Cheese Room Temperature
  • 1 Stick Butter (1/2 cup) NOT Margarine Room Temperature
  • 2 tsp Vanilla NOT Imitation Flavoring
  • 1 16 oz Powder Sugar May need extra.
  • 1/4-1/2 c Pecans Add to top after icing.


  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Add the following ingredients to mixer on low speed, one at a time and in order listed below. Mix all together until creamy.
  • Add the flour mixture** a little at a time. Mix together at low speed (adjust if needed).
    Add your carrots. Mix well.
    Add your pineapple. Mix well.
    Add your pecans. Mix well.
    Add your coconut. Mix well.
  • Spray the 3 pans and place your paper cut-outs in the bottom of the pan.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans.
  • Place on the center rack of oven and bake about 30 minutes. You will need to test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. If it does not bake another 3 to 5 minutes until it comes out clean. Take out of oven.
  • Place on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Use a knife to run around the edges of the cake to loosen from the pan. Flip the cakes while in pans onto a cooling rack. Remember to remove the parchment paper cut outs from the cake. They will come out with the cake. Let them cool down completely before you ice. See the Cream Cheese Icing recipe.
  • This cake freezes very well. You can make the cake a few days ahead of time. Wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and place in freezer. When you are ready just take the layers out and then ice them.

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

  • Place all the cream cheese in the mixing bowl.
  • Cream it for a bit till smooth on medium/high speed.
  • Add butter and mix again till blended well together.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Should it not be thickening, add more powdered sugar. FYI we have found that private label butter, more so than cream cheese can cause this icing to be a little less firm. It also matters if the cream cheese and butter get "too" warm then it is softer than it needs to be. You should stick it in the fridge to firm it while cake is cooling. This can be made ahead of time, too.

Homemade Buttermilk Substitute

  • Here is a tip for the buttermilk. For those of us who do not use a lot of buttermilk and never buy it here is a trick. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. Stir and let it sit for a few minutes. You will see it thicken.


Serving: 1Calories: 350kcal
Keyword Best Recipe Ever, Carrot Cake, Homemade
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Maybe a Few Tips & Tricks to Help:

  1. Should you want to serve on a nice cake plate; put strips of wax paper under the edges of the cake to cover the cake plate. Ice, then gently slide out wax paper for your serving plate to remain spotless.
  2. If you want to carry this somewhere that you will be leaving it; buy 10” cardboard rounds & boxes. The boxes need to be at least 6” high for this cake to fit. We keep a stash. Makes life so easy.
  3. The absolute easiest way to ice this cake? If you have time to make ahead: Cool wrap in two layers of plastic wrap, freeze, ice while frozen and you won’t need a crumb coat.
  4. Maybe you have room in the freezer for a whole cake? To save time you can make it ahead. Place the cake on a cardboard round. Ice and top with pecans before you set it in the freezer. It will be completely ready to serve. Put it in the freezer until it is solid frozen solid, this should take just a few hours. Afterwards put it in a box, container or carrier. If using a box wrap the outside of it in 2 layers of plastic wrap if it will be more than 4 or 5 days before eating. It’s ready when you are to serve, travel or deliver. Just make sure you take it out of the freezer a couple of hours prior to eating to allow ample time to thaw.

The above tips were learned after many years of making this recipe and a few other of our family favorites. There have been many holidays and special occasions where I have had friends and family order my cakes. My list of specialties consist of a variety of over 25. One Christmas season I baked and delivered over 40 cakes within a two-week time span. Wow, that was a lot of sugar & spice and everything nice. 


24 thoughts on “How to Make the Best Carrot Cake Ever”

  1. This looks very close to my own “best carrot cake ever,” which people rave about. But I have a special ingredient you didn’t mention here. 🙂 I still think SCB and I need to have a carrot cake-off. I’m gluten free now, so I haven’t made this cake in YEARS. It does take a lot of time and effort, so it’s only for special occasions (or special people).

    I love that you finally shared it! The instructions are so thorough, and thanks for including the freezing instructions. I’ve never had to freeze mine, but I’ll keep these instructions for future reference.


    • He can never pass a good challenge! Just say when. Glad you thing the instructions are thorough. He’s been making it for so long that sometimes it’s easy to forget exactly what you do. Hope those freezing tips help in the future! XOXO

  2. 5 stars
    My mom makes an amazing carrot cake our family and friends are obsessed with, so we will have to try your recipe out and compare! It looks great, so I am sure it is super tasty as well. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Looks delicious 😋 and the instructions are easy to follow, I’m definitely going to share this with my sister since she loves to bake cakes and I love to eat them.


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