This easy carrot cake recipe is one of my favorite holiday desserts (it’s like a tastier fruit cake!), and it tends to be a crowd-pleaser. This single-layer version isn’t finicky and is perfect to bring to your next holiday gathering, especially if you have a baking dish with a lid. Let’s get into it!
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How to customize this easy carrot cake recipe:
Carrot cake is a surprisingly customizable dessert. It’s dense and moist so it can handle a lot of add-ins.
- If you want more layers of flavor, substitute part of the oil with applesauce or buttermilk, or substitute some canned pineapple for some of the carrots.
- You can use nuts, shredded coconut, raisins, chopped dates, or a combination of all of the above!
- For some extra oomph, add a hint of orange zest or orange extract to the batter, icing, or both.
- I love carrot cake that isn’t *too* sweet so that the sweet cream cheese icing is balanced. If you like a sweeter carrot cake, add 1/4 cup more granulated sugar!
Can you make this easy carrot cake recipe ahead of time?
Yes! Because this cake is so moist and dense, it actually tolerates refrigeration really well. That means you can make it the day before you need it! Just pull it out of the fridge an hour or two before you plan to serve it so it can come to room temperature.
Storing this simple carrot cake:
This carrot cake will last for about 3-4 days in the fridge. You will want to keep it in an airtight container to avoid it getting stale.
This cake can be frozen for up to 3 months (wrapped well and not iced).
And don’t forget to try our other delicious holiday recipes!
- Vegan Pot Pie Pockets
- Au Gratin Potatoes With Butternut Squash
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad
- Stuffed Shells With Spinach
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
- The Best Chocolate Pecan Pie
Easy Carrot Cake Recipe
For the cake
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil 150g
- 1/2 cup brown sugar 100g
- 1/4 cup sugar 100g
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt 1g
- 2 tsp cinnamon 4g
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp baking powder 2g
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 120g
- 1 1/2 cup carrots 160g, about 2-3 carrots, grated
- 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts 85g, chopped, plus more for garnish
Optional add-ins (up to a cup total!)
- shredded coconut
- dates chopped
For the cream cheese frosting
- 8 ounces block cream cheese 225g, softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter 58g , softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar 240g
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) and spray a square baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda. Mix until fully combined, then add in the flour, carrots, nuts, and any other add-ins you are using. Mix until just combined. Pour it into your prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (a few crumbs are fine). Allow to cool for an hour before icing.
- While the cake cools, make the icing. In a mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat together until combined and fluffy. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat until fully incorporated. If the icing is too loose, add a bit more sugar. If the icing is too thick, add milk or water by the teaspoon.
- Once the cake is cooled, ice it. Pour the icing directly onto the cake in the pan and spread it evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Top with garnish of your choice. I topped mine with more nuts.