This delicious carrot cake combines shredded carrot, apples, and spices in a soft cake with an amazing flavor! Top it with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting for the perfect Easter dessert or spring treat!
I don’t eat carrot cake that often (I typically go with something more like this mini egg cheesecake) but every time I do, I remember how delicious it is – especially with the right cream cheese frosting!
I thought it was finally time to share our favorite carrot cake recipe on the blog and with Easter right around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time!
This carrot cake is so good my husband ate it for breakfast (carrots are vegetables right??) for a week straight. Most of the time topped with this homemade sausage gravy instead of frosting to make it more breakfast like.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Flavorful cake – the cake batter is made with various spices that give it a really robust and delicious flavor.
- Soft – this recipe uses diced apple along with the shredded carrot to add additional moistness to the cake, totally does its job!
- Easy – unlike some carrot cakes out there, this one is super easy to make. Just mix all the ingredients, bake, and frost!
- Cinnamon cream cheese frosting – I’ve included a recipe with the cake for a cinnamon cream cheese frosting that has just the right amount of cinnamon to make it the perfect addition to the spices in this cake!
There’s really nothing special about these particular ingredients, they’re all ones you probably already have in your fridge or pantry at home! The notes below are mostly regarding preparation to get you ready to bake!
- Butter – butter will need to be melted prior to adding to the batter.
- Red apple – I just used a gala and it worked great. You can peel the apple if you want or leave the skin on (I left the skin on). Make sure it’s diced into small pieces so it basically melts into the batter.
- Flour – all-purpose flour works great for this cake.
- Carrots – how many carrots you need will depend on the size of your carrots. I recommend starting by shredding 2-3 carrots then adding more if you need it.
- Sprinkles or chopped nuts – if you want to top your carrot cake, you can add either chopped nuts (I always like pecans or walnuts) or sprinkles for some added color.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
In addition to the cake ingredients above, if you want to top it with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, here’s what you’ll need:
- Cream cheese – make sure it’s softened, take it out of the fridge about an hour ahead of time
- Butter – also softened (not melted), take it out of the fridge at the same time as the cream cheese!
- Powdered sugar – also called confectioners sugar
When I think of layer cakes, I’m always a bit intimidated because they’re just so pretty to look at (and typically delicious to eat).
This cake isn’t hard by any means so let’s just get that out of the way. The actual cake frosting part can be a bit more challenging but even if it doesn’t look perfect, it’ll taste amazing!
Before you get started with the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Then I recommend cutting out two 9″ circles of parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is to trace around the bottom of a 9″ cake pan then just cut out the circle. Do this twice so you have a piece of parchment paper for both of your pans.
You could also just spray the pan or flour the pan, but I’ve found that the parchment paper trick always keeps it from sticking. Spraying sometimes will leave an errant spot on the pan and you’ll end up with little chunks of cake stuck on the bottom (not pretty).
I do also like to spray the sides of the pan for double protection!
Once your pans are ready, it’s time to make your cake!
1 – Make the Batter
Start by beating the sugar, melted butter, and eggs together until well blended.
I personally like to do this with a hand mixer rather than getting my stand mixer out but as long as they’re beat together well, you can do it however you want!
Add the rest of the ingredients using a spatula or wooden spoon (rather than a mixer) to keep the batter moist.
Stir until the batter is well blended and you don’t have any pockets of flour or other ingredients.
2 – Bake the cake
Next, split the batter evenly between your two parchment lined cake pans. I typically tap the pans on the counter quickly to get rid of any bubbles then put them in the preheated oven.
Weigh the two cakes to make sure that you’re getting as even as possible layers rather than trying to eyeball it!
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cakes spring back when touched.
3 – Make the Frosting
While the cake is baking, make your cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
To make the frosting, first combine the cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon together until smooth.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating on medium or high until frosting is totally smooth.
Place the frosting into a piping bag with a piping tip or into a plastic bag fitted with a piping tip in one of the corners.
Place the bottom of the piping bag or plastic bag in a large cup and wrap the top of the edges around the cup so you have an opening, kind of like a trash bag on a trash can. Scoop the frosting into the opening of the cup then pull your piping bag out when it’s filled for the least mess possible!
4 – Decorate the Cake
Once your two cakes have cooled, if they’re rounded at all cut off the rounded tops with a cake knife (or serrated knife if you don’t have a cake knife).
Or if you want to avoid the domed tops, here’s a great tutorial on getting perfectly flat cakes!
Place one cake on top of a cake stand or a cake platter with the flat top facing up.
Add a layer of frosting on top of the cake then add the other cake (cut side down) on top of the frosting.
Frost the top and outside of the cake however you want then decorate with chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc.
Here’s a great tutorial on frosting a layer cake to help!
5 – Cut and Serve
Cut the cake and enjoy immediately or eat later. I mean I guess some people actually wait to eat dessert until after dinner!
Since this is a layered carrot cake, I recommend cutting thinner slices. With thinner slices, this cake will serve 16 people.
Let the cakes cool completely before frosting. If the cakes are warm at all, the frosting will melt and slide all over the place.
Top the bottom cake layer with lots of frosting rather than just using it to stick the two layers together. That will be your frosting layer in the center of the cake and you’ll want a good amount of frosting there!
Refrigerate the cake before serving or refrigerate any leftovers once you’re done. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the frosting to warm up slightly.
Enjoy the cake within a week (it makes a great after dinner snack throughout Easter week!).
Yes, peel the carrots before you shred them for this carrot cake. The skin can have a bitter taste, not what you want for a sweet cake! Also make sure to wash them and cut off the ends!
I recommend grating carrots using a grating or shredding disc on a food processor. I personally have this one, and it does a great job and is way easier than hand grating!
When it comes to carrot cake, there really is no substitute for cream cheese frosting. But if you can’t have it to for some reason, a buttercream like I used on these gingerbread cupcakes would work as well.
If your cream cheese frosting seems too thick, you probably added more powdered sugar than you were supposed to. Let it chill in the fridge for a few minutes to see if that helps it thicken. If it’s still too thick, add a tsp of milk and blend again. Do the same, adding a bit more milk until you get to the consistency you want.
More Easter Recipes
If you like this carrot cake recipe, you’ll love these other yummy Easter inspired eats!
- Strawberry fluff salad – a delicious strawberries and cream salad with fresh whipped cream, fruit, and a little bit of crunch!
- Homemade crescent rolls – the perfect Easter rolls! They’re soft, fluffy, and delicious every time.
- Honey roasted carrots – you can’t have Easter dinner without carrots, even better when they’re these sweet honey roasted ones!
- Boursin cheese potatoes – the creamiest twice baked potatoes you’ll ever try, so good!
- Cut out sugar cookies – use egg cookie cutters to make the cutest sugar cookies the entire family will love!
Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cheese Cheese Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup butter melted
- 1 red apple diced
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 2 cups shredded carrots typically about 3 medium to large carrots
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 2 tsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut two 9" inch circles of parchment paper and line two 9" cake pans with the circles. Spray the sides of the pans with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, beat sugar, melted butter, and eggs until blended.
- Add remaining ingredients using a spatula or large spoon, stirring until batter is well blended.
- Split batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.
- Let cake cool completely.
- Place one of the two cakes on a cake stand or cake plate. Frost the top of the cake with a thick layer of frosting. Top with the second cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Decorate with chopped nuts, sprinkles, and/or more frosting as desired.
- Combine cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a stand mixer until smooth.
- Slowly add powdered sugar, beating on medium to high until frosting is completely smooth.