Easy Carrot Cake Recipe [From Scratch]

Here’s An Easy Carrot Cake Recipe For You To Enjoy!

Are you a fan of carrot cake but not a fan of recipes with many layers and fancy ingredients? Try out our easy carrot cake recipe loaded with fresh carrots and topped with a classic cream cheese icing.

Our homemade carrot cake has no middle layer of icing – so it’s easy to whip together in a pinch and makes a reliable, delicious dessert. You just mix it, bake it, ice it, and eat it!

slice of carrot cake on plate with full cake behind
This is one easy carrot cake recipe… but it’s still so good!

Of course, we both grew up eating carrot cake, but very different versions. Lisa is more accustomed to a simple version of carrot cake (like the one in this recipe).

A highlight was decorating the slices with little sugar carrots which are widely available in Germany. Unfortunately, we can’t find them where we currently live in Canada.

Eric – having grown up in Canada – is used to the North American version of carrot cake which is generally layered, dense, sweet, often loaded with nuts, and glazed with a heavy cream cheese icing.

Origins of Carrot Cake

Interestingly enough, the origins of carrot cake are definitely European – but there is much dispute around the matter.

Early versions of a carrot pudding – which has ingredients similar to modern-day carrot cake – popped up in the Middle Ages in England and around Europe. The carrot was often used as a sweetener because sugar was expensive.

To make matters more complicated, carrot cake was first put in a more formal cookbook by the French.

Even the Swiss claim that the more modern version came from a later recipe of theirs – and that’s why it is a beloved cake in Switzerland!

One thing is for sure: whichever origin story you believe, carrot cake is delicious and here to stay.

slice of carrot cake with carrot shavings on top on plate with fork
We added a little grated carrot on top for detail!

Recipe Tips/Substitutions

Before you head off to make this carrot cake recipe from scratch, read through these recipe tips so you achieve the best results aka the best carrot cake!

  • This recipe is made with oil and not butter. So, be sure to use a neutral-tasting oil like avocado oil, canola, or sunflower oil. Basically just don’t use virgin olive oil!
  • The addition of cinnamon is definitely optional. We like adding cinnamon when making this recipe during the colder months. We attribute cinnamon as more of a seasonal fall/winter kind of taste – just look at Zimtsterne! So if you want to make this recipe in the spring or summer, feel free to skip the cinnamon.
  • Make sure the cake has cooled before adding the icing. You don’t want it to get runny because the cake was still too warm.

How to Make Easy Carrot Cake – Step by Step Instructions

If you would like to see visuals for how to make this simple carrot cake recipe, you can follow the recipe process photos in this section.

Of course, if you just want to check out the recipe card, skip to the bottom of this post.

raw carrot on wooden board with metal grater beside
Shred the carrots.

First, peel the carrots and finely shred them on the “small hole” side of a 4-sided box grater.

grated carrot in bowl on white counter
Look at these shredded carrots.

Set the shredded carrots aside.

carrot cake ingredients in silver mixing bowl on counter
Add the ingredients to a bowl.

Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.

carrot cake batter in silver mixing bowl on counter
Mix the ingredients together.

Briefly mix everything with your electric (hand) mixer. Then add the eggs one by one and keep beating until everything is well mixed.

flour and dry ingredients in silver mixing bowl on counter
Add the dry ingredients to a different bowl.

In a different bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Give the ingredients a good stir.

thick carrot cake batter in bowl on counter
Add the dry ingredients and keep mixing.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small increments while beating with your mixer on the lowest setting. Keep beating until everything is well combined.

orange carrot cake batter in silver mixing bowl on counter
Fold in the carrots.

Set your electric mixer aside and fold the shredded carrots into the batter using a spatula or large spoon.

greased rectangle cake pan on counter
Lightly grease a baking pan.

At this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your 13 x 9-inch baking pan by greasing it lightly.

raw carrot cake batter in rectangle cake pan
Spoon the batter into the pan.

Spoon the cake batter into your prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly with a spoon or spatula.

cooked carrot cake in rectangle pan on counter
Bake the cake.

Bake the carrot cake on the middle rack of your oven for approximately 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Since every oven is slightly different, your baking time might vary. When the cake is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it cool.

cream cheese icing in orange mixing bowl
Prepare the icing.

Once the cake has cooled, prepare the frosting by beating the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice with an electric mixer until creamy.

carrot cake with cream cheese icing on top on white counter
Spread the frosting onto the cake.

Next, spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. You can optionally decorate the cake slices with bits of shredded carrots or small sugar/marzipan carrots (depending on availability – they are popular cake decorations in Germany).

slice of orange carrot cake on plate with white cream cheese icing
Our easy carrot cake turned out perfectly!

This cake serves well with a tea or coffee and makes a great dessert for after family dinners.

Storage Tips

This easy carrot cake recipe from scratch also stores well. We cut the remaining carrot cake into slices and put them in a sealed container in the fridge. Storing the cake in the fridge is important if it has icing.

Can you freeze carrot cake? Yes, you can but it can be a bit messy. We usually cut a few pieces to freeze in a freezer container. Make sure not to stack them because of the icing.

When we want a slice, we just take it out and let it thaw. This will take a few hours so be patient! Don’t microwave the cake because the icing will run.

Related Recipes

If you liked this simple carrot cake and are searching for more classic cake recipes, have a look at these delicious ideas:

slice of orange carrot cake on plate with white cream cheese icing

Easy Carrot Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This Easy Carrot Cake recipe couldn't be more simple. Made wit ingredients like shredded carrots and oil instead of butter, this thick and fluffy cake is topped a signature cream cheese icing!

Ingredients

The Cake

  • 2 cups carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 cup oil, neutral-tasting
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
  • a pinch of salt

The Frosting

  • 9 oz (250 g) cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Peel the carrots and finely shred them on the "small hole" side of a 4-sided box grater. Then set the shredded carrots aside.
  2. Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Briefly mix everything with your electric (hand) mixer. Add the eggs one by one and keep beating until everything is well mixed.
  3. In a different bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Give the ingredients a good stir, then slowly add them to the wet ingredients in small increments while beating with your mixer on the lowest setting. Keep beating until everything is well combined.
  4. Set your electric mixer aside and fold the shredded carrots into the batter using a spatula or large spoon.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your 13 x 9-inch baking pan by greasing it lightly.
  6. Spoon the cake batter into your prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly with a spoon or spatula.
  7. Bake the carrot cake on the middle rack of your oven for approximately 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Since every oven is slightly different, your baking time might vary.
  8. When the cake is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  9. Once the cake has cooled, prepare the frosting by beating the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice with an electric mixer until creamy.
  10. Next, spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. You can optionally decorate the cake slices with bits of shredded carrots or small sugar/marzipan carrots (depending on availability - they are popular cake decorations in Germany).

Notes

  • For this recipe, we use a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. If the dimensions of your baking pan are noticeably different, you will have to adjust the recipe accordingly.
  • If you don't want to make a cream cheese frosting, you can also make a simple glaze by mixing powdered sugar with lemon juice.
  • Adding cinnamon will give this cake a "fall/winter"-type flavor. So if you make this cake in the spring or summer, feel free to skip the cinnamon!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 486Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 367mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 3gSugar: 21gProtein: 11g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

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