Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

The photos and frosting recipe for this post were updated in December 2020.

Carrot Cake is one of the most well known bakes and it’s no wonder why. It’s packed fully of tasty flavours and different textures, and wrapped up in what has to be one of my favourite frostings ever – cream cheese frosting. I could eat the stuff straight from the bowl! Carrot cake is also a delicious way to use up leftover carrots, especially after a roast dinner or around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

I thought it was about time I shared my best ever carrot cake recipe. And while I think it’s the best, carrot cake can be dividing depending on how you like it so it’s a very adaptable recipe too. Some people love nuts and raisins in their carrot cake, whether others don’t. So you can include them or exclude them and this recipe will be delicious either way! One thing you won’t want to change is the super thick and pipeable cream cheese frosting. It is hard to get thick cream cheese frosting in the UK, but this recipe is perfectly thick and pipes like a dream!

How to make Carrot Cake…

To make the cake I stirred self raising flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and light brown sugar together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl I whisked together vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. I combined the mixtures and whisked them together.

I mixed in the carrot, pecans and sultanas, and divided the mixture evenly between two cake tins. They baked for 40 minutes.

Once the cakes were cool, I made the cream cheese frosting. I started by using and electric mixer to whip up the softened butter.

Then I added icing sugar and mixed it in. Then I added cream cheese and vanilla, and mixed until just combined and smooth.

Carrot Cake

What is the best way to prepare the carrots?

If you have a food processor with a grater attachment then that’s the quickest and most effortless way to prepare them. A manual grater works really well too, and it only takes a few minutes.

Can you use plain/all purpose flour instead?

Yes! If you want to use plain flour (instead of self raising flour) then you will need to add 2 additional teaspoons of baking powder to the recipe. Make sure they are level teaspoons (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with).

Carrot Cake

Tips for making Carrot Cake:

  • You can swap the pecans out for the same amount of walnuts, or you can leave them out altogether if you want the cake nut free.
  • I like to use sultanas as they are more juicy, but you can swap them out for raisins, or again leave them out if you prefer.
  • I really like a hint of orange in a carrot cake, it compliments the cake so well. If you don’t want to use the orange, replace the orange juice with the same amount of milk.
  • To pipe the cream cheese frosting on, I used a Ateco 849 nozzle.
Carrot Cake

Recommended equipment & ingredients*

8″ cake tinsMixing bowlsCooling rack
Kitchen scalesElectric hand mixerRound cake tin liners
Food processorPiping bagsZester
Citrus juicer 

*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!

Carrot Cake

More Carrot Cake recipes…

Carrot Cake CookiesAutumn Vegetable Cake
Carrot Cake CookiesAutumn Vegetable CakeCarrot Cake Baked Donuts (Vegan)
Carrot Cake Cupcakes  
Carrot Cake Cupcakes  
Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

The classic cake with pecans and cream cheese frosting
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 16
Author: thebakingexplorer


For the sponge

  • 200 g Self raising flour
  • 115 g Wholemeal plain flour
  • 265 g Light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tsp Mixed spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 265 g Vegetable oil
  • 4 Eggs large
  • 1 Orange zested and juiced
  • 325 g Carrots grated
  • 95 g Pecans chopped
  • 95 g Sultanas

For the frosting

  • 200 g Butter softened
  • 200 g Icing
  • 400 g Full fat cream cheese I use Philadelphia
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

For decoration

  • Fondant carrot decorations
  • 4 Pecans chopped


  • Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark, and grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins
  • In a large bowl, stir together the self raising flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and light brown sugar
  • In another bowl or large jug, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Then add it to the flour mixture and whisk everything together
  • Mix in the grated carrot, chopped pecans and sultanas
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins, use scales for accuracy
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and a thin skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove them from the tin and leave them to cool on wire racks
  • If the cakes have domed on top, level them off with a cake leveller or a knife
  • To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter on it's own until soft and creamy
  • Add the icing sugar, and mix in until well combined
  • Add the cream cheese and the vanilla extract, mix until just combined and smooth
  • Place one of the sponges onto a plate or cake stand and spread or pipe some of the frosting over it
  • Top with the second sponge, then pipe or spread the remaining frosting on top
  • Decorate with fondant carrots and chopped pecans
  • Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days
Made this recipe?Share on Instagram with me @TheBakingExplorer or tag #thebakingexplorer!


Mixed spice is a British spice blend containing Cinnamon, Coriander Seed, Nutmeg, Clove, Pimento, Ginger. If you can’t get hold of it, use a Pumpkin Spice mix instead


Calories: 595kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 268mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 4123IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg

If you like this, check out more of my Cake recipes!

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

30 comments / Add your comment below

  1. 5 stars
    What is there to say other than – absolutely gorgeous! I also like the fact that it has a healthy twist in the form of wholemeal flour and it’s made with oil, which I love in baking. Thank you for bringing your lovely creation to #CookBlogShare:)

    1. Thank you so much Monika! I always like to add wholemeal flour to vegetable cake recipes, I feel like it belongs 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Wow your cake looks delicious! My daughter will eat them all at once! Why shouldn’t I try this carrot cake for her!! I have one question and that is what is the alternative to vegetable oil? Can I use Soybean oil instead of it?

    1. Thank you! Yes I’m sure soybean oil will be a suitable replacement, but I’ve never heard of that kind of oil myself.

  3. Wow Kat! What a stunning cake! I recall the first time I tried a slice of carrot cake many many years ago – I was in raptures about the cream cheese frosting! Delicious! Thankyou so much for sharing it with #BakingCrumbs (though how I wish it was in reality rather than virtually 😉 )
    Angela x

  4. 5 stars
    your cakes always look so beautiful and make me feel hungry. My boys love Carrot cake so this would make them happy too. I love a cream cheese frosting myself, but my children do prefer icing! I blame school for this , because this is what the cook there uses plus added sprinkles! x

  5. 5 stars
    Looks beautiful and delicious! I do some prep ahead meals but not that many. I think this is very worthwhile and nice to know you always have a meal on hand!

  6. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe, Kat hasn’t let me down yet. Oil instead of butter seemed to add a lot kore moisture icing is fantastic. Had a bit left over to make cupcakes for the neighbours

    Thank you as always x

  7. 5 stars
    Made this cake a couple of times now and it’s absolutely delicious.
    Just wondered if it can be frozen.

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback Jacks! Yes you can freeze the cake sponge without the frosting 🙂

  8. Hi, I’m just wondering if we have to use the wholemeal flour? What difference does it bring and. Wha can I substitute with if possible?

  9. 5 stars
    This is my 3rd recipe from the baking explorer.. I’m your number 1 fan now 🥰 . All I have to do now is construct this.. if there is any left! My son is picking at the cake and the icing I can’t leave alone.. oh my 🥰 thank you for sharing such fab recipes x

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