Loaded Carrot Cake

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Loaded Carrot Cake is packed with extras like raisins, walnuts, coconut, pineapple, and even spiced rum! It's a moist carrot cake recipe topped with homemade cream cheese frosting that's absolutely delicious.

fork cutting a bite from a slice of loaded carrot cake.
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Best Carrot Cake Recipe

  • homemade carrot cake has exceptional flavor and a moist texture
  • you can make this recipe in a sheet pan, bundt cake pan, muffin tin or carrot cake loaf
  • it's perfect for special occasions and holidays like Easter Sunday
  • this is one of the most favorite recipes on the blog and gets rave reviews!

Ingredients

Gather all of your ingredients ahead of time to make prep a little easier. See recipe card for quantities.

Dry Ingredients

  • all-purpose flour
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cloves

Wet Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • buttermilk
  • eggs

Stir-Ins

  • fresh carrots, shredded by hand or a food processor
  • crushed pineapple with light juice
  • coconut, shredded
  • golden raisins
  • walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • spiced rum (or vanilla)
carrot cake decorated with pecans on top.

How to Make Loaded Carrot Cake

Grate the Carrots

  • Grating carrots is a breeze if you have a food processor. But, if you're like me, you'll have to resort to using the large holes on a box grater. It's not difficult, but it can take a little bit of elbow grease!
  • For best results, plan on using fresh carrots in this recipe. Don't even think about buying those pre-shredded carrot thingies. I know you're tempted, but don't do it. This cake is worth the effort and freshly grated carrots definitely make a big difference in taste.
  • So, get in there and start grating! You'll need about 5 large carrots for 3 cups.
carrots shredded by hand.

Dry Ingredients

  • Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
dry ingredients for loaded carrot cake.

Wet Ingredients

  • Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until completely mixed.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the edges and stir again.
wet ingredients for loaded carrot cake.

Stir Ins

  • Fold in the stir-in ingredients until blended.
cake batter before going in the oven.

Bake

  • Pour the batter into a prepared 13 x 9 inch sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until cake is done in the middle.
  • You can also use 8 inch round pans or a bundt pan and bake for the same amount of time. Make sure they have been sprayed with baking spray before using.
  • Cool cake completely on a wire rack before adding the frosting.
carrot cake after baking in the oven.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese frosting tastes better when using less sugar, so use 2 blocks of full fat cream cheese, 1 stick of softened butter, vanilla extract and only 2 cups of powdered sugar.
  • Increase the powdered sugar to 4 cups if you're planning on adding decorations.
  • Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature before using.
  • In a mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with the butter until it is creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.
  • Add vanilla and powdered sugar gradually. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then mix on medium for 1 minute. Spread on cooled cake.
fully decorated carrot cake

Cake Decorating Ideas

Decorating is easy if you have the proper tools. Every time I make this moist cake, I decorate it differently. Here are a few ideas...

  • Need an easy recipe? Make a carrot bundt!
  • If you're adding frosting (or icing), a sheet pan or 13 x 9 inch baking dish is the easiest way to go.
  • Simply frost the spice cake and spread frosting on top. Garnish with extra pecans if desired.

Using a Pastry Bag

To dress up this flavorful carrot cake for a special occasion, use a pastry bag with a tip and let your imagination run wild! I like using a Wilton Cake Tip set (ad) which includes pastry bags.

  • First, you need to spread a generous amount of icing over the top of a fully cooled cake. You can stop there and life will be good. But, if you want to kick this recipe into the stratosphere, pull out the pastry bags.
  • Choose the tip you like, and place the icing in the bag with the tip at the point. Pipe the icing around the edges of the cake first, then add crushed nuts in a 1 inch border.
  • Next, pipe around the edges of the nuts until you've made a rectangle. Fill the inside with more crushed nuts and you're finished.
decorated carrot cake with 30 and quarantined sign.

Tips and Tricks

To order fun lettering like the "30 & Quarantined" sign, visit Sugar Plum Creations on Etsy. They have lots of choices for birthdays, showers and holidays.

To add a little sparkle, sprinkle the entire cake with edible Gold Flakes (ad) which gives it a golden glow.

Want more sheet cake recipes? Try my Vintage Strawberry Cake and Beryl's Chocolate Sheet Cake. They're delicious too!

loaded carrot cake topped with pecans.

Recipe FAQS

How many carrots equal a cup?

2 medium carrots equals 1 cup when shredded. Or, use 5 large carrots for 3 cups of shredded carrots which is what you need in this recipe.

Why doesn't this recipe have baking powder in it?

Adding buttermilk to baking soda produces carbon dioxide gas which causes cakes to rise. There's no need to add baking powder for that reason.

What's the secret to a moist cake?

There are many ways to ensure moistness in baked goods. One of the easiest ways is to use vegetable oil instead of butter. Oil stays in liquid form, while butter tends to solidify. More liquid equals a moist cake.

a fork of carrot cake on a white plate.

Why This Cake is Special

My daughter-in-law found herself at home on her 30th birthday due to the quarantine. Turning 30 under a stay-at-home order was a great excuse to bake a Loaded Carrot Cake, don't ya think?

So, on her 30th birthday, I baked her favorite cake. Of course, I had to include extra stir-ins and embellishments, which is where the name Loaded Carrot Cake came from. Can't you just taste that cream cheese icing?

More Spiced Desserts

Spiced desserts remind us of crisp autumn days, hay rides and an old-timey pumpkin patch. Enjoy these other recipes that you're gonna love!

Recipe Card

slice of carrot cake with a fork taking a bite.

Loaded Carrot Cake

Loaded Carrot Cake is packed with extras like raisins, walnuts, coconut, pineapple, and even spiced rum! It's a moist carrot cake recipe topped with homemade cream cheese frosting
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 646kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves

WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs

STIR-INS

  • 3 cups fresh carrots (shredded)
  • 1 cup crushed light pineapple (use the juice - do not drain)
  • 1 cup coconut (shredded)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups walnuts and/or pecans (chopped) use 1 cup for topping
  • 1 Tbsp. spiced rum (or vanilla)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 2 (8 oz blocks) of full fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick salted butter (softened slightly - do not melt)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Shred carrots by hand (or use food processor) and set aside. (5 large carrots makes 3 cups)
  • Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  • Mix wet ingredients with a mixer until well blended. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Beat on medium low speed until blended and creamy.
  • Fold in the stir-in ingredients. Stir until blended.
  • Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until cake springs back when touched in the middle. 
  • Allow cake to cool completely. (usually takes 1 hour)
  • Frost cake with cream cheese frosting. Top with reserved nuts. Decorate with piping if desired.

Notes

  • Cool cake completely before frosting.
  • If decorating cake, add 2 additional cups of powdered sugar to frosting recipe to allow for piping.
  • Feel free to omit any stir-ins, but the cake will have a different texture depending on what you omit.
  • View the Google Web Story for Loaded Carrot Cake!

Nutrition

Calories: 646kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 359mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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