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.
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!
Gather all of your ingredients ahead of time to make prep a little easier. See recipe card for quantities.
- all-purpose flour
- white sugar
- brown sugar
- baking soda
- ground cinnamon
- ground cloves
- vegetable oil
- 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)
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.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
- 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.
- Fold in the stir-in ingredients until blended.
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Vintage Prune Cake Recipe
- Cherry Crumble
- Pumpkin Spice Latte Bread
- Caramel Apple Pecan Crunch
- Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Loaded Carrot Cake
*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.
- 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
- 1 cup oil
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Shred carrots by hand (or use food processor) and set aside. (5 large carrots makes 3 cups)3 cups fresh carrots
- Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.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
- 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.1 cup oil, ¾ cup buttermilk, 3 eggs
- Fold in the stir-in ingredients. Stir until blended.1 cup crushed light pineapple, 1 cup coconut, ½ cup golden raisins, 2 cups walnuts and/or pecans, 1 Tbsp. spiced rum, 3 cups fresh carrots
- 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. If middle does not spring back, bake longer until it does or cake won't be done.
- Allow cake to cool completely. (usually takes 1 hour)
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Beat softened cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer until creamy.2 (8 oz blocks) of full fat cream cheese, softened
- Add softened butter and blend with cream cheese until fluffy.1 stick salted butter
- Mix in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat with mixer until lumps are gone.1 tsp. vanilla
- Frost cake with cream cheese frosting. Top with reserved nuts. Decorate with piped frosting if you wish.2 cups powdered sugar
- Baking time is just an estimate since all ovens, pans, and elevations are different.
- Be sure to check the middle of this cake after 45 minutes to see if it springs back when touched. If it seems jiggly, cook it until it is set or the cake will not be done.
- 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 and may bake quicker.
- View the Google Web Story for Loaded Carrot Cake!
Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.
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This is Jerry’s favorite too!!
I'm not surprised! It's amazing!
Oh Debi-this is gorgeous. Love carrot cake!
Thanks, Carol! I'll remember that for future birthdays. 🙂
Wow! A loaded carrot cake? What could be better!! I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Thanks, Kara! Let me know how it turns out!
Do the carrots need to be finely shredded (on small holes of a box grater) or shredded (using larger round holes)? Also, can this be baked in a Bundt pan, instead? It sure sounds scrumptious!
Great questions, Angelina! I used the larger round holes of a box grater and it worked great. I've never tired making this cake in a bundt pan but I bet it would work just fine! If you do it, please let me know how it turns out. 🙂
Hi! This looks delicious! Do you think it could be cooked in a loaf pan instead?
Hi Susanne. I've never tried it, but I bet it could! It has enough weight to it with the fruits and nuts to make a good loaf cake. 🙂
No baking powder?
Hi Suzie. Good question! No, it doesn't need baking powder because the buttermilk acts as a leavening agent.
Hi there! Could I use 2 8" layer pans and make this a layer cake? I'm a new baker, so feel free to dumb it down. 🙂
Hi DJ! I've never attempted it, but I think it's worth a try! It's a very moist cake, so that might cause it to be heavier. If you do use layer pans, please write back and let me know how it goes! 🙂
I'm making it for my dad for Father's Day, so I'll just stick with the sheet pan as you recommend. Next time... Thanks so much for the quick reply! God Bless!
My whole family loves Carrot Cake!! I am going to make it the next time we are all together.
Thanks Helen! I hope you love it! 🙂