To Die For Carrot Cake - My Nana's Foolproof Recipe! (2024)

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This To Die For Carrot Cakerecipe receives rave reviews for it’s unbelievable moistness and delicious flavor! Truly the BEST Carrot Cake you’ll ever try! So easy to make and as an added bonus, there’s no oil or butter. I know this cake will quickly become a family favorite! Looking for a layered cake alternative? Check out these Carrot Cake Bars!

To Die For Carrot Cake - My Nana's Foolproof Recipe! (1)

Carrot Cake

There is nothing like a cake to transform an ordinary party into a celebration. There’s something so festive about cakes that scream it’s time to PARTY! Today I’m sharing a cake recipe with you all that’s a family heirloom. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to share this recipe with you!

This is my Nana’s recipe – slightly modified –and it is sooo amazing! I get requests several times a year for this To Die For Carrot Cake and made it just last week for my sister’s birthday. I love this recipe because it’s a one-two-three recipe and that makes it so easy! It also is a one-bowl wonder which I love.

I have made this recipe hundreds of times and all my friends and family love this cake so much so that I get asked to bring it to parties, holidays, potlucks, and BBQs all year long. I just love that it’s SO easy to make and completely foolproof!

Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake with pineapple makes it so moist and the addition of coconut adds a sweet, delicate flavor that you’re going to love!

I have many carrot cake recipes on my site – like these Carrot Cake Bars – but they are all variations of this one. There isn’t another recipe that I’ve ever tried that even comes close to this carrot cake recipe for flavor, moistness, and texture. It’s hands down the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Period.

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What’s In Carrot Cake

This easy carrot cake recipe with cream cheese frosting stands out from the rest for two important reasons: I use both applesauce (instead of oil) and pineapple for extra moistness. The rest of the ingredients are typical cake ingredients that you most likely already have on hand,.

  • unsweetened applesauce or oil (my Nana used oil, I use applesauce)
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • carrots
  • shredded sweetened coconut
  • chopped nuts optional
  • vanilla
  • crushed pineapple

Does Carrot Cake Have Raisins?

This is totally up to you. I don’t include it in my recipe because so many in my family don’t like raisins. If you’d like to add raisins to this recipe, add half a cup of raisins in with the shredded carrot in Step 3. Golden raisins are especially delicious in this recipe!

Carrot Cake Frosting

My Nana’s recipe is super simple (as easy as 1-2-3) and tastes incredible but what’s a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting??

Cream cheese frosting is the standard when it comes to carrot cake and with good reason. Soft and gooey with a hint of tang from the cream cheese – it’s the perfect complement!

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How To Decorate!

You can decorate the cake however you want and I do it differently every time. You really can’t do this wrong!

  • After the cakes have finished cooling, invert one of the cakes onto a cake plate or stand. Apply a generous dollop of frosting and spread to cover. An offset spatula will make quick work of this. Gently place the second cake on top and continue frosting.
  • For this carrot cake recipe, I chose to decorate with the nuts. I chopped up some toasted pecans and then inverted a bowl onto the cake.
  • Gently spread the pecans around the bowl and you’ll end up with a nice clean circle on the center of the cake. Watch the video below to see how I did it!
  • I could have left it like this but my family loves coconut so I filled in the center with shredded coconut. Turned out really pretty!

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What a cake!! I’d love for you to give this from scratch carrot cake recipe a try – it really will blow your mind! I like to use light cream cheese frosting and then subbing the applesauce for the oil, well, obviously you can now have two pieces of cake!

Do you have family recipes that the whole family just LOVES like this cake recipe?? I’m so thankful that I was able to get so many fabulous recipes from my Nana. Every time we eat this cake, I think of her and all the yummy times we had together.

Tips for the Best Carrot Cake

  • Toasting the pecans (if you’re using them) adds even more amazing flavor to this recipe.
  • DO NOT use pre-shredded carrots. Buy standard carrots, peel and grate by hand for the best results. You want the fresh flavor in this cake – it’s what makes it so outstanding!
  • I used three 8-inch cake pans in the video. I really like the size of the cake with three layers. These are the pans I used – they’re amazing!
  • These cakes are SUPER moist – amazingly so. Make sure to adequately grease your pans before adding the cake batter. My little brother likes to grease his pans, and line them with a piece of parchment before baking. I’m far too lazy for that. Using the pans above, and some baking spray that has the flour added in (like Baker’s Joy or Pam with flour), I have never, ever had any sticking issues.
  • I’ve had several requests from people wanting to know where I got my cake serving set from… Amazon, of course!

How To Make Carrot Cupcakes

This recipe can easily be converted into a cupcake recipe. I do recommend that you use parchment linersbecause this cake is very moist and could stick to regular paper liners.

To make carrot cupcakes:

  1. Follow instructions 1 and 2 below.
  2. Place liners in muffin pan and fill two-thirds full.
  3. Bake at 350F for 18 to 22 minutes.
  4. Let carrot cupcakes cool before frosting.

Try these cake recipes!

  1. Orange Creamsicle Cake
  2. Lemon Zucchini Cake
  3. Best Ever Texas Sheet Cake
  4. Strawberry Shortcake Roulade
  5. Zucchini Spice Cake

How To Make Carrot Cake

To Die For Carrot Cake - My Nana's Foolproof Recipe! (5)

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4.94 from 528 votes

To Die For Carrot Cake

This To Die For Carrot Cake receives rave reviews for it's unbelievable moistness and flavor! Truly the BEST CARROT CAKE you'll ever try! So easy to make and as an added bonus, there's no oil or butter! I know this cake will quickly become a family favorite!

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Keyword carrot cake, carrot cake recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes minutes

Total Time 35 minutes minutes

Servings 16 slices

Calories 499kcal

Author Trish - Mom On Timeout




    • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce or oil, this is what my Nana used
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs room temperature


    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


    • 2 cups grated carrots
    • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
    • 1 cup chopped nuts optional
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup Dole crushed pineapple not drained! {use the pineapple in JUICE not syrup}

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    • ½ cup butter softened
    • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 pound powdered sugar
    • top with toasted pecans or coconut if desired


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    • Combine #1 ingredients. Add #2 ingredients. Stir in #3 ingredients.

    • Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 , two 9-inch pans or three 8-inch pans. (The cake is very moist so cutting parchment for the bottom of your pans will ensure they don't stick. I prefer to use the non-stick baking spray that has the flour in it for easy cake removal.)

    • Bake for 35-40 minutes for the 9x13 and 9-inch pans and 25-30 minutes for the 8-inch pans. You're looking for an inserted toothpick to come out clean.

    • Let cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

    For the frosting:

    • Beat the butter and cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until nice and smooth.

    • Invert the cake onto a cake plate or stand.

    • Apply a generous dollop of frosting and spread...

    • Gently place the second cake on top and continue frosting. Repeat with the third cake if you made three.

    • Refrigerate for an hour before serving for best results.



    The frosting recipe can be doubled if you are planning on piping a border and adding a lot of frosting decorations to the top of the cake.


    Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 274mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 61g | Vitamin A: 3110IU | Vitamin C: 4.6mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1.6mg

    Original post published August 18, 2012. Updated February 27, 2018.

    To Die For Carrot Cake - My Nana's Foolproof Recipe! (6)

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    To Die For Carrot Cake - My Nana's Foolproof Recipe! (2024)


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