What makes this moist carrot cake so special?
A mix of shredded carrots, crushed pineapple, flaked coconut, chopped walnuts, and cream cheese frosting!
Oh yeah, this carrot cake recipe is over-the-top incredible.
It’s chock-full of flavor, and you’ll love the light yet chewy texture and fun pops of crunch from the nuts.
And, of course, we can’t forget about the creamy, dreamy frosting!
So make this moist carrot cake asap, and thank me later!
Easy Moist Carrot Cake Recipe
After months of experimentation, I’ve finally found the formula to achieve just the right level of moistness in a carrot cake.
And the secret is to use equal parts oil and applesauce in the batter.
Not only does this ensure a perfectly textured and tender cake, but it also makes it slightly healthier.
Another key ingredient here is crushed pineapple, which adds both sweetness and moisture to the cake.
The carrots bring sweetness, too. And the coconut is a fun, tropical addition that’s not to be missed.
To top it all off is the pièce de résistance – a thick layer of tangy cream cheese frosting that perfectly complements the cake’s sweetness.
This carrot cake recipe mostly calls for pantry staples. Though you may need to pop to the store for the pineapple and nuts.
For The Carrot Cake
- Flour – For structure. Use all-purpose flour, as it contains the right balance of gluten to create a sturdy cake.
- Light Brown Sugar – Brown sugar adds sweetness and moisture. Plus, it brings deeper flavor without making the sponge too dark.
- Shredded Carrots – Freshly grated carrots work best here. Be sure to peel them before shredding, as the skins may turn your cake green.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – You need both to combat the heavy ingredients in the cake. Without them (or with just one), it would be very dense.
- Ground Cinnamon & Salt – A hint of spice to complement the sweetness. And the salt balances everything nicely.
- Vegetable Oil & Applesauce – For the moistest cake ever (plus a little natural sweetness).
- Eggs – To bind the ingredients, add richness, and help the cake rise.
- Crushed Pineapple – This pop of tropical sweetness really makes this carrot cake something special. Just be sure to drain the pineapple well; otherwise, the cake might turn out wet.
- Flaked Coconut – For a coconut-y flavor and texture dimension.
- Chopped Walnuts – While your carrot cake will still taste fine without them, walnuts add a wonderful crunch that gives the dessert textural variety
For The Cream Cheese Frosting
A carrot cake isn’t a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cream Cheese – Use softened, brick-style, full-fat cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.
- Butter – Salted butter keeps it from being too sweet. Either way, make sure it’s at room temp.
- Powdered Sugar – For sweetness and structure.
How to Make Moist Carrot Cake
Since this carrot cake calls for oil and applesauce instead of butter, it’s a breeze to make this by hand.
And that’ll keep it from overmixing too!
Here’s the rundown:
- Preheat the oven and prepare the baking dish. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160°C) and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray or butter. You can also line it with parchment if you don’t plan on serving it in the dish.
- Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Then, whisk the sugar with the oil and applesauce in another bowl, by hand, until smooth.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into the space. Use a spatula to mix it by hand, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently.
- Add the mix-ins and bake. Add the shredded carrots, drained pineapple, coconut, and chopped walnuts and stir well until everything is evenly distributed. Then, bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy (use an electric mixer for this). Then slowly mix in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- Frost, chill, and serve. Spread the cream cheese frosting over the cold cake. Use a spatula to get it flat, or pipe it into a pretty pattern. Either way, chill the cake for an hour before serving.
Tips for The Best Carrot Cake
- Measure the flour accurately. Adding too much will make your cake tough and dry.
- Use a kitchen scale for best results.
- Or, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Use room temperature ingredients. This allows them to incorporate better.
- Coat the walnuts with flour. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- Use freshly grated carrots. Pre-shredded carrots tend to be hard and dry.
- Add extra sugar to thicken the frosting. Depending on the type of cream cheese and the weather, it can be too soft to pipe.
- Just add more sugar until it’s nice and thick.
- Or chill it before use.
- Toast the nuts for deeper flavor. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
This cake is pretty perfect as is, but you can totally make it your own.
- Change up the spices – Go for any fall flavors, like allspice, nutmeg, or cardamom. Or add orange zest for a bright note of citrus.
- Use other mix-ins – Try it with raisins, dried cranberries, cashews, or pecans.
- Change the frosting – Leave it off, add a sweet glaze, or go for something different, like orange or brown sugar buttercream.
- Use the pineapple juice to make a glaze – just mix in enough powdered sugar so it’s thick but pourable.
- Make cupcakes – Use the same recipe and bake them for about 12 minutes.
How to Store and Freeze
To Store: If you make and serve this in the baking dish, all you need to do is cover the dish with plastic and foil.
It’ll be fine at room temperature for a day or two but needs to be chilled for any longer than that.
To store unfrosted carrot cake – wrap the cold cake in plastic and foil, and keep for 2 days at room temp or in the freezer for up to two months.
To Freeze: I don’t usually recommend freezing frosted cakes as the dairy sometimes turns watery and may even curdle when thawed.
Read my post – can you freeze cream cheese – to learn more!
That said, if you chill it until firm and double-warp it in plastic and foil, it should hold up okay for a couple of months.
The key is to thaw it slowly in the fridge overnight for serving.
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