This Paula Deen carrot cake recipe makes a moist and flavorful cake filled and covered with decadent cream cheese frosting.
It has the power to convert all carrot cake haters!
I once thought carrot cakes were awful… because how can a cake with carrots in it taste good?
I’m so thankful I decided to give it a try! Now, it’s one of my most favorite cakes on the entire planet.
A good carrot cake is a perfectly tender cake with wonderful flavors from cinnamon, pecans, and a smooth cream cheese frosting.
And no, it doesn’t taste like carrots at all.
Seriously, this cake is so good it’s perfect for birthdays and special occasions.
If you’ve never baked a whole cake before, I understand how it can be intimidating.
This recipe is a great place to start because it’s easy, yet it yields impressive results.
You’ll never go wrong if you make carrot cake the Paula Deen way!
For the Cake
- All-Purpose Flour – The base of the cake that gives it structure. All-purpose is fine here, no need to get cake flour. Sift the flour, along with the other dry ingredients, to create a smooth batter.
- Granulated Sugar – For sweetness. Paula Deen’s uses granulated sugar, but you can also use a mix of granulated and brown for extra moisture and flavor.
- Baking Soda – The leavening agent that makes the cakes rise. Be sure your baking soda is still active by stirring a teaspoon of it with a little bit of vinegar. It should start to fizz upon contact.
- Ground Cinnamon – This warming fall spice gives this cake such a comforting flavor.
- Salt – To enhance the flavors of the cake.
- Eggs – For binding the ingredients together. They also help make the cakes rise, and add richness, too.
- Vegetable Oil – While other cakes call for butter, carrots cakes require oil. It’s essential to make the cakes wonderfully tender and moist. Don’t use too much, though, or your cake will be greasy.
- Grated Carrots – It isn’t called carrot cake for nothing! Shred the carrots yourself as pre-shredded ones are hard and dry.
- Chopped Pecans – For extra flavor and crunch.
For the Frosting
- Cream Cheese – Use blocked cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Also, be sure it’s at room temperature, or your frosting will be lumpy.
- Butter – Use salted butter as this frosting contains a lot of sugar. The salt in the butter will balance out the sweetness.
- Powdered Sugar – It’s what gives the frosting a stiff, pipe-able consistency. If your frosting ends up too sweet, add a splash of lemon juice to contrast it.
- Vanilla – A flavor enhancer
- Pecans – For a nice textural variety.
Tips for Making a Moist Carrot Cake
- Use room temperature ingredients, particularly the eggs, butter, and cream cheese. They’ll blend much easier with the rest of the ingredients.
- Measure the flour accurately. Correct measurement can make or break your cake! Using more flour will make it too dense and dry, while using less might make the cake fall apart.
- The best way to measure the cake is by using a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, then use the spoon-and-level method: spoon the flour into the measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Be sure to grease the cake pans well. I like to both grease AND line the pans with parchment paper for the easiest cake release.
- For an extra moist carrot cake, use a mix of granulated sugar and brown sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which adds moisture to the cake. It also has a deeper flavor than regular sugar. Use a mix of both for best results.
- The nuts are optional in both the cake and the frosting, but they really add such a nice texture and flavor. If you’re not a fan of pecans, try walnuts instead.
- For an even deeper flavor, toast the nuts in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly coat the nuts in flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- For an extra moist cake, mix in 1 1/2 cups of applesauce or crushed and drained pineapples. I personally love adding pineapples because they add such a wonderful tropical flavor!
- Shred the carrots at home. Pre-shredded carrots are tough and dry! Use a box grater or, if you want to make things easier, use the food processor. Be sure to peel the carrots first.
- If the cream cheese frosting is too runny for piping, add more powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Chill it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to help firm it up.
- Don’t serve the cake right away. Refrigerate it for about 30 minutes to help the frosting firm up. Otherwise, the cake might fall apart during slicing.
- Add craisins, shredded coconut, and/or chocolate chips to the batter for more textures and flavors.
- You can add more spices other than cinnamon, too! Give nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice a try.
- The cake batter can be prepared up to a day in advance. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready.
- The cream cheese frosting will keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge.
How to Store the Carrot Cake
Because this carrot cake has frosting, don’t leave it on the counter for over a day, especially if it’s warm where you’re from.
Instead, place the cake in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days.
You can also freeze the cake for up to 2 months, as long as you don’t frost it yet.
Cover each cake with plastic wrap and foil. Let it come to room temperature before frosting it.
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