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carrot layer cake with cream cheese frosting decorated with flowers and nuts
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Carrot layer cake with cream cheese frosting

Triple-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s super easy to make, moist and well-seasoned. Doesn’t taste bland or oily. It’s perfect to make ahead, it tastes even better on the next day.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
cooling the cake 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 525kcal
Author Aleksandra


dry ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups flour 310g, spoon and leveled
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 3 ground cloves

wet ingredients:

  • 5 cups grated carrots* 1 lb / 450g, grated on small holes of a box grater and loosely packed in a cup
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 235g, use a neutral- tasting oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce 85g
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 200g, scoop and leveled
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar 150g, scoop and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts walnuts or pecans

cream cheese frosting:

  • 16 oz cream cheese 2 packages, full-fat, 450g, at room temperature
  • 1 stick butter 115g, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 240g
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • a large pinch of salt


Carrot cake:

  • The ingredients should be at room temperature.
  • Prepare your 8-inch / 20-cm cake pan / springform pan. You can bake the cake in 1, 2 or 3 pans (read more in notes!). If you want to bake the cake in one pan, it must be an extra deep/high rim pan (3-inch / 7.5 cm, measured in the inside). Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper and butter its sides. Set aside.
  • Prepare all the ingredients, then set the oven to 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3, no fan (if you have a convection oven, reduce the temperature by 20°).
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (you can grind them in a coffee grinder or using a pestle and mortar).
  • Mix all wet ingredients together: grated carrots, oil, applesauce, eggs, white and brown sugar, vanilla extract, chopped nuts.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until combined, but be careful not to overmix the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. If using more than 1 cake pan, divide the batter evenly into the pans. If you‘re baking the cake in three pans bake the cakes for 45 minutes, if baking in one pan - bake for 1h 30 min - 1h 45min. At the end of the baking time, if the cake starts to brown too much, you can cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. The cake is ready when a wooden stick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • After putting the cake in the oven, start making the frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

  • The ingredients should be at room temperature.
  • Beat the butter and powdered sugar with a mixer (fitted with a whisk attachment), for about 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.
  • Add the cream cheese and mix until a smooth frosting forms.
  • Add the lemon juice and salt, mix until smooth.
  • Place the frosting in the fridge.

Assembling the cake:

  • Place the baked cake on a cooling rack and leave for 10 minutes then take out off the pan (or remove side of the springform pan). Leave it to cool completely (!), it will take about 30-60 minutes.
  • If you’ve baked the carrot cake in 1 pan: Level the cake then cut it into 3 layers. First mark the height of each layer then make shallow cuts with a long serrated knife around the cake, then saw through the middle of each layer.
  • The most bottom layer of the cake should be now the top layer (it’s most even). Frost the cake and smooth its surface with an offset spatula. You can sprinkle the cake with chopped walnuts.
  • Put the cake in the fridge for a minimum of one hour - it will be easier to cut into portions.



1. 5 cups = 1 lb / 450g = peeled carrots, grated on small holes of a box grated, then loosely packed in a cup. It‘s 1.5 lbs / 700g unpeeled whole carrots.
2. If you‘re living in the US, it‘s better to buy full-fat cream cheese in blocks, but if you only can get spreadable full-fat cream cheese (UK + Europe), the frosting will be just fine with this recipe.
3. For this recipe, I used just one 8-inch springform pan with extra deep/high rim (3 inch/7.5 cm, measured from the inside) and then cut the cake into three even layers. It’s a great option if you don’t have three pans or your oven is not big enough to fit three pans. But if you do have three pans and an oven, that is big enough to fit them, it’s better to bake the cake this way. You can use 8- inch / 20 cm springform pan or regular cake pan. If using springform pan – make sure it’s leak-proof!
If you’re baking the carrot cake in one pan: bake the cake for 1h 30 mins – 1h 45 mins.
If you’re baking the carrot cake in 3 pans (batter is divided between 3 pans) – bake them for 45 mins.
You can also bake it in 2 pans and make a 2-layer cake. I haven’t tasted that version yet since I prefer 3-layer cakes, but I estimate, that the baking time should be about 1h. Check for doneness with a cake tester / wooden skewer.
What you shouldn’t do is to bake for example 2 layers of the cake, while the batter for the third layer waits on the counter. The batter should be baked right after mixing the ingredients!
4. You need to completely cool the cake before cutting it into layers and frosting it – it will be easier to cut and frosting can become too runny on a warm cake.
5. Let the carrot cake rest for a minimum of 1 hour, and better for a couple of hours or overnight – tastes so much better!
6. How to store carrot cake: keep the cake in the fridge for up to 4-5 days, bring the cake to the room temperature before serving.
7. How to freeze carrot cake: you can freeze pieces of carrot cake, wrap each piece/ serving of cake in plastic wrap, thaw in the fridge, serve at room temperature.


Calories: 525kcal