The Ultimate Carrot Cake Recipe


Made with grated carrots, Granny Smith apples, and sweetened coconut, these carrot cake layers are moist, sweet, and soft.

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 35 mins
12 serves

Cakes are welcome on a Southerner's table year-round, but there's something about spring that makes us want to pull out our cake pans and build a layer cake. Garden parties, baby showers, ladies luncheons – all are a fantastic occasion (and great excuse!) to dig for Mama's tattered recipe cards and bake. This carrot cake is one of our all-time favorites. Made with grated carrots, pieces of Granny Smith apple, and sweetened coconut, the resulting cake layers are moist, sweet, and soft. They are also tender and delicate, so treat them carefully when removing from your pans. And, can we talk about the garnishes on this classic Southern cake recipe? We've frosted this best-ever carrot cake with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting in between layers and down the sides of the cake, which has just the right amount of creamy sweetness to make guests ask for a second slice. If you're baking our Ultimate Carrot Cake for a special occasion or holiday, like Easter Sunday, you may also want to put in the time to master Candied Carrot Curls. Although not absolutely necessary to the cake, this pretty, colorful garnish is both unique and tasty. And, you can make these candied carrot pieces the night before your event so that they're ready to go once you're finished frosting. The best part? You've likely got most of the ingredients (and, there are only a handful) already in your pantry. What better way to spend a Saturday than to make this moist, stately carrot cake?

Ultimate Carrot Cake

Alison Miksch


  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  • teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon table salt

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 3 large eggs

  • ¾ cup buttermilk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 cups grated carrots

  • 1 cup peeled and grated Granny Smith apple

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

  • Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Candied Carrot Curls


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss together first 3 ingredients; spread in a single layer in a foil- lined pan. Bake 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once.

  2. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Beat butter and both sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add oil; beat until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended.

  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla; fold in carrots, next 2 ingredients, and 1 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into 3 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

  4. Bake at 350°F for 23 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely. Spread Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Top with Candied Carrot Curls and remaining toasted pecans.

    Ultimate Carrot Cake
    Alison Miksch
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