Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot cake is one of those wholesome desserts that reminds me of farmers’ wives and sweaty milkmaids and healthy brown-skinned farmboys. The sight of a big round carrot cake takes my mind’s eye to the bright kitchen of a big white house in the middle of a sorghum field with a blue sky out the window and a chubby granny making lunch for all the hungry babies and men. I love that in this place where carrot cake takes me, people get cake at lunch. I love it for that.

I also love it for being sweet and spicy and tender . . . and for being covered in tangy cream cheese frosting. I think cream cheese frosting might be my favorite frosting and this one in particular with orange zest and maple syrup is the favorite favorite. I first made this carrot cake recipe over ten years ago and no longer remember where the cake part of the recipe came from. It’s all just written in my 22-year-old-self’s handwriting on a leaf from a legal pad. I do recall being happy with my own addition of the orange and maple to the icing. And I remember my sweet NatNat taking one bite and immediately requesting it to be made for her birthday every year, forever and ever.

Carrot Cake Recipe Video

Carrot Cake Recipe – Printable!

Easy Carrot Cake with Maple and Orange Cream Cheese


Carrot Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.9 from 9 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 2 cups grated carrots (1/2 pound or so)
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola, safflower, sunflower)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, if needed


  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350ยบF. Grease and flour (or line with parchment) two 9″ round cake pans or one 13″ x 9″ pan.
  2. Combine carrots, water, sugar, oil, eggs in a large mixing bowl and combine well.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture.
  4. Pour into pan(s). Bake 25 minutes for 9″ pans and 45 minutes for 13 x 9″ pan, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool in pans on wire racks then invert to remove from pans.
  6. Make icing while cake bakes: Cream cold cream cheese and soft butter together on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla, zest, maple syrup and combine. Sift in powdered sugar a little at a time until it’s all combined and smooth. Add a teaspoon of orange juice if necessary to make it come together. If the icing seems a little soft, just let it sit for a few minutes and it will thicken up. Refrigerate until ready to ice.
  7. When cake is cooled, ice and serve.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us โ€” we can't wait to see what you've made!

Make this cake for Easter and decorate it with marzipan carrots!


  1. Mary Helen (@MaryMakesDinner) on January 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I love me some carrot cake. I think it’s my favorite favorite too. Watch out, Easter! Ima make some Hilah cake!

    • Hilah on January 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Yes! You can decorate it to look like a bunny!!!

  2. Channing on January 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for not putting raisins in your cake. They make baby Jesus cry. Non-raisin-ed carrot cake is the best, though!

    • Hilah on January 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      It is the best, Channing! I love raisins in oatmeal cookies and fruit cake and all kinds of things, but never in carrot cake.

  3. Brock on January 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Awesome cake Hilah. Daisy cam is great, more Mr. Banjo!

    • Hilah on January 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      You got it, Brock! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Anna on January 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Just pulled it out of the oven! I halved it and baked it in 9 inch pie crust for Pie Day. I’ll post a picture when it’s finished, but I’m impressed with how nicely half a batch fits into a store bought pie shell.

    • Hilah on January 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Cool! Carrot cake pie! Thanks, Anna!

  5. Donald De Rosa on January 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Hi, I’m so excited to make this recipe! I was just wondering what cloves were? Is their any specific type of clove you are talking about? Thanks!

    • Hilah on January 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Donald! Cloves are a spice similar in flavor to allspice, if you’ve ever used that. Here’s a description and picture
      If you can’t find them, use allspice, and if you can’t find either, it will still be good!

  6. Donald De Rosa on January 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Sorry to post another comment but I just took a bite out of the cake and it was AMAZING! Seriously the best carrot cake, ever! I can’t wait to buy your book! I did not have cream cheese in the house to make the icing so I used vanilla icing instead but I’m sure your icing would be amazing! Thanks for all these amazing recipes!

  7. Arthur in the Garden! on February 3, 2013 at 1:29 am

    I love carrot cake~~

    • Hilah on February 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Me too, Arthur!

  8. Diana on February 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Your carrot cake looks so yum!!! I have no choice but to make it today.
    I’ve been watching your videos, which are fun and cool. They are so motivating to try the recipe.

    • Hilah on February 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Hooray! I hope you loved it, Diana! Thank you for writing.

  9. Sonya on June 4, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    about to bite into my first homemade cake ….Its good but I am still a fan of publix I can’t believe i made a cake from scratch to cool. Mine may be slightly off thow I could not find my measuring cups and I winged it. Icing is great I should have never learned how to make the icing I am in trouble now

    • Hilah on June 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I hope you enjoyed it, Sonya! Good for you for making a homemade cake! Everyone should try it at least once in their lives. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Midori on July 25, 2013 at 5:52 am

    my sis & family but specially my little sister who is 23 XD LOVESSS this cake! so I make it often for her =] glad it could be none dairy for the frosting i do a vegan option since we are lactose intolerant but we LOVE your carrot cake!!

    • Hilah on July 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Yay!!! You just made my day. I love this recipe, too!

  11. Melissa on November 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I want to make this cake for my grandma’s birthday ๐Ÿ˜€
    But, can you tell me: how much butter (grams) I need to make the Cream Cheese Icing?

    • Hilah on November 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Hi Melissa!
      It would be about 60 grams (2 ounces x 28 grams/ounce). Hope your grandma likes it! It is very sweet of you to make her a cake!

  12. Celia on November 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I your food it’s very coll , I see you in Portugal.

    • Hilah on November 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Olรก, Celia! Thank you!

  13. David not Dave on March 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I just did the Cake. The Cake is good. Frosting is alternative-cuss-word amazing. Not too spicy, which is good.

    • Hilah on March 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Yay! I love that icing, too, David. Thanks for writing! ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Joyce on May 5, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Recently discovered your cooking show, and i’m obsessed! Already did my week’s grocery shopping centered around making a couple of your recipes this week. Can’t wait to try making your carrot cake as well.

    • Hilah on May 6, 2014 at 8:50 am

      That makes me so happy to hear, Joyce! Hope you like the recipes.

  15. Zama in South Africa on October 20, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Hi am obsessed abou cakes so i try this receipe it came out realy good.thank you!

  16. Paulina on November 24, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Hi Hilah!

    I really want to try this recipe for Thanksgiving!! I love me some carrot cake with a cup of coffee, yum!!!
    Do you think it would be ok to add walnuts or pecans to the batter??

    I love your show! You are an awesome and inspiring cook!! Yay!

    • Hilah on November 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Definitely would be great with nuts! Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.