Easy Carrot Cake is made with classic carrot cake ingredients but with way less effort than a traditional layer cake! It’s a moist, tender, delicious spice cake with a homemade cream cheese frosting recipe that is so quick to make!
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Simple Sheet Pan Carrot Cake
If you are like me and love homemade carrot cake more than you care to admit, having an easy recipe for a sheet pan carrot cake is one of my favorite ways to satisfy the cravings without the added effort of cake layers!
This easy carrot cake is so tender and moist because we’re using canola oil, Greek yogurt, and freshly grated carrots! It delivers the warm spices we love, from the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and there is an earthy sweetness that comes from the carrots which pairs nicely with the caramel flavor from the brown sugar.
It is then topped with the best cream cheese frosting that comes together in minutes and adds a delicious creamy tang that balances the sweetness and rounds out all the flavors perfectly.
A sheet cake makes enough to serve a crowd so it’s the perfect dessert for potlucks, holiday parties, and a dessert recipe to keep on hand when you and your family just want to eat cake!
For Easy Carrot Cake
- Canola oil: Gives the cake the signature moisture that every good carrot cake needs.
- Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar contains more moisture than regular white sugar but also has a deeper flavor that pairs well with the spices.
- Greek yogurt: A secret multipurpose ingredient! The acid reacts with the leavening agents to give it a fluffy rise and the tang adds to the flavor of the cake. It’s also there to help keeps the cake moist.
- Eggs: A traditional binding ingredient that’s used in plenty of bakes. They add to the texture but also help to keep everything from falling apart.
- Vanilla: A warm aromatic flavor.
- Carrots: You’ll need about 3 cups of peeled and grated carrots. A box grater or food processor works great for this.
- All-purpose flour: Make sure to measure flour correctly, using a scale or the spoon and level method. This will help ensure your cake ends up with the right consistency.
- Baking soda & baking powder: Leavening agents that will give the cake light and fluffy texture without falling flat.
- Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
For Cream Cheese Frosting
This is made by combining softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. So easy!
I make this easy carrot cake nut free in the cake itself, but I do like to add some crunchy walnuts for garnish.
1. You can swap the canola oil for vegetable oil instead. Since they both remain liquid at room temperature, they will both prevent the cake from drying out.
2. For a lower-calorie cake, omit the oil completely and replace it with unsweetened applesauce.
3. If preferred, use white sugar instead of brown.
4. You can use sour cream in place of Greek yogurt. They provide the same results, however, sour cream is not as light.
5. Add ½ cup of raisins to the cake batter if you’d like!
How to Make this Carrot Cake Recipe
This easy carrot cake recipe will come together with just a bit of prep time and an easy frosting to boot!
Step 1: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. You can also use an electric hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer for this.
Step 2: Add in the grated carrots and stir them into the wet batter.
Step 3: In a separate large bowl, combine and mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and baking powder.
Step 4: Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix!
Step 5: Pour the batter into the prepared pan (I use a 9×13) and bake for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool completely before frosting.
Step 5: To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, then powdered sugar in batches on low speed until all the sugar is incorporated.
Step 6: Turn it up to medium-high speed and beat for a couple of minutes until the entire frosting is fluffy.
Step 7: Spread an even generous layer of frosting onto the top of the whole cake and finish with a sprinkling of cinnamon and garnish with chopped walnuts on top of the cake. Slice and enjoy!
- Frosting. There’s no need for piping or making it look uber professional, but for an easy time spreading, I recommend using an offset spatula.
- Prepare the baking dish. Use either parchment paper or baking spray for for easy, clean, nonstick removal of the slices.
- Adding canned pineapple chunks (without the juice) can be a great flavor addition that also adds to the moistness of the cake.
- Grate your carrots nice and small if you don’t want bigger flecks of carrots in each bite. It’s up to you!
- Use pecans or almonds instead of walnuts if preferred. You can add them inside the batter or just use them on top for garnish.
- Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Pour the batter into muffin tin with paper liners and adjust the cooking time to 20 minutes.
You can! Gluten-free flour will usually alter the texture and flavor depending on which type you use. I would suggest a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour rather than almond, oat, or any other kind.
It’ll stay good at room temperature on the counter when sealed in an airtight container. The confectioner’s sugar in the frosting will act as a preservative to keep it fresh.
The longer it sits, the better it tastes in my opinion!
Technically yes, however, I don’t recommend it. They aren’t as moist as freshly grated carrots which could make the cake drier in the end.
This is a great freezer-friendly cake, with or without the frosting. If you know in advance you’re going to freeze it, I would hold off on frosting it until you’re ready to serve it.
Wrap it in plastic wrap then store it in a freezer bag to keep frozen. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then whip up a quick frosting just before serving.
Easy Carrot Cake
For the Carrot Cake
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups carrots grated
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 4 tablespoons butter softened (½ stick)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Making the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 9×13 rectangle baking dish with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the oil, brown sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract and beat or whisk together completely.1 cup canola oil, 1 ½ cups brown sugar, ⅓ cup Greek yogurt, 4 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add the grated carrots and stir them into the wet ingredients.3 cups carrots
- In a separate large mixing bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and ginger.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until barely combined. Careful not to over-mix or the cake will not be a moist.
- Pour the batter to the prepared pan
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Place the pan on a wire cooking rack to cool completely before frosting.
Making the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese and butter and beat with an electric hand mixer for one minute or until fluffy.6 ounces cream cheese, 4 tablespoons butter
- Then, add the vanilla and mix in.1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the powdered sugar in batches and beat in on low speed.
- After all of the powdered sugar is added, beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until the frosting is fluffy.2 cups powdered sugar
- Spread the frosting over the entire top of the cake.
- Sprinkle with chopped roasted pecans and/or ground cinnamon.
For lower calories, swap out the oil for an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce.
Use light or dark brown sugar. You can also use regular white sugar if desired.
Use gluten-free one-to-one flour if needed.
Use sour cream instead of Greek yogurt.
Be sure to rate your own carrots. Using pre-shredded carrots will make the cake have a different texture.
Make sure to measure using the spoon and level method or a food scale so the cake does not become too dry.
Using both baking powder and baking soda results in a light cake.
Add ½ cup of raisins.