This flavorful and super moist Carrot Cake recipe is the best, period. A two-layer beauty studded with fresh-grated carrots, chopped pecans, coconut flakes, and fragrant spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. There’s not a dry crumb in sight, this cake is extra tender. It’s finished with a swoon-worthy brown butter cream cheese frosting and is perfect for holiday gatherings or any other special occasion!

sliced carrot cake on marble cake stand with carrots on the side

Friends, when I tell you how much I’ve been in my baking bag lately, whew. The other day I went to Costco and grabbed an obscene amount of flour just to give you some perspective so you know it’s real. Listen, aside from a slice of deeply rich and fudgy chocolate cake, carrot cake is my absolute favorite.

I’ve tested this recipe to perfection and it’s finally here! A carrot cake you’ll appreciate. With Spring just inches away, tis the season for all things that represent it. But really, carrot cake is an all-year-round cake if ya ask me, ha.

Why This Cake Works & Why You’ll Love It!

Here are some big highlights of this recipe that I want you to know:

  • Moist & tender…There’s nothing worse than a dry cake, especially a dry ass carrot cake. Oh my, oof. You ain’t gotta worry about that happening here. This cake is deeply moist and extra tender because I developed it in a way that ensures that result. Freshly grated carrot, buttermilk, oil, and eggs all play their part to avoid a sad, dry cake texture.
  • Holiday festivities, special occasions, and more…This luscious carrot cake would be an ideal sweet treat to enjoy on holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday-centered celebrations or whenever you’re entertaining. It’ll be clutch for birthdays or other special occasions as well.
  • Tried & true…Now look, it’s always my goal to share well-tested recipes with you. I know y’all don’t have the time or ingredients to make a recipe only for it to fail. Trust and believe that this carrot cake has been tested a bunch of times to make sure that not only the recipe is a success, but that it’s also a carrot cake recipe that you can heavily rely on, friends 😌.
slices of carrot cake on small plates with cinnamon sticks

The Best Carrot Cake, Ever! 🙌🏾 🥕

Yup, I just gotta come out and say it because it’s true, idc idc. A carrot cake that is supremely moist, laced with fragrant spices, and sooo incredibly flavorful. What I love about this cake is the variety of textures, too. I’m not a fan of crushed pineapple in carrot cake like some are, but I do love the added essence of coconut flakes. And pecans should always be invited to the party.

This cake is slathered with brown butter cream cheese frosting that brings a lovely nutty, tangy contrast. It’s wholesome yet decadent and comforting. This carrot cake, to me, is like a warm and tight hug made edible, y’all.

ingredients for the best carrot cake with brown butter frosting laid out on surface

Ingredients You’ll Need For This Carrot Cake:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Flour: I use traditional all-purpose flour for this recipe.
  • Baking soda + baking powder: Both for leavening and texture.
  • Warm spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice…so fragrant!
  • Oil: I’ve tested this carrot cake using butter and oil, and I found the use of oil to produce a more moisture-rich result. Vegetable or canola oil works!
  • Sugars: I like the combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar here.
  • Maple syrup: A slight kiss of maple flavoring in this cake is delicious.
  • Coconut flakes: This adds a subtle coconut essence that’s so bomb.
  • Eggs: For texture and body, gotta have them eggs.
  • Grated carrot: The star of the show, always fresh-grated carrot! 😤
  • Vanilla: I prefer vanilla bean paste, but extract is okay.
  • Buttermilk: Another moisture-rich agent, and also adds a slight tang.
  • Chopped pecans: These add the nicest bit of crunch and texture.
  • & for the frosting: cream cheese, browned butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.

How To Make The Dreamiest Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Have:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Then go ahead and line each pan with a parchment paper round for good measure.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients well to combine and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients well to thoroughly combine. Then add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl and use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Then fold the pecans into the batter until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between both pans.
  4. Bake the cakes at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Let the cakes cool down completely before frosting.
  5. Brown the butter and set it aside until it has solidified.
  6. For the frosting, beat the firm browned butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste (or extract), and continue beating until the frosting is well combined.
  7. Frost the carrot cake with that glorious brown butter cream cheese frosting. When done frosting, garnish the cake with chopped pecans, if desired. Slice into servings and enjoy every single last bite, peeps! 👅
carrot cake on marble stand with fresh carrots on the side

Tips + Tricks & Recipe Notes About This Carrot Cake

Extra information you might find helpful on this carrot cake recipe:

  • Use fresh-grated carrots– I cannot say this enough, friends. Please do not try and use shredded bagged carrots here, I beg. Fresh grated carrot is what makes a carrot cake holla! Grate fresh carrots on the smallest holes of a box grater. Alternatively, you can also use a food processor grater if you’d like!
  • A note on browning butter– Do not leave the pot unattended for long during the browning process as it can burn very quickly.
  • Gluten-free needs?– Swap the all-purpose flour for any gluten-free baking flour as a 1:1 ratio (we love Bob’s Red Mill gf flour!).
  • Storing this cake– You can keep this carrot cake at room temperature on the counter for up to 1 day- otherwise, it will stay good in the fridge, covered for freshness, for about 3-4 days.
slice of carrot cake with brown butter frosting on small plates

This Carrot Cake recipe is a cake you’ve gotta make, y’all. From the cake itself to the frosting, it’s all that and more. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

More swoon-worthy treats you’ll love:

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sliced carrot cake on marble cake stand with carrots on the side

The BEST Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Desserts & Sweets
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
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Description

This flavorful and super moist Carrot Cake recipe is the best, period. A two-layer beauty studded with fresh-grated carrots, chopped pecans, coconut flakes, and fragrant spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. There’s not a dry crumb in sight, this cake is extra tender. It’s finished with a swoon-worthy brown butter cream cheese frosting and is perfect for holiday gatherings or any other special occasion!


Ingredients

Scale

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups fresh-grated carrots, grated on the smallest holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence (I use vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnish

For the brown butter cream cheese frosting:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 16 ounces block-style, full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence (I use vanilla bean paste)

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Then line each pan with a parchment paper round for good measure and spray the parchment paper as well, set baking pans aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. Whisk the dry ingredients well to combine and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut flakes, eggs, grated carrot, vanilla essence, and buttermilk. Whisk the wet ingredients well to thoroughly combine. Then add the flour mixture into the same bowl and use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined with all dry ingredients dissolved. Then fold the pecans into the batter until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between both pans and gently tap the pans on the counter to help release any air bubbles- use an offset spatula to smooth the top if needed. Let cakes sit on the counter while your oven preheats.
  4. Bake the cakes at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then carefully invert the cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Let the cakes cool down completely before frosting (below).
  5. In a small, light-colored (inside) saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter melts, it will get foamy and you will hear it bubbling as it cooks. Then it will take on a clear, light golden color. Note: Do not leave the pot unattended for long during the browning process as it can burn very quickly. Stir the butter every so often, scraping up any bits as you stir, until it turns deep brown and has a nutty aroma with brown bits on the bottom. 
  6. Once achieved, remove from heat. Transfer the browned butter to a small ramekin or bowl and leave it on the counter. We want this butter to cool down to room temperature and get firm to where it somewhat solidifies before the next step. To speed up the process, feel free to pop it in the freezer for a bit until it has solidified!
  7. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the firm browned butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste (or extract), and starting on low speed and slowly increasing to high, continue beating until the frosting is well combined and free of any lumps, about 2-3 minutes.
  8. Now let’s frost the cake! On a large plate or cake stand, spread a few tablespoons of the frosting onto the center of it and spread it out over a few inches (so the cake stays put on the vessel). Place one cooled cake on top of that frosting, add about ½ heaping cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread the frosting to the edges. Top with the other cooled cake, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Feel free to do a crumb coat: a thin layer of frosting along the outside of the cake then place it into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes to seal in before you finish frosting.
  9. When done frosting, garnish the cake with chopped pecans, if desired. I like to place the finished cake back into the fridge to chill before slicing. Slicing into a completely chilled cake is best! You can keep this cake on the counter for up to 1 day- otherwise, this cake will stay good in the fridge, covered for freshness, for about 3-4 days. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten-free needs? Swap the all-purpose flour for any gluten-free baking flour as a 1:1 ratio (we love Bob’s Red Mill gf flour!).
  2. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Recipe by: Quin Liburd- Butter Be Ready

Photography by: The Mindful Hapa