pecan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Pecan Carrot Cake

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This is my perfectly moist, spiced, and flavorful Pecan Carrot Cake, topped and filled with a layer of delicious & sweet cream cheese frosting. 

pecan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Pecan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my forever favorite carrot cake recipe. I published it on my blog a few years ago and decided it’s time for clearer recipe instructions and some updated pictures. Many of you love this recipe too, so let’s roll up our sleeves and rev up our mixers!

Pecan Carrot Cake is perfect for Fall birthdays, and a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert menu- Have you planned your Thanksgiving menu, yet?

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

The ingredients you need for this Fall cake are simple and I bet you have quite a few of them already in your kitchen! The full recipe is below, but here is a quick overview:

Dry Ingredients: all purpose flour, brown and white sugar, baking powder and baking soda, spices (nutmeg & cinnamon) and pinch of salt.

Wet Ingredients: Eggs, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, unsweetened applesauce (which can be substituted for more oil), and fresh grated carrots.

Cream cheese frosting: block cream cheese, milk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar.

Fall cake top and layered with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with pecans.

Let’s Make it!

(Full recipe at end of this post, with a printable option.)

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients except sugar in medium size bowl.
  2. Whisk the wet ingredients plus sugar with an electric mixer.
  3. Combine wet & dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in grated carrots.
  5. Pour batter into two prepared 9×13-inch cake pan.
  6. Bake.
  7. Make cream cheese frosting.
  8. Let the cakes cool down.
  9. Assemble and frost-sprinkle chopped pecans before layering if desired.
  10. Sprinkle with more chopped pecan on top and enjoy!
  11. Try not to be sad when the last piece is gone!
batter in two baking pans

Tips for Making a Moist Carrot Cake

Carrots: The most important tip for making this pecan carrot cake recipe is to grate your own carrots. Do not buy packaged, pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store, as pre-shredded carrots tend to be dry and rough. For this recipe I used two cups of grated carrots which was about 2-3 large whole carrots. I used my food processor fitted with a shredding disc for this step- so easy and quick!

Grated carrots on ninja food processor

Frosting: When you make the homemade cream cheese frosting the cream cheese needs to be at room temperature. If the cream cheese is too cold, it won’t whip up properly and won’t blend in well with the other ingredients. 

Applesauce: This recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of applesauce and 1 a cup of vegetable oil. I highly recommend you use applesauce, but if it’s not accessible, you can substitute for an additional 1/4 a cup of oil.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake

In my opinion, cream cheese frosting pairs best with carrot cake’s flavor and this frosting recipe is really simple. You need block-style cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, a splash of milk, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness. The result is a seamlessly and is silky smooth frosting. If you’re looking to pipe decoration with this cream cheese frosting, chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This guarantees the creamy frosting will hold its shape.

pecan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

If you make this Pecan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, then don’t forget to snap a photo and hashtag it #thesaltandsweetkitchen — I would love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook

More Easy Cake Recipes? 

Chocolate Cake

Orange Cake

Banana Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Apple Caramel Cake

Sfouf- Lebanese Cake

pecan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Pecan Carrot Cake

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Pecan Carrot cake topped with the best cream cheese frosting is the perfect dessert, easy to make, super moist and loaded with delicious carrot and spices flavor.

Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces block cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Instructions

    1. Pre heat oven to 350°F.
    2. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
    3. With an electric mixer, mix eggs and vanilla very well until bubbly.
    4. Add the brown and granulated sugar and mix some more until fluffy.
    5. Now add oil and applesauce and mix a little longer.
    6. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
    7. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold using a rubber spatula until just combined.
    8. Then Fold in the grated carrots.
    9. Pour the batter into the two prepared greased cake pans evenly.
    10. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake. Don't over bake it!
    11. Let the cakes cool down completely before frosting and assembling.

How to Make the Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Frosting: 

  1. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the butter very well, add cream cheese and beat more until they are mixed well together (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time while mixing.
  3. Add milk and vanilla extract. Beat for additional 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy.

Assemble and frost:

  1. First, using a large knife trim tops off both cake layers to make a flat and leveled surface.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on serving plate (I use a rotating cake turntable which makes cake decorating much easier).
  3. Using a small offset spatula, evenly cover the top of the first layer with 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Spread the buttercream so it extends beyond the edges of the cake.
  4. Place the other cake layer, with the cut side down, on top of the cream cheese frosting; With the small offset spatula, spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.
  5. Refrigerate cake for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
  6. Store leftover carrot frosted cake in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 5 days.

Notes

If you don't have applesauce, you can substitute with an additional 1/4 cup of oil.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 484Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 346mgCarbohydrates: 85gFiber: 1gSugar: 71gProtein: 6g

Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.

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