This soft and moist Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is sweet and tangy perfection packed with warm spices! A simple from scratch version of a classic that's quick, easy, and sure to be devoured.
Published 3/9/21; Updated 4/3/22
This Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is such an easy recipe to pull together, and provides all of the classic flavors in a moist snack sized cake. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a layer cake. But sometimes you just want maximum reward for minimum effort and that is exactly what this cake provides. I couldn't believe how moist this cake stayed (for days!) and it's oh so soft.
The cake gets topped with brown butter cream cheese frosting, which makes the frosting taste slightly caramelized and tangy. I highly suggest taking the extra bit of time to brown the butter, but it can absolutely be made with normal butter.
You can also make the frosting more decorative by adding a bit of blue and green food coloring to make it a robin's egg color, then spritz on a mixture of cocoa powder and vanilla extract to make speckles! The perfect Easter cake!
- Dry ingredients. All-purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder, spices.
- Ground spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.
- Wet ingredients. Eggs, oil, orange or grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed or store bought).
- Carrots. Shredded to your preference. I actually like a large shred, but I know most people prefer a finer shred. Either will work just fine!
- Add ins. Shredded coconut, walnuts, and raisins. Pick and choose (or omit completely)! You could also use pecans in place of walnuts.
How to grate carrots for baking
The easiest way to grate carrots for baking is by using a box grater. This allows for your choice of how fine you'd like to shred the carrots.
You can also grate or shred the carrots by using a food processor the the grating attachment in it, though this lends itself to more clean up.
In this recipe, I used the normal sized holes because the carrots become so soft you can't taste them. However, I know many people who swear by finely grating the carrots. So, do what you like best!
How to make the carrot snack cake
STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and prep an 8-inch cake pan by greasing, then lining the bottom with parchment paper. Check out my with out my parchment paper tips video on how to line a cake pan SO easily.
STEP 2: Shred the carrots on a box grater using the normal or fine shred. Either will work!
STEP 3: Whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice) and set aside.
STEP 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the wet ingredients (eggs, vegetable oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla) on medium speed for two minutes.
STEP 5: Fold in the carrots, coconut and nuts (if using) and add to the prepared 8-inch cake pan.
STEP 6: Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake pulls away from the edges and springs back when touched. A toothpick in the center will come out with moist crumbs.
Timing tip! While the cake is in the oven, brown the butter then let it re-solidify to room temperature.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
STEP 7: While the cake cools, make the cream cheese frosting by beating together the room temperature brown butter and cream cheese until smooth, then adding the powdered sugar and vanilla until a soft, smooth frosting is developed.
The frosting should be easily spreadable. If it feels too stiff, add a splash of heavy cream or milk (or even water) and beat again. If it becomes too soft, add a spoonful of powdered sugar and re-mix.
STEP 8: Spread the frosting on the cooled cake, top with toasted walnuts (optional) and serve.
Speckled Egg Frosting Decoration
To make the robin's egg decoration for the cream cheese frosting, add a mix of blue and green food coloring a very small amount at a time and mix in between additions until the desired color is achieved. Spread evenly over the cake.
To make the speckles, add cocoa powder (½ tablespoon) and vanilla extract or vodka (1-2 teaspoons) to a very small bowl and mix to combine. It should be a relatively viscous liquid.
Dip a small, firm bristled paint brush into the mixture, then use the tip of your fingernail to spray the mixture over the frosting to create a speckled robin's egg design. Be sure to place a dish towel or paper towels around your cake to catch the excess splatter.
Carrot Cake FAQ
Oh yes! This is one of the most moist cakes you can make! If your cake is dry in any capacity, check that you measured the ingredients correctly (and make sure you didn't forget any).
Absolutely! This cake stays SO moist for days. Once cooled, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Then, whip up the frosting right before you're ready to serve and dress the cake.
Yes, it must be refrigerated due to the dairy in the frosting. Remove the cake (or slice) and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to one hour before enjoying.
Definitely. Omitting these items will not affect the the bake, so feel free to leave them out if you'd like. Though I highly suggest the coconut!
More easy cakes
- Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake
- Almond Coconut Loaf Cake
- Raspberry White Chocolate Bundt Cake
- Pear Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8-inch round cake pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Box grater
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour 150g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable oil 120ml
- 3 tablespoons orange or grapefruit juice fresh or store bought juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 ½ cups shredded carrots 150g
- ⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut 25g, optional
- ½ cup chopped walnuts 50g, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 oz full-fat cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted butter 57g, room temperature (browned* or normal)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 180g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Robin’s Egg Decoration (optional)
- Blue and green food coloring
- ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vodka
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and grease and parchment line an 8-inch cake pan. Then, shred the carrots on a box grater to whatever thickness you'd prefer.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.
- In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together the eggs, vegetable oil, citrus juice, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, spoon in the flour mixture until it’s just about incorporated. Scrape down the sides, then fold in the carrots, shredded coconut and walnuts (if using) by hand until evenly disbursed.
- Add the batter to the prepared cake pan and smooth over. Bake in the center rack for 25-35 minutes until the edges have just pulled away from the sides and the center springs back when touched. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out with moist crumbs.
- Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and finish cooling on the wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- *If using brown butter, brown the butter as soon as the cake goes in the oven and allow it to re-solidify to room temperature.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), cream the room temperature butter and cream cheese on medium low speed until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar one spoonful at a time until incorporated then add the vanilla.
- Mix on medium speed for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides and stir once more with a rubber spatula.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake. Slice and serve.
After the powdered sugar has been mixed in, add blue and green food coloring in very small amounts at a time until the desired color is made. To make the speckles, combine the cocoa powder and vanilla/vodka in a very small bowl and mix. Using a taught bristled paint brush, dip it into the mixture and spray it overtop of the cake by running a fingernail across the bristles.