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Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

This classic carrot cake recipe is all you’ll need for a birthday or holiday treat. Gently spiced cake with the tang of buttermilk in the batter and the frosting–there’s nothing bland or boring about this showstopper!

carrotcake1lowres (1 of 1)Sometimes I do something crazy. Crazy but awesome–and people, we are there.

There’s enough fat and sugar in this cake to make a Weight Watchers coach blush.

But I have a few good reasons for my madness:

1) Spring (I am forcing myself to believe) is right around the corner and we are going to need a piece of rich, perfect carrot cake for Easter. Or hey–maybe you’d like to have a piece now just to get you through till Spring. Either way, you just aren’t going to go wrong with this recipe.

2) My beautiful cake stand from Minted.com was screaming “put something awesome on me!” And so I did. Isn’t this green milk glass cake stand great? It makes a truly classic cake even prettier–and about 18 inches tall when it’s all said and done. This baby was a whopper–but a beautiful one.

carrotcake5lowres (1 of 1)

A few notes about this classic carrot cake recipe:

  • I made this recipe in three layers–the recipe below is for a two-tiered cake.  That third one is a doozy sometimes to keep straight and I didn’t want you all angry at me if it slid off so we are gonna keep it simple at two. If you want to make a three-tiered version, email me and I’ll give you the proportions.
  • This frosting recipe calls for buttermilk powder. You can find it in your baking aisle next to the powdered milk. Only add the powder to the frosting–don’t reconstitute it. But if you would like to save on groceries, mix up the right amount for the cake and use it there as well. It will work great.

And remember: Despite this cake’s looks, it was EASY. My biggest problem was finding a bowl big enough to mix it in and that left my kitchen looking like this:

I never said I was a neat baker.


Here’s to an early spring everyone.

Classic Carrot Cake

Make this classic carrot cake from scratch with the tang of buttermilk in the cake AND the frosting plus tender sweet carrots and just the right amount of spice. You'll never eat carrot cake just for the frosting ever again. 
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 15
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled and shredded carrots about 6 medium carrots
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces COLD cream cheese cut into 12 equal pieces


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and oil and mix well.
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake 30-38 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in their pans 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • While the cake cools, make the frosting:
  • Beat the powdered sugar, butter, buttermilk powder, vanilla and salt together on low until smooth. Scrape down the bowl well, and with the mixer on medium add the cream cheese one piece at a time. Beat until smooth.


Calories: 704kcal
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Dessert
Cuisine American



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  1. The recipe calls for 2-1/2 cups SHREDDED carrots as opposed to GRATED. What exactly is shredded? Chop up the long strings you get with a carrot peeler?

    1. Hey JoAnn, the actual term for a grated carrot is shredded. Just run them across your box grater or through the shredding disk of your food processor to get those super thin pieces. –Rachel

  2. I am thinking of making this for my friend for a house warming gift for her new home. Carrot cake is her absolute favorite. Can you send me the 3 layer proportions please?

    1. Julia, I have just destroyed my kitchen in an attempt to find that three layer recipe and I can’t find it anywhere. Ugh! I’m so sorry and it’s making me crazy! I guess just make the two layer version or make it in 6 inch cake tins and you’d have enough to make three layers. I’ll keep looking for that version. I can see the paper it’s written on in my head, I just can’t find it! Again, I’m so sorry! –Rachel

  3. 5 stars
    I’m making this for my son’s second birthday. I don’t have much experience with baking but so far the directions have been easy to follow. About to start making the icing! 🙂

    1. Well did you survive Kristen? This carrot cake is so good–really one of the best I’ve ever had. And way to go for having a 2 year old that likes carrot cake!That’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Happy Birthday to your little man 🙂 I hope it was wonderful. –Rachel

  4. Hi Rachel,
    I am excited to discover your website and blog. I also live here in Central Kentucky , outside of Elizabethtown, in Cecilia. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would like the recipe for the three layer carrot cake. It looks beautiful and delish.

    Thanks so much,
    Rod’s wife

  5. Yum! My fiancé loves carrot cake, so I might have to make this for him.

    I adore that cake stand–I’ve had my eye on it for a while now! I might just have to buy it for myself.

  6. Well, this cake is absolutely GORGEOUS, Rachel, and I now want a slice just because… though I could totally get behind spring coming early. We’ve had three winter storm systems come through Dallas in the last week and another taking aim at us for Wednesday… and I’m SO over winter, and this cake sounds divine and so spring-y it hurts. But not so much that I wouldn’t turn down a big slice of it. Nice work!

    1. Thank you Erin! We are in winter storm overload here too. Another one is coming tomorrow. 12 inches! I’ll be thinking of you in the coming days. I hope your delivery is safe and all is well. 🙂

  7. I just put out Easter things today so I am in the mood for a spring cake! I really can’t wait to try it. It looks totally fabulous in the 3 layers on the beautiful pedestal stand.

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.