Pineapple Carrot Cake is ultra fluffy and moist, and is flavored with fresh carrots, juicy pineapple, and cozy spices like cinnamon and ginger. Top it all off with a silky cream cheese frosting for the perfect springtime cake!
Allow me to turn you into a Carrot Cake lover – no, wait, hear me out! This homemade carrot cake recipe is moist and fluffy, perfectly spiced, and packed with carrot and pineapple. And yes, you can even add nuts, raisins, and/or coconut if that floats your boat! (Noted in “recipe variations” at the end of the post.) Let’s dive in!
Why you’ll love this Carrot Cake recipe:
- Fluffy Cake Layers – The layers of this cake have an incredibly plush texture! You’d never know there’s no butter in this cake – it’s so moist!
- Pineapple & Carrot Duo – Pineapple goes beautifully in carrot cake – it adds a bright flavor to compliment the carrots and cozy spices, and adds moisture! This is truly the best carrot cake recipe you’ll ever try.
- Silky Cream Cheese Frosting – I’m sharing a tip I’ve recently learned to ensure your cream cheese frosting is silky – never weepy! This frosting is ultra delicious and the perfect finishing touch to this spring dessert.
- Carrots – Be sure to grate carrots finely – on a box grater, there are large holes on one side, and small on the other side. Use the small holes, or you’ll have awkwardly large pieces of carrot in your cake. I don’t recommend using a bag of pre- shredded carrot, as the pieces will be too large.
- Pineapple – We’re using canned crushed pineapple here so there aren’t awkwardly large chunks of pineapple either!
- All-Purpose Flour – Spoon & level your flour for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly in will lead to too much flour.
- Vegetable Oil – Vegetable oil keeps this cake super moist! (Seriously – I’ve had a test slice in my fridge for a week, and it’s still pretty dang good!)
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract for best results.
- Eggs – Use large eggs, at room temperature.
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners’ sugar – there’s no need to sift this for your frosting! As long as you mix everything in as directed, it really doesn’t need to be sifted.
- Dairy-free – Great news! This cake is already dairy-free. To make the frosting dairy-free, use your favorite dairy-free butter and cream cheese.
- Gluten-free – I haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this cake, but I’d start with a trusted 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour. Let me know if you do try it!
- Mix-Ins – See notes under “recipe variations” towards the bottom of this post for info on adding nuts and/or raisins to this cake.
How to Make this Pineapple Carrot Cake Recipe:
Step 1: Make the Cake Batter. Combine the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the carrots and pineapple.
Step 2: Bake the Cake Layers. Divide the batter into three prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake as directed in the recipe card below.
Step 3: Make the Frosting. Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer, then mix in the powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Mix in the softened, cubed cream cheese last. This helps ensure that the frosting won’t turn out weepy like cream cheese frosting tends to. See more in FAQs below.
Step 4: Frost the Cake. Place one cake layer on your cake plate or cake stand and brush with the pineapple simple syrup (optional), then frost with 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting. Repeat with the next layer, then add the top layer upside down (for a perfectly flat top!) and frost the top and sides of the cake in a light crumb coat. Chill for 15-30 minutes, then apply the remaining frosting. See decorating tools in the “special tools” section below.
Now for the grand finale, we dig in! This is truly the BEST carrot cake I’ve ever had, and I know you’ll feel the same way. Happy baking, and Happy Easter!
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Let cake chill in the fridge about 20-30 minutes or up to overnight before slicing and serving. If chilling overnight, let it sit out for 30 minutes or so so the frosting isn’t so solid from being chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container (press plastic wrap over the cut portion of the cake) in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Expert Success Tips:
- Don’t Over Mix – Mix just until the last streaks of dry ingredients disappear into the batter.
- Don’t Over Bake – Follow the doneness indicators given in the recipe card below to avoid over baking.
- Kitchen Scale– A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
Yes! Bake in two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans, or one 9×9 square pan. It will take less time to bake in the rounds than I’ve indicated below, and more time in the square.
Yes, you can bake the full quantity of batter in 3 8-inch pans. They’ll need to bake a bit longer. You can also bake the full quantity of batter in a 9×13 pan, starting with a similar bake time to what I’ve given, adding a few more minutes at a time until done.
I recently learned this trick! It’s because sugar is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts water, so dissolving it (mixing it well) into the butter first helps prevent it from drawing moisture out of the cream cheese (it has a moisture content of 55%!), making the frosting too soft or weepy.
Yes! These cakes are very moist and will stick a bit if you skip this step.
Yes. You can wrap the baked & cooled cake layers in plastic wrap, then seal tightly in ziploc bags. Freeze for 1-2 months, and thaw at room temperature before frosting.
Yes, I think that would work fine. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake, starting at 10-12 minutes and going up to 16-20, checking for doneness in the same way indicated in the recipe card.
- Nuts – Add 3/4 to 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to your carrot cake, if desired.
- Raisins – Add 3/4 to 1 cup of golden raisins, if desired.
- Coconut – Add 3/4 to 1 cup of shredded coconut, if desired.
- Cake Pans – These are my absolute favorite 9-inch cake pans! I’ve had them for 6+ years and use them for every cake recipe, and they are still in great shape.
- Offset Spatula – Offset spatulas make frosting a cake so easy! They can also be used for spreading cake and brownie batters evenly.
- Cake Turntable – If you make at least a few cakes a year, a cake turntable makes the frosting process a breeze!
More Easter Recipes to Love:
- Ultra Plush Lemon Loaf
- Classic Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
- Blueberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
- Restaurant-Level Stuffed French Toast
- Cheddar & Gruyere Drop Biscuits
- Key Lime Pie Bars
- Mini Quiche Cups with Bacon & Cheddar
- Lamb Chops with Shallot & Thyme Pan Sauce & Smashed Potatoes
More Cake Recipes to Love:
- Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Raspberry Lemon Crumb Cake
- Perfect White Birthday Cake
- Salted Butterscotch Crunch Cake
- Mini Chocolate Cake
- Peach Cobbler Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
- Mojito Cake
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Pineapple Carrot Cake
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed 210 grams
- 1 cup granulated sugar, packed 204 grams
- 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil 345 mL
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 260 grams
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ginger
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups finely grated carrot 5-6 large carrots, 300 grams
- one 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained 226 grams
- optional mix-ins: 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, 1 cup shredded coconut
Pineapple Simple Syrup (Optional)
- 1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice from crushed pineapple See note
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar 68 grams
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 and 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature 367 grams
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature use full-fat blocks, 454 grams
- 7 cups to 7 and 2/3 cups powdered sugar 910 grams (7 cups) to 997 grams (7 and 2/3 cups)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Prep: Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease (i use shortening) & line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment rounds, greasing over the parchment and flouring the entire inside of the pan, tapping out the excess. Place the pineapple in a sieve to drain. I do this over a glass measuring cup to reserve the liquid for a pineapple simple syrup. Grate your carrots.
- Make the Cake Batter: Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and beat with mixer for 30 seconds on medium, until they're beaten. Add sugars and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, 1 minute. Whisk in the oil. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in the grated carrot and drained pineapple.
- Bake: Divide batter between your three prepared pans. Bake for 22-26 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will pull out moist crumbs, but shouldn't have wet batter. Let cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes before inverting to cool completely. Total batter weight is about 1660 grams, so add 553 grams of batter to each pan.
- Make the Pineapple Simple Syrup (Optional): Add the reserved pineapple juice and equal parts sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low, and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. This will only take a few minutes. Set in fridge to cool.
- Make the Frosting: Beat butter in a large mixing bowl on high speed until creamy – 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, 2 cups at a time, mixing between each until creamy. Add 1-2 tbsp of heavy cream to help things come together. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt and mix. Add cubed room temperature cream cheese, and mix well. (Adding this last prevents a weepy frosting – see more in blog post). Taste and adjust spice or powdered sugar as desired.
- Assemble the Cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand and brush with a light layer of pineapple simple syrup, then frost with 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting. Repeat with the next layer, then add the top layer upside down (for a perfectly flat top!) and frost the top and sides of the cake in a light crumb coat. Chill for 15-30 minutes, then apply the remaining frosting. See decorating tools in the "special tools" section above.
- Serve & Store: Let cake chill in the fridge about 20-30 minutes or up to overnight before slicing and serving. If chilling overnight, let it sit out for 30 minutes or so so the frosting isn't so solid from being chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container (press plastic wrap over the cut portion of the cake) in the fridge for 4-5 days.