Carrot Cake

I make a lot of carrot cake this time of year.  It’s not just for Easter in my house; it’s also the birthday cake of choice for many friends with spring birthdays.  We’ve been munching on carrot cake cupcakes, carrot muffins, carrot cake whoopie pies and the like since February.  I’m confident this cake is the absolute best carrot dessert to be had.  The full-size recipe I used as a reference for scaling down is one of my grandmother’s.  No one is quite certain of its origin but most of the time, in my family, a recipe without a source can be attributed to an old issue of Southern Living or a church cookbook.  Whatever the source, this cake makes all who taste it a little weak in the knees.  The oil and egg make for a tender cake, the cinnamon adds warmth, and the cream cheese frosting provides its wonderful tanginess.

One small note here: You really need to manually shred the carrot with a hand grater.  One year, I used my food processor to save time, but the thicker shreds made the texture of the cake seem off.  Along these same lines, don’t be tempted to buy pre-shredded carrots.  Use some muscle, we only need ¼ cup.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Carrot Cake
Yields 1 6" cake.
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup packed grated carrot (from 1 small carrot)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Grease a 6” round cake pan with shortening or cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the canola oil and sugar. Beat very well, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the egg, cinnamon and vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. Beat in the carrot for about 15 seconds--you want it to break up a bit so it stains the batter orange. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and beat until just combined. Do not overmix. You may stir in the walnuts at this point or save them for the frosting, your choice.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 24-26 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick before removing from the oven--moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick is ideal.
  5. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to frost it.
  6. To make the frosting, ensure all ingredients are room temperature or you will end up with lumps. Beat together everything with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Tip the cake out of the pan, place it on a serving plate upside down (so that you have a flat surface on top) and spread the frosting on the cake. Garnish with walnuts. This cake tastes even better if allowed to sit one day (in the fridge) before serving.


  1. says

    a 6 inch cake, I love it..perfect size for just us girls, hubby doesn’t like carrot cake (what a downer)

    forgot to write, love that cookie pic from the previous post!


  2. says

    Looks delicious! I love carrot cakes and muffins. If you like carrot cakes so much you should definitely try the Brazilian version of it – it has a chocolate glaze and all. :)

  3. says

    I just came upon your blog today and I think it was fate: I am always thinking about how to make desserts smaller because I want to back them but I don’t want them around the house for me and my boyfriend (read:me) to eat for the next 4 days. AND my favorite dessert is carrot cake.

    So glad I stumbled upon this, thanks for the recipe and great post!

  4. Diana says

    I’ve made this recipe twice now, with RAVE reviews everytime!! Such a great serving size, and the best flavor. My fiance said it beats Publix’s carrot cake…which in Florida, says a lot!

  5. Lee Ann says

    I made this carrot cake with my 3 yr old grandson, who loves to stir and add ingredients. This cake and frosting are delicious. Would you mind giving out the full-size recipe? Or do I just double or triple these ingredients? Thank you for sharing with us.

    • says

      Hi Janea :)

      I think you would be safe stirring in up to 2 tablespoons of coconut. To play it even more safe, why not stir it into the frosting?

      Happy baking! :)

  6. Deborah says

    I made the carrot cake yesterday. It was wonderful. It was delicious. It made my husband moan. Thank goodness it is small or else I would be eating it all day long.

  7. Lindsey Lawson says

    I have made this before and it turned out wonderful! I wanted to make it into cupcakes this time though–would the bake time be the same or less?

  8. su_nyc says

    I made this for a small dinner (just the two of us and another couple). It was the perfect size – no over eating and guests seem to prefer that as well! It tasted great and was very moist. Loved it and plan to make it many times in the future. Thanks for your efforts at scaling down recipies – these need to become standard sizes!

  9. Jaime W. says

    Thanks so much for this simple, perfect-sized recipe! I will be making this for my son’s first birthday “smash” cake. :)

  10. Jackie D says

    This is really good. I am making this for my mom for Mother’s day and I made a test cake last night. I ate the entire thing, didn’t even need frosting. Yum.

  11. KristeN says

    I made this yesterday to celebrate my horse’s birthday and it was a hit! I doubled it and used 2/3 cup of apple sauce instead of half the oil, and put it in an 8×8 dish. It was delicious – thanks for sharing!

  12. Joanne weber says

    i made this over the weekend and my husband said it was the BEST carrot cake he’s had:) I enjoyed it too…next time I will add some crushed pineapples and shredded coconut for added moisture. I really like your site, perfect for just a little bit of sweetness! Keep it up!

  13. GE says

    This cake is great! I made it this morning in a 6″ x 1 1/2 ” round pan and pan was too large and cake was kind of flat. I cut in half and made a 1/2 round layer cake out of it, but it is the best carrot cake I have tasted. This is much better than the heavy dark carrot cakes. I made another cake in a smaller pan, and it turned out much more to my liking, a small round single layer–little less than 6″ pan. Thank you for the receipe.

  14. Paola says

    Could Anyone please tell me, what is the difference between a pan and a baking sheet. I am a beginner in this.

    Thank you.

  15. Kokofisch says

    Lovely cake perfect for 2 – I made it once in a loaf dish (didn’t have a small cake pan), and then I did it again and, of course, put it in a small cake tin (but it was too flat). I did the trick of cutting in half, stacking and frosting. Wonderful recipe (quick and easy) that is a nice go-to when I would like something sweet and homemade after dinner.

  16. Cheryl says

    I am so happy to find your site. I love to bake and I am alone so these recipes are perfect. I have a Nordicware 6-cup Bundt pan. What are your thoughts for using a Bundt pan?

  17. Jenn says

    Thank you so much for this recipie! I love to bake but I hate how much of a pain it can be when you have to get special ingredients. Thankfully most ingredients in this are kitchen staples which made this quick, cheap, and easy! The frosting makes this dessert, you cannot have it without the frosting! The serving size is perfect, enough for me and my husband. I actually poured the batter into 4 muffin cases and made muffins instead of a cake. Will make it again!!!

  18. shireen says

    HI there, just wondering if I can omit the walnuts? will that make a difference to the cake and how it bakes?



  1. […] A tiny carrot cake. It’s delicious, tender, and really very easy.  The hardest part is waiting for it to cool before you can lather it in delicious cream cheese frosting and sink your teeth into this perfect little treat.  Try it! You won’t regret it. […]

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