Loaded carrot cake is packed with carrots, pineapple, coconut, raisins, and pecans. The cake layers are moist and flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Iced in cream cheese frosting, this cake is the most decadent and delicious way to get in a serving of vegetables.
Ingredients for Loaded Carrot Cake
Loaded carrot cake
- Granulated sugar: To add sweetness to the cake layers.
- Brown sugar: For additional sweetness and a bit of molasses flavor.
- Vegetable oil: You can also use canola oil or another neutral cooking oil.
- Eggs: Large eggs, room temperature.
- Milk: Room temperature.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds great flavor to the carrot cake.
- All-purpose flour: Plain, all-purpose flour works great in this recipe.
- Baking soda: A leavening agent to help the cake rise.
- Baking powder: Baking powder also adds a bit of rise to the cake.
- Salt: Salt serves as a flavor enhancer to bring out the flavors of all the ingredients.
- Cinnamon: A warm spice that gives the cake great flavor.
- Nutmeg: Another warm spice that flavors the cake.
- Carrots: Be sure the carrots are very finely grated so they become soft and melt into the cake.
- Pineapple: Well-drained crushed pineapple adds flavor and moisture to the cake.
- Raisins: You can use golden raisins or purple raisins.
- Coconut: Sweetened shredded coconut.
- Pecans: Chopped pecans add a bit of crunch and texture.
Cream cheese frosting
- Unsalted butter: Room temperature unsalted butter for easy creaming.
- Cream cheese: Be sure the cream cheese is also at room temperature to easily combine with the butter.
- Powdered sugar: Adds sweetness and structure to the frosting.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds great flavor to the cream cheese frosting.
- Salt: A bit of salt brings out the flavor and contrasts the sweetness perfectly.
How to Make Loaded Carrot Cake
Loaded carrot cake is surprisingly easy to make. The cake batter comes together in one bowl and can be mixed with a whisk or electric hand mixer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and parchment circles.
- In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Mix until smooth.
- Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and continue to mix until smooth.
- Add in the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg).
- Fold in finely grated carrots and drained crushed pineapple until well dispersed.
- Fold in coconut, raisins, and pecans.
- Divide the cake batter evenly in the prepared cake pans. A kitchen scale is helpful for this step!
- Bake the cake layers for 30-35 minutes until the cakes spring back when gently touched or toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for at least 15 minutes. Remove from the cake pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
My cream cheese frosting recipe contains 5 ingredients and can be whipped up in about 5 minutes. For this recipe, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or an electric hand mixer. I recommend making the cream cheese frosting while your cakes are cooling.
- Cream together room temperature unsalted butter and cream cheese.
- Add the powdered sugar in two parts and mix on the lowest speed after each part is added until fully combined.
- Add in vanilla extract and salt and continue to mix on low speed until combined.
- Turn the speed up to medium/high and whip for at least 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- (Optional) Switch to a paddle attachment and mix for 2 minutes to remove air bubbles and make a smooth frosting.
Assembling the Loaded Carrot Cake
- Place one cake layer on a 10 inch round cake board.
- Add a desired amount of cream cheese frosting and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
- Place the next cake layer on top of the frosting and repeat adding frosting.
- Place the final cake layer on the top. Ensure that the cake is even horizontally and vertically.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake to create a crumb coat.
- Chill the cake for 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 15 minutes in the freezer.
- Frost the top and sides of the cake in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting using an offset spatula.
- Create a swirl in the icing on top of the cake with a small offset spatula.
- Use a Wilton 1M tip to create small swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake.
- Decorate with toasted coconut and chopped pecans if desired.
Loaded Carrot Cake Recipe Tips
Bake perfect cake layers
Check out my baking tips blog post on 10 Tips to Bake Perfect Cakes for great tips and tricks to use to make the best cakes.
Use a cookie scoop to portion frosting in between cake layers
When stacking the cake layers, use a cookie scoop to measure out the frosting for even layers of frosting in between the cake layers.
Finely grated carrots
The best way to get perfectly grated carrots without a ton of mess is to use a food processor. You will want to use the chopping feature of the food processor. Peel and cut the carrots into 1 inch chunks. Add the carrot chunks to the food processor and pulse until you have very finely chopped carrots. You can also use the smallest grate on a box grater and do it by hand. However you do it, the goal is to get teeny tiny carrot shreds! If the carrot pieces are too large, your cake will be crunchy.
Drain the pineapple
Before adding the crushed pineapple to the cake batter, be sure to drain the juice. A great way to do this is by using a fine mesh strainer over a liquid measuring cup so you can collect the juice to make cocktails. Press down on the pineapple to extract the excess juice and then add it to the batter!
Storing and serving
Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To prevent the exposed cake from drying out after cutting, cover the exposed areas with plastic wrap.This cake is best enjoyed at room temperature. I recommend removing the cake from the refrigerator about an hour before serving.
Loaded Carrot Cake
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 3 – 8" round cake pans
Loaded Carrot Cake
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs room temperature
- ½ cup milk room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 3 cups carrots finely grated
- 20 oz. crushed pineapple well drained
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 cup pecans chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼-½ tsp salt to taste
Loaded Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare cake pans using cooking spray and parchment circles.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Using an electric hand mixer or whisk, mix together until fully combined.
- Add all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix together on low speed until the dry ingredients are combined with the wet.
- Add in finely shredded carrots and drained crushed pineapple and fold in using a spatula until combined.
- Add in raisins, shredded coconut, and chopped pecans. Fold into the batter until well dispersed throughout the batter.
- Divide batter evenly between your cake pans (see equipment for sizes). Use a kitchen scale to ensure that the batter is equally divided.
- Bake cakes for approximately 30-35 minutes in the oven until the cakes spring back when gently touched or toothpick comes out clean. *Please note that baking times may be different for different size pans.
- Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans on a wire rack until they are at room temperature.
- Run a knife or small offset spatula between the cake and edge of the pan to loosen from the edges. Invert the cakes to remove from the pan.
- Recommended but not required: Wrap cooled cakes in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
- Level cakes using a serrated knife so that the layers are flat.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add room temperature butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add half the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add remaining half of the powdered sugar and continue to mix until combined.
- Add vanilla extract and salt.
- Turn the mixer on high speed and whip for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Assembling the Loaded Carrot Cake
- Place one cake layer on a cake board or plate. Add desired amount of frosting to the top of the layer and spread evenly.
- Continue to repeat this process until the layers are stacked.
- Spread a very thin layer of frosting all over the cake (crumb coat). Chill your cake for 30 minutes until the cream cheese frosting is slightly firm to the touch.
- Frost and decorate the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. Add toasted shredded coconut and pecans if desired.