This incredibly moist and easy carrot bundt cake is made entirely from scratch - with no mixer required! Topped with a super-simple, silky cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect dessert for Easter, Mother's/Father's Day, or any other spring occasion. The best part? You can whip up this classic carrot cake in under 30 minutes, and can even make it gluten-free!
Carrot cake: it's a dessert most of us probably neglect eleven months out of the year, but come Easter, nothing seems more fitting. I'd argue it deserves a little more time in the spotlight though. Not only does it pack more of a nutritional punch than most cake, but (much like red velvet) it's an excellent vehicle for cream cheese frosting. And when you serve it in bundt form, it's truly too simple to only make once a year!
- 5 reasons to love this homemade carrot cake recipe
- Ingredients and substitutions
- Grating carrots for carrot cake
- How to make a carrot bundt cake
- Making the cream cheese frosting
- How to store carrot cake
- Recipe Tips and FAQ
- More cake recipes for spring
- Have you made this recipe?
- Recipe Card
- 💬 Comments and Reviews
5 reasons to love this homemade carrot cake recipe
- It's quick and easy to make. You'll need one appliance - a blender - and about 30 minutes of hands-on time.
- Decorating it is a breeze. If cake-decorating isn't in your wheelhouse, no problem! The tangy cream cheese frosting that adorns this carrot bundt cake simply gets poured on top, and drips down the sides with effortless style.
- It's perfectly moist - without being heavy on the oil. Most carrot cake recipes call for at least twice the amount of oil than what you'll find in this (slightly healthier!) one. Instead, we'll use a combination of applesauce, Greek yogurt, brown sugar, and (of course) freshly grated carrots to create an impeccably tender and moist carrot bundt cake.
- Turning it into a gluten-free carrot cake is easy. Just use a gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of the regular flour. It's a simple 1:1 swap, and it'll still taste like the best carrot cake you've ever had.
- And of course, it's perfect for special occasions! Easter dessert? Check. Mother's Day Brunch? Check? Potluck contribution? Check! It can feed a crowd with ease.
Ingredients and substitutions
Here a quick look at all the ingredients you'll need to make this simple carrot bundt cake. Keep reading for a few good-to-know details!
- If you want to make a gluten-free carrot cake, make sure you're using a good gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that contains either xanthan or guar gum. My favorites for baking are Bob's Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour, King Arthur Measure For Measure Flour, and Pamela's 1:1 All-Purpose Flour. Make sure you measure your flour correctly too!
- You absolutely cannot taste the applesauce in this recipe, so don't let that hold you back! If you like your carrot cake with pineapple, you could potentially swap the applesauce with (canned, drained) crushed pineapple. Full disclosure: I haven't tested this myself.
- I've made this bundt cake with both nonfat and whole milk Greek yogurt; either works, as long as it's plain and unsweetened. I don't suggest substituting with regular yogurt, as it tends to be thinner and looser, which could throw off the consistency of the batter.
- Don't buy pre-grated carrots! They'll be much more dry, which unfortunately doesn't lead to a moist carrot cake. I'll discuss methods for grating your own carrots below, but if you're going to be grating them by hand, look for thicker carrots. It'll make the process MUCH easier.
- Both light and dark brown sugar will work here. Either option will help keep your cake moist and contribute a rich molasses flavor that helps make this the tastiest carrot cake.
- You can use any neutral-flavored oil. My go-to is avocado oil (for its healthy fats!) but canola oil or vegetable oil work too.
- Use large eggs. This recipe only calls for two, so they need to be big enough to hold up to the heavier ingredients in the batter.
- As with any cream cheese frosting (and other desserts that use cream cheese as a base, like cheesecake or kiwi pie), you'll want to use full-fat, block-style cream cheese for the icing on this cake.
- Heavy cream helps thin the frosting out to a pourable consistency. You can also use regular whipping cream, half-n-half, or milk.
Grating carrots for carrot cake
You can use one of two tools to grate your carrots: a box grater or a food processor. If you opt for a box grater, start with thick carrots, and use the large-hole side to grate them. (This is the same side I often recommend using to grate cold butter for biscuits and scones as well as galette crusts.)
As much as I hate pulling out a bulky appliance, I admittedly find the food processor to be the much easier method here. You'll want to use the shredding disc attachment. In this case, slightly thinner carrots are actually preferable, but if your carrots are thick you can simply cut them into quarters length-wise before grating them.
Some people will also insist that you should peel your carrots before grating. I don't, but you certainly can!
How to make a carrot bundt cake
You'll need about 20 minutes to get this carrot cake in the oven, so let's get to it!
Step one - Oven and pan prep: Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease a 12-cup bundt pan with nonstick spray. Make sure to cover all those nooks and crannies!
Step two - Combine the dry ingredients. Grab a medium mixing bowl and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves 'til they're well-mixed.
Step three - Blend. Add yogurt, applesauce, and 1 cup (or 2 ⅞ ounces) of grated carrots to a blender. Cover, and then blend the mixture together until it's smooth.
Step four - Combine the wet ingredients. In a clean, large mixing bowl, whisk the oil into the brown sugar until the sugar is evenly moistened. Add the two eggs and whisk them in until the mixture is smooth, thick, and somewhat paler in color - this should take a good 30 to 60 seconds of rapid whisking.
Then, whisk in the blender mixture. You'll have a very liquidy mix at this point.
Step five - Add the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the liquid batter, working just until you can only see a few streaks of flour remaining. Add the rest of the grated carrots and continue folding until everything is evenly incorporated. Always be wary of overmixing!
Step six - Transfer to pan: Pour the batter into your greased bundt pan and smooth out the top surface with a spatula. Tap the pan firmly down on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles, and then transfer it to the oven.
Step seven - Bake and cool: Bake the bundt cake for 60-70 minutes, until a wooden skewer or cake taster inserted down into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs. The top surface should also look fairly dry - not damp . Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before flipping it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the cream cheese frosting
You truly can't have carrot cake without some sort of a cream cheese frosting or glaze, and this one's so simple to make! All you need is a bowl and a whisk. You don't even need to pre-soften your cream cheese!
Step one - Mix: Place the cream cheese in a small, microwave-safe mixing bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds, until it's beginning to soften. Whisk until smooth and loosened.
Whisk in the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, salt and 3 tablespoons of cream. Continue to whisk, adding up to 3 more tablespoons of cream as needed, until the frosting drips thickly and slowly from the whisk when it's lifted.
For a spiced cream cheese frosting, add cinnamon to taste!
How to store carrot cake
Since carrot cake is typically topped with cream cheese frosting, it's best to cover it and store it in the refrigerator. It can keep for a day at cool room temperature, but should last for up to 5 days when kept chilled. A bundt cake keeper is great for this purpose, but you can also store the cake on a plate covered with plastic wrap, or in any other airtight container.
While I haven't tried freezing this particular recipe, I do think the cake would also freeze well, unfrosted. I'd suggest wrapping it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil before freezing. When you're ready to serve it, let it thaw before adding frosting.
You can serve this carrot bundt cake at room temperature or straight from the fridge. One thing I love about this recipe is that the cream cheese frosting doesn't crust over. It stays incredibly soft, creamy, and velvety, even when chilled!
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Yes! You can make both the carrot cake and the cream cheese frosting in advance, but don't assemble the cake until the day you plan to serve it.
Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. Keep the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and give it a good whisk before pouring it onto the cake. If it seems too thick, you can let it sit at room temperate briefly before using it.
Sure; I'd suggest adding up to 2 cups (total) of mix-ins. You can try raisins, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, or shredded coconut.
Any 12-cup bundt pan will work, but I highly recommend one from Nordic Ware. They make super solid pans that always bake evenly and never stick.
Yes! My recipe for carrot cake pops uses the exact same cake paired with a thicker cream cheese frosting.
More cake recipes for spring
Carrot cake may be the quintessential dessert for spring - and especially Easter! - but these cakes are also perfect for the season.
Carrot Bundt Cake (gluten-free option)
An easy recipe for a moist and tender carrot bundt cake - made from scratch, without a mixer! Top it with a sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting for a classic springtime dessert.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 60 minutes (up to 70 minutes)
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: one 9-10 inch bundt cake 1x
- Category: cakes and cupcakes
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
Carrot Bundt Cake
- 19 ⅛ ounces (4 ½ cups, spoon and level) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 10 ⅝ ounces (1 ¼ cups) unsweetened applesauce
- 8 ounces (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt
- 11 ½ ounces (4 cups) freshly-grated carrots, divided
- 15 ounces (2 cups, packed) brown sugar
- 3 ⅞ ounces (½ cup) neutral-flavored cooking oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounces full-fat block-style cream cheese
- 3 ounces (¾ cup) confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 3-6 tablespoons milk, half-n-half, or cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- heavy pinch of salt
- cinnamon, to taste (optional)
Carrot Bundt Cake
- Oven and pan prep: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a 12-cup bundt pan with nonstick spray.
- Combine dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Blend the applesauce, yogurt, and 2 ⅞ ounces (1 cup) grated carrots in a blender until smooth.
- Combine wet ingredients: In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and oil until the sugar is evenly moistened. Beat in the eggs until well-combined; the mixture should be paler in color, thick, and smooth. Add the blender mixture and the vanilla extract and whisk in until fluid and smooth.
- Add dry ingredients: Fold in the flour mixture until just a few streaks of flour remain. Then, gently fold in the remaining 8 ⅝ ounces (3 cups) grated carrots, just until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Transfer to pan: Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth out the top surface with a spatula. Tap firmly on the counter a few times to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Bake and cool: Bake cake for 60-70 minutes, until a wooden skewer or cake tester inserted all the way through to the center of the cake comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before flipping the cake over onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Mix: Microwave the cream cheese in a microwave-safe mixing bowl for about 20 seconds, just until beginning to soften. Whisk until loosened and smooth. Add the confectioner's sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and cinnamon (if using) and whisk until smooth. Add the milk or cream, starting with 3 tablespoons and gradually adding more as needed until the glaze is still thick, but slowly drips down from the whisk when lifted.
- Frost: Pour frosting over the top of the bundt cake and allow to drizzle over the sides.
Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- To make a gluten-free carrot cake, make sure you're using a good gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that contains xanthan or guar gum.
- For carrot cake with pineapple, try swapping the applesauce with (canned, drained) crushed pineapple.
- Any type of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt works, but I don't recommend regular yogurt.
- Both light and dark brown sugar will work here.
- Oil choices: Avocado oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil are ideal.
- Feel free to add up to 2 cups of mix-ins: raisins, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, or shredded coconut.
- It's important to grate your own carrots! You can do this with the large-hole side of a box grater, or a food processor with a shredding disc attachment.
Storage and shelf life:
- This bundt cake can be stored at cool room temperature for a day, but should be covered and kept in the fridge for longer storage (up to 5 days).
- Carrot cake should freeze well if unfrosted. Wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil before freezing. Let it thaw before frosting and serving.
- Both the cake and frosting can be made a day in advance. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature. Store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Whisk well before using.
Keywords: carrot bundt cake, easy carrot cake, moist carrot cake, gluten-free carrot cake, simple carrot cake