Our Best Carrot Cake Recipes to Celebrate Spring (and Any Other Occasion)

Zucchini-Carrot Cake
Photo: Blaine Moats

The best carrot cake recipes produce moist, tender cakes bursting with sweet and spice flavors—and all of these recipes deliver. We've got classic as well as tropical recipes and bake sale-worthy carrot cake bars. These easy, yet elegantly spiced cakes will steal the show (and have everyone begging for your recipes).

01 of 16

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake Recipe on a Silver Cake stand with a slice cut out. Carrot ribbons on top.
Waterbury Publications

If a classic cake is what you're craving, this might just be the best carrot cake recipe for you—easy to make, yet elegant enough for entertaining. BH&G reader Suzi says, "This is the one carrot cake recipe that I use. It isn't too 'spicy,' and you can really tell it's carrot cake. Everyone loves it."

02 of 16

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese-Mascarpone Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Mascarpone Frosting
Jennifer Davick

This homemade carrot cake is a slightly modern variation on the theme. With a pinch of cardamom in the batter, and equal parts cream cheese and mascarpone in its lick-the-bowl delicious frosting, prepare to be asked to make this lovely layer cake again and again. (Or at least be begged to share the recipe.)

03 of 16

Zucchini-Carrot Cake

Zucchini-Carrot Cake
Blaine Moats

Carrot cake recipes made from scratch are rarely this cute. With playful marzipan produce "planted" in the honey-scented frosting, this nutty zucchini and carrot cake will steal the show at every spring and summer celebration.

Buy It: Odense Marzipan Almond Candy Dough ($13), Amazon

04 of 16

Ginger-Carrot Cake

Ginger Carrot Cake
Con Poulos

Spiced carrot cake gets a unique flavor boost via freshly grated ginger (or a spoonful of ground ginger, if you prefer). That sweet-spicy element, along with tangy orange juice, creates a tasty new spin. A double cream-cheese frosting infused with whipping cream adds decadence to every bite.

05 of 16

Honey-Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Cream

Honey Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Cream
Andy Lyons

Pumpkin pie spice and honey permeate this carrot bundt cake with cozy, sweet flavor. A bit of whole-wheat pastry flour adds a pleasant nutty element, and buttermilk delivers a super-soft crumb.

Test Kitchen Tip: To make this gluten-free, simply use a cup-for-cup flour replacement in place of the all-purpose flour.

06 of 16

Carrot and Zucchini Bars

Carrot and Zucchini Bars
Andy Lyons

If typical cream-cheese frosting is just a bit too sweet for you, turn to this beautiful bar recipe. Each square is topped with a frosting spiked with citrus zest, which is at once refreshing and rich. But let's not forget what's hiding underneath—the irresistible carrot bars hide plenty of good-for-you (and flavorful) shredded carrots, zucchini, raisins, and walnuts.

Buy It: Cuisinart Box Grater with Storage ($15), Target

07 of 16

Best-Loved Carrot Cake

Best-Loved Carrot Cake
Jason Donnelly

Don't just take our word for this aptly named best-loved carrot cake. BH&G home baker Rosemary raves, "This is the most delicious, moist cake ever. I have made it on several occasions, and my guests rave about it—the best carrot cake ever!" A sprinkling of toasted pecans around the cake's edge makes a simple but sweet garnish.

08 of 16

Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Icing

Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Icing
Andy Lyons

Start your day with a slice of this delicious and easy carrot cake in loaf form. The luscious cream cheese icing adds a special sweetness atop the quick bread recipe. But what really takes it over the top, in our opinion, is the homemade candied carrot garnish.

09 of 16

Carrot Cake Bars

Carrot Cake Bars
Blaine Moats

Make these tender carrot cake bars when you're serving a crowd. Because the recipe takes advantage of boxed cake mix, these bars are especially quick and easy. Once the batter is spiced with ginger and vanilla, and the finished cake is crowned in cream-cheese frosting, no one will ever guess this is only semi-homemade.

10 of 16

Orange-Carrot Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Orange Carrot Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Jason Donnelly

This chocolate carrot cake includes a burst of citrus to brighten the batter, while soft flakes of coconut give it an island-style twist. To take it to the next level, spread soft cream cheese between the layers, then pour a rich coating of silky-smooth dark chocolate ganache over the top.

11 of 16

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

carrot cake cupcakes
Scott Little

Surprise! Even though these carrot cupcakes are ultra soft and taste as rich as a bakery version, they're fewer than 200 calories each—yes, even when frosted—thanks to unsweetened applesauce in place of the butter or oil. Flaxseed meal and white whole wheat flour bump up the nutrition yet another step. That will be our little secret, however, especially once you top each cupcake with a sweet swirl of homemade cream-cheese frosting.

Buy It: Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal ($4.50), Target

12 of 16

Carrot-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Carrot-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Andy Lyons

Carrot cake recipes with pineapple often call for the fruit to be stirred into the batter. But for this showy, totally Instagram-worthy dessert, bake fresh pineapple slices whole on the bottom of the sweet, nutmeg-spiced carrot cake. When you're ready to serve, simply invert the pan to show off the caramelized pineapples—and the tender carrot cake beneath.

13 of 16

Carrot Cake Cream Pies

Carrot Cake Cream Pies
Carson Downing

If you're seeking something a little different from the classic carrot cake recipe, make these kid-friendly cream pies. With heart-healthy oats, pecans, and carrots to balance out the decadent cream-cheese filling, this cookie sandwich recipe is the epitome of balance.

14 of 16

Harvest Carrot Cake with Skillet Fruit

Harvest Carrot Cake with Skillet Fruit
Andy Lyons

Speaking of sneakily nutritious, this autumn-inspired carrot cake recipe contains both shredded carrots and canned pumpkin (or mashed sweet potato). As a result, it packs in five grams of fiber and loads of vitamin A—in addition to being particularly moist and tender. Topped with a melange of sautéed fruit, each saucy slice is sure to hit the spot.

15 of 16

Easy Orange-Carrot Cake

Easy Orange-Carrot Cake
David Loftus

Don't be intimidated because this creation comes from a celebrity chef. (A tip of the hat to British culinary icon Jamie Oliver.) Walnuts give this easy carrot cake a hint of nutty flavor, as well as a pleasant crunch. A frosting made with sour cream and oranges adds a tangy twist. The rest of the lineup is full of the usual baking suspects: flour, brown sugar, and a variety of warm spices.

16 of 16

Pineapple-Carrot Cupcakes

Pineapple-Carrot Cupcakes
Scott Little

One bite of these tropical treats and your tastebuds will be transported to a sunny beach (well, almost). Infused with both pineapple and coconut, these delightful carrot cupcakes offer a sweet surprise under the luscious cream cheese frosting. Dive in to discover a filling of pineapple and cream cheese.

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