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award winning carrot cake topped with cream cheese icing

Award Winning Carrot Cake Recipe

This award-winning Carrot Cake recipe features a smooth tangy cream cheese frosting - this easy Easter dessert is super simple to throw together and feeds a large crowd. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Keyword best carrot cake recipe, best easy carrot cake, carrot sheet cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Calories 500 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson


For the cake

  • 250 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 150 g white sugar
  • 3 eggs large
  • 180 ml buttermilk
  • 180 ml oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 230 g canned pineapple chunks
  • 200 g grated carrot grated and squeezed out with kitchen towels
  • 150 g shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 50 g chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 80 g golden raisins soaked in rum or orange juice for at least 4 h

For the caramel drizzle

  • 200 g sugar
  • 125 ml buttermilk
  • 120 g butter
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup or honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 350 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 120 g butter at room temperature
  • 120 g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 lemon juiced


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 375 F. Line a big deep square baking pan (30 x 23 cm / 9x13 inch) with parchment paper or some cooking spray.

  2. Mix flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, eggs buttermilk, oil and vanilla until smooth. Stir dry mix into the wet mix until you have a smooth batter. If there are still some streaks of flour, thats no problem.

  3. Add crushed pineapple, grated carrots (see notes), coconut and nuts. Also, stir in the raisins making sure to reserve the liquid.

  4. Spread the batter into the lines mold and bake for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean with just some moist crumbs.

  5. Begin cooking the caramel drizzle during the last minutes of baking. Add all ingredients for the drizzle apart from vanilla to a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until nice and brown. Remove from heat, add vanilla and 3 tbsp of the soaking rum from the raisins and a pinch or salt. Stir.

  6. When the cake is done, remove cake from oven, take a wooden skewer and prick the cake all over. Drizzle with caramel sauce and let the cake cool down completely. 

  7. For the frosting cream cream cheese and butter together for about 3 minutes, until white and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you have a smooth frosting. Add lemon juice and vanilla and taste. Add more to your liking.

  8. Frost the cooled cake with the cream cheese frosting and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • After grating the carrots, I put them on 3 layers of kitchen paper towels and give them a good squeeze to prevent the carrot cake batter from getting too moist. Drink the juice, it's good for you.
  • The carrot cake tastes best if it has at least 6 hours time to rest so that the cake can absorb the caramel drizzle completely. Make it one day ahead of time and the flavor and texture will be outstanding. 
  • Make sure you soak your raisins and don't throw out that soaking liquid. I use rum but you can do Cointreau - or orange juice. 
  • You butter and cream cheese should be at room temperature to get the perfect white and fluffy frosting.