This simple carrot cake recipe is moist, light and delicious. It’s also nut-free (unless you choose to decorate with them). Perfect for morning tea or a special occasion cake.

Classic carrot cake recipe

Simple carrot cake recipe

When I first shared this carrot cake recipe I dubbed it the best ever carrot cake.

It’s always a big call when a recipe is described as ‘best ever.’

At first it stood atop its pristine white cake stand in all its glory ready to be adorned with candles for a belated Birthday lunch for a friend.

After the four of us had two slices each, I took the remaining third of the cake to dinner at Mum and Dad’s house where Mum, Dad and I left just a few slices on the plate.

Best ever carrot cake

The following night was Friday at the beach and after dinner mum produced a small plate with 6 tiny slithers of carrot cake.

It was all that was left and it didn’t last long.

I think that’s probably a record for cake disappearance rate so I can tell you, ‘the best’ is a well-earned title. 

So why is this recipe so good? 

Unlike a traditional heavy carrot cake, this one is light (in texture not in oh-good-I-can-eat-more) and airy and not too crumbly.

The sweetness of the cream-cheese icing is subdued by the lemon zest.

If you’re looking for a carrot cake recipe without nuts then just leave the nuts off the top.

I’ve seen little marzipan carrots that look adorable on carrot cakes.

Best ever carrot cake

To make this carrot cake recipe you will need


  • Eggs – free range is preferable
  • Caster sugar – also called superfine sugar
  • Vanilla extract – or vanilla bean paste
  • Plain flour – also called AP flour
  • Baking powder – helps it rise
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cardamom
  • Ground ginger
  • Salt – sea salt over table salt
  • Olive oil – a light olive oil is best but use whatever you have
  • Grated carrots – make sure you peel them first or they can be slightly bitter

Cream cheese Icing

  • Butter – the pure stuff you buy in a block where the only ingredient is cream
  • Cream cheese – preferably full-fat for full flavour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar – also called confectioner’s or powdered sugar. Here’s how to make your own icing sugar.
  • Lemon zest
Best ever carrot cake

The sides of the cake weren’t exactly the look I was going for.

I was picturing pristine white, but the longer it sat the more the carrot colour seeped into the icing sugar.

If you don’t want it to turn orange then icing it at the very last minute.

I personally don’t think it mattered and gave it a much more rustic look.

Nut free carrot cake recipe - a simple, delicious, fluffy carrot cake with cream cheese icing


My icing isn’t white, what did I do wrong? Probably nothing! Mine started out yellow but just needed a bit of extra whipping to make it snowy white.

I like a chunky carrot cake. Can you make this one a little more dense or should I look for a different recipe? If you like your carrot cake to have a bit more bite to it and not be too light then use a coarse grater to grate the carrot.

I used the fine setting on mine so the carrot blended in with the cake creating a smoother batter. However you make it, I know you’re going to love it. Enjoy!

What about you? Can you resist a recipe that says ‘best ever.’

p.s. Did you know there was such a thing as National Carrot Cake Day? It just so happens, it’s on February 3rd. I’ll take any excuse to eat cake.

Looking for more carrot recipes? You might also like:

Best ever carrot cake

The best ever carrot cake

The best ever carrot cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes



  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 320g grated carrots (about 3 medium)


  • 65 butter, softened
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (from one lemon)
  • Pecans and extra icing sugar (about 1/2 a cup) to serve



    1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C fan-forced and grease and line a 22cm round tin.
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
    3. In another bowl, stir all the dry ingredients together and then tip them into the mixer bowl and beat until combined.
    4. Add the olive oil and the carrots and mix them through.
    5. Scrape the batter into the tin and bake for 55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.


    1. Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together until light and creamy then mix in the lemon zest.
    2. Add the icing sugar and start with the mixer on low speed and beat until it is incorporated.
    3. Turn the speed up and continue to beat until the icing is fluffy and white. It will seem like it won't get there but keep beating, it will.
    4. Take the cake out of the tin.
    5. Place the half a cup of icing sugar in a mound on a plate.
    6. Take the cake between your open hands (hands in position like you were clapping) and gently roll and press the sides of the cake into the icing sugar.
    7. When the sides are coated, place the cake on a serving plate.
    8. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and decorate with pecans.


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