Easy carrot cake loaf recipe: Bakes up so moist, with homey, warm spices. Top with cream cheese frosting for a fabulous dessert or snack!

Carrot cake loaf with a thick blanket of cream cheese frosting.

I love making carrot cake at this time of year and it’s easy to see why: Easter–> bunnies –>carrots. Right??

It makes perfect sense and so does this easy carrot cake loaf recipe.

It’s simple but so good, with an incredibly moist but light texture, plenty of warm spice, and a thick blanket of fluffy cream cheese frosting.

Loaf cakes are great because the size is a little more manageable, and they don’t need a lot of fiddly decoration. Just slice them up and arrange on a platter, and you have the perfect simple dessert or afternoon snack.

If you’re big into loaves too, be sure to check out my “quick breads” category page for tons more loaf cakes, including this apple bread, this coconut bread, and this zucchini bread.

Carrot cake loaf recipe, prepared and served on a white floral platter.

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What is carrot cake loaf?

Carrot cake was all the rage a generation or two ago, when it was thought to be health food!

The truth is, it’s still cake. So it’s got butter and sugar and all the other things that go along with that.

But there are carrots too! So it’s got that going for it. Along with cinnamon and other warm spices, pineapple, and nuts.

This version is perfectly scaled to bake up tall and puffy, in a standard-sized loaf pan. It can be topped with cream cheese frosting, for a sweet, tangy counterpoint, and sliced into individual servings.

Why this is the best carrot cake loaf recipe

  1. Tastes amazing: It’s butter-based, which sets it apart from most other carrot cake recipes. This results in a flavor that’s so much richer and more satisfying.
  2. Simple ingredients: It’s made from wholesome ingredients, many of which you probably already keep on hand.
  3. Beautiful texture: This recipe was born out of my favorite brown sugar pound cake, so it’s moist without being gummy. Rather, it’s light and velvety, and practically melts in your mouth!
  4. Easy to make: I’ve stripped down the recipe to make this so easy, even for even a beginner!

What does carrot cake taste like?

I think the first thing you’ll notice when you take a bite is the warm brown sugar and spice flavor. The cinnamon is especially prominent!

There’s also sweet pineapple and tender walnuts. The carrots are definitely there, but you don’t really get an overwhelming flavor from them. They meld in with all the spices and just provide a little added texture.

I like to also top the loaf with cream cheese frosting. It adds a sweet, creamy, slightly tangy taste that contrasts so well with the cinnamon.


Carrot cake loaf ingredients, with text labels.

Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the salt content. Different brands of butter can have different amounts, so this gives you the most consistent result. For a vegan or dairy-free carrot cake recipe, use a plant-based butter that can substitute for dairy butter 1:1. This recipe works best if you allow the butter to come to room temperature first. You can set it out on the counter a few hours ahead of time, or you can microwave it for 10 seconds, turn it over, and microwave it again for another 8 seconds.

Sugar: I’ve used dark brown sugar for the cake you see here, but light brown sugar will also work. As will any kind of 1:1 sugar substitute.

Eggs: Large, whole chicken eggs, preferably at room temperature (although I don’t find this to be critical), or a plant-based 1:1 substitute will add richness and structure to the loaf.

Flour: I like a combination of all-purpose flour (for strength) and cake flour (for tenderness). If you’re unfamiliar with cake flour, click here: What is Cake Flour. For gluten-free carrot cake, swap in a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend.

Leavening: Because there are so many heavy add-ins, I like the extra insurance of baking powder and baking soda to help the cake to rise.

Flavorings: This cake is flavored with fragrant vanilla extract, warm cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you don’t have all three of those spices, you can swap in 2 scant teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. There’s also a pinch of salt to carry and intensify all the flavors. I like kosher salt best because it’s cheap, easy to source, and doesn’t have any bitter-tasting additives like iodine.

Add-ins: Shredded carrots, crushed pineapple, and chopped walnuts give this cake a really hearty, satisfying flavor.

Special equipment

  • Pan: A standard-sized, 9.5×5-inch glass or ceramic loaf pan. If you use metal you may have to adjust the bake time slightly.
  • Nonstick spray: Grease the pan generously so the cake doesn’t stick.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Follow my guide on how to measure ingredients.
  • Bowl: A large mixing bowl, for mixing up the batter.
  • Mixer: Either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand-held electric mixer.
  • Silicone spatula: For scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, and for getting every last bit of batter out!
  • Grater: I like the finer side of my food processor‘s shredding blade, but a box grater will work too!
  • Sieve: A fine mesh sieve helps to get a lot of the excess juice out of the pineapple.
  • Skewer: For testing if the cake is done baking.
  • Wire rack: For cooling.

How to make carrot loaf cake

This easy recipe comes together in just 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar

Place the soft butter and brown sugar in your mixing bowl and whip them up until they’re very pale and fluffy.

This typically takes no less than 5 full minutes, and you don’t want to skimp because this step incorporates a lot of air and will make your cake nice and light. I set a timer!

Step 2: Add egg

Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to incorporate any stiff butter that may be clinging, then start adding the liquids.

Adding an egg after creaming brown sugar and butter together.

Crack the eggs in one at a time, and stir each one in fully before adding the next. This will help avoid lumps.

The vanilla extract can also go in at this stage.

Step 3: Stir in dry ingredients

Add the 2 flours, all the spices and salt, and the leavening.

Adding dry ingredients and spices to carrot cake loaf batter.

Stir these in on slow speed, just until barely combined. It’s ok if there are still a few streaks of flour! Just don’t overmix as this could cause toughness.

Step 4: Fold in add-ins

I like to grate the carrots somewhat finely. It makes it easier to slice the cake without messy strands of carrot dangling out.

Here you see how I use the smaller, finer side of the shredding blade that came with my food processor.

Preparing to grate carrots with a fine food processor blade.

It’s also good to get as much excess moisture out of the crushed pineapple as possible. If there’s too much juice it could make your carrot cake gummy. We want light and delicate! So really give it a good squeeze over a bowl. Then drink it- cook’s treat!

Squeezing excess moisture from crushed pineapple with a sieve.

Add the shredded carrots, drained and squeezed pineapple, and chopped walnuts.

Adding carrots, pineapple, and walnuts to carrot cake batter.

Gently fold these in, taking care not to overmix.

Step 5: Bake

Transfer the batter to your greased pan.

Carrot cake batter in a glass loaf pan.

Start it baking at a higher temp, to encourage it to really puff up in the middle. Then, turn the oven down a bit and allow it to bake until it’s springy in the center. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.

How to serve

I like to blanket the top of the loaf with a thick layer of tangy cream cheese frosting. The contrast of tastes and textures is just incredible!

But you could just keep things simple and give it a dusting of powdered sugar instead. Or, top it with my favorite streusel recipe!

Expert tips

Get creative: Feel free to adjust this recipe to suit your own personal taste. You can leave out the nuts, or add seeds instead (such as pepitas or sunflower seeds). Or add golden raisins or dried cranberries, or a unique spice such as ginger or cardamom. The sky’s the limit!

Whip in lots of air: It’s really important to whip a lot of air into the butter and sugar mixture. This will really help your cake to rise and have a light, airy texture. I set a timer and give it no less than 5 full minutes on medium-high speed.

Don’t overmix: Once the flour’s gone in, be careful not to overwork the batter. This could activate the natural glutens and result in toughness. Give it the fewest possible number of strokes to get things combined.

Keep an eye: Flip on the oven light and peek in on your cake as it’s baking. Once the center no longer looks wet, crack the door and give it a feel. If it’s springy, slip in a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done! Be careful not to overbake it or it could come out dry.

Cool completely: Once it’s cool enough to handle, flip the loaf cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Make sure it’s completely cool before layering on the frosting. If it’s at all warm, the frosting will melt.

Carrot loaf cake with cream cheese frosting on a white oval platter.

Frequently asked questions

Can this be made ahead?

Carrot cake loaf is great for making ahead because it stays so moist from the brown sugar and fruit. You can make the cake and frost it ahead of time.

How to store

It’s fine to leave this cake out at room temperature for a day or so. Just keep it lightly covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Extend the shelf life by chilling it in the fridge or freezer. It should last around a week in the fridge, and a month or two in the freezer. Thaw at room temp or in the fridge.

What is the serving size?

Slice the loaf into as many slices as you like. Thick or thin!

The nutritional info below is for the whole loaf. You can divide it out by however many slices you choose to cut it into. It includes the cake and the frosting.

Recipe carrot cake loaf sliced and served with filigreed silver tongs.

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Carrot cake loaf with a thick blanket of cream cheese frosting.
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Carrot Cake Loaf

Servings: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Easy carrot cake loaf recipe: Bakes up so moist, with homey, warm spices. Top with cream cheese frosting for a fabulous dessert or snack!


For the carrot cake loaf

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ounces (56.7 g) cream cheese, cold
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 g) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) powdered sugar


To make the carrot cake loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and mist a standard-sized glass loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  • Cream the softened butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until very pale and very fluffy (at least 5 full minutes).
  • Stir in the eggs, one at a time, allowing each one to fully incorporate before adding the next.
  • Stir in the vanilla.
  • Stir in the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves until just barely combined.
  • Fold in the shredded carrots, drained pineapple, and chopped walnuts, and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (approx. 40 to 50 minutes).
  • Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then unmold and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Top with cream cheese frosting.

To make the cream cheese frosting

  • Place the butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium-low speed until smooth. 
  • Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, and add about half the powdered sugar.
  • Stir in the powdered sugar until combined, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again, and add the remaining powdered sugar.
  • Stir together until combined, then turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and whip until the frosting is fluffy and stiff.  (Be careful not to over-whip the cream cheese frosting, or it could become runny.  As soon as the frosting looks stiff, turn off the mixer and use the frosting immediately.)


For more info on the frosting, click here: Cream Cheese Frosting.
Find the layer cake version here: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Find the cupcake version here: Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
Serving: 1loaf, Calories: 5145kcal, Carbohydrates: 622g, Protein: 47g, Fat: 286g, Saturated Fat: 163g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 31g, Monounsaturated Fat: 72g, Trans Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 993mg, Sodium: 3119mg, Potassium: 2471mg, Fiber: 18g, Sugar: 450g, Vitamin A: 39032IU, Vitamin C: 121mg, Calcium: 853mg, Iron: 12mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @bakingamoment on Instagram or tag #bakingamoment.


  • Allie

    Allie is the creator and owner of Baking a Moment. She has been developing, photographing, videographing, and writing and sharing recipes here since 2012.