Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (2024)

Home » Cakes » Best Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Coconut and Pecans

posted by Liz Berg

on March 24, 2024

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This Best Carrot Cake Recipe chock full of carrots, nuts, and pineapple is my absolute favorite dessert. With a delectable cream cheese frosting, it’s impossible to resist! A birthday favorite.

My mom introduced me to a new dessert craze WAY back in the 1970s. She and my dad had devoured slices of moist Carrot Cake with Pineapple on a trip to St. Paul, then brought home the recipe to try in our kitchen.

Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (1)

Table of Contents hide

1 Why You Must Make

2 Ingredient Notes

3 Best Carrot Cake Recipe

4 Expert Tips

5 Frequently Asked Questions

6 You May Also Like

7 Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

Why You Must Make

  • This is the recipe my mom started making in the early 1980s. I’ve never found a tastier carrot cake!
  • Made with oil, it’s super moist and perfectly dense.
  • It’s chock full of carrots, coconut, pecans, and crushed pineapple. It’s so good!
  • And just three more words: Cream Cheese Frosting!!!!

My rendezvous with carrot cake began with one innocent bite. As a teen, I wasn’t sure about a dessert named after a vegetable. But my mom had turned us on to exotic fare (at least for Iowa) like paella, baklava, wontons, and more. My hesitancy only lasted only a brief second This carrot cake recipe quickly became my new favorite dessert.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Flour, Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon, Vegetable Oil (I use canola oil)
  • Baking Powder – Unlike baking soda, baking powder often expires before you use it all. Make sure to check the expiration date and replace if needed. To check its potency, put a spoonful in a cup of very hot water. If it’s still active, it will bubble vigorously. If it doesn’t, buy a new tin.
  • Eggs – I use large eggs. Have them at room temperature for easier incorporation. Beat slightly.
  • Vanilla – Always use real vanilla extract, never artificially flavored. Check the label carefully when you’re shopping. I prefer the Neilsen-Massey brand.
  • Chopped Pecans – Either toast for a few minutes in the oven or in a skillet to bring out their essential oils which will add more flavor. You will need extra pecans if you want to garnish the sides of the cake.
  • Shredded Coconut – I use Angelflake sweetened coconut
  • Carrots – Peel, slice and simmer in a pot of water until they’re tender enough to puree.
  • Crushed Pineapple – Drain off all the juices before adding it to the batter.
  • Cream Cheese – I use the Philadelphia brand. Have it at room temperature so it blends smoothly.
  • Butter – At room temperature.
  • Powdered Sugar – Sift for the smoothest frosting.
Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (2)

Best Carrot Cake Recipe

One of the carrot cake recipes my mom tested on us back in the 1970s was from The New Basics Cookbook. It became the gold standard in my eyes. I’ve taken this old-fashioned carrot cake to a retreat in Harbor Springs, Michigan, a massive Halloween party in Brown County, Indiana, a dear friend’s 50th birthday party, and to the cardiac cath lab where Bill works.

Whether I bake up a half batch of this Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Coconut, and Pecans in a 9 x 13 or go all out with this layered gem, it’s well-loved by all those who indulge. To make those long trips, I freeze the cake and place it in a cooler for the trek. The recipients are always delighted I went to the extra effort. The pictured carrot cake stayed right in my fridge until I served it to our friends and family at our annual 4th of July cookout last night. A few lucky guests even took some slices home.

If you love carrot cake AND caramel, this Caramel Filled Carrot Cake will rock your world! Save this recipe for Easter or a special occasion. But if cheesecake is more your thing, how about thisCarrot Cake Cheesecake from Taste and Tell? It looks fabulous!

Or if something more bite-sized is appealing, I’d recommend these Giant Carrot Cake Cookie Cups from Wishes and Dishes. These Carrot Cake Scones with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze from A Beautiful Plate are a way to eat carrot cake for breakfast or brunch and my Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies are a yummy portable carrot cake dessert!

Expert Tips

As a self-proclaimed carrot cake aficionado, this is the best carrot cake out of all I’ve tasted. Dense, moist, and filled with just the right amount of nuts, coconut, and pineapple, it always gets rave reviews.

  • PRO-Tip: Toast the nuts to bring out the natural oils, which makes them more flavorful. If you don’t like or have an allergy to nuts, they can certainly be omitted.
  • This cake calls for cooked puréed carrots, which allows them to be evenly distributed throughout the batter. I cook and drain about 2 cups of sliced carrots, drain and puree for the 1⅓ cups needed in the recipe. If your recipe calls for grated carrots, grate them finely as that will encourage them to be dispersed well, compared to coarsely grated.
  • Pineapple might sound like a weird addition if you’re new to carrot cake, but it works well. It adds sweetness, moisture and also contains an enzyme that tenderizes proteins, which certainly won’t hurt!
  • PRO-Tip: Using vegetable oil instead of butter makes for a super moist cake. There’s enough flavor from the other ingredients that the lack of butter does not hamper the taste of this cake.
  • This is a rare cake that always bakes up flat for me, making it super easy to layer and frost.
  • Carrot cake, either frosted or unfrosted, freezes well.
  • PRO-Tip: You can freeze the unfrosted layers, well wrapped, for up to 3 months, but it will probably last longer.
  • A frosted cake freezes well, too. I’d suggest putting the frosted cake in the freezer for a few hours to let the frosting harden, then wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze. You’ll want to defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (3)

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does a Carrot Cake Taste Like?

It’s dense, moist, and flavored with cinnamon plus topped with a rich, sweet, slightly tangy cream cheese frosting.

What Else Can Be Added to a Carrot Cake?

This cake is loaded with pecans, crushed pineapple, and coconut along with pureed carrots. Other additions could be raisins, and you can always use walnuts instead of pecans. And some carrot cake recipes call for applesauce.

Why Does Carrot Cake Turn Dark or Even Green?

Carrots are sensitive to pH. If they come in contact with something alkaline like baking soda, they can turn black or green, discoloring the cake. I’ve never seen this happen, but don’t panic if it occurs.

You May Also Like

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Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (4)

The Recipe:

Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time1 hour

Total Time1 hour 20 minutes

Yield16 servings

A loaded two layer carrot cake with a dreamy cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups well chopped pecans (plus more to garnish if desired)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • 1 ⅓ cups pureed cooked carrots*
  • ¾ cup drained crushed pineapple

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease two 9-inch cake pans; line with parchment. Grease parchment.
  2. Sift or whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat till well combined.
  4. Mix in nuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple.
  5. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes (I have really heavy cake pans and mine take closer to one hour). Edges should pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Cool about 3 hours before icing.
  7. To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter till smooth. Sift powdered sugar into the bowl and mix well till no lumps remain.
  8. Add vanilla and mix well. Frost as desired.

Notes

Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook

Cook 2 cups of sliced carrots, drain, and puree to make 1 ⅓ cups pureed carrots.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 720Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 383mgCarbohydrates: 86gFiber: 3gSugar: 64gProtein: 6g

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

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posted by Liz Berg on March 24, 2024
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    65 Comments on “Best Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Coconut and Pecans”

  1. Healthy World Cuisine Reply

    This carrot cake is calling me! It looks so moist and hearty. I’m always so astonished on how clean your cuts are to slices of cakes and bars. Perfect slice!

  2. Jeff the Chef Reply

    Just between us, I’ve been looking for a great carrot cake recipe! Yours certainly hits all the marks: pineapple, coconut, oil, cream cheese frosting. I’ll definitely be giving this one a whirl!

  3. MARY H HIRSCH Reply

    I have a friend with a mid-May birthday and he always requests that I bring a carrot cake to his celebration.

  4. Juliet Reply

    Looks so good! Pinned and printed … I’m making this for Thanksgiving! xo

    • Liz Berg Reply

      I’m so glad, Juliet! It’s probably one of my top3 favorite desserts!! Enjoy….and Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Sandra Garth Reply

    Pureed cooked carrots, what a delightful change! I’d rather puree that grate any day.

  6. mjskitchen Reply

    My husband has been craving carrot cake for weeks, so I ordered one from a local bakery. It was so disappointing. Yours was the type he was craving and the one I bought was nothing near as good as this. Looks like I might just have to make a cake (the first one of our marriage :)).

    BTW – We saw a Chef’s Table on Christina Tosi recently and the whole time I was thinking of you. She is another skinny pastry chef. Her recipes are crazy and look crazy good – just like yours.

  7. Toni Reply

    I love it! So easy to make and delish!

  8. MARY H HIRSCH Reply

    I like your frosting and with its nutty decoration! I always appreciate your tips. And, that cake looks fabulous.

  9. Dorothy Reinhold Reply

    Coconut and pineapple for the win! I bet they make this cake so moist!

  10. Lindsay Cotter Reply

    This is such a showstopping dessert! Sure to be a big hit!

  11. Valentina Reply

    That is one perfect slice of cake! I’m a huge carrot cake fan especially the classic combo with the cream cheese frosting. This just made me extremely hungry!

  12. Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness Reply

    This carrot cake looks lovely, perfect for a birthday or any occasion. Great tips for making the best cake. I really like the tip to toast the nuts before baking with them. Delicious!

  13. Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats Reply

    Such a wonderful recipe Liz! I love carrot cake and I’ve found that once people try it they usually love it too!

  14. mjskitchen Reply

    Hiding this from my husband. He has been craving a carrot cake recently and I’m resisting since I have never made a cake! If he sees yours, I’m sure he start bugging me until I give in and make it. 🙂 A perfect carrot cake Liz!

  15. gloria Roa Baker Reply

    what beautiful carrot cake ! I love this recipe !!

  16. Brenda Reply

    Beautiful carrot cake – love the nuts on the exterior!!

  17. Sandy Reply

    Love this tried and true recipe. The frosting is amazing, too.

  18. Ben Rayl Reply

    This truly is the best carrot cake ever!

  19. Toni | Boulder Locavore Reply

    My whole family really enjoyed this!

  20. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes Reply

    This is the perfect carrot cake!

  21. Brenda Reply

    Such a great recipe. And I love how you garnish with the extra pecans!

  22. Joanne Reply

    This carrot cake is exactly how it should be done. Classic, and so good!

  23. Barbara Schieving Reply

    Carrot cake perfection!

  24. Trish Rosenquist Reply

    Love a good carrot cake! We make them year round!

  25. Melissa Sperka Reply

    This is the perfect carrot cake recipe!

  26. Lori Reply

    Indeed a classic with the crushed pineapple and the whole bit! Delicious!

  27. Erlene Reply

    We love carrot cake and this sounds similar to one my aunt used to make. She puts pineapples in her carrot cake too and it’s so good! Thanks for sharing your recipe on Merry Monday. Pinned.

  28. Emma @ Bake Then Eat Reply

    Now that is what I call a stunning cake! Carrot cake will always have a special place for me it is just so tasty 😀

  29. Julie Blanner Reply

    I’ll take a sliver of cake with a triple side of frosting, please!

  30. Carole Reply

    What a sweet story re your parents discovering carrot cake in St. Paul.

    I usually put grated carrot on top of my cake. The uninitiated look askance, but once they try it, they love it.

  31. Laura @ Family Spice Reply

    The only cake that I will choose over chocolate cake is carrot cake. Be still my heart!!

  32. The Ninja Baker Reply

    LOL. I’ve been strategizing for days figuring out how I can make a stop at Susie’s Cakes for a huge wedge of carrot cake!…Your looks equally divine…If you lived closer, I might be strategizing how I could pay a visit to you =)

    Anyway, I love, love the spirit of your adventurous mom and her desire to travel and experience the world via food =) Also, I can relate to the trepidation on the first intro to the cake (from my older sister.)

  33. TidyMom Reply

    my 18 years old just mentioned that she wanted a good homemade carrot cake the other day! She loves to bake, I’m going to pass this recipe along to her!

  34. Annamaria @ Bakewell Junction Reply

    Lizzy,
    Carrot cake is a favorite at our house too. I don’t think ours looks as good as yours though.
    Annamaria

  35. Mary Ellen Reply

    What a delicious looking carrot cake!

  36. Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere Reply

    I totally share your love affair with carrot cake. This looks AMAZING and has me seriously craving a slice!

  37. Terri Oliver Steffes Reply

    I won! The Blogher pop up that comes from the bottom up kept interferring with my comment, but I figured out how to get rid of it! My sonin law loves carrot cake but he lives four hours away, now I can make it and take it! How do you cut your slices so neatly?

    • Liz Berg Reply

      Ooh, sorry about that popup. Can you let me know how you got rid of it, so I can pass that along to other readers??? Thanks! As far as slicing goes, my first slices weren’t so nice, but once I put it back in the fridge, got it well chilled and cut immediately after pulling it out, it sliced perfectly. Also, using a serrated knife worked best.

  38. Eva Reply

    Each time that I been in London, I looking for the parfait carrot cake ! Sometimes I found it and when you found its like heaven!!Yours look like this and the pineaple is a very good idea!!

  39. cathleen |my culinary mission Reply

    Beautiful! Love carrot cake, and The New Basics Cookbook!

  40. Sarah Reid, CNP (@jo_jo_ba) Reply

    *dies* Carrot cake is my KRYPTONITE!! Love it

  41. Cindys Recipes and Writings Reply

    Beautiful Liz! I haven’t had carrot cake in a while so I’m over due!

  42. Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm Reply

    A timeless classic.

  43. Jennifer Eloff Reply

    The best carrot cakes have some crushed pineapple in them! Yours is gorgeous as per usual.

  44. Shaina Reply

    This looks gorgeous, as all your desserts always do. I love that you added crushed pineapple, that’s a fabulous idea. I will be trying that next time!

  45. Andrea Kruse Reply

    Carrot cake is my husband’s absolute favorite! I love making this and your cake turned out so beautifully!

  46. Teri@The Freshman Cook Reply

    From the first piece of carrot cake I ever had, I was in love! It’s my all time favorite! Yours is just beautiful! Great choice for food that travels!

  47. Laura (Tutti Dolci) Reply

    What a cake, those towering layers look irresistible!

  48. Angie@Angie's Recipes Reply

    Your carrot cake looks amazing with all the pecan nuts!

  49. Shelby Reply

    Carrot cake has always been Grumpy’s request for his birthday. He has an obvious love affair with this cake also 🙂

  50. Tara Reply

    If that was the only cake left on the planet I would be happy, I adore carrot cake and yours looks top notch as always!!

    • Beverley Reply

      Me too Tara! xoxo

  51. Stacy Reply

    I love the way you pressed nuts into the cream cheese icing, LIz. Absolutely stunning!

  52. Chris Baccus Reply

    My mom used to make carrot cake when I was growing up. Haven’t had one in years. Don’t tell but yours looks better.

  53. Ramona W Reply

    Wow, look at all those yummy ingredients peaking out of the slice of cake. Now that’s what I call a fantastic carrot cake. 🙂

  54. Eva Taylor Reply

    what a gorgeous cake! I’m loving the retro recipe too, but three cups of sugar??? Looks like it’s totally worth the splurg!

  55. gloria Reply

    Look amazing Lizzy!!
    I have to try this love this:)
    xoxo

  56. Laura Dembowski Reply

    Good idea to freeze the cake before traveling. That’s actually what momof*cku does when shipping their cakes. Plus I wouldn’t want anything to happen to this beauty!

  57. Kayte Reply

    That is one very fine looking carrot cake. It’s so strange, my guys do not really like cake…I can make a cake and it will sit here until I toss most of it as they just aren’t “cake eaters” as they say. A pie will disappear in a couple of hours. I have no idea where cookies go but when I go to get one they are always gone. That said, Carrot Cake is the one cake they all love and will eat anytime anyplace. I think it is the standard for all cakes, a beautifully made carrot cake, and yours looks just perfect! Happy 4th Weekend…you would not believe the view of the fireworks from my living room, and best of all, no traffic getting home! lol It was like a private show right out my windows. I hope Izzy survived and wasn’t too afraid of fireworks going off, used to make our dogs just shake and shiver when they heard fireworks.

  58. Renee Reply

    Ah yes, such a classic cake. And Liz I have got to find out your secret for perfect slices.

  59. Lynn@Happier Than A Pig In Mud Reply

    I wish I had this cake as my centerpiece for dinner today, now that would be great:@)

  60. Hotly Spiced Reply

    Very happy 4th of July to you. I am the same as you! My mother introduced me to the ‘new best thing’ in the early 80’s. It was love at first sight and a recipe a cooked so often it was memorised. I do love a moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Especially one with pineapple and pecan. And I used to put chopped pecans in the frosting as well! Beautiful cake, Liz xx

  61. Maureen | org*smic Chef Reply

    I love carrot cake too but not as much as my mother-in-law. She might eat it with her knife and wipe her face on the tablecloth but she’ll be ready for a second piece of cake. 🙂

  62. Marion@LifeTastesGood Reply

    Your carrot cake has been around!! haha An all-time fave! Great travel tips!

Best Carrot Cake Recipe - With How to Video! - That Skinny Chick Can Bake (2024)

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