Carrot Cake

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Years ago, when I was still in college, someone gave me a copy of the Silver Palate cookbook. I remember many of the recipes being over the top, both for my palate and budget at the time, and come to think of it, my cooking skill as well, but I still loved this book.

The carrot cake recipe I photocopied and sent to my parents, with the note, “Make this cake, it’s great!”.

Carrot cake had always been my favorite, and this recipe? Who ever heard of putting coconut AND pineapple in a carrot cake? 25 years ago, no one I knew, but the combination was fantastic.


Of course, we’ve made changes over the years to the recipe. The original recipe called for 3 cups of sugar (too much even for me) and for cooking the carrots first (not necessary in my opinion). Sometimes I added raisins or left out the nuts, but always included the coconut and pineapple.

My father has made this cake for my birthday countless times, even driving hours to deliver it when I lived in Palo Alto or San Francisco.

Carrot Cake

Today we made it together (that frosting job is mine, thank you) and the cake even survived a “D’oh!” moment when 3 minutes after it went in the oven dad realized he had forgotten to add the coconut.

After the requisite howls of exasperation, the cakes came out of the oven, batter back into the mixing bowl, coconut added, batter back in the pans, and pans back in the oven. No harm no foul. Cake lived, beautifully, I might add.

Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12-16



  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped (more whole or chopped for topping)
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups of finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup of drained crushed pineapple


  • 12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 9 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 3/4 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Cut out rounds of wax paper and place at bottoms of cake pans. Butter the top of the wax paper rounds.

2 Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

3 Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick or sharp knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.

4 To prepare frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is free of lumps. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

5 Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top.

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Carrot Cake

Showing 4 of 122 Comments

  • Carol McCormack

    As many have commented – this cake is very forgiving. I made it, as directed by recipe with the following modifications: 1) left out the nuts 2) substituted 1 cup of fine petite dice apple that I microwaved for a minute or so in place of the pineapple 3) added a little nutmeg and 4) made 1.5 x the frosting. I am not at all a huge frosting fan, but I don’t see 1x frosting giving coverage to the cake.

    Turned out gorgeous! So moist. Lovely flavor, Texture from the coconut makes it so special. Wouldn’t describe it as easy to cut – but the fantastic flavor makes you say, “who cares!” Next time I’ll use the pineapple – I bet the addition of flavor is fantastic.

    Thanks, as always, Elise. Your blog is my go-to for new things to cook for my family. I’ve used buckets and buckets of your recipes and they have all been huge hits and proved the hard work, home-kitchen testing and personal commitment you put into your site and recipes. Not one has failed me. Thank you. -C

  • Judy

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it as a cake a few times. Today I decided to change it up by making it vegan and in cupcakes, and it turned out just as delicious as the standard cake recipe. Here are my vegan substitutes: Instead of 3 eggs in the cake, I mixed 3 Tbls ground flax seed with 9 tbls water, mixed and let it sit for 10 minutes. For the frosting, I used vegan cream cheese and vegan butter substitute. Taste was great but consistency was thin, so I am letting it get more solid in the fridge. They taste great without frosting too!

  • Jennifer

    Linz, I’ve made this cake a number of times in a bundt pan, and it always came out well for me.

  • Linz

    Hi, please advise if this recipe can be made in a bundt pan

  • Roger

    This is the same as my favorite carrot cake recipe, except I fiddled around with it, replacing 1/2c of the oil with sour cream, 1/2c of the white sugar with brown, and added 1/2 tsp of ground ginger. Soooo good.

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