Carrot Cake

This carrot cake with pineapple and coconut is a family favorite, made every year for all sorts of celebrations from birthdays to Easter! It's super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy to make, all topped with a cream cheese frosting.

The best carrot cake recipe with a slice removed from the layered cake.

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

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. What I really loved was this easy carrot cake recipe.

It was the best carrot cake recipe. I even photocopied and sent to my parents, with the note, "Make this carrot cake, it's great!"

An easy carrot cake recipe with a couple slices missing from the cake.

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Carrot Cake With Pineapple and Coconut? Yes!

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

Of course, we've made changes over the years to that original carrot cake recipe. And now I can say the recipe that follows truly is the best carrot cake recipe.

The original recipe called for three 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.

Not a fan of pineapple and coconut? That's ok! You can leave them out and the cake will turn out just fine.

A white plate with a slice of carrot cake on it and a fork, with a cup of tea to the side

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

My Family’s Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe

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

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

After the requisite howls of exasperation, the carrot 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.


Watch How to Make Carrot Cake

How To Store Leftover Carrot Cake

Store the leftover carrot cake at room temperature for a few days if it's cool in your kitchen. If not, put it in the fridge, covered, where it'll keep up to a week, though it's best eaten sooner. Let the carrot cake come to room temperature (30 to 60 minutes) before serving.

Did you know you can freeze carrot cake? Slice the cake, then freeze just until the frosting is firm to the touch. Double-wrap each slice snugly with plastic wrap and place in a zip-top freezer bag. They'll keep this way up to 4 months (they would never last that long in our freezer!). To serve, remove the wrap and thaw at room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

Love Carrot Cake? Check Out These Recipes!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Carrot Cake

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 75 mins
Servings 12 to 16 servings
Yield 1 (2-layer) cake

Not a fan of pineapple and coconut? That's ok! You can leave them out and the cake will turn out just fine.


For the cake

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

  • 2 cups finely grated carrots

  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

For the frosting

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Extra whole or chopped walnuts, for topping


  1. Preheat the oven and prepare cake pans:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans. Cut out rounds of parchment paper and place in the bottoms of the pans. Butter the rounds and the sides of the pan.

  2. Make the carrot cake batter:

    Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

    Batter in a bowl for an easy carrot cake recipe.
    Sally Vargas
  3. Pour the batter into pans and bake:

    Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until the edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick or sharp knife tip inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

    Two cake pans filled with batter to make the best carrot cake recipe.
    Sally Vargas
  4. Cool on wire cooling racks:

    Remove the cakes for the oven and set on wire racks until cooled completely.

  5. Make the cream cheese frosting:

    While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.

    Slowly sift in the powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is free of lumps. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.

    The bowl of a stand mixer with frosting inside to make the best carrot cake recipe.
    Sally Vargas
  6. Frost and decorate the cake:

    Once the cakes have cooled, remove from the pans and frost. Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top. Serve.

    A whole carrot cake with pineapple on a platter.
    Sally Vargas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
745 Calories
45g Fat
80g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 745
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g 58%
Saturated Fat 14g 72%
Cholesterol 85mg 28%
Sodium 490mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 80g 29%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 57g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 226mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.