Carrot Cake


The best carrot cake recipe, with walnuts, coconut, and pineapple, and a cream cheese frosting. Our family favorite.

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. 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!”.

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? 25 years ago, no one I knew, but the combination was fantastic.

Best Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts on platter

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 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.

Carrot Cake – A Family Favorite

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.

Easy Carrot Cake decorated with walnuts on plate

Today we made this carrot cake 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 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.

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
  • 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 and prepare cake pans: 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 Make carrot cake batter: Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

3 Bake: Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake at 350°F 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 Make cream cheese frosting: Beat 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 Frost and decorate the cake: Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top.

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Best Carrot Cake with pineapple coconut and walnuts

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

140 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Shanta

    Hi there,
    What adjustments should I make to switch from canned, sweetened coconut to fresh coconut? I live in the tropics where fresh coconut is in abundance. I’ve never even seen it in a can lolll

  2. Heather

    Love this recipe! Decided to try making it as cupcakes this time for easier transport to my dad’s birthday celebration. They turned out great and he was thrilled to have his favorite carrot cake! : ) For anyone else who wants to try this, they took about 25 minutes (so maybe start checking at 20 mins). I also followed the suggestion from an earlier comment and used lemon zest (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) instead of the lemon juice. Tasted wonderful and kept the frosting from getting too “slippery” at room temperature. Thanks for yet another favorite recipe, Elise!


  3. Clara

    I don’t know if I had imagined it, but I thought I read that you could substitute grapeseed oil for the olive oil somewhere. Anyway, I wanted to ask how you frosted the cake. It looks beautiful and I’d like to try doing the same!

  4. Mackenzie

    Great recipe!! Made this for my Mom’s birthday and everyone was very impressed. I was concerned about using olive oil in a cake but it came out tasting delicious. Don’t worry if your batter tastes like olive oil, it balances out after baking and icing, so just follow the recipe exactly! I made a little extra icing and cut my two cake rounds in half to made a 4 layered cake, it held together well and was a huge crowd pleaser. :)


  5. Sai Pavitra Penmetsa

    Best carrot cake recipe! I’ve made it so many times…and it always amazes us !!

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