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What are some good carrot cake frostings?

This classic carrot cake recipe is layered and iced with fluffy, nutty brown butter frosting. It’s the only carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need, with choose your own adventure add-ins.

Forever moist, not too sweet, full of flavor – this is the type of cake you start planning to make again even before the last bites are gone. It’s the kind of cake that makes you want to forsake your dignity in order to get the last exquisite piece.

A slice of carrot cake with brown butter frosting

Why Everyone Loves This Carrot Cake Recipe

It’s hard to create a “best ever” recipe when people have so many personal opinions on what makes a cake great. Carrot cake can be divisive, especially when topped with raisins and cream cheese icing.

This is the finest carrot cake recipe because it is endlessly customizable, forgiving, and ticks many of the boxes of a wonderful cake.

Love nuts? Fold them into the batter (try toasting them beforehand! ). Do you hate raisins? Avoid them entirely.

A two-layer carrot cake with brown butter frosting

Ingredients For The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

Oil – My preferred fat and tenderizer (think moist!) in carrot cake is a neutral taking oil. I like grapeseed oil, although canola oil is equally effective.

Crushed Pineapple – This might be controversial, but I love crushed pineapple in carrot cake. Similar to a Hummingbird Cake, pineapple adds tons of moisture. Not a lover of pineapple? It may be substituted with applesauce or plain yogurt.

Ground Walnuts or Almond Flour – Although some people like their carrot cakes with chopped nuts, I like mine ground. Ground walnuts, used like flour, provide texture and a slight nutty taste to the batter. For a comparable flavor and texture, use equal quantities almond flour.

Not a fan of nuts? Replace the ground walnuts or almond flour with ⅓ cup all-purpose flour.

Raisins – In most baked items, I’m against raisins. But since this is your best carrot cake, feel free to fold them into the batter along with the carrots at the end of mixing.

Spice – Cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger are three of my favorite baking spices. Feel free to create your own spice blend based on your pantry and palette.

Brown Sugar – Do you want to add some more flavor? Make use of brown sugar! White sugar alone will still taste great, but brown sugar brings depth and pairs perfectly with the brown butter frosting.

Carrots – Absolutely, carrots are required for carrot cakes. I shredded them by hand using a box grater for a single cake. You could also use a food processor, but for this smaller amount, I don’t think it’s worth the fuss of taking out and washing it.

A two-layer carrot cake with brown butter filling and frosting that has been sliced on a platter.

Carrot cake should be delicate and moist rather than thick and dry. It should also be simple to prepare. We don’t need to cream softened butter and sugar together for added lift in this quick-mix recipe.

How It Works

Another reason this is the greatest carrot cake recipe is because the batter for this stir-together, oil-based cake just requires two bowls.

Brown sugar, white sugar, and eggs should be mixed in a large mixing dish. Pour in the oil while swirling and mix until mixed. After that, add the crushed pineapple (or wet ingredient of choice from the recipe).

Whisk together the flour, spices, and leavening agents to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Adding the mixture to the wet components in two batches helps to keep the batter from being too combined.

Keep your mix-ins till last. If you decide to add nuts and/or raisins, fold them into the batter at the end with the shredded carrots.

A close-up image of swirly brown butter frosting.

Brown Butter Frosting

Browning the butter adds a slight nuttiness and a subtle butterscotch-like flavor. If you use nice vanilla, you’ll find yourself licking the frosting off the spatula.

Don’t overpower the delicious tastes of brown butter with too much confectioner’s sugar. The frosting should be light and easy to spread. Since the cake is only two layers tall, I am not overly concerned with structure and am more comfortable with a softer frosting here than when stacking a cake sky high.

But Wait…What is Brown Butter?

Some folks eat carrot cake only for the cream cheese icing. This cake is covered in swoops and swirls of brown butter frosting that will make you forget all about cream cheese.

Brown butter, also known as beurre noisette (if you’re feeling posh), has a rich, nutty flavor that complements both sweet and savory dishes.

More than just melted butter, brown butter is the result of gently cooked butter and toasted milk solids. It adds robust, nutty, almost butterscotch tones to the frosting after being whipped with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

What’s the advantage of brown butter buttercream over cream cheese frosting? It is not need to be refrigerated. This encourages nibbling on all those tasty leftovers whenever you want.

Steps for Browning Butter

Browning unsalted butter is the first step in this recipe. This additional process toasts the milk solids, adding flavor to the buttercream frosting. When the butter is done, it should be golden and smell nutty and sweet.

Melting butter in a saucepan

Melt the chopped butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Melted butter in a saucepan

Keep cooking the butter until it completely melts. Reduce the heat so that it does not burn too quickly.

Melted butter that is beginning to brown

To prevent the milk solids from burning on the bottom, swirl the pan around and stir periodically.

Brown butter that is golden with toasted milk fat

When finished, the butter should be golden, and the milk solids should be toasty brown but not burned.

Hint The whole procedure takes 5 to 8 minutes. Do not boil too vigorously or too much of the water content will evaporate off.


Walnut flour – You may use an equivalent amount of almond flour. For a nut-free alternative, sub the walnut flour for ⅓ cup all-purpose flour

Pineapple – 1 cup mashed banana, 1 cup applesauce, or 1 cup plain yogurt may be substituted.

An overhead image of a carrot cake with swoops of brown butter frosting

Serving and Storage

This carrot cake recipe may be served and stored at room temperature for up to two days, ideally in a cake box or loosely wrapped in plastic wrap.

After that, store any residual leftovers in the refrigerator for another day or two. Wrap loosely with plastic to keep the cake from drying out.

Baker’s Notes for The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

  • During browning, do not boil the butter over high heat, as the butter’s water content will evaporate.
  • Even if the ingredients come together faster than expected, keep mixing the frosting to include enough air to make it light and fluffy rather than thick and gritty.
  • To make the cake nut-free, replace the walnut or almond flour with 13 cup all-purpose flour.
  • To create your own walnut flour, toast ¾ cups walnut pieces then grind them in a food processor. Stop the processor before it turns into nut butter.
  • You might use 1 cup of mashed banana or 1 cup of plain yogurt for the pineapple.
Pumpkin Coffee Cream Cheese Cake


Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

This delicious carrot cake recipe is covered with a fluffy, nutty brown butter frosting.

Prep Time45 mins

Cook Time35 mins

Total Time1 hr 20 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keywords: carrot cake, carrot cake frosting, carrot cake icing, easter, spring

Servings: 10


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cups walnut or almond flour
  • 2 teas baking powder
  • 1 teas baking soda
  • 1 teas cinnamon
  • ½ teas salt
  • ¼ teas nutmeg
  • ¼ teas all spice
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple or applesauce
  • 3 cups shredded carrots

Brown Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teas pure vanilla extract


Carrot Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  • Whisk together the all-purpose flour, nut flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together the oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs until well incorporated and the batter starts to lighten in color.
  • Working in two batches, stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. It’s OK if some flour streaks remain visible.
  • Mix in the pineapple and carrots. Fold until combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Let the cakes to cool fully before filling and icing.

Brown Butter Frosting

  • Place ¾ cup (170 g) butter in a light-colored saucepan and melt over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low after the butter starts to boil.
  • Stirring every so often to keep the milk solids from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan, continue to cook the butter until it turns an amber-colored brown and the milk solids have darkened. This will take between 5 and 8 minutes. When the brown butter smells nutty and toasted, it’s done. Fill a heat-safe jar halfway with brown butter.
  • Let the butter to re-solidify on the counter or in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until it solidifies but stays soft. When preparing to make frosting, it should have the consistency of softened butter. Meanwhile, take the remaining butter out of the fridge and let it to come to room temperature.
  • When ready, add the brown butter and remaining butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). On low speed, combine the butter until it is creamy. Stop the mixer and add in the confectioners’ sugar. Stir on low speed until combined.
  • Add a tablespoon of milk and mix to combine. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract and the remaining milk, a spoonful at a time, until smooth. It should be smooth and spreadable when finished.

To Assemble

  • One layer of cake should be placed on a cake stand or serving dish. Spread half of the buttercream flat using an offset spatula. Top with the second layer of cake. Using the remaining frosting, ice the top of the cake. For a rustic finish, make swirls on top by drawing “C’s” and “S’s” with the tip of an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.


  • Serve and store at room temperature for up to two days. After that, store any residual leftovers in the refrigerator for another day or two.
  • To make the cake nut-free, replace the walnut or almond flour with 13 cup all-purpose flour.
  • You might use 1 cup of mashed banana or 1 cup of plain yogurt for the pineapple.

Related Questions

  • What is carrot cake icing made of?

    For the cream cheese frosting:
    1 (8-ounce) box brick type cream cheese, softened to room temperature. ½ cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, melted to room temperature. 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence.

  • What pairs well with carrot cake?

    Try adding raisins, applesauce, or pineapple pieces to the mixture for flavor combinations that work well in the recipe and can elevate conventional carrot cake to the next level.

  • What can I use instead of cream cheese frosting?

    To make two cups of cream cheese alternative in baked dishes and dips, combine one cup ricotta and one cup plain yogurt. For frosting and cheesecakes, blend one cup ricotta with one cup heavy cream to equal two cups substitute.

  • Which type of frosting is best?

    One of the greatest icings for cake decorating is royal frosting. A pancake batter-like consistency is achieved by combining powdered sugar, egg whites, and meringue powder or liquid. This makes it easy to pour into pastry bags to fulfill your decorating dreams.