This super moist carrot cake loaf is both easy and delicious, generously topped with cream cheese frosting. A wonderful treat to enjoy any time of day or any time of year.
When it comes to my favourite cakes, Carrot Cake is right up there! And when it comes to my favourite carrot cake recipe, this is it. This is the one my Mom always made and all these years later, it’s still the one I make.
My Mom always made this cake as a 9×13-inch sheet cake. Somewhere along the way, given my lack of restraint around it, I scaled back the recipe to make a smaller cake in loaf form. It satisfies the craving, without having too much sitting around to tempt me.
I have come to love the loaf shaped carrot cake. Even though it’s a loaf, served thickly sliced, it’s still a plate and fork kind of cake. The taller loaf also allows me to use a generous amount of cream cheese frosting, which is always desirable in my books :)
Vegetable oil – I always make this loaf with vegetable oil and I do recommend it, as years of making this loaf has proven it works perfectly. Other oils, such as canola oil or Sunflower may work, though I haven’t tested them myself. Olive oil wouldn’t be recommended as it will introduce a flavour to the loaf. Finally, butter, either room temperature or melted, may possibly work, but I have not tested it and I would expect that it would change the texture and shelf-life of this loaf.
I know that we tend to think of cooking oil as generally interchangeable, but the type of oil used can make a different in baking recipes like this one. For guaranteed success, use the recommended oil.
Carrots – Of course, it wouldn’t be a carrot cake without carrots :) While any carrot will do, I do like to pick up some fresh, organic carrots if I can, for best flavour.
White sugar – sugar in baking recipes perform more of a role than just sweetening. It contributes both to the texture and moistness of the finished loaf. While it may be possible to reduce the sugar successfully, it generally comes at some cost to the quality of the finished loaf. I always recommend using the specified amount of sugar first, and then, if desired, slightly reduce in subsequent bakes, until you find the sweet spot for you.
Walnuts – Nuts are optional in this cake, but do offer some nice flavour and texture to the loaf. I generally use walnuts, but pecans would work nicely as well.
If you don’t want to use nuts, but the idea of raisins or coconut appeals to you, you could add 1 cup of either, in place of the nuts.
Cream cheese – You can use either full-fat or fat-reduced cream cheese here, though you may find you need less confectioners’ sugar with the reduced fat cream cheese, so keep that in mind when mixing the icing.
You will also need – All-purpose flour, eggs (2), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, butter (for the frosting), vanilla and icing/confectioners’ sugar.
Lining the loaf pan with parchment paper is highly recommended. This is a tender loaf when warm and there really is nothing worse that having a loaf break when trying to get it out of the pan. Parchment paper removes that worry completely.
Be sure to measure your flour by using the stir, spoon and level method. That is 1) Stir your flour. 2) Spoon into a dry (usually metal) measuring cup, over-filling the cup then 3) use the back flat edge of a knife to level off the flour, even with the top of the measuring cup.
Do note that baking time is never exact, as ovens vary and different types and colours of baking pans can also affect baking time. Be sure to test the loaf with a long skewer. It should come out clean. It make take longer in your oven, so just bake it until it tests clean.
This cake stays fresh for days. It will also freeze well, even when frosted.
You can take this basic recipe to make a sheet cake or a two-layer cake by doubling the recipe.
Get the Recipe: Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (190 g) granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups (340 ml) carrots, grated, well packed
- 1 cup (227 ml) walnuts, or pecans, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 large (2) eggs
- 1 cup (120 g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. (1 tsp.) baking soda
- 1 tsp. (1 tsp.) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. (0.5 tsp.) cinnamon
- Pinch (Pinch) salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 oz. (113 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp (28 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups (210 g) icing/confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Line a 4 1/2 x 10-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. *I like to just line the bottom and long sides with one sheet of parchment, overhanging the sides by an inch or so, to use as handles to lift it out of the pan later.
- In a large bowl with an electric beater or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the white sugar and oil. Add the shredded carrots and mix in. Add the eggs and beat in. Add the nuts and stir to combine. Stir in the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. *A lot of factors can affect baking time. Every oven is different and the type of baking pan you use can also affect the baking time. You loaf might take longer. As such, you must test the loaf with a long skewer or tester (so it reaches into the very centre of the loaf) before taking it out of the oven. It should come out clean. If in doubt, leave it in the oven a bit longer.
- Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift out to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To make frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Add the icing sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by 40 years of trial and error in the kitchen and always driven by a love of great food. I love to share my favourite old and new recipes, complete with lots of tips and tricks to help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!
I made this as a loaf and it was delicious! To make as cupcakes/muffins how would you alter the cook time?
So glad you enjoyed it, Hannah :) For cupcakes, the baking time is probably in the 20-25 minute range. I don’t know precisely, so you’ll want to watch carefully and test often :)
I made this yesterday and it is absolutely amazing!!! The only thing I did differently was add 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. It is definitely a keeper. Huge hit in my house
So glad to hear, Mari :) Thanks!
If I wanted to add raisins how much would I add per standard size loaf?
Hi Angel, I think about 1/2 cup would be about right. You might want to plump them (soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then drain and dry off). This will make for nice plump raisins in the loaf and prevent the dried raisins from robbing moisture from the loaf itself.
Just made it for the first time and it came out marvelous! I’m also a.newb so the recipe is super easy to follow and execute. Pay attention to the bakers notes though for good tips!
I’m so glad to hear, Angel :) Thanks so much!
Ok, I normally make this cake with pineapple in a true carrot cake form but wanted to go with a loaf version… as per my family this was the best version ever lol less the pineapple!! Thanks so much for this easy recipe !!
I’m so glad to hear, Carolyn :) Thanks so much!
Delicious. I didn’t use the nuts though. Forgot. But it still turned out very tasty.
I would definitely make this again.
So glad you enjoyed it, Linda :) Thanks so much!
How much is 4 oz? That’s for the cream cheese
Hi Patricia, it’s 1/2 of a standard block of cream cheese.
Thank you for sharing your easy and delicious recipe. I made this thrice. And each time it came out soft and delicious.
So glad to hear, Grace :) Thanks so much!
Super moist carrot loaf, very easy to make. I added some vanilla and orange zest instead of cinnamon – turned out very lovely. It is now part of my rotation with the family. Thank you Jennifer for this lovely recipe.
So glad to hear, Irm :) Thanks so much!
Amazing recipe! I made it once and my entire family asked for it again the following day. I tweaked it a little by adding a teaspoon of vanilla and a half a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the batter and a pinch of cinnamon to the frosting but overall it was delouses. 10/10 recommend.
So glad you are all enjoying it, Yeva :) Thanks so much!
Made this as a loaf cake today for National Carrot Cake day! I made a few small tweaks: used half a cup of white sugar & half a cup of brown sugar, 1 full tsp of cinnamon, added 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and 1 tsp of vanilla, and 2 very full cups of shredded carrot. To the icing I added 1 tbsp of lemon juice. This cake was amazing! So moist, and the perfect denseness for carrot cake! Big hit with my roommates, everyone loved it!
Glad to hear, Alyssa :) Thanks so much!
Can I use this recipe for making muffins? And how?
Hi Patricia and yes, you could certainly use the batter for muffins. Simply divide batter between muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. As for baking time, I’m not completely sure, as I haven’t tried it, but muffins generally bake between 20-30 minutes, depending on size. You would need to watch closely and test regularly.
This was excellent. 10/10 I will make it again!!
So glad to hear, Renee :) thanks so much!
Excellent carrot loaf! Really enjoyed it. I added orange zest and slathered the icing all over each slice! I like the option to choose the batch size with the amounts adjusted in one click.
So glad you enjoyed it, Brigitte :) Thanks so much!
This recipe is fantastic! The texture is amazing, especially with the walnuts. The frosting is great too. I doubled the cinnamon but the cake is still missing something for me. I love a good spicy cake. I think I’ll had ginger, cloves, and all spice next time to add more depth.
Glad you enjoyed it, Angela and yes, you can certainly play around with the spicing, to your taste. Thanks!
Delicious followed exactly except for the oil. Only had corn oil on hand! Super moist and lots of flavour! Yum yum.
So glad you enjoyed it, Ashlee :) Thanks so much!
I made this for a “girls day” and everyone loved it and wanted to take some home, it is very moist and a nice weight bread. A friend had given me a gallon bag of little carrots earlier in the week and I shredded them up and decided try this recipe. It was so good I made 2 double recipes and froze some. I added just a bit more cinnamon, next time I will add 1 1/2 tsp. I also added 1/2 cup of chopped craisins as I can not eat nuts and did not have raisins, we really like the craisins and I would use them again.
So glad to hear, Christy :) Thanks so much!
I love the moistness of this recipe. A lot of others that I have tried have been way to thick and it just stresses me out to say the least! Thanks for giving us a moist perfectly baked Carrot Cake loaf! I am very pleased with the results in comparison to many others!
So happy to hear, Brittany :) Thanks so much!
I’m gonna try this simple and easy to follow recipe. Being simple is always the bessst! Oh! My hungry tummy can’t wait. Thanks a lot Jennifer😊
Thanks so much and enjoy the cake :)
School is starting in 4 days so I started baking sweets for my little sister’s snack. I accidentally “measured” one slightly heeped 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder thinking the recipe called for 1 tsp but it still tastes really good! Since she’s still in elementary school, there’s a no nut policy so I opted for 1/2 cup raisins in place of walnuts. I baked the batter in an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan, allowed it to cool down, then topped it with the frosting, and then popped it into the freezer overnight. Today in the morning, I trimmed the edges and cut the cake into 12 smaller squares, wrapped them up in cling film and popped them back into the freezer. I ended up baking it for 35 minutes forgetting that it would take less than the recommended time (40 min – 50 min) since the pan isn’t as deep as a loaf pan. Nonetheless, the texture is still on point – it’s fluffy and moist. Now once school starts, my sister can easily grab a square before leaving the house and by the time it’s snack time it’ll be thawed.
Sounds perfect for back-to-school, Dia :) I love this cake, as it never dries out, which makes it perfect for freezing and thawing. Thanks so much!
This carrot cake recipe is outstanding . I love the fact of a smaller version and then baked
in a loaf pan. You’ve got to try it .
So glad you enjoyed it, Jayne :) Thanks so much!
This recipe is amazing! i definitely suggest trying it!
So glad you enjoyed it, Eden :) Thanks so much!
Great recipe! I doubled it and it turned out delicious. Everyone loved it (even those who said they did not like carrot cake.
So glad to hear, Mildred :) Thanks so much!