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Desserts | March 23, 2021

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake is legendary in Bountiful. This carrot cake is super moist, filled with carrots and the perfect blend of spices for amazing flavor and the most incredible texture!

Laurie's Amazing Carrot Cake

My friend Laurie created this carrot cake recipe for a family wedding reception years ago. She made the cakes for the wedding, and I catered the dinner. I don’t cater any more, but I will always remember the first time I ate Laurie’s carrot cake…

Carrot cake with nuts

The reception was the only wedding reception in the history of man (or woman) where all of the cake was eaten. Seriously, not a slice left! I was busy in the kitchen arranging plates of food, and when the reception was over, I went looking for a piece of cake. But it was all gone. Every crumb. Where is my crying emoji??

Laurie knows how much I love cake, so for my birthday a couple of weeks later, she made me MY VERY OWN CARROT CAKE! This cake is so dense and delicious, I kept eating it little by little, a slice each day. I am serious when I say the cake even more delicious at the end of the week!

Laurie's Amazing Moist Carrot Cake

So, what makes THIS recipe the most amazing carrot cake? Some of the ingredients and tips will make sense to you, and others may not. I promise if you trust me, you will be glad you did, and your search for the best carrot cake recipe will be over!

Carrot Cake decorated with cream cheese frosting swirls
Made this one for our daughter, Jaiden’s wedding shower!
The decorative poms are from “My Minds Eye”

Reasons why Laurie’s Amazing Carrot cake is the best carrot cake ITW:

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake is filled with fresh grated carrots, buttermilk and oil (instead of butter) for extra-moist texture. These three ingredients combined take the moisture factor to the next level in this cake!

slice of moist carrot cake

Grate your carrots!

Make sure to grate (shred) your own carrots when making carrot cake! It is tempting to use pre-grated carrots, but grating your own will make a huge difference in the texture of this cake!

I prefer to grate or shred carrots instead of grinding because I want to see the the bits of carrots and not have the carrot turn to a puree before making the cake. I use a standard size box grater or the grate attachment on my food processor. If you like your carrots extra small, use a smaller grater.

carrot cake to feed 20

Don’t buy pregrated!

Buying pre-grated veggies, cheese, etc. are convenient, but they are put through a process that removes out extra moisture to prevent caking and molding, so in this case, pre-grated carrots are not recommended! The 2 minutes it takes to grate your carrots is worth it, and key to moist carrot cake!

how to line a cake pan with parchment
Always line the cake pans with parchment paper for easy removal!

Unique process of Grinding raisins and nuts

Before you say ” I don’t like nuts” or “I hate raisins!” I promise if you give this a try, you’ll realize the nuts and raisins are hardly noticable in this recipe. The special process of grinding the nuts and raisins together in a food processor before adding to the batter adds texture and sweetness but no big chunks.

dividing carrot cake batter

The grinding of the raisins and nuts are what I call the secret ingredients or process in this recipe which sets it apart from so many other carrot cake recipes!

applying nuts to carrot cake

Oil or butter?

Most cake recipes I love include butter, but this cake is definitely better made with oil. This article in Epicurious supports the oil vs butter choice in cakes! Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake can be made with Canola, Vegetable or Coconut oil.

cake decorating with nuts
I’ve decorated this cake many different ways,
the easiest is to chop nuts and add to the sides or top!

Carrot Cake for a crowd

This recipe makes a HUGE amount of cake! Laurie developed this recipe for a wedding with lots of guests in mind. No worries, it is easily halved.

Although it is a big recipe, I still usually make a whole recipe because the extra layers freeze well for months. The frosting recipe is for two layers, or a half recipe. If making a full recipe, use the frosting amount in the recipe notes!

Half the recipe!

I’ve had many requests for half the recipe and the amounts shared on this post. For 1/2 recipe the batter yields 2-nine inch layers, OR 3-8 inch layers. The frosting amount is correct on the recipe, because it is written for two layers, assuming you will freeze the other cakes for later.

If you half the cake batter, the layers will not be quite as thick as when you make a whole recipe. For instance. When I make a whole recipe and bake 3- 8 inch layers, I also have enough for several muffins as well or another single layer.

When I mix up a 1/2 recipe it is enough for three 8 inch layers, but they are not as full as when making a full recipe. Follow recipe directions for mixing and baking.

  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup raisins dark or golden
moist and delicious carrot cake

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake freezes well frosted or unfrosted. Just make sure if you freeze the cake frosted, to take it out of the freezer at least 2 hours before serving to allow the cake to thaw completely.

Also, if you love this cake, you will also love Laurie’s Amazing Chocolate Cake. It is the best chocolate cake, if you are looking for deep dark chocolate cake with incredible chocolate frosting!

Chocolate Cake with chocolate shaving on top

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake was originally posted in August 2009. Post has been updated in 2021 with new photos and recipe updates.

5 from 6 votes

Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake

Laurie's Amazing Carrot Cake is the last carrot cake recipe you will ever need. This super moist cake is full of carrots, buttermilk and the secret ingredients: raisins and nuts ground together for sweetness and texture!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword american dessert, cake, carrot cake, cream cheese frosting
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
cool time, frost time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 20


Please read all recipe notes before making this cake! For half portion, see recipe notes

  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*, room temperature see recipe notes for substitution
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups raisins (dark or golden)

Prepare pans:

  • Two-10 inch spring form pans OR two-9 inch round cake pans plus two 8 inch round cake pans plus one muffin tin (12 count) this recipe can also be made in 8-9 inch loaf pans, filled 3/4 full and frosted on top

Cream Cheese Frosting for 2 layers (see recipe notes for frosting 4 layers) * If creating decorative top with frosting, increase frosting by another 1/2 for piping

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (8 tablespoons or 4 oz)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (not low fat or no fat) room temperature If using spreadable cream cheese in tub, you will not need to add any milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla OR 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • cream or milk to thin the frosting (1-3 tablespoons) if needed


  1. Set rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees for at least 15 minutes before baking.

  2. Prepare cake pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper, and spraying the bottom and sides of pans lightly with cooking spray.

  3. Grind the pecans and raisins in a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse until chopped into very small pieces, set aside.

  4. Beat the eggs, oil and buttermilk together in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until blended well.

  5. Add all of the dry ingredients, including the nuts and raisins to the wet ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Stop mixer once and scrap sides and bottom to mix thoroughly. Do not over mix.

  6. Pour into prepared pans, lined with parchment paper. Fill pans 3/4 full. 

  7. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour if using 9-10 inch Spring form pans. Bake for about 45 minutes for round cake pans. Test with toothpick to see if done before removing from oven. 

  8. After removing from oven, wrap each layer individually with saran wrap and place in freezer while still warm. 

  9. Remove the cake from freezer after cake is cooled and frozen or at least cold. Place one layer on a platter and apply one layer of frosting to top of first layer. Place second layer on top of first. Frost the top of the second layer, and frost the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Return to freezer.

  10. Let cake freeze again until the frosting is firm. Remove and frost outer sides and top of cake again. At this point you can either place back in freezer until ready to use, or let sit out to thaw. 

  11. If making the cake in advance of serving day, cover the cake when frosting is set with plastic wrap and store in freezer.

  12. On day of serving, remove cake from freezer 2-3 hours before serving.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.

  2. Add vanilla OR lemon, salt and about 3 cups of powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.

  3. Add rest of powdered sugar a cup at a time with the mixer on medium speed. Add milk or cream to desired consistency, beat for about 2-3 minutes on high, scraping down sides of bowl a few times.

  4. Frost the cake as directed. See recipe notes for amount of frosting to make if making 4 layers and frosting at one time. Refrigerate any leftovers!

Recipe Notes

  • To make buttermilk at home, pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a one cup measure. Fill the measuring cup with milk. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before using. For cake, it is best to heat the milk for a few seconds. Then proceed to make substitute. I have also used 1/2 cup plain (unsweetened) Greek yogurt, or 1/2 cup of sour cream  mixed with 1/2 cup milk to make 1 cup of buttermilk substitute.
  • If making 4 layers, use the following measurements for frosting so you will have enough frosting for all four cakes. If making either 2 -10 inch spring form cakes, or 2- 9 inch cakes, and keeping the smaller 8 inch cakes in the freezer for later use, one batch of frosting is enough. FROSTING FOR 4 LAYERS:  3/4  cup or 12 tablespoons butter, 12 oz cream cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 pinch salt, 9 cups powdered sugar, milk or cream to thin frosting
  • If you are decorating the cake with frosting make another 1/2 recipe of the frosting in the recipe. To make the cake with frosting swirled on top, use a 2A or 2D tip. 
  • Turn the cake so the flat side is up when frosting  to avoid a dome on top.
  • To half the recipe,  use two 9 inch pans, or three 8 inch pans. Fill the pans 3/4 way full. You may also use one 9- 9.5 inch spring form pan and cut in half after baking. 
  • This cake stays moist and fresh for at least a week in the refrigerator when covered tightly.

41 thoughts on “Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake

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Recipe Rating

  1. I have to say hands down, carrot cake is my favorite cake…something I could eat over and over! Yours looks darn good, and that icing…torture just pure torture!

  2. Nice cake! I might try it again with whole nuts and raisins instead of ground. I don't think freezing the cake made it any more moist but it was easy to frost. I also loved the frosting but now I can't remember if it's because I used lemon juice or maybe it was the salt. Why do I always wait so long between making something and writing about it? I forget the important details.

  3. I made this cake last night and it was hands down the best carrot cake anyone had ever had! Thanks soooo much! It was awesome.

    I made my frosting with lime juice and rind instead of vanilla, delish!!

  4. Can anyone tell me where I went wrong? My cake did not hardly rise and was so dense-to top it off when we cut into it. It was like solid play dough. I went over each step and cannot figure what I did wrong. Thanks in advance

    1. Kim,
      I’m so sorry this cake didn’t turn out for you. It’s such a fantastic recipe. Could the Baking Soda be expired? Try adding 1/4 tsp soda to 2 tsp vinegar and see if it bubbles up. Don’t give up on this recipe! It’s a keeper.
      Thanks for reading ABK,

  5. Hi Si!
    I want to make this for Easter and I’m wondering if I can minus the nuts and raisins and still have success?!

    1. Hi Cailey,
      I wouldn’t recommend it…the nuts and raisins are not in huge chunks, not sure if you have an allergy or just worried about not liking the nuts and raisins. If its not an allergy, I promise you will love this recipe! Every time I make it I get recipe requests. It’s truly the best carrot cake Ive ever eaten. And the grinding of the nuts and raisins make them hardly detectable!
      thanks for reading ABK

  6. Made this cake while watching conference sat… just grating carrots forever it seemed. Loved the taste of the cake, but it cooked more like a quick bread was very wet. It was dense, super moist, but no individual crumbs like a real cake. Any suggestions on what I did wrong? I’m for sure trying it again!

    1. Jeanny,
      If you have a food processor, you can grate the carrots that way next time! It is a very dense cake. Very moist. I don’t think you did anything wrong. I’m hoping to get my directions up soon for 1/2 this cake. I have also baked it in loaf pans and frosted with the cream cheese frosting for giving away. it also freezes very nicely!

    1. Caity,
      Go ahead and make this recipe – cut the ingredients in half exactly. It will make 2-9inch pans and it will taste wonderful!
      I have made half this recipe with success, but haven’t posted it yet. Send me a pic of your finished cake and I’ll post to my Instagram!
      Thanks for reading ABK.

  7. Another AMAZING recipe! I make carrot cake once a year for my dad for his birthday. I followed the recipe using milk combined with vinegar since I didnt have any buttermilk on hand and frozen cranberries slightly defrosted before I processed them with the pecans. Turned out FABULOUS! Everyone loved them! Thanks Si!

    1. Kali,
      I’m glad this recipe worked out so well for your celebration! Happy Birthday dad!
      Thanks for your positive comments and your input – 24 cupcakes for half a batch. That’s good to know.


  8. Oh I also halved the recipe and it turned out GREAT! My daughters insisted on cupcakes and it made 24! 🙂

  9. I made this cake for a birthday party and it was a huge hit! I wanted a sheet cake so I halved the recipe and made it in a jelly roll pan (baked at 350 for about 25-30 mins). I did not half the frosting. Such an easy, fool-proof recipe. Everyone was sad there were not two carrot cakes to eat. Thanks, Si!

    1. Whitney,
      I’m glad this worked so well for your party. I love this cake recipe! Thanks for your tips on baking in a jelly roll pan, I’m sure other readers will find this helpful. Thank you for your positive feedback and thanks for reading ABK.

  10. I made this cake for my grandma’s 80th birthday party and she said she could die happy after eating it (ha)! I have made it several times for her birthday since then. I think she is sticking around to eat cake. Our family loves this recipe!

  11. This recipe is amazing. I used lemon juice instead of the vanilla extract for the frosting and loved that substitution. I actually made carrot cake cupcakes- baked at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Everyone raved about them! I did half the recipe and it made 28 regular sized cupcakes.

    1. Hi Debra,
      Im so sorry! My friend Laurie also said she has made this with ground Craisins and nuts. You can try ground Craisins and coconut? That may work! Let me know if you try it.
      Thanks for reading ABK,

  12. Is there a substitute for the raisins and nuts? Anything else? I HATE raisins, no matter how they are disguised and my family has nut allergies. I really want to make this cake but without raisins and nuts.

  13. 5 stars
    Maybe it’s my first time following a recipe without modifying it 😂 The cake is just amazing! I’ll be baking it more times. The frosting tasted too sweet for me, so next time I’ll try something different, using less sugar.
    But overall it’s the best carrot cake I’ve made 🙂

  14. My nephew loves carrot cake and was coming for dinner. So I decided to make this one- I have never made a carrot cake in my life, so I was anxious to try it. I followed the recipe step by step.
    My daughter has allergies to wheat so I substituted the flour for Bob red mill gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour , so she could enjoy it too.

    It turned out fabulous!! Wow!

    Everyone loved it and my nephew thought it was better than anything he had tasted and couldn’t tell that it was gluten free!

  15. 5 stars
    The best carrot cake I’ve ever had! It is my go-to recipe. I’ve even tried to made it with gluten free flour and it came out perfectly too!
    Do you think this could be made in a 9×13 cake pan, or even as a cookie sheet cake?

  16. 5 stars
    Ok this was absolutely delicious! Everyone raves about it and it was so so good. A perfectly clear and easy to follow recipe.

  17. 5 stars
    I’m 70 years old and have tried many carrot cake recipes over the years but this will be the last one I will ever need. The recipe was easy to follow and I liked all of the helpful notes. It was a hit with my husband whose favorite cake is carrot cake. I appreciate that you posted this recipe even though it was not your own. Thank you!!!

  18. 5 stars
    The book group loved it! I added a teaspoon of orange rind to the frosting – cake was moist and delicious! Froze the extra 2 layers for an upcoming birthday.

  19. 5 stars
    This is an incredible carrot cake!! I half-ed the recipe as suggested but used almonds instead of pecans/walnuts because I don’t like either of those, and it turned out perfect- so moist! Loved that the ground raisins give you the raisin flavor without the chunks of raisins.