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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.