Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross
16 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

This lightened carrot cake recipe features a tender cake packed with grated carrot, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. Just like a traditional carrot cake, this cake is topped with a thick cream cheese frosting. This is the perfect cake for any occasion. During the spring, decorate it with delicate carrots made of frosting or candies. For Christmas, this beloved baking recipe can be made with extra spices and hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, coconut, pecans, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine oil and eggs; stir well. Stir egg mixture, grated carrot, and pineapple into flour mixture. Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Step 3

To prepare frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish each serving with grated carrot, if desired.

Chef's Notes

A unique touch to impress guests: Add pineapple for some extra sweetness and flavor. Add zucchini for additional nutritional benefits and texture. Add apple or browned-butter glaze for a seasonal touch in the colder months.

Ratings & Reviews

Kimdet's Review

April 08, 2012
I followed other reviews and cut down on the powdered sugar in the frosting. I only used 1 cup versus 3 cups and it tasted fine to us! I actually toasted some pecans and put on top, since I figured I had cut out a lot of calories by reducing the powdered sugar. The cake was very dense, but good!

Very tasty

October 31, 2016
I have made this several times along with another CL Carrot Cake recipe and this is my go-to for family only; the other one more for special occasions.  I modify this one using 3 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil.  This makes for more flavor but less "cake" texture.  Flavor-wise, this one is tops.  The coconut really is a unique addition that really adds to the recipe.  I also cut back on the sugar - 1 cup in the cake, 1.5 cups in the frosting.


February 27, 2016
This is sooo good.  Reviewers were spot on about the sugar level.  Used 1 cup in the cake.  It's dense and moist and good by itself, but even more delish with the frosting.  Made a half batch of the frosting to just drizzle lightly over the cake pieces.  For that half batch, used 1 cup of powdered sugar (instead of 1.5 c), and added 1 teaspoon of 1% milk to thin it out just a bit. 

Skinsey's Review

July 07, 2014
This recipe tastes like something you'd buy from a bakery. I try to utilize ingredients I have on hand so in place of pecans I used pine nuts. I cooked as directed for 35 minutes, but this could probably be reduced a few minutes or contained in a smaller pan. The amount of sugar in the frosting struck me as strange (way too much), so I started with 1.5 cups and wouldn't use a grain more. I highly recommend this recipe.

GolfGal's Review

May 31, 2014
Wow! My husband says this is the best Carrot Cake he has ever tasted. It was so moist and had a wonderful flavor. I highly recommend trying it.

katwill's Review

May 16, 2014
All I have to say is this cake is amazing. Simply one of the best cakes I've ever made. Made this for my husband's birthday and everyone loved it. I've had many requests for the receipe and I've been asked to make it several times now. I did cut back on the sugar as other post recommended.

karenfar's Review

April 21, 2014
I made half this recipe for Easter and it was really good!! I made it in and 8x8 and it got kind of thin but it was easy to make and it was moist and the flavor was so good.

badgerfan's Review

February 05, 2014
EXCELLENT! My husband is kind of a carrot cake snob. He also knows when I'm trying to pass off any light dessert on him. But, this is his all time favorite carrot cake! We just made it this week for National Carrot Cake day (yes, there is such a day!) and he devoured it. The only real subsitution I make is to eliminate the coconut and substitute golden raisins instead. I also put in about a tablespoon of milk in the frosting if it gets thick while I'm beating it. Great recipe!

ErinBarthel's Review

December 23, 2013
Excellent. Very moist! My family loved it!

BetsyBHF's Review

May 08, 2013