Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham
Hands-on Time
1 Hour
Total Time
4 Hours 35 Mins
Makes 12 servings

These layers are tender, so remove from pans carefully!

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss together first 3 ingredients; spread in a single layer in a foil- lined pan. Bake 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once.

Step 2

Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Beat butter and both sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add oil; beat until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended.

Step 3

Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla; fold in carrots, next 2 ingredients, and 1 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into 3 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 23 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely. Spread Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Top with Candied Carrot Curls and remaining toasted pecans.

Ratings & Reviews

November 26, 2015
What size pans did you use?  I wonder if a 9x13 pan could also work?Thanks!  Denise

March 28, 2015
Hi, I have experienced very moist cakes that fall apart/slide when attempting to frost also. However, I have found if you refrigerate the cakes for a while before frosting the end result will be a pleasant one...hope this helps for any future endeavors!


March 27, 2015
Wow! Carrot cake has always been one of my favorites, so I have eaten quite a lot of it over the years. This one is fantastic - definitely one of the best, if not the best. The cake is moist, and the icing is delicious. Be sure to toast the pecans - it makes a big difference. Yum!!!


March 16, 2015
Wonderful - super moist and packed with flavor.  Was the hit of the party with absolutely no leftovers to enjoy :)

The Ultimate Carrot Cake

April 14, 2016
Very good but I used crushed pineapple instead of apple.


February 29, 2016
Great was hard to cut. But everyone loved it.

great cake

November 25, 2015
The cake turned out great and it will be delicious when we eat it for Thanksgiving. 


September 23, 2015
I have made this cake twice since receiving my Southern Living Magazine. It is truly one of my all time favorites and everyone that I shared a piece with..;))) This is truly a keeper and will be made often in our house. This is a very tender cake so when removing from the pan make sure that you treat it as if you would a newborn baby ( after all, it is, right? ;) ) after transferring to a rack to cool I wrap in Reynolds wrap and refrigerate over night,much easier to keep this tender baby from cracking. However if you do have one that crack using it as the foundation works best. It also never hurts to slide in a couple of toothpicks here and there. After all it is first about flavor and second about looks. Although I love a beautiful cake as good as anything. I toasted some coconut to dress the center after icing and pan toasted pecans with a little butter and a sm. Pinch of extra fine salt. Did not take the time to do the carrot strips but am planning to make for a family reunion and will give it a try. I have to say that this was my best dressed cake yet. Carrot cake lovers, this is a must try , you will not be disappointed!!

Awesome Recipe!

September 13, 2015
This went down a treat, I only made two cakes rather than the three but it only took an extra 15 - 20 minutes extra to cook each. It was moist, tasty and delicious. I tried the candied carrots but couldn't get them to work, they came out too chewy. I also reduced the powdered sugar amount in the frosting to 4 1/2 cups as that was all I had. It was plenty sweet enough and a little on the soft side but held together well. I kept the cake in the fridge. This is a keeper!

Best Carrot Cake Ever!

April 22, 2015
I made this recipe in hopes my cake hating husband would eat a slice.  He told me it was the best cake he has ever tasted.  I have to agree.  I squeezed some of the liquid out of the grated apple before I added it to the batter.  The layers are moist, the icing is delicious and as another reviewer noted, the toasted pecans put this recipe over the top!.