This simple, classic one bowl carrot sheet cake is tender and fluffy, and topped with the creamiest tangy cream cheese frosting.
I’ve made a lot of carrot cakes in my life! It’s a favorite of everyone in the family, and makes a frequent appearance at holiday gatherings and even birthdays.
As cakes go, carrot cake is definitely not a difficult cake to make. But in baking, as in life, I always try to simplify things whenever I possibly can, which is why I LOVE a good sheet cake.
Why is this our favorite carrot cake?
- Simple ingredients – People put all kinds of stuff in carrot cake. Raisins, coconut, pineapple, orange zest, and so on. Nothing wrong with that, but we stand by the classic version.
- One bowl – Not every cake should be made in one bowl, but carrot cake is a good contender for this method. Usually cake recipes combine wet and dry ingredients separately, but I found that my favorite recipe was just as moist and fluffy when made in one bowl as when made the traditional way.
- One pan – Layer cakes are great, but I love a good sheet cake for more casual gatherings. No levelling layers, no crumb coats, no complicated assembly. Just a great cake with a nice, thick layer of frosting.
- The best cream cheese frosting – There’s nothing like a creamy, tangy cream cheese frosting with carrot cake. The problem is, cream cheese frosting is very soft. One way to thicken it is to add more sugar, but then it ends up tasting too sweet. Another way is to use more butter and less cream cheese, but then you lose some tanginess. So sometimes it’s best to let cream cheese frosting be itself and don’t try to stuff it between heavy cake layers that will probably just end up sliding off. One thick creamy coat of it on top of a sheet cake is my favorite way to enjoy it.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Peel and grate 1 lb of carrots. You’ll end up with about 3 cups of grated carrots. It might be tempting to buy pre-shredded carrots here, but freshly grated taste much better.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and stir to combine.
5. Stir in the grated carrots until well combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to even it out.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on top of a cooling rack for 20-30 minutes and then turn out onto the rack to cool completely – about 2 hours.
8. While the cake is cooling, combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt in a mixer on medium speed until creamy and lump-free.
9. Add the icing sugar, one cup at a time, mixing to combine after each edition. Mix on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until creamy. Transfer the frosting to the refrigerator until the cake is cooled and ready to be frosted.
10. transfer the cooled cake to a serving platter and frost. Sprinkle with chopped toasted walnuts or pecans if you like.
This cake keeps really well, and tastes even better the following day, so don’t hesitate to make it ahead.
How to store carrot cake?
Because of the cream cheese frosting, carrot cake is best refrigerated. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Carrot cake also freezes really well, even frosted! Just put the whole cake on a tray, uncovered in the freezer, until fully frozen, about 4 hours. Then wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw for 2 hours on the counter, or 24 hours in the fridge.
If you are a carrot cake fan, you’ll also love these carrot cake cookie sandwiches!!
Carrot sheet cake
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb carrots peeled and grated (about 3 cups grated)
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans toasted and chopped (optional, for topping)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 12 oz cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13" pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil.
- Whisk the eggs in, one at a time, until smooth.
- Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Stir in the grated carrots until well combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even out and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the cooling rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the icing sugar, one cup at a time, and combine on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes.
- Frost the cooled cake, and sprinkle with chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired.
Hi! I’m Ann and I blog at Our Happy Mess. I’m all about fast, fresh, and family-friendly recipes. I believe cooking from scratch can not only be doable but FUN, no matter how busy life gets!
You can find more of my recipes at Our Happy Mess.