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Best Carrot Cake

I love the classic combo of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. I made sure to keep the flavors we all love but reduce the sugar and use real food ingredients to keep it a healthier treat.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot cake, carrot cake recipe, cream cheese and cinnamon icing recipe, healthier carrot cake
Servings: 10 servings


  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 large Zest and juice of one orange
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup pecans or walnut pieces
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder aluminum-free
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt or sea salt
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of both ground ginger and nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Icing (double this recipe to ice whole cake including sides)

  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Oil 2 round cake pans (I use refined coconut oil) and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grate carrots
  • In a medium bowl mix together with a whisk, carrots, applesauce, eggs, sugar, orange zest and juice, coconut, and walnut pieces. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • With a wooden spoon, mix dry ingredients into wet. Mix really well making sure everything is incorporated.
  • Pour into cake pans, dividing evenly into each pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • While cakes are cooling make the icing.


  • Let cream cheese and butter soften at room temp.
  • In a medium bowl with a mixer, mix all icing ingredients until whipped and smooth.
  • Wait until cakes cool completely, then ice cakes as pictured.
  • Top with crushed nuts and fresh thyme if desired.
  • See notes for decorating.


Buy a grater here
Get a wooden cake stand here
If you would like to ice the sides of the cake too, you can double the recipe for the icing.
Decorating the cake
If you would like to top this with pecans like I did. I used a cup of pecans that I toasted for a few minutes on 350 with a drizzle of maple syrup and a couple of pinches of salt. You could also top with fresh thyme or extra cinnamon.