Spring is the perfect time to bake up this easy, moist, and tender Carrot Sheet Cake. It's perfectly spiced and packed full of carrots, nuts, and pineapple. There's a rich buttermilk glaze that adds another layer of flavor then the entire cake is covered with a creamy cream cheese frosting. It's the perfect showstopper dessert for your Easter table or a treat for Mom on Mother's Day. Of course, it's great year-round too!
Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This moist, rich carrot sheet cake with pineapple has been a family favorite for years. I first started making this cake after my husband and I tasted, what he considered, the best carrot cake anywhere. It was at a restaurant called J. Alexanders and it's one of the reasons we go back there so often.
I knew I had to figure out how to make a similar version at home and after a few false starts finally came up with a winner. That's what my resident carrot cake expert tells me (thanks honey).
The secret is a buttermilk glaze that permeates the cake and makes it moist and extra rich. Believe me, this moist Carrot Cake recipe with its creamy cream cheese frosting is the perfect ending to an Easter dinner or just as a tasty welcome to spring.
I love making this single layer carrot cake in a 9x13 pan, a la J. Alexanders, because it allows the carrot cake to shine through. Layer cakes tend to overpower you with the cream cheese frosting, between, above and around, while this one allows both to stand on their own.
Of course, as my husband would say, that thick layer of cream cheese frosting just takes the entire cake to the next level.
I like to serve my homemade carrot cake with a few sprinkles of chopped nuts on top and a little garnish of carrot tops.
Frequently Asked Questions
This cake will actually keep on the counter for 2-3 days, even with cream cheese frosting, and will keep 5-6 days in the refrigerator.
Yes, it actually freezes very well. Just cut into servings, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. To thaw, just leave on the counter for 20-30 minutes and enjoy.
Pro-Tip: If you forgot to take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften, here's an easy way to speed up the process. Just place the entire sealed package in a large bowl of warm water and wait a few minutes. All ready to go with almost no downtime.
Forget to take out your butter too? The fastest way to soften it immediately is to use the largest holes of a grater and grate the stick of butter. Once done it is ready to use.
How to Make Carrot Cake with Buttermilk Glaze and Cream Cheese Frosting
Gather ingredients for the carrot cake batter.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs then add sugar. (photo 1)
- Add oil. (photo 2)
- Pour in buttermilk. (photo 3)
- Add vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. (photo 4)
- Combine dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. (photo 5)
- Add to liquid ingredients. (photo 6)
- Beat until well mixed. (photo 7)
- Fold in carrots, pineapple, coconut, and nuts. (photo 8)
- Pour into prepared 9x13-inch pan and bake. (photo 9)
While the cake is baking, prepare the buttermilk glaze.
- Place butter in a medium saucepan. (photo 1)
- Add buttermilk, baking soda, and corn syrup to saucepan. (photo 2)
- Bring to a boil. Let boil for 4-5 minutes to thicken. It will be a rich, creamy color. (photo 3)
- Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let it cool for 5 minutes. (photo 4)
- Remove cake from oven and pour buttermilk glaze over the top.
- Let cake cool then cover it and let it rest for a day to dry out just slightly.
Prepare cream cheese frosting to finish.
- Place butter and cream cheese in large bowl.
- Beat until light and fluffy then add confectioner's sugar.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Stir and ready to spread.
- Frost cake.
Have fun with carrot cake decorations
This cake has a lot of steps but it's really pretty easy to make. And the fun part is decorating it. I love using real carrots and greenery to spruce up one side. Just look how pretty it looks!
You can also opt for a sprinkling of nuts or piping frosting around the sides.
And now, the taste test. It's a rich, super moist carrot cake filled with the flavor of cinnamon, vanilla and pineapple with a nice contrasting crunch from the nuts. And the creamy layer of cream cheese frosting is the perfect finishing touch. Enjoy!
More Carrot Themed Recipes You'll Love
Carrot Cake Cheesecake from 2 Cookin Mamas
Carrot Margarita from 2 Cookin Mamas
Carrot Cake Cupcakes from Celebrating Sweets
Carrot Banana Smoothie from 2 Cookin Mamas
Find lots of easy and healthy dessert recipes here on 2CM!
Carrot Sheet Cake with Buttermilk Glaze
- 2 cups All-Purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 8 oz can crushed pineapple drained
- 3 ½ ounces flaked coconut optional
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts finely chopped
- Garnishes: chopped nuts, toasted coconut
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup butter
- 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar + extra for right consistency
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs then add sugar, oil, buttermilk and extract and continue to beat until creamy and smooth.
- Add in dry ingredients and continue to beat until blended.
- Fold in carrots, pineapple, coconut and nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.
- While cake is baking, in a medium saucepan, add all ingredients for glaze except for vanilla. Bring to a boil and let boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- When cake is removed from oven pour glaze over cake.
- Let cake cool completely then cover and let sit until the next day. (you want the cake to be slightly dried out when you begin frosting)
- Place cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Continue to beat as you add sugar until fluffy.
- Stir in vanilla extract. If your icing is too thin, adjust by adding additional confectioner’s sugar, if too thick, add a little milk until the frosting is the right consistency for easy spreading.
- Frost cake and decorate as desired.
- Store in refrigerator.
This post has been updated with better step-by-step directions and newer photos. It was first published on March 31, 2019.