This Classic Carrot Cake Recipe chock full of carrots, nuts, and pineapple is my absolute favorite dessert. With a delectable cream cheese frosting, it’s impossible to resist! A birthday favorite.
My mom introduced me to a new dessert craze WAY back in the 1970’s. She and my dad had devoured slices of carrot cake with pineapple a trip to St. Paul, then brought home the recipe to try in our kitchen.
Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Coconut, and Pecans
My rendezvous with carrot cake began with one innocent bite. As a teen, I wasn’t sure about a dessert named after a vegetable. But my mom had turned us on to exotic fare (at least for Iowa) like paella, baklava, wontons, and more. My hesitancy only lasted only a brief second. Carrot cake with pineapple, coconut, and pecans with cream cheese frosting quickly became my new favorite dessert.
Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe
One of the carrot cake recipes my mom tested on us back in the 1970’s was from The New Basics Cookbook. It became the gold standard in my eyes. I’ve taken this old fashioned carrot cake to a retreat in Harbor Springs, Michigan, a massive Halloween party in Brown County, Indiana, a dear friend’s 50th birthday party and to the cardiac cath lab where Bill works.
Whether I bake up a half batch of this Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Coconut and Pecans in a 9 x 13 or go all out with this layered gem, it’s well-loved by all those who indulge. To make those long trips, I freeze the cake and place it in a cooler for the trek. The recipients are always delighted I went to the extra effort. The pictured carrot cake stayed right in my fridge until I served it to our friends and family at our annual 4th of July cookout last night. A few lucky guests even took some slices home.
More Carrot Cake Recipes You’ll Love:
If you love carrot cake AND caramel, this Caramel Filled Carrot Cake will rock your world! Save this recipe for Easter or a special occasion. But if cheesecake is more your thing, how about this Carrot Cake Cheesecake from Taste and Tell? It looks fabulous!
Or if something more bite-sized is appealing, I’d recommend these Giant Carrot Cake Cookie Cups from Wishes and Dishes. These Carrot Cake Scones with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze from A Beautiful Plate are a way to eat carrot cake for breakfast or brunch and my Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies are a yummy portable carrot cake dessert!
Tips for Making the Best Carrot Cake
As a self-proclaimed carrot cake aficionado, this is the best carrot cake out of all I’ve tasted. Dense, moist and filled with just the right amount of nuts, coconut, and pineapple, it always gets rave reviews.
- PRO-Tip: Toast the nuts to bring out the natural oils, which makes them more flavorful. If you don’t like or have an allergy to nuts, they can certainly be omitted.
- This cake calls for cooked puréed carrots, which allows them to be evenly distributed throughout the batter. I cook and drain about 2 cups of sliced carrots, drain and puree for the 1 1/3 cups needed in the recipe. If your recipe calls for grated carrots, grate them finely as that will encourage them to be dispersed well, compared to coarsely grated.
- Pineapple might sound like a weird addition if you’re new to carrot cake, but it works well. It adds sweetness, moisture and also contains an enzyme that tenderizes proteins, which certainly won’t hurt!
- This is a rare cake that always bakes up flat for me, making it super easy to layer and frost.
- Carrot cake, either frosted or unfrosted, freezes well. You can freeze the unfrosted layers, well wrapped, for up to 3 months, but it will probably last longer.
- A frosted cake freezes well, too. I’d suggest putting the frosted cake in the freezer for a few hours to let the frosting harden, then wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze. You’ll want to defrost in the refrigerator.
You Might Need:
More Delicious Layer Cakes
When it comes to celebrations like birthdays or anniversaries, a layer cake is perfectly apropos. Carrot cake would be my first choice if I didn’t have to bake my own birthday cake, but the rest of my family prefers chocolate or red velvet. Here are some of our favorite layer cake recipes:
- Chocolate Layer Cake with Ganache
- Best White Layer Cake
- Lemon Layer Cake
- Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
- 3 Layer Red Velvet Cake
- Classic Yellow Cake
- German Chocolate Cake
- 3 Layer Cocoa Cake
- More Cake Recipes
- 3 cups flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, beaten slightly
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups well chopped pecans (plus more to garnish if desired)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
- 1 1/3 cups pureed cooked carrots*
- 3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350º. Grease two 9 inch cake pans; line with parchment. Grease parchment.
- Sift or whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat till well combined. Mix in nuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
- Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30-40 minutes (I have really heavy cake pans and mine take closer to one hour). Edges should pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center of cake should come out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Cool about 3 hours before icing.
- To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter till smooth. Sift powdered sugar into bowl and mix well till no lumps remain. Add vanilla and mix well.
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook
- Cook 2 cups of sliced carrots, drain and puree to make 1 1/3 cups pureed carrots.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 720 Total Fat: 41g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 28g Cholesterol: 72mg Sodium: 383mg Carbohydrates: 86g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 64g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g