Classic Carrot Cake Recipe with Chopped Pecans

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Full of carrots, pecans, and cinnamon, this classic Carrot Cake recipe is a must-make for spring. This three-layered cake is filled and topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans and tastes divine. One bite and you’ll be hooked!

This dessert is perfect for Easter lunch! I’ve got a collection of Easter Recipes that you might like to try out – right-click and open them in a new tab to read next.

A slice of 3-layered carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans on the outside. Text overlay says"Classic Carrot Cake". Similar photos of the recipe from various angles are used throughout but with different text overlays unless otherwise described.

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Carrot Cake

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions; to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required, and to understand the steps and timings involved.

Carrot cake is up there as one of my favorite cakes. I don’t know what it is about this type of cake that I will ALWAYS order if we have the opportunity to do so at a coffee shop or restaurant, but it is just so darn delicious!

And that goes the same for this classic carrot cake recipe that I am sharing with you! Make this for a special weekend treat, when throwing an afternoon tea party – or to take to a potluck or bake sale.

Carrot cake is made with oil rather than butter, and it’s the oil that helps to keep this cake so moist and last for days. Although, it doesn’t last for that long in our house!!

Grated/shredded carrots go into the cake mix. YES! There are actual carrots in a carrot cake – which, when I was a kid didn’t realise so was shocked the first time I ever made a carrot cake!

Some carrot cakes use walnuts in the mix, I prefer pecans (they’re my favorite nut!) so chopped pecans go into the batter, as well as around the sides and top of the cake to add lots of crunch to each bite. YUM!

For more carrot cake goodness, check out my post: 27 Deliciously Different Carrot Cake Recipes


Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

While most ingredients can be bought in grocery stores, for your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients (and equipment) needed for this recipe have been listed below and linked to Amazon or other stores if available online. The complete list of ingredients with measurements is found in the recipe card.

  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Pecansthese are chopped and used in the cake batter as well as to decorate the cake.
  • Powdered Sugaralso known as Icing Sugar.
  • Vanilla Sugaryou can buy this ready-made, but it’s easy to make your own. Using the ratio of 1 vanilla pod to 1 cup of sugar, split the pod and scrape the seeds into the sugar, and stir to mix well. Add the vanilla pod to the sugar and store it in an airtight container to infuse for about 2 weeks before using.
  • Round 9-inch Cake Pansyou will need a set of 3 pans.
  • Round 10-inch Cake-Boardto serve the cake on, however, you could decorate it directly onto your cake stand if you prefer. I like to add pieces of parchment paper under and around the cake to keep the stand clean while frosting a cake, then pulling the paper away when finished. This is a trick I learned from the Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten.
  • Cake Leveler – makes cutting and leveling cakes easier, but you can use a sharp knife instead.
  • Baking Sprayto make removing the cake from the pans easier.
  • Wire Cooling Rackalways completely cool your cakes before decorating.
  • Cake Decorating Turntable – makes decorating a large cake easier as you can turn the cake around as you decorate. But you can make a cake without this piece of kit. A lazy Susan is a great alternative option that would work!
  • Icing Spatula – to spread frosting on the cake – you could use a butter knife or the back of a large spoon instead.
  • Cake Smoother/Scraper – to scrape away excess frosting and smooth it around the cake. You could use a clean plastic ruler (12in/30cm) to do the same job. In fact, one that I have looks like a large metal ruler just without the measurement notches.

Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog. I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. You can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never mix imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).

Classic Dessert Recipe for Carrot Cake
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More Cake Recipes

Looking for more cake recipe inspo? Check these out next:

3-Layer Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake Tips

  • To check the doneness of the cakes, insert a toothpick into the center of the cakes and it will come out clean when they are cooked through. If there is still wet cake button on the toothpick then cook for a few more minutes and test again.
  • Make sure the cakes have cooled completely (on a wire rack) before decorating.
  • When the cakes have cooled, you will need to level off the tops so that they are flat. You can use a cake leveler which is a really handy tool to get a nice even cut. Or you can use a sharp knife and a steady hand.
  • Do NOT throw away the excess cake though! You can use it to make cake pops! Simply crumble up the cake and mix it with some frosting and roll into balls. Insert a lollipop stick and dip into melted chocolate or candy melts. Leave to set, and enjoy!

Using Frosting

  • Add a dab of frosting onto the center of the cake board before placing the first cake layer. This helps to keep the cake in place.
  • Use a spatula to spread the frosting between the cake layers, then scrape any excess around the sides of the cake to create a crumb coat. Chill the cake before continuing.
  • To prevent the frosting from getting onto your cake board or cake stand, a tip I learned from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is to slip squares of parchment paper just under the cake all the way around. Once the cake is frosted you pull the paper away and you get a nice clean edge.
  • Use a cake smoother/scraper to get a nice even finish on the frosting around the sides and top of the cake.
  • Using a cake turntable can make this job easier, but it is not a necessary piece of kit – unless you plan on making a lot of cakes!
  • If you don’t have a cake turntable, what about that lazy Susan you have in the back of the kitchen cupboard? That would work too!
  • Alternatively, place the cake onto a cake stand which will be easier to turn around than a cake board sat on the counter.
  • As with all things cake decorating, practice makes perfect!

How Do I Make Carrot Cake?

Just check out the printable recipe card below with full ingredients and instructions. Any demonstration photos do not print out to save your ink.

3-Layer Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake

Yield: 8

Full of carrots, pecans, and cinnamon, this classic Carrot Cake recipe is a must-make for spring! (Or any time of the year really!)


For the Cake

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8oz/225g) block cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla sugar
  • 4 cups chopped pecans


  1. To make the cake, preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and spray three 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric handheld or stand mixer, add the sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until combined.
  4. Fold in the carrots and chopped pecans.
  5. Divide the batter between the three prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  8. When the cakes have cooled cut the domes off the tops of the cake to make even layers.
  9. To make the frosting, use an electric handheld or stand mixer and beat together the butter and cream cheese.
  10. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar until combined and smooth.
  11. Use a small amount of frosting to stick the first layer of the cake down onto a 10-inch cake board.
  12. Scoop 1 cup of the frosting onto the cake layer and use a spatula to spread out evenly.
  13. Place the second cake layer on top and spread another cup of frosting evenly onto this layer.
  14. Place the third and final cake layer on top and using a cake scraper or spatula scrape around the sides of the cake to smooth the excess frosting. You can use this excess frosting to crumb coat. Place in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.
  15. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. blank
  16. Press the chopped pecans to the sides of the cake, and sprinkle some around the top edge to meet the sides. Added Pecans Around the Cake
  17. Cut and enjoy! 3-Layer Carrot Cake Recipe

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1992Total Fat: 122gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 100gCholesterol: 220mgSodium: 698mgCarbohydrates: 219gFiber: 10gSugar: 160gProtein: 20g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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Make It A Meal!

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Full of carrots, pecans, and cinnamon, this classic Carrot Cake recipe is a must-make for spring. This three-layered cake is filled and topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans and tastes divine. One bite and you’ll be hooked!

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