The BEST carrot cake! Perfectly spiced, moist crumb, and topped with velvety smooth chai spiced cream cheese frosting that is incredibly delicious and takes this carrot cake to another level!! It's easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. This carrot cake is sure to impress!
If you're looking for the perfect Easter Sunday dessert, this is it!! Let me tell you, the chai cream cheese frosting is AMAZING!! It's insanely flavorful and so smooth and creamy. I'm absolutely obsessed. It's made with a stick of butter, a block of cream cheese, powdered sugar, splash of milk, and the best chai spices! It's bursting with flavor that perfectly complements the moist carrot cake.
I have always been obsessed with both carrot cake and chai spice, so combining the two was the best decision! To achieve the chai flavor, I just added few extra spices than you would traditionally find in a carrot cake recipe. I, of course, added the chai spices to the both the cake batter and the cream cheese frosting.
Over the weekend, I brought this carrot cake to my parent's house for a weekend get together with family and friends and everyone loved it! So, I am very confident you will too!
Also, a funny little fact, I am not really a cake person or a frosting person. But, carrot cake has always been an exception! When you taste this cake, you will know why! But, I think my issue with cake is how sweet frosting is. I just can't do it. Most cakes have frosting that is WAY too sweet, and that's where my issue lies. Also, I can't do dry cake. So, I guess you could just say I'm a picky cake eater. What I love about carrot cake is that the cake itself is super moist and the frosting, thanks to cream cheese, isn't too sweet! It's especially better when it's homemade!
Flour. I just all-purpose flour. I haven't tried the recipe with cake flour.
Baking powder & baking soda. To help the cake rise nicely.
Salt. Because you can't bake without it. Salt balances out the sweetness.
Chai spices. All dry and ground. You will need cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg for both the batter and frosting. If you're missing one, it won't ruin the cake, but I highly recommend using all.
Brown and granulated sugar. I like to use a mixture of both. Brown sugar helps to create a more soft and moist cake and adds another depth of flavor.
Vegetable oil. Can't make carrot cake without it. Makes and keeps the cake nice and moist.
Eggs. You will need 4 eggs. It may seem like a lot but they give the cake a nice fluffy structure.
Sour cream. A lot of carrot cake recipes call for applesauce, but I prefer to use sour cream because it makes cake so moist, and I almost always have it on hand. If desired, you can swap the sour cream for full-fat greek yogurt or applesauce.
Vanilla extract. For added flavor in the batter and frosting.
Carrots. What I'm about to say is very important! Buy whole carrots and grate them at home. Don't buy pre-shredded carrots; they are dry and hard! Carrot cake needs the moisture from freshly grated carrots. Use the larger holes on your box grater or your food processor to grate the carrots.
Cream cheese. One block of cream cheese. Not cream cheese spread. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature before using it or soften it in the microwave, otherwise it will be hard to mix.
Butter. One stick of salted butter at room temperature for the frosting. Same rules about softening the cream cheese also apply to the butter. If you use unsalted butter, I recommend adding a pinch of salt to the frosting to balance out the sweetness of the sugar.
Powdered sugar. You will need about 3 cups. If you find that the frosting is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar, up to 4 cups total.
Milk. I like to add 1 tablespoon of milk or heavy cream to the frosting to help thin it for easier mixing and spreading; it also make the frosting really creamy. If the frosting is too thick, it seems to climb up the beaters of the mixer. If this still happens after adding 1 tablespoon of milk, add an additional ½ - 1 tablespoon till you reach your desired consistency.
Tips & Tricks.
Nuts. If desired, add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the cake batter when you add the carrots.
Make ahead: The cake can be prepared the day before, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature till you're ready to frost it. If desired, you can also make the frosting ahead of time. Make the frosting according to the directions above, then cover tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the frosting from the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to use it. You may need to beat it again for about a minute to soften it up before using. Alternatively, you can bake and frost the cake the night before, cover and store in the refrigerator, and remove about 30-60 minutes before serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature.
Carrots: Listen closely! You need to buy whole carrots and grate them at home. Don't buy pre-shredded carrots; they are dry and hard! Carrot cake needs the moisture from freshly grated carrots. Use the middle or large hole size on your box grater or use your food processor to grate the carrots.
If your frosting is too thin or too thick. Frosting can sometimes be finicky. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar, up to one additional cup. If the frosting is too thick and it's sticking to your beaters, add an additional 1-3 teaspoons of milk. Start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up to 3 teaspoons, if needed.
Chai spices. This recipe calls for 6 spices, which is kind of a lot, but worth it! If you're missing one spice, it won't ruin the cake, but I highly recommend using all the spices, especially the cinnamon and cardamom.
More of my favorite baked goods!
Carrot Cake with Chai Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon each cardamom and ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon each allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups freshly grated carrots
Chai spiced cream cheese frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk (or heavy cream)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon each cinnamon and cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon each ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
Candied walnuts (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper or grease with oil.
- In medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and use a sturdy spoon to fold the ingredients together until just combined. Next, fold in the carrots until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the preparped baking dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Chai spiced cream cheese frosting
- In a large bowl, using a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla and about half the powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Evenly spread the frosting over the cooled cake. If desired, top with candied walnuts. Slice and enjoy! Cover leftover cake and store in the refrigerator.
Candided walnuts (optional)
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir together and cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the walnuts are coated in the sugar and butter mixture and lightly toasted. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper in an even layer. Let cool before using.