Carrot Cake Loaf

A good moist carrot cake is good for almost any occasion, but somehow a carrot cake loaf with cream cheese icing dripping down the sides is just meant for that afternoon coffee break.

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I love carrot cake. Part of that is because I really do like carrot cake, and part of it is because it always comes with my absolutely favorite icing – cream cheese icing. If you asked me which I liked better – the carrot cake or the icing, I’d have a hard time answering and would probably end up saying “the icing” with a guilty look on my face. That’s why whenever I’ve made a carrot cake for home consumption, I usually make the cake and icing separately and serving the icing as a dollop on the plate. That way I can scoop up a bit of icing with every bite of cake, rather than just get icing with the outside edges that happen to be iced. Devilish? I know.

Carrots on a wooden cutting board with a peeler and a grater.

Moisture is key to a good carrot cake. If it’s dried out, carrot cake will be the last thing to disappear in your kitchen, but if it is moist and tender, there are really few baked goods as delicious in the middle of the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee. Using oil instead of butter is helpful in ensuring the cake is moist as are the two different types of sugar. Brown sugar adds a deep flavor and both sugars are hygroscopic, meaning they love and hold onto water, keeping the cake moist. Of course the nuts and raisins are completely optional, as is the sanding sugar on top, but all three do add nice interest to the cake.

Carrot Cake Loaf on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

There are so many ways to make a carrot cake. You could make a traditional layer cake using two round cake pans, or two square cake pans. Or you could make a 9-inch by 13-inch cakethat you cut into squares. This recipe uses a loaf pan so you can have as thin or as thick a slice as you like. In this recipe I do suggest pouring the icing over the top of the loaf because it looks pretty, but you can always keep the icing separate and dollop it onto the plate. That way the loaf is easy and tidy to store and you can dictate how much of the icing you want need at the time. I won’t tell anyone. It can be our little secret. 

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing on a cutting board with three slices cut.

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Carrot Cake Loaf

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 1 h 15 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 30 m
  • Servings:


  • butter and sugar to grease and sugar the pan
  • 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrots shredded (about 3 to 4 medium carrots)
  • ¾ cups walnuts chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)
  • sanding sugar (optional)
Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Butter the inside of a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and dust with sugar. Shake the pan to cover the bottom and sides with sugar and tap out any excess sugar. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. In a large second bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil, whisking to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and stir in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix by hand just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Do Not over-mix the batter. Gently fold in the shredded carrots, walnut and raisins (if using).
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, sprinkle the top with sanding sugar and transfer the pan to the oven.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 60 to 75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

  6. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the carrot loaf to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on cooling rack.
  7. To make the cream cheese glaze, place the cream cheese and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Soften the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it is easy to stir. Gradually add the powdered sugar and stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the milk, whisk until smooth.
  8. Place a baking sheet under the cooling rack. Drizzle the cooled carrot loaf cake with the cream cheese glaze. If the glaze is too thick to drizzle, add additional milk gradually to thin it out to a pourable consistency. Let glaze set for at least 20 minutes before serving.
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Comments (27)Post a Reply

    1. Sanding sugar is a coarse sugar that is used to top cookies, dust cake pans, etc.. You should be able to find it in the baking section of grocery stores or any specialty kitchen store.

  1. Hi Mereidith, love your recipes and everything you make. Is there any way to get all these recipes in one cookbook and can they possibly be texted? Miss you on the Q.

    1. Hi Faith. I do have several cookbooks available (you can see them here: ), but many more on my website. Unfortunately, right now, many of the website recipes are not in cookbooks, but you can print them in a nice format by clicking on the “Print Recipe” button at the top of the recipe card. Or, you can keep coming back to my website and have all the recipes at your fingertips. 🙂

  2. This comment is for Diane. I think that 1/2 zucchini and 1/2 carrots sounds great. What a great idea. I want to try this recipe, too. I like organic golden raisins. I will use those, too.

  3. Question – I have never dusted a pan with any type of sugar. The sugar will not cause the cake to burn? I assume it will just give it a golden brown outer color (not to mention the sweetness), right? I sure miss you on the Q. I am SOOO glad you have set up a Facebook page and recipes for those of us that miss you. Don’t forget to show us pics of your four-legged children from time to time. (I put a comment earlier, as a reply to “Diane”, but I accidentally duplicated that particular my comment on this site. I apologize.)

    1. Hi Denise. The sugar doesn’t cause the loaf to burn, but does give a nice color and more importantly a texture to the outside of the loaf. It’s just a dusting – tap out any excess sugar. Doing that also shows you where you might have missed buttering the pan.

    1. Sure. Wrap the loaf well after it has cooled completely and then freeze it. Let it defrost fully and then frost it.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ll be trying several of these recipes. They look delicious. Thank you for sharing them.
    Being a diabetic, can I substitute the sugar and or brown sugar with Truvia?

    1. Hi Paula. I’ve never baked with Truvia before. I would look at their package instructions for substitutions and give it a try.

  5. 5 stars

    This bread is amazing! I have never dusted a pan with sugar before. The taste and texture the butter and sugar adds is delightful! I will be making this bread often especially for the fall season.

  6. 5 stars
    Had some leftover multicolor carrots from a (belated) Father’s Day dinner a few weeks ago and was excited to make this.

    I ended up subbing in wheat flour for half the white flour, and skipped the nuts as I’m allergic. Did throw in the raisins, and added an extra carrot as I needed to get rid of the bunch. Also used Neufchatel instead of cream cheese. I also used baking POWDER instead of baking SODA. At first I thought you had a typo then looked back at the ingredients and indeed saw it said baking soda. My brain just did not like that. I’m no baking expert, but something in me told me to just go with the powder. I assumed author might be in the UK but the site address suggests otherwise? Either way, came out perfect sans baking soda.

    This came out SO good. The color, the spices. It was perfectly moist and a tad dense, and sweet and aromatic. Next time I want to experiment with adding pumpkin seeds or pepitas (maybe candied) in place of the nuts. Would also probably half the icing next time as it was a lot. Wonderful recipe!

  7. Does this ship well ? I am always on the look out for sweets ( cookies, sweet breads, pound cakes) to ship to my son who is deployed over in the sand box.

    1. Hi Betty,
      I think this would ship well without the glaze on top. Just wrap it well with plastic once it has cooled completely and then package it up the way you would package your other baked goods.

    1. Hi Bonnie. You could try using regular sugar if you buzz it around in your food processor or blender for a while. The problem is that regular sugar in an icing will remain gritty. Powdered sugar dissolves completely. Buzzing granulated sugar in a blender will give you superfine sugar which will dissolve a little better, but powdered sugar is best.

  8. 5 stars
    Made this on Saturday for Easter. Everyone loved it and people that I didn’t expect to!!
    We need a cookbook!!!

  9. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! Just makes one loaf, perfect for a small family. We really enjoyed this recipe, so much flavor. It’s a keeper, for sure

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