Pumpkin Carrot Cake

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The BEST EVER, raved about Carrot Pumpkin Cake! Delicious, moist, easy to make! chelseasmessyapron.com

This moist and flavorful Pumpkin Carrot Cake combines two of the best spiced cakes into one! With warming fall spices and the best cream cheese frosting, what’s not to love?!

If you’re not sure about combining carrot and pumpkin cake, try our plain carrot cake or plain pumpkin cake instead. I do have to say though, the combination of the two is pretty unmatched! 

 

Image of a slice of Pumpkin Carrot Cake

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

This may be my all-time favorite cake, and I think my boys would all say the same! I took my two favorite cake recipes on this site (carrot cake and pumpkin cake), mashed the two together, and was blown away by the results.

This cake has an incredible depth of flavor and it’s exceptionally moist and tender. The cream cheese frosting ties everything together beautifully and there is no way I’ll be able to make it through fall each year without making this cake.

Process shots-- images of the wet ingredients being stirred together for Pumpkin Carrot Cake.

Bring ingredients to room temperature

Using room temperature ingredients will ensure the best-possible Pumpkin Carrot Cake texture. 

  • Using room-temperature eggs helps them blend more evenly into the batter, giving the cake a lighter texture (the eggs trap air).
    • Soak refrigerated eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes to quickly bring them to room temperature.
    • Alternatively, pull the eggs out of the fridge about 30 minutes before using to make this Pumpkin Carrot Cake.
  • Using room-temperature butter and cream cheese for the frosting will ensure a smooth, luxurious frosting without unpleasant chunks of cream cheese.
    • Pull both out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes to 1 hour in advance.
    • Alternatively, remove the cream cheese from the packaging. Place in the microwave and heat for 5 seconds, flip each and microwave for another 5 seconds. Continue to do this on each side of the cream cheese until softened to room temperature. Flipping frequently helps to evenly soften. Repeat in a separate bowl or plate with butter (I’ve found the two don’t soften at the same rate.)

Process shots-- images of the dry ingredients being sifted over the wet ingredients.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake tips

  • Spoon and level the flour. If you pack in too much flour, the cake with be dry, dense, and less moist. Here’s a great video showing how to properly measure flour for this recipe.
  • Grate carrots on the small holes of the grater. To ensure the right texture and even dispersion, we want the carrots very finely shredded. This is attained with the small holes on a grater.
  • Thoroughly drain the pineapple. First, make sure you have the right can size — it’s easy to miss since there are so many different sized cans of pineapple! We want the 8-ounce (tiny!) can and for all the excess moisture to be drained out. I press out the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Don’t overbake. To avoid dry cake, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overbake the layers; they can go from perfectly moist to far less flavorful in just a few minutes. 
  • Let the cakes cool for 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning them onto cooling racks to continue cooling. Wait for the cakes to be 100% cool before frosting.

Lining the cake pans

Stick to 9-inch cake pans for best results. Here are the exact cake pans I use.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake is so moist that if the bottom of the cake pans aren’t lined, the cake won’t come out nicely (I speak from experience!). Make sure you line the cake pan with parchment paper

There’s an easy to way to do this; check out this photo slideshow or read the directions below:

  1. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper slightly larger than the cake pan.
  2. Fold the parchment in half.
  3. Then fold the parchment in half again.
  4. Fold into a triangle.
  5. Fold the triangle in half again.
  6. Hold the triangle against the bottom of the pan from the center outwards.
  7. Cut the parchment right where it meets the edge of the cake pan along the curve of the cake pan.
  8. Unfold the parchment and press into the bottom of the cake pan.

Image of the Pumpkin Carrot Cake batter in a pan, ready to go in the oven.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake troubleshooting

How to get even cake layers

When making a layered cake, make sure you are dividing the batter equally between the cake pans.

It’s important for the cake to look even and pretty, but even more importantly, the layers need to bake evenly. The easiest way to confirm the layers are even is to weigh them!

Pour even amounts into each pan and then check the accuracy with a kitchen scale. Adjust the batter in each cake pan so that each pan contains perfectly even amounts. 

Up-close image of a slice of Pumpkin Carrot Cake with a bite coming out of it.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake storage

Finished cake: Store cake in the fridge, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, or under a cake dome for up to 3 days. Because of the cream cheese in the frosting, it does need to be refrigerated. The finished and frosted cake doesn’t freeze and thaw well.

Make ahead/freezing: Carefully wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You could also freeze them wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before frosting and assembling.

I personally like making the cake layers ahead of time (breaks up the prep, plus I find they become more flavorful as they sit!) I typically will make the cakes a week or so in advance, tightly wrap, and freeze. I’ll thaw for about an hour at room temperature (it’s okay if they aren’t fully thawed — they’re easier to frost this way!) and then frost.

QUICK TIP

Don’t feel like every bit of the frosting needs to be used on this pumpkin carrot cake. I prefer to have a bit extra than to scramble and make more if needed. Use leftover cream cheese on these amazing pumpkin cinnamon roll cookies, on waffles/pancakes, or on these pumpkin cupcakes!

More Pumpkin Recipes

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Pumpkin Carrot Cake

4.8 from 10 votes
This moist and flavorful Pumpkin Carrot Cake combines two of the best spiced cakes into one! With warming fall spices and the best cream cheese frosting, what's not to love?!
Print Recipe

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

4.8 from 10 votes
This moist and flavorful Pumpkin Carrot Cake combines two of the best spiced cakes into one! With warming fall spices and the best cream cheese frosting, what's not to love?!
Course Dessert, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword pumpkin carrot cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 1435kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about 2-3 medium-sized, 100g) carrots shredded
  • 3/4 cup (165g) whole milk
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (302g) canned pumpkin *DO not use an entire can of pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling. (I recommend Libby's to keep it from being too watery)
  • 1/2 cup (102g) white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (293g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (98g) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can (8 oz., 227g) crushed pineapple well drained
  • 1 cup (93g) flaked sweetened coconut

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Frosting

  • 2 packages (8 oz.; 226g EACH) full-fat cream cheese soften to room temperature, do not melt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter soften to room temperature, do not melt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups (453g) powdered sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped pecans optional

Instructions

Cake

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch-round pans generously with cooking spray and dust with flour. (Take your time preparing the pans so the cake doesn't stick). Line cake pans with parchment paper (See Note 1). Set aside.
  • CARROTS: Peel and grate the carrots on the small side of a grater to get very fine pieces of carrots. Shred the carrots carefully. Measure to ensure you have exactly 1 cup (100 grams).
  • MILK: Whisk together the whole milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes (it will look curdled!).
  • WET INGREDIENTS: Grab a very large bowl and mix the pumpkin (make sure it isn't watery at all), white sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and milk/lemon mixture with a large whisk until completely combined and smooth. Add in the shredded carrots and crushed pineapple; whisk until smooth.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: Place a sifter over the bowl and sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Add in the coconut. Mix until JUST combined (do not overmix to avoid a dry, dense cake.)
  • BAKE: Separate the mixture evenly among the prepared pans (See Note 2) and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool for 5-7 minutes before inverting the cakes onto a cooling rack for them to finish cooling.

Frosting

  • CREAM CHEESE AND BUTTER: Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl fitted to a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter. Make sure both are softened to room temperature and not at all melted. Beat the two together until completely smooth and creamy.
  • VANILLA AND SALT: Add in the vanilla extract and a generous pinch of salt (if desired). Beat until smooth.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: Add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you've added 3 and 1/2 cups. Remove 1/4 of the frosting now to go into the center of the cake. Add the remaining 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting until you have a good frosting consistency. If needed, add in the heavy cream. The frosting won't be as firm as a buttercream, but firm enough to frost the cake.
  • DECORATE: Place a little frosting on the bottom of a cake pan (just to hold the bottom cake in place) and top with 1 completely cooled cake. Add the reserved 1/4 of the frosting into the center and smooth it. Add the other cake on top.
  • DECORATE CONT.: Use the remaining frosting to generously frost the cake. If the frosting is too soft, either refrigerate it or add an additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar. (You will likely have a bit of extra frosting, so don't feel like you need to use it all on the cake.) Once the cake is frosted, decorate the sides with the chopped pecans if desired.
  • STORAGE: Store cake in the fridge, tightly covered. Frosted cake does not freeze and thaw well, but unfrosted cake freezes nicely for up to a month.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: There's an easy to way to do line the pans with parchment paper; check out this photo slideshow or read the directions in the blog post.
Note 2: Pour even amounts into each pan and then check the accuracy with a kitchen scale. Adjust the batter in each cake pan so that each pan contains perfectly even amounts. 

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 1435kcal | Carbohydrates: 246g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 727mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 189g | Vitamin A: 11208IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 5mg

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32 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      Hi CHELSEA!! How can we adapt this to a 9×13 pan? Cake & icing?? Looks lucious but I am horrible with layer cakes. THX!

  1. Wow! This is the most beautiful carrot cake I’ve ever seen! I love the addition of pumpkin there. It must taste amazing – no wonder your family loved it!

  2. I just made a carrot cake for my coworker’s birthday (carrot cake is her favorite) and I think it’s time for a new recipe – it needs a little punch up! I’m so looking forward to trying your recipe instead. Thanks for posting!

  3. Oh my goodness this looks fabulous! I make this recipe for carrot cake w/o the pumpkin, so can’t wait to try this addition! Has anyone tried to make this in a 9×13 pan yet? Also, I have Thanksgiving and also friends coming over for dinner, what’s your opinion on the pumpkin cheesecake strussel bars vs. this cake? I know, not a fair question?!

    1. I hope you love this cake Thea! 🙂 I haven’t tried a 9 x 13 pan, but perhaps someone else could chime in. That is a tough call!! I do tend to pick cake over cheesecake though, so I guess I’d choose this one! Either way you can’t go wrong though 😉

    1. Thank you so much Fazia! Yes I think that would work great! You could also omit the pineapple if desired 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    I made cupcakes using this tecipe. Very moist! In the future if I were to leave out the co onut, would I add more flour?

    1. So happy to hear that! I can’t answer that for sure without testing that substitution, but I don’t think it would be a 1:1 substitute. Wish I could be of more help!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi – just love your recipes (and your stories make me laugh) . Can I keep the same ingredient measurements the same making the carrot pumpkin cake into large cupcakes? How long would I bake them? Again my muffin pan is for a larger muffin & not the standard. I also have a muffin top pan I could use too. Would either work w/ this mouth watering recipe? Thanks.

  6. 5 stars
    Omg,… I really really enjoyed this recipe

    I baked this in a 4” deep 24 gauge, steam table pan. I used three of them and i scooped about 1 1/2 c of batter in each. U must make sure the bottom and edges are greased WELL

    I added walnuts to my batter but would have def preferred pecans
    I omitted the pineapple. I just felt weird to me. The cake was sooo moist. I was thinking of chocolate chips in the cake but hubby ate them all ?
    I didn’t have lemon so i sub lime and pumpkin spice seasoning.

  7. 5 stars
    Hello! I made your cake last night and it was delicious. I followed your recipe but used a 9×13 pan instead. Figured it would be too much frosting so I just used half since I didn’t do layers…It was scrumptious!!! Has been added to my favorite cakes. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for baking in 9×13. I agree sometimes two layers is a lot of frosting. I typically use less cream cheese and use heavy cream and it gives cream cheese icing fluffy lighter not so in your face cream cheese. I like cream cheese but not strong taste.

  8. 5 stars
    I really love your recipe all the great favor profiles i like, carrot, coconut, pineapples and pumpkin. I used the ingredients in the pantry so no pineapple but it still tasted fantastic. I made 4 small bread tins 3×6 with shaved walnuts on top. No frosting. Oh wow great recipe. Can’t wait to add pineapple next time and frosting lol

  9. 5 stars
    This was amazing. It was my first time making a cake in a long time and definitely my first time making a pumpkin carrot cake. I used gluten free flour and I roasted the pumpkin and mashed it once cool. Using a fork was fine. I halved the recipe for the icing and it was more than enough. I guess it depends how much of a sweet tooth you have but I found halving the recipe on the cream cheese and the icing sugar, keep the butter the same, you have enough for the inside layer and the top plus the sides of the cake. Thank you for this amazing recipe. Truly awesome.

    1. I am so excited to hear how great this went for you! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this comment! 🙂

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