Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Carrot cake is one of our all-time favorite cakes. We love its simplicity, its amazing texture, and, paired with a homemade cream cheese frosting, this classic combo never fails to hit the spot. Our carrot cake loaf recipe is inspired by the fantastic carrot cake served at Wild Crumb, our most-loved bakery in Bozeman, Montana, which is also the same bakery that inspired our dark chocolate brownie recipe.

Carrot cake can easily get bogged down with a lot of “extras”. A quick Google search yields results for cakes that are filled with nuts, fruit (yes, fruit), and a pinch of seemingly everything in the spice cupboard. We opt to keep our carrot cake as true to itself as possible: a simple, gently spiced, one-bowl cake with much more than just a sprinkling of carrot throughout. (You’re going to taste the mild sweetness of the carrots, it is carrot cake after all.) Baking it in a loaf pan means you can skip out on all those layers and stacking and frosting and the fussing when the frosting doesn’t look just right. This cake has the ease of a quick bread but gets all gussied up with a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top. Minimal effort, big impact, weeknight baking at its best.

Tips for a Great Cake

  • Room temperature does make a difference. Our carrot cake loaf calls for eggs at room temperature. We get it, thinking ahead to let your ingredients warm up a bit before baking can be a pain. Is it worth it? Yes! Baking with room-temperature eggs results in a taller cake with a finer crumb. It’s the difference between a cake that feels home-cooked vs. bakery-style. To quickly warm eggs up, place them in a bowl with warm water for 10 minutes before using them.
  • Where’s the butter? While we love butter, oil keeps this carrot cake extra moist with a silkier mouth feel. The benefits are even more pronounced if the cake is served slightly chilled as oil stays liquid even if refrigerated.
  • Temperature also matters for the frosting. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, using slightly softened butter and cream cheese for the frosting is also totally worth it. Cold butter and cream cheese have a hard time coming together. If your cream cheese frosting ends up a bit clumpy, cold ingredients are the likely culprit. Ingredients still a bit cold? Cream the butter first to lighten and warm it up, then add the cream cheese a bit at a time. Mix well between additions, and be sure not to add the powdered sugar before the butter/cream cheese mixture is super smooth.

Does this carrot cake loaf need to be refrigerated?

Short answer: definitely yes. The carrot cake itself isn’t a concern and can be stored at room temperature with no problem. Once the loaf is frosted, though, it does need to be stored in the refrigerator to keep the cream cheese in the frosting from spoiling. However, things get a little tricky because this cake + frosting is texturally at its prime when served closer to room temperature. (Unless you’re one of those people who like frigid cake with cold, hard frosting (slowly raises hand. . .), then enjoy a forkful straight out of the fridge to your heart’s desire.) The easy solution is to bring your frosted loaf out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving and promptly return any extras back to the fridge. You can rest assured you’re serving cake that is both delicious and won’t make anyone sick.

More Delicious Desserts


Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

A classic combo that always hits the spot, we love our carrot cake loaf with cream cheese frosting for its simplicity and amazing texture.
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings



  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup full fat sour cream
  • cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 8 oz. freshly grated carrots*


  • 4 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened but still cold
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cold
  • cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt or sea salt


  • Preheat the oven to 375° F and spray the bottom and sides of a standard 9 x 5” loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Add the sour cream, oil, vanilla, and mix again until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and ginger all at once, and mix into wet ingredients until just combined- do not over mix. Fold in the carrots.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. Allow the cake to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the sides to release the cake and invert onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  • While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium high speed until smooth. Add 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt to the cream cheese and mix first on low, then medium high speed until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if needed, one or two tablespoons at a time if needed. If frosting is too thick, add 1 Tablespoon of milk or heavy cream to loosen.
  • Spread frosting on the top surface of the cake loaf. Store in the refrigerator and remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.


*Two large carrots that are peeled and then grated (use a standard cheese grater) yield the perfect amount of carrots for this recipe. Resist the temptation to use matchstick or pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store, which are significantly less moist than freshly grated carrots.

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