This perfectly spiced and deliciously moist Homemade Carrot Cake with Pineapples is one of my Mom’s most famous recipes that has long been a family favorite. Tasty layers are generously slathered in a sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting to make what I consider the BEST carrot cake recipe around!  

overhead shot of carrot cake on a yellow cake stand with one slice taken out and placed on a plate below.  

This classic carrot cake recipe is tender, sweet, and has the perfect combination of spices. The cream cheese icing is tasty without being excessively sweet and rich. Did you know that Pastel De Zanahoria is also a classic favorite in Mexico? This bad boy is so good that we even published it in the Muy Bueno cookbook! 

I would love for you to try this recipe and let me know what you think. I have a feeling you are going to love it just as much as I do.

About This Recipe

This is by far the best carrot cake around — it is perfectly spiced, moist, and delicious topped with homemade cream cheese frosting. The cake gets extra sweetness and moisture from the addition of crushed pineapple to the batter.

This carrot cake was what I always requested for my birthday parties growing up. Instead of a pretty multi-layered round cake, my mom usually doubled the recipe and made a big sheet cake; it had to be big with the size of our familia! Feel free to scale this recipe to the size you need.

Not only is this pineapple carrot cake a delight to eat, but it’s also really easy to pull off. You need just 25 minutes of active time to pull this recipe together, and I’d bet the majority of the ingredients are already in your pantry! And if layer cakes aren’t your thing, take a page out of my Mom’s book and make it as a sheet cake (or cupcakes or a bundt cake!) instead.

I also love having a bit of texture in my carrot cake, so we like to add chopped pecans to the mix. Feel free to make this nut-free, or swap in walnuts instead. 

Ingredients & Optional Substitutions

Making the best carrot cake doesn’t require many special ingredients. Here is what I use:

  • Eggs & Egg White – Whenever you’re baking, I highly suggest letting your eggs come to room temperature. This will allow them to mix into your batter with ease! 
  • Granulated Sugar – Feel free to opt for a lower calorie cup-for-cup sugar alternative (like Truvia) if you prefer.
  • Vegetable Oil – Any neutral flavored oil will do here: vegetable, canola, corn, peanut, and grapeseed all fit the bill.
  • Ground Cinnamon & Ground Nutmeg – Carrot cake just isn’t carrot cake without a dose of warming spices! Feel free to swap in pumpkin pie spice if needed. Also, please note that freshly grated nutmeg is going to have a whole lot more flavor (and whole nutmeg will last longer on your shelf). Simply use a box grater or microplane.
  • Salt – I use regular table salt; if you are using sea salt or kosher salt, refer to this salt conversion chart.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda – Yes, you need both. No, they are not interchangeable.
  • All-Purpose Flour – AP flour is my favorite to keep on hand. Feel free to swap in cake flour if you have some that needs using. If you are gluten-free, a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour mix should work. 
  • Grated Carrots – If you’ve never grated carrots before, it is really simple to do. Just bust out your box grater and use the wide edge, or use your food processor fitted with the grater blade for a short-cut. You will need about 5 to 6 carrots for this recipe, but there is no need to peel them first. Feel free to use any color of carrots.
  • Crushed Pineapple – To ensure even distribution of the fruit, you should reach for crushed pineapple. However, if all you have are chunks or rings, feel free to blitz them a few times in your food processor or blender to break them down into very small pieces.
  • Crushed Pecans – Optional, but highly encouraged! They give such a nice texture to the finished cake. Feel free to swap in your own favorite type of nut if you prefer, or omit them entirely.
  • Unsalted Butter – Butter makes everything better, even when that thing is cream cheese frosting! Make sure it is soft enough to indent with your finger or it will not blend evenly with the cream cheese. You can easily substitute your favorite non-dairy butter alternative if you prefer.
  • Cream Cheese – Opt for full-fat cream cheese here, as the low-fat stuff often has extra water and strange stabilizers that won’t result in the right texture. Feel free to use a plant-based cream cheese alternative if you are dairy free.
  • Vanilla Extract – Pure vanilla extract has far better flavor than artificial. You can use vanilla paste or powder instead with excellent results.
  • Confectioner’s Sugar – Also known as powdered sugar, this is simply finely blitzed granulated sugar plus cornstarch. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own!
  • Milk – I use whole milk at home, but any dairy or plant-based milk should do. If you opt for non-dairy milk, be sure to reach for unsweetened and unflavored (or vanilla) options.

whole carrot cake decorated with pineapple flowers and rainbow carrot rosettes with carrot tops as green garnish.

How to Make Pineapple Carrot Cake

This easy carrot cake recipe is simple enough for even the most novice home cook to try. You don’t even need to get out the mixer until it is time to make the frosting! Here’s how it’s done:

Prep

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. For added protection against torn edges, you can also add parchment rounds to the bottom of your pans.

Make Batter

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg white, sugar, and oil.

In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and beat all together.

Add carrots, pineapple, and pecans, if using, and mix again. Pour carrot cake batter into prepared pans.

Bake & Cool

Place both pans on the same oven rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place pans on wire racks. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pans. Allow cake layers to cool completely on wire racks before frosting. 

Make-Ahead Tip: Cakes can be made, cooled, and – thoroughly wrapped in plastic wrap – refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to a month.

one layer of carrot cake cooling on a wire rack.

Frost

While the cake layers are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting.

In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar. Add milk to desired consistency. Don’t make it too thin or it will slide off the cake!

Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with crushed pecans if desired.

pineapple that has been peeled and sliced into thin pieces to turn into pineapple flowers.

Make-Ahead Tip: Frosting can be made, covered, and refrigerated for up to a week in advance of frosting. Simply allow it to come to room temperature and give it a quick beating before continuing to assemble the carrot cake.

pineapple flowers in a muffin tin.

Optional Variations

I may be partial, but my Mom’s carrot cake recipe is simply the best just the way it is! That said, there are plenty of ways for you to customize this tasty treat to your liking. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Try using different-sized tins – opt for a half-sheet cake or a bundt cake instead! You can also refer to the FAQs to see how to convert the recipe for other different-sized pans.
  • Turn it into cupcakes – if you’re going to a potluck or party, cut down on dishes and serve up carrot cake cupcakes instead! The recipe as written will make around 2 dozen.
  • Add flair – we love to add crushed pecans to our pineapple carrot cake, but I know that some people love raisins or shredded coconut in theirs. Just make sure to keep the add-ins to about 1 1/2 cups or less.
  • Make it taller – create 3 to 4 layers  by doubling the cake batter recipe, or, if you have amazing knife skills — slice each round cake in half horizontally. You may want to double the frosting to make sure you have enough creamy goodness for each layer.
  • Add some decorations – While this delicious layered carrot cake is beautiful with just a basic application of frosting (with a few swoops using the back of your spoon!), we went all out and took a page from the Southern specialty known as Hummingbird Cake and adorned this with some pineapple flowers and rainbow carrot rosettes.

closeup overhead shot showcasing the pineapple flower and rainbow carrot rosette decorations for carrot cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this carrot cake without dairy?

Sure! Simply swap in your favorite plant-based milk, butter, and cream cheese for the frosting.

Can I make this as a vegan recipe?

I have not tried making this carrot cake with vegan ingredients, I believe you should be able to swap in 3 flax eggs (3 tablespoons of flaxseed + 9 tablespoons of water) plus 2 tablespoons of aquafaba in place of the eggs called for in the recipe. Then swap in your favorite plant-based dairy products for the cream cheese icing and you should be good to go!If you try it, please let me know how it turns out in the comments below!

Do I have to use 9″ cake pans?

Not at all! In fact, you can usually make just about any cake recipe work with any type of cake pan you have so long as you do a little math. Feel free to turn this carrot cake recipe into cupcakes, a sheet cake, or a bundt cake – just be sure to adjust the oven times accordingly! Here’s a handy conversion guide to help you figure out which pans will work with this recipe as written.

Can I make it gluten free?

While I personally have not tried making this recipe in a gluten-free way, my research indicates that using a cup-for-cup GF flour mix should do the trick. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out in the comments below!

Is carrot cake healthy?

While some might argue that carrot cake is “healthy” because there are carrots in there, I’d hesitate to use such a loaded word. With refined sugar, oil, flour, butter, AND cream cheese, I’d venture to say that this is more of a “sometimes treat” rather than a health food lol.

But, I’m also someone who loves moderation and I will happily indulge in this delicious homemade carrot cake on occasion! If you’re going to have a piece of cake, I highly recommend that it be this one.

overhead shot of carrot cake on a yellow cake stand with one slice removed.

More Dessert Recipes

Still hungry for cake? I don’t blame you! Here are some of my other favorite recipes:

If you tried my recipe for my Mom’s Best Easy Homemade Carrot Cake With Pineapples & Cream Cheese Frosting, please be sure to rate and review it below!

Carrot Cake with Pineapples & Cream Cheese Frosting (Pastel de Zanahoria)

5 (5 ratings)
This is by far the best carrot cake — it is perfectly spiced, moist, and delicious topped with homemade cream cheese frosting. The cake gets extra sweetness from the addition of crushed pineapple to the batter.

Ingredients

Cake:

Cream cheese frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg white, sugar, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and beat all together.
  • Add carrots, pineapple, and pecans, if using, and mix again. Pour into prepared pans.
  • Place both pans on the same oven rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and place pans on wire racks. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pans. Allow cake layers to cool completely on wire racks before frosting. 

Make cream cheese frosting:

  • In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract.
  • Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar. Add milk to desired consistency. Don’t make it too thin or it will slide off the cake.
  • Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with crushed pecans if desired.

Notes

I may be partial, but my Mom’s carrot cake recipe is simply the best just the way it is! That said, there are plenty of ways for you to customize this tasty treat to your liking. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Try using different-sized tins – opt for a half-sheet cake or a bundt cake instead! 
  • Turn it into cupcakes – if you’re going to a potluck or party, cut down on dishes and serve up carrot cake cupcakes instead! The recipe as written will make around 2 dozen.
  • Add flair – we love to add crushed pecans to our pineapple carrot cake, but I know that some people love raisins or shredded coconut in theirs. Just make sure to keep the add-ins to about 1 1/2 cups or less.
  • Make it taller – create 3 to 4 layers  by doubling the cake batter recipe, or, if you have amazing knife skills — slice each round cake in half horizontally. You may want to double the frosting to make sure you have enough creamy goodness for each layer.
  • Add some decorations – While this delicious layered carrot cake is beautiful with just a basic application of frosting (with a few swoops using the back of your spoon!), we went all out and took a page from the Southern specialty known as Hummingbird Cake and adorned this with some pineapple flowers and rainbow carrot rosettes.
Calories: 824kcal, Carbohydrates: 127g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 123mg, Sodium: 358mg, Potassium: 337mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 98g, Vitamin A: 6187IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 98mg, Iron: 2mg