Carrot Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist four layer carrot cake, made with applesauce and topped off with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. A perfect cake for Spring celebrations.

Moist carrot layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Made with applesauce! Recipe from @bakedbyrachel

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we lost power yesterday, just in time to fry a batch of wontons for dinner. It would figure that it would go out right then. Ten minutes earlier and I could’ve held off all together.

We had our first ever indoor toasted marshmallow event though! It was a hit with everyone and I highly recommend it, even if you have power! There’s no reason to wait until you loser power to enjoy an ooey gooey toasted marshmallow (with or without chocolate) and crisp graham crackers. The kids have already requested we do it again soon!

Moist carrot layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Made with applesauce! Recipe from @bakedbyrachel

I mentioned recently that I made a cake for my dad’s birthday, this cake in fact. I knew a carrot cake would be a hit with everyone, especially after testing a single layer days earlier. My youngest took one bite and started jumping up and down, clearly he loved it! The test layer and the full layered cake was enjoyed by all and devoured!

You’ve probably noticed a big difference between my carrot cake and many others… no noticeable shreds of carrots! Stringy bits have NO BUSINESS in a slice of cake. Absolutely no large stringy pieces of carrots are allowed in my desserts, it ruins the texture and eating enjoyment for me. The trick is to finely shred and chop for good measure.

A super moist four layer carrot cake, sweetened with brown sugar and applesauce. Let’s not forget the essential cinnamon cream cheese frosting! It’s an absolute must.

This is guaranteed to be a new family favorite! Be sure to add this carrot layer cake to your Spring dessert plans!

Moist carrot layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Made with applesauce! Recipe from @bakedbyrachel

Carrot Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist four layer carrot cake, made with applesauce and topped off with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. A perfect cake for Spring celebrations.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time12 hrs 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake
Servings: 20



  • 3 C carrots finely shredded
  • 1 C applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves


  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 C powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • Grease and flour four 8-inch square cake pans, followed by parchment paper for the bottom of the pan. Set aside. 
  • Finely shred and chop carrots. 
  • In a large bowl, combine liquid ingredients. Add sugars, whisking until combined. Stir in carrots to combine. Add dry ingredients in several batches until well combined and no streaks remain. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes or until easy to handle. Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Wrap cakes well in plastic and chill for several hours or overnight. 
  • Prepare frosting: In a large bowl beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and cinnamon, followed by 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until fully incorporated. 
  • If needed, level cakes prior to frosting. 
  • Place the bottom layer of your cake over strips of wax paper. Add a general portion of frosting to the top, followed by another layer of cake and repeat until all cake layers have been added. Add a thin coat of frosting to the top and sides of cake, sealing in any crumbs. Chill for 1-2 hours. Cover remaining frosting until ready to proceed. 
  • Add remaining frosting to top and sides of cake, using an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth out sides and top. 
  • Chill cake until ready to serve. 


Recipe serves roughly 20, yields 1: 4-tire 8-inch cake.
*Firmer cakes frost easier. The longer the chill time, the easier the cakes will be to frost.
An original recipe from Baked by Rachel

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44 Responses to “Carrot Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    Medeja — March 18, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Looks so good! But in the recipe ”1 applesauce’ means cup or something else? :)

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Ahh typos! Thanks for catching that one. It is 1 cup of applesauce. :)

  2. #
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures — March 18, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Cinnamon cream cheese frosting takes this cake over the top! Yum!

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Laura!

  3. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — March 18, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Sounds like you made the most of losing power! I used to really dislike carrot cake but the older I’ve gotten, the more I love it. I need to make some ’cause I find myself craving it! Love the cream cheese frosting on this; the only kind you should use for carrot cakes!

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

      And thankfully it wasn’t out too long! I seriously can’t get enough carrot cake – so good!

  4. #
    Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg — March 18, 2015 at 8:16 am

    My carrot cake obsession runs deep! I love how beautiful and lightened up this cake is. My step mother always put applesauce in her cakes when she made them. The applesauce adds a nice amount of moistness to the cake. <3

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Thanks so much Erin! It really does add the perfect amount of moisture and flavor to the cake! :)

  5. #
    taylor @ greens & chocolate — March 18, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I love that you shredded the carrot so finely!! Such a gorgeous cake. And cinnamon cream cheese frosting?! Yes please!!

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Thanks so much Taylor! :)

  6. #
    Meggan | Culinary Hill — March 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    That’s a seriously beautiful carrot cake! I love that you added cinnamon to the frosting, I am going to try that for sure.

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Meggan! :)

  7. #
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — March 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Gorgeous! I giggled when I read “stringy bits have no business in a slice of cake” – my Hubby would agree 100%!!! lol This cake is beautiful, Rachel!

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      It’s the truth – no stringy bits! ;)

  8. #
    Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts — March 18, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    mmmmm, this looks awesome! I love carrot cake!!

    • #
      Rachel — March 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Angelyn!

  9. #
    Oana — March 19, 2015 at 3:28 am

    This looks so good. I love the texture of the sponge cake, so fluffy. It just seems to be the perfect cake, well done!

    • #
      Rachel — March 20, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Thank so much!

  10. #
    Kendra — March 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Could you use 8″ round pans? And if so would it be 2 or 4? I want to make this for Easter and don’t have square pans.

    • #
      Rachel — March 20, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Yes, round pans will work as well. I would recommend sticking with four pans/cake layers. Good luck!

  11. #
    tracy — March 19, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I love that there are no stringy carrots in this cake. you’re right , they have no place in a good carrot cake,

    • #
      Rachel — March 20, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thanks Tracy! :)

  12. #
    Annie @ Annie's Noms — March 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    LOVE the addition of cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting, can just imagine the pop of flavour it gives it! I love this time of year so much, carrot cake is one of my favourite desserts and this looks so moist and delicious!

    • #
      Rachel — March 20, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much Annie!

  13. #
    Jackie — March 20, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Hi Rachel

    I don’t own 4 8 inch square pans, can I use 4 round 8 inch pans.

    • #
      Rachel — March 20, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Yes, round pans will work as well. Enjoy!

  14. #
    Amanda — March 20, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    This cake looks so good!!!

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks Amanda!

  15. #
    Jennie // scarletscorchdroppers — March 20, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    This cake looks so delicious! So beautifully moist. I love those gorgeous layers :)

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks Jennie!

  16. #
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel — March 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Your photos are simply stunning, Rachel! I’m crushing on this cake and all of its pretty layers!

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks so much Hayley!!

  17. #
    Amanda — March 25, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Your cake looks luscious! Could chopped walnuts back added to the batter? If so, how much would you suggest? Thanks so much for your recipe.

    • #
      Rachel — March 26, 2015 at 7:25 am

      You could absolutely add walnuts. However, I don’t have a recommended amount for you since I didn’t personally add any.

  18. #
    Mary @chattavore — March 27, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Oh my goodness! This looks and sounds delicious. My husband doesn’t like carrot cake…I’m going to have to find someone to share this with me!

    • #
      Rachel — March 28, 2015 at 8:15 am

      What kind of person doesn’t like carrot cake?! ;) That’s okay… more for you!

  19. #
    Catherine — March 31, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Dear Rachel, your carrot cake looks perfect! How beautiful…I love all the layers. Such a perfect treat. xo, Catherine

    • #
      Rachel — April 1, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Thanks so much Catherine!

  20. #
    Julianne @ Beyond Frosting — March 3, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I also chop up the carrots super fine! It makes a huge difference!

    • #
      Rachel — March 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

      It’s the only way! No stringy bites should be in there ;)

  21. #
    Stephanie — April 15, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I found this recipe when browsing for a cake to make for my son’s first birthday. I was looking for something a little on the healthier side and he loves carrots and apples! I think I’ll swap the cinnamon for plain frosting just in case he’s not a fan of the spice, I can’t wait to see how it comes out!

    • #
      Rachel — April 16, 2016 at 8:52 am

      I hope he enjoys it and has a wonderful birthday! :)

  22. #
    Trish — November 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I want to make a 9×13 cake, no layers. Will this recipe be too much for that size cake or just fine?

    • #
      Rachel — November 24, 2016 at 6:53 am

      It would likely be a bit too much. You could either cut the recipe back a bit or make the full recipe and fill your pan to the right height. Keep in mind, baking time will also change with the new pan size and cake thickness. Good luck!

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