Carrot cake layer cake with cream cheese filling

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe with Pineapple

Old fashioned carrot cake with pineapple and cream cheese frosting is a staple for Easter but can be enjoyed year-round! This cake is perfectly spiced and so moist!

It may be bold to claim to be the BEST of anything. But I really do think that this recipe has earned the title! And anyone that has eaten it would agree!

Carrot cake from scratch is so fast and easy to make. No mixer is required — just two bowls, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet. The oil, applesauce, and pineapple keep this cake moist and the spices warm it up just enough to make a second slice irresistible!

Carrot Cake with pineapple

What makes this Carrot Cake so moist?

Many carrot cake recipes that I have tried contain so much oil that the cake ends up being oily. The oil itself isn’t bad when used in moderation but too much is unhealthy and just plain unappealing.

This carrot cake recipe uses alternative ingredients to make the cake moist without being greasy.

  • Brown Sugar – There is more brown sugar than white granulated sugar in this recipe. Brown sugar has a higher moisture content than granulated sugar and also adds more flavor, which is just a little bit caramelly, than plain white sugar.
  • Vegetable oil or coconut oil is compulsory in a carrot cake. It is an oil-based cake after all! Too much oil can give you a greasy cake but eliminating it completely leaves the crumb dry, especially since this cake is stored in the refrigerator. Vegetable oil is neutral in flavor and most people have it on hand so it is a good choice for this carrot cake. Most refined coconut oil doesn’t have a coconut flavor and is my preference in this recipe. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a saturated fat that may help to raise “good” cholesterol levels. It may not be ‘healthy’ but it is a great oil for baking! It does need to be melted to measure it for this recipe.
  • Applesauce is a fantastic replacement for more than half of the oil in this recipe. This is a great tip for anyone that is trying to lower their calorie and saturated fat intake! Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce. You will also need to make sure that your applesauce is at room temperature when adding to your wet ingredients. Adding cold applesauce straight from the refrigerator will cause your coconut oil (if used) to solidify in clumps. Not ideal in a cake batter!
  • Pineapple adds a sweet but slightly acidic, fruity flavor to this carrot cake. It also increases the moisture content and keeps this cake moist for days!

Carrot Cake Variations

Varying this recipe to suit your own tastes couldn’t be easier! Here are some ideas to mix into your carrot cake, depending on your own preferences!

  • Add 1/2 cup of toasted, chopped nuts – choose your favorite! Walnuts, pecans, or, my favorite, pepitas! They can be mixed into the batter or sprinkled on top!
  • Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins along with the shredded carrots and pineapple.
  • Stir 1/2 cup to 1 cup of toasted shredded coconut into the batter with the carrots. Toasted, shredded coconut can also be sprinkled on top for added flavor and easy decoration!

What can I substitute for the Pineapple in this cake?

The pineapple adds so much flavor, texture, and moisture to this cake. But I get it. Some people just don’t like pineapple! Feel free to leave out that pineapple and replace it with 1/4 cup additional applesauce to compensate for the lost moisture.

Size variations for this recipe

This recipe has served me well over the years. I have made this Old Fashioned Carrot C with Pineapple as a sheet cake, a layer cake, and cupcakes. Choose the one that is best for you and your occassion.

  • 9×13 sheet cake – Mix the batter as directed, bake in a greased and lined 9×13 pan for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out mostly clean. The cake should spring back when lightly poked with your finger.
  • 18 regular size cupcakes – Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners or spray with non-stick spray, fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of one of the middle cupcakes comes out mostly clean. The cupcakes should spring back when lightly poked with your finger.
  • Two 8 inch layers cake – Bake as directed in the recipe below.


To absorb some oil or greasiness from your cupcakes, sprinkle a little bit of dry rice in the bottom of the cupcake wells BEFORE putting in the liner and filling with batter.

How do you decorate a Carrot Cake?

Carrot cake is one of those types of cake that doesn’t really need to be decorated at all. It is just perfect when it is smothered with cream cheese icing and nothing else.

Simple Decoration for Carrot Cake Cupcakes

For simple decoration on carrot cake cupcakes, sprinkle some toasted coconut or nuts around the edges like in the photo below. For Easter, you can add a few candy eggs inside a toasted coconut nest for the cutest Bird Nest Cupcakes.

The Best Old Fashioned Carrot Cake recipe in cupcake form with toasted coconut and candy eggs.

How to decorate a Layered Old Fashioned Carrot Cake with Pineapple

You can also be a bit more elaborate and pipe on carrots using the pointillism technique. Finished with more icing that is covered in crushed graham crackers makes these carrots appear to be growing out of the dirt all the way around the cake!

Tips for a successful bake

  • Use fresh, whole carrots and grate them yourself. You can use a hand grater or a food processor to grate the carrots. Using the pre-grated carrots is not ideal because the carrots are dry and will not soften appropriately in the cake batter
  • Always line your cake pans for easy removal. Making a ‘sling’ with parchment paper is the easiest way to remove a cake from a pan without turning it out and ruining the top.
  • Using a scale is the bast way to ensure an accurate bake. While I do provide both metric and weight measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients in every recipe!
  • Toasting the nuts and coconut before adding them to the recipe adds a ton of flavor and is a simple step that should not be skipped!

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Other cake recipes to try!

Sprite Cake

Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Hello Dolly Bundt Cake

Ginger, Honey, & Orange Mini Bundts

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake with pineapple slice with cream cheese icing

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe with Pineapple

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake is a true classic! Adding pineapple to this recipe adds more moisture and texture to create the perfect treat!
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 15
Calories 375 kcal


  • Bowls
  • Spatula
  • 9×13 pan, 3 – 8 inch round pans, or cupcake pan and liners


For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs large, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots about 3 large
  • 1 can crushed pineapple 8 oz can, well drained

For the Icing

  • 8 ounce full fat cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Dash of salt


  • Preheat oven up to 350°F. Place cupcake wrappers in cupcake pan, two 8-inch cake pans, or spray 9×13 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
    Lining 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla until combined. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold together until just combined and no streaks of flour are left. Fold in the carrots and pineapple.
    Folding the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pans or, using an ice cream scoop, scoop about ¼ cup batter into each cupcake wrapper. Bake 9×13 pan for 38-42 minutes, two 8-inch pans for 38-44 minutes or cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes then remove from pans to cool on wire rack.
    Pour batter into prepared pans
  • Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt and 2 cups of the icing sugar together on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 2 minutes. If the icing is very soft, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes until is firmed up a bit and at a piping for frosting consistency.
  • You can either pipe or spread the icing on the cake or cupcakes once they are completely cool.
    Spread the icing on the carrot cake
  • Cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This cake is great to make the day before it is needed. Prepare the cake/cupcakes and the frosting 1 day in advance. Store cake at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Bring icing to room temperature then frost cake.
    Store air tight



Mix-in ideas: Up to 1 cup of raisins, coconut, chopped pecans or walnuts, or dried cranberries.
Recipe adapted from Taste Of Home


Serving: 1pieceCalories: 375kcalCarbohydrates: 79gProtein: 4gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 233mgPotassium: 91mgFiber: 1gSugar: 61gVitamin A: 447IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 2mg
Keyword carrot cake, carrot cake cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, decorate carrot cake, easter cake, easter dessert, pineapple carrot cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


One Comment

  1. A labor of love, to make the cutest carrot cake ever!

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