Author: Lisa Childs
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This homemade carrot cake recipe is dense and JAM PACKED with carrots, nuts, coconut, pineapple, and the BEST cream cheese frosting (and even an optional cheesecake swirl!) Make it in your Instant Pot for an extremely moist carrot cake!
The Best Carrot Cake Recipe
I’m a huge fan of carrot cake, which is something Brett won’t touch (he also thinks I’m 87 years old because I love rice pudding and bread pudding). I developed the best carrot cake recipe ever in the Instant Pot so it’s moist, and super thick.
This cake isn’t so much cake as it is carroty, coconutty, pineapply goodness bonded together with a little batter. I am not a fan of “carrot cake” that’s basically spice cake with a few specks of carrots and nuts.
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
You can add a cheesecake swirl to my homemade carrot cake recipe to make it a carrot cake cheesecake! All you need to do is add an easy cheesecake mixture and swirl it into the batter.
I actually prefer this cake without the cheesecake swirl, so then I can have a higher ratio of cake to cream cheese frosting 🙂
Try my S’mores Instant Pot Cheesecake recipe!
Or, the best classic Instant Pot Cheesecake recipe.
Carrot Cake Ingredients
Like I said, this cake is FULL of every delicious ingredient that should be in carrot cake, as well as a couple simple pantry ingredients:
- Nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
- Brown Sugar
- Baking Soda
How to make Homemade Carrot Cake
To make homemade carrot cake, first combine the oil with the sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla, and sift in the flour and spices.
The batter is super thick, almost like a dough.
Then, I dump in all the stuff that gives it substance! Carrots, coconut, and nuts. I let the batter rest for about 5 minutes to allow moisture from the carrots and pineapple to soften the batter.
Next, evenly divide the mixture into two greased, six inch cake pans. Cover the pans tightly with foil.
Instant Pot Carrot Cake
To the Instant Pot, add 2 cups water. This next part takes a little planning ahead, so make sure your pans fit before you start cooking!
Place one cake pan onto a silicone pressure cooking sling and place it in the Instant Pot. Then place something in between the first and second cake pan to allow air flow. I used the rack from my air fryer.
Try two chopsticks, or the trivet. Place the second cake pan on top.
Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 60 minutes. I know this seems like a long time, but this batter is really thick and the pressure has to get through the pans too. Allow a full natural pressure release, about 15-30 minutes.
Carefully remove cakes from the pot, and let cool for about 15 minutes before placing in the fridge for at least 5 hours, overnight preferred.
Remove the cakes from the pans and move them to a cake plate. Add a generous scoop of frosting between the layers, then do a quick crumb coat by frosting a thin layer of frosting around the whole cake.
Freeze the cake for about 15-20 minutes, then finish frosting the cake and decorate with additional nuts, coconut, frosting swirls, or pineapple.
Homemade Carrot Cake (Instant Pot)
- 1/2 C. sugar
- 1/2 C. brown sugar
- 1/3 C. oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 C. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 2 C. shredded carrots
- 2/3 C. pineapple drained
- 1 C. nuts I used a combination of walnuts and pecans
- 1/2 C. shredded coconut sweetened or unsweetened
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 6 T. butter softened
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 2 pinches salt
- 4 C. powdered sugar
- 1-2 T. milk or cream as needed
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- 16 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 C. sugar
- In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, and oil until no lumps remain. You can use a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until combined.
- Sift in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine. The batter will be very thick, like soft peanut butter or loose cookie dough.
- Add carrots, nuts, pineapple, and coconut. Stir well, then let rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the moisture from the carrots and pineapple to soften the batter. Stir once more.
- Evenly divide the mixture between two greased, six inch cake pans. Cover tightly with foil.
- To the Instant Pot, add 2 cups of water. Place one cake pan onto a silicone pressure cooking sling or trivet and place it in the Instant Pot. Place a trivet or other oven/pressure cooking safe rack on top of the first cake pan. I used the rack from my air fryer, but anything that will allow adequate airflow between the cake pans will work. Try two chopsticks, or the trivet. Place the second cake pan on top.
- Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 60 minutes. Allow a full natural pressure release, about 15-30 minutes.
- Carefully remove cakes from the pot, remove the foil, and let cool to room temperature. Replace with foil or cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 5 hours, overnight preferred.
- Remove the cakes from the pans. The cakes will shrink a little bit and may stick, so I recommend sliding a knife around the edges of the pan, then shaking the pan from side to side (with the foil back on it) to dislodge the cake. It should then pop out perfectly.
- Ice the cake with cream cheese frosting and decorate with additional chopped nuts, coconut, frosting, and pineapple. I recommend crumb coating the cake by adding a thin layer of frosting to the entire cake, then freezing for 15-20 minutes. Then, frost with the remaining frosting. This will help lock in the crumbs and yield a beautiful cake!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine all ingredients except the powdered sugar in a medium bowl or stand mixer and blend together until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Incorporate each cup of sugar before adding the next. Add milk or cream as needed to thin.
PRODUCTS WE LOVE
Optional Cheesecake Swirl
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend with a whisk or hand mixer.
- In the greased cake pan, add half of the carrot cake batter. Then, a dollop about 3 spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter right on top. Swirl the two batters with a spoon (but not too much!)
- Add the other half of the cake batter on top of the swirled batter, and repeat.
- Repeat with the other cake pan. Cover both pans with foil and cook as directed.
Could this also be baked in the oven?
I have a 6qt Instantpot and amd not sure I could fit two pans in at the same time?
Hi Deren! This recipe is developed specifically for pressure cooking, so it is much thicker than a cake that I would bake. I fear it might dry out in the oven due to how it was developed. I haven’t tested this in the oven, but if you do, please let me know! – Lisa
haven’t tested this in the oven, but if you do, please let me know!
You mention it needs 2 cups of water. Is this the amount for a 6 quart? Would the time be the same making one at a time? I can’t fit 2 pans in mine Also, have you tried it without the coconut?
Hi Sue Marie! Yes two cups of water for the 6 quart. You should be able to fit two pans in a 6 quart Instant Pot but if you want to do one layer at a time, you can keep the cook time the same. Omit the coconut if you prefer 🙂
can applesauce be used in place of oil?
Does the bottom pan sit in the water and not on a trivet?
It does sit on a trivet or silicone baking sling!
I was a little weary of making a carrot cake in my instant pot but I wanted to try, followed this recipe to a T and it’s by far the best I’ve ever tasted! Thanks so much for submitting your recipe!
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I made the carrot/cheesecake swirl in the oven because my instant pot isn’t big enough….it was really good. I covered both spring form pans with foil and put a pan full of water in the oven. I baked it for a little over an hour and cooled somewhat so I could pick it up and finished cooling in the freezer. I did make my own cream cheese icing. My co workers and my feller loved it. I do have to say it was a really moist cake.
Ahh Debbie, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! Thanks so much!
Can I omit pineapple and nuts?
Yes for sure, but I recommend adding some extra carrots and/or coconut to make up the bulk.
I have an 8 quart instant pot, do I need to make any modifications to your recipe? Thanks 😊
Just add half a cup of extra water to the pot before pressure cooking 🙂
If you omit the cream cheese swirl do you still need to refrigerate for 5 hours before frosting?
Yes, refrigerating the cake helps it set up better!
Great recipe thank you for sharing! It was moist, dense, and delicious. I blended the pineapple so there wasn’t big chunks, I think it would be great with some raisins as well.
I can’t fit 2, mine are 6 x 3. I will try doing one at a time(same time cooking) also have a mini I can use, how much time on that one? Thx looking forward to trying this
Hi Diane. I haven’t tried testing this with just one 6×3 pan. I would probably cut the cooking time by 5-10 minutes. Please let us know if you tried it!
Hello! I don’t have 2 pans so I wanted to make this in a 7 inch bundt pan. Would cooking time stay the same? Thank you so much!
Hi! I have never tried it in a 7 inch bundt pan so I can’t tell you what time would work. I would probably try it at the written time and if it was still doughy, put it back in for 10-20 more minutes. Let us know if you tried it! thanks!
Lisa I made carrot cake and was good but really dense
It is extremely dense!
I just bought the ingredients and the accessories you suggested for my new 8 qt Instant Pot Duo Pro coming tomorrow. Do you suggest that I add an extra 1/2 cup of water for most recipes I make in the 8 qt? Thanks. Love your videos and your Instant Pot classes
Thank Kuby! Yes, the minimum amount of liquid I would use in an 8 quart is between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2. Things that already have liquid in them like chicken or meat can get away with less than foods that don’t have any, like baked potatoes.
I whined when I saw this recipe at the many ingredients and the 6 inch pans. I hit the bullet and got everything as written and I wasn’t sorry. The cake and frosting were out of this world delicious. Your directions were perfect as far as keeping in the fridge for 8 hours. If I have any complaints it’s just that I had tons of leftover frosting. The only way I deviated from the recipe is I put an extra cup of water to make up for the 8 qt size of the instant pot.
Have you tried cutting ingredients by 1/2 to make just one small cake?
Yes. It works great. Keep the cooking time the same.
I made this as a birthday cake for my picky future daughter in law. She said it was the best carrot cake she’s ever eaten! It’s easy and the perfect size for a smaller family.