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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 🙂
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.
- 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.
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.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 slices Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1177Total Fat: 70gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 226mgSodium: 779mgCarbohydrates: 127gFiber: 4gSugar: 102gProtein: 16g
Nutritional information is automated and is not always accurate. Please calculate your own nutritional information with your specific ingredients for specific questions.