Nothing is easier for a springtime dessert than this Easy Carrot Sheet Cake. It is so easy to make and is always a crowd pleaser (and it can feed a crowd)! Using a boxed cake mix as a base and sprucing it up with additional spices, carrots and, of course, covered in cream cheese frosting, this one is a MUST MAKE!
Any event can be stressful to plan for and whenever you are called on to make a cake for a party that stress can magnify a lot. That is why I LOVE using boxed mixes as a base for amazingly easy desserts like my all time popular Nutella Poke Cake and Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream Brownie Cake or my new favorite Apple Spice Poke Cake.
My grandma always makes this Easy Orange Pound Cake that gets rave reviews which just goes to show you that it doesn’t have to come from scratch for everyone to love it.
This carrot cake starts with a spiced cake mix and adds shredded carrots, extra cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg plus a simple homemade cream cheese frosting for a cake that tastes like something that didn’t come from a box.
Making a sheet cake is also ideal for parties or a big crowd since a sheet cake can easily feed 24 people. It’s also a fantastic cake to frosting ratio, because let’s be honest- the frosting is possibly the best part!
Ingredients you need:
- spice cake mix
- ingredients called for on box to make cake (water, oil, and eggs but see my substitutions below)
- shredded carrots
- ground cloves
- ground ginger
- ground nutmeg
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
Possible substitutions or additions:
Whenever I make a boxed mix I ALWAYS swap the water for milk and the oil for melted butter. This swap was recommended by a friend who makes the most incredible cakes and I’ve found it makes the cakes taste that much better.
Freshly shredded carrots will be the best addition since store bought shredded carrots can be a little dry. But when things are busy, the last thing you may want to be doing is shredding carrots. Use a food processor to make the shredding as easy as possible or go ahead and soak the bagged shredded carrots in some water and then pat dry before adding to your cake mix.
You can also choose to add crushed pineapple, raisins, or chopped walnuts to the mix. If you want to, you could even add all three!
The pineapple adds a lot of moisture to the carrot cake, raisins add a nice pop of sweetness amidst all the spices, and chopped walnuts add a nice bit of crunch.
How to make this:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet with baking spray. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl, add cake mix, shredded carrots, spices, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla (plus any additional optional ingredients if using). Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
- Pour batter into the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well. If needed, add milk a little at a time to thin to spreadable consistency.
- Once cake has cooled, frost the top with the cream cheese frosting.
Because this cake is so thin and ovens can vary so much, watch the cake carefully once it has cooked for 15 minutes. Watch for the cake to pull away from the sides of the pan and to be a light golden brown color on top.
How to store leftover carrot cake:
Store leftovers in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. You can also freeze any leftover cake either in a freezer safe container or wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer ziploc bag.
How can kids help make this:
- adding ingredients to the mixing bowl
- turning on and off the mixer
- scraping the bowl
- beating the cream cheese and butter
- frosting the cake
What kids can help with will vary depending on how old they are and what their skill level is. See my list for a breakdown of age appropriate cooking tasks.
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Other easy springtime recipes:
- Mixing Bowl
- Hand mixer
- Stand mixer
- Half sheet cookie sheet
- Pallet knife
For cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons milk as needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add Spice cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, shredded carrots, and any other optional ingredients. Beat on medium speed for two minutes or until mixture is well combined.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the edges. Allow cake to cool completely in the cookie sheet before frosting.
- Beat cream cheese with butter until completely smooth. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. If needed, add 1 Tablespoon of milk at a time to thin frosting to spreadable consistency.
- Frost cooled cake. Top with additional chopped nuts or shredded coconut if desired.
- Store leftovers in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. You can also freeze any leftover cake either in a freezer safe container or wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer ziploc bag.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut