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Adapted from carrot cake and pumpkin bread, this supremely moist carrot cake loaf is even more wildly delicious than it looks. It’s dense, yet ultra soft and flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Serve plain or spruce it up with walnuts, raisins, pecans, and/or top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. No matter how you serve it, this quick bread will become a staple in your kitchen. 1 loaf disappears FAST!

carrot cake bread with cream cheese frosting

Unless you keep oodles of baking ingredients on hand, you may be having a hard time finding canned pumpkin right now. And if you’re craving fall flavors– and don’t want to make homemade pumpkin puree– why not turn to pumpkin’s equally spiced and readily available cousin? This is carrot cake turned into a carrot cake loaf and you have total control over its sweetness and dessertyness.

Why yes, dessertyness is a new word we’ll explore today.

Is it Cake? Is it Bread?


As pictured, this carrot cake loaf is basically carrot cake in a loaf pan. If you skip the frosting and reduce the sugar, you have a lightly sweetened carrot quick bread. I tested this batter with all different amounts of brown sugar. 1 cup (200g) of packed brown sugar produced a sweet cake-like loaf. 3/4 cup or 2/3 cup produced a lightly sweetened loaf. Any less than that produced a bland loaf. Feel free to use anywhere between 2/3 – 1 cup depending on the flavor and level of dessertyness (ha!) that you want.

Also, feel free to substitute the brown sugar with white granulated sugar or coconut sugar. But keep in mind the loaf won’t be as tender and moist.

slices of carrot cake loaf

Video Tutorial

This Carrot Cake Loaf Is:

  • Wonderfully spiced and flavorful
  • Stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist
  • Sweetened with brown sugar
  • Easy to make– from mixing bowl to oven in minutes
  • Excellent plain or with cinnamon cream cheese on top

Most of its flavor comes from cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, and carrots. Ginger adds a tasty zing, but isn’t overpowering at all. Like my favorite apple cinnamon bread and banana bread, the crumb is dense but still super soft.

Plus, you can create plenty of variations from this recipe. Leave it plain or add raisins, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, etc. Turn the loaf into carrot cake muffins or even add a cinnamon swirl & topping like we do with this cinnamon swirl quick bread. The streusel topping from orange cranberry bread would taste awesome on this loaf too. I always appreciate basic & multipurpose recipes like this!

Overview: How to Make Carrot Cake Loaf

You need 2 mixing bowls: 1 for the dry ingredients including flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and another mixing bowl for the wet ingredients including oil, brown sugar, applesauce/yogurt (either work), eggs, vanilla, and carrots. Combine everything together and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake time is about 1 hour, give or take.

shredded carrots on wood cutting board

Success Tip: When baking with carrots, my #1 tip is to shred whole carrots at home. Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. When you shred them, you’ll notice how wet they are– that’s essential moisture for your carrot loaf!

carrot bread batter
cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Optional Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I LIVE FOR toppings on my baked goods. Cinnamon swirl? Totally. Streusel? Yes, please. Glaze? Absolutely.

Keeping this in mind, trust me when I say that this bread tastes phenomenal without an accessory on top. But if cream cheese frosting fits, we’re definitely wearing it. You need block cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add a little vanilla and cinnamon and you have a whole new level of flavor to complement your spiced carrot loaf.

You will not regret this.

carrot cake quick bread
carrot cake slice
Recipes with Carrots

Carrots are an underrated baking ingredient. They add natural sweetness, extra moisture, and taste wonderful with fall’s favorite spices. Why not bake with carrots more often?! Here’s a list of my favorite recipes using carrots.

  1. Carrot Cake: This is the golden standard for carrot cakes. It’s equally spiced, moist, and soft as today’s quick bread.
  2. Super Moist Carrot Cake: This is my go-to simple one layer carrot cake. It tastes a little denser than today’s carrot cake loaf.
  3. Pineapple Carrot Cake: This cake includes pineapple, a flavorful pairing with carrot. It’s slightly denser than today’s carrot cake loaf.
  4. Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes: These cupcakes include shredded coconut and coconut extract. They taste cakier than today’s quick bread.
  5. Harvest Spice Bread: Equally dense, yet soft. This bread is sort of like carrot cake, pumpkin bread, and apple bread all in one. One of my favorites!
  6. Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake: This big bundt cake is denser than today’s recipe. Fresh orange zest adds a pop of flavor and that cream cheese swirl is out of this world.
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slices of carrot cake loaf

Carrot Cake Loaf (Quick Bread)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 4 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This carrot cake loaf is dense, yet ultra soft and flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Serve plain or spruce it up with walnuts, raisins, pecans, and/or top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.


  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar* (see note)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened applesauce or yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) peeled and shredded carrots* (about 3 large carrots)
  • optional add-in: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional)

  • 4 ounces (114g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. See notes for muffins or mini loaves.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and carrots together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until *just* combined. Fold in the nuts/add-in. Batter will be semi-thick.
  3. Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes. (I like to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent heavy browning on top.) Baking times vary so keep an eye on yours. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with zero raw batter. Remove the bread from the oven.
  4. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing and frosting.
  5. Optional Frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt (I usually add a little less than 1/8 teaspoon), then beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Taste. Add more cinnamon and/or salt if desired. Frost cooled bread, slice, and serve.
  6. Storing without frosting: Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to about 10 days. Storing with frosting: Cover and store leftover bread in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Loaf freezes best without frosting. Freeze baked & cooled loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If desired, bring to room temperature and frost before serving. To learn more details about how to freeze quick breads, see my post called Make-Ahead Baking.
  2. Brown Sugar: I tested this batter with different amounts of brown sugar. 1 cup (200g) of packed brown sugar produced a sweet cake-like loaf. 3/4 cup or 2/3 cup produced a lightly sweetened loaf. Any less than that produced a bland loaf. Feel free to use anywhere between 2/3 – 1 cup depending on the flavor you want. You can substitute with white granulated sugar or coconut sugar, though the loaf won’t be as moist or flavorful. I don’t recommend liquid sweeteners.
  3. Applesauce/Yogurt: You can use either. If you don’t have either, use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream.
  4. Carrot: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 1 and 1/2 cups of moist carrot shreds. Instead of carrots, you can use shredded apple or even shredded zucchini.
  5. Muffins: Prepare this batter as directed in step 2 and follow the baking instructions for morning glory muffins (steps 1 and 3). Makes about 14 muffins.
  6. Mini Loaves: Grease a mini loaf pan. Prepare batter as directed in step 2. Spoon batter evenly into greased cups, filling to the top. Bake at 350°F (177°C). Bake time and yield depend on the size of your mini loaf pan.

Keywords: carrot cake loaf

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I couldn’t wait for the loaf to cool before stealing a slice! The little bit of nutmeg delivers quite the punch here (I don’t think I’ve previously had carrot cake with nutmeg), and the loaf was delicious and moist even without the frosting. I will have to give the frosting a try the next time I try this recipe 🙂

  2. I
    Amazing flavour. Love this carrot loaf. I used butter instead of oil but that Ian the only change I made.

    1. Unbelievable how moist this quick bread is. Extremely flavorful without being overly sweet as many carrot cakes are, it converts well baked in three (3) mini loaf pans vs. one regular-sized loaf pan. Great for gifting and sharing.

  3. Watch out on the baking time! Nice recipe but mine was overcooked to dryness at 55 minutes. I would check at 40-45 in the future.

  4. Loved this recipe! I subbed yogurt and eggs with vegan replacements, and put carrots in food processor for less work. It turned out really well and I would live to try this recipe again with zucchini.

  5. I made this exactly according to the weights given, and the texture turned out all wrong. It’s too moist, like it turns to mush once you put it in your mouth, instead of a bread/cake consistency. I cooked it for 50 mins and the toothpick came out dry. Any idea where I went wrong??

    1. Hi Sandy, It sounds like the loaf was simply under-baked. We find ours takes at least 55 – 65 minutes in the oven. If you think your outside is finished baking but the inside is not, you can loosely cover the top with aluminum foil and continue baking.

  6. I made this for today’s breakfast. I used 50/50 of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour, and reduced the sugar to 2/3 cup. Verdict? My 85-year old Mom can’t get enough of the carrot loaf!

    1. Hi Ramen! For best results we recommend making two separate batches.

    1. Hi Sarah, Loaf pans can vary in size, but generally they are 2/3-3/4 of the way full.

  7. Sally, thank you for sharing, I made a boxed carrot cake with boxed frosting and I couldn’ make my husband understand why I was so disappointed, he kept saying tasted ok to him… yeah until home-made hit the table lol.

  8. This recipe is great! I substituted the same amount of oat flour for all purpose because I have a gluten sensitivity. Thanks for the tips, I did cover it towards the end so it wouldn’t burn, and I kept checking it because mine did take a while to bake all the way through. Mine took about 65 minutes. This will be my go to carrot loaf recipe!! ❤️

  9. Just made this again for Christmas dinner tomorrow with my man’s family. I absolutely love this recipe! It’s been a little while since I last made it, but this makes maybe 5 times now that I have done so. And I must say, the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is THE BEST cream cheese frosting EVA! Thanks for your great recipes, Sally. Love to you, Girl.

    1. Hi Monaye, buttermilk would be too thin. If you don’t have either, use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream.

      1. @Sally , i like to add both raisins and pineapple to my carrot cakes, could i add crushed pineapple instead of apple sauce ?

      2. Yes, same amount! See recipe notes for details.

  10. I followed this but I used whole wheat flour, added one smashed banana and skipped sugar entirely. I added 1/4 cup of almond flour as well. It turned out great and little kids love it. Thank you.

    1. Hi Meena, We haven’t tested this recipe with egg substitutes, so can’t give any advice. Let us know if you try any! Here are all of our egg free baking recipes if you are interested in browsing there.

  11. Excellent recipe! The frosting is to die for! Just an FYI for anyone who wants to use a whole wheat all purpose blend – it went great for me doing a 50-50 blend. Also, I had some old dried out baby carrots so a few months ago I boiled them and did a rough mash and popped them in the freezer. I drained them and they worked exactly as freshly shredded carrots have in the past. I was thrilled to not have to put the old carrots to waste.

    Last thing… I split the batter between 6 mini Bundts (nordic ware mini bundt pan) and baked for 24 minutes and they were cooked perfectly for my taste.

    Ill be coming back to this recipe again and again. Thank you Sally!

  12. Hi Sally. Great recipe! Even my non- carrot lover son loves it! The frosting has a good balance of sweetness! I am just curious- why leave out the GROUND CLOVES for this recipe? The rest of you carrot cake recipes have ground cloves in it. Is it ok to add one on mine next time? and if ok, how much ground cloves do i add?

    1. Hi Bianca! You can definitely add ground cloves to this carrot cake loaf – we would try 1/4 tsp. Happy baking!

      1. Thanks to you i made my first ever carrot cake and it was such a delicious delight. My family loved it and couldn’t keep their hands off the cake, whenever they passed by the kitchen they stole a slice and i couldn’t believe the cake was gone in a single day. This never happens with any other cake. You’re a genius Sally! Absolutely loved your recipe!!

  13. My family and I absolutely love this recipe! Everyone’s obsessed with this cake, they keep asking me to make more of it. I’ve never had a dessert recipe this good before. It’s perfect for the holidays. Even if I reduce the amount of sugar and reduce some of the oil, it still tastes amazing.

    1. Hi Dani, we suggest trying half whole wheat and half all purpose flours. Let us know how it goes!

  14. Was wondering if this recipe could be made without the applesauce or yogurt

    1. Hi Bri, If you don’t have either, use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream.

  15. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour and it turned out to be delicious! Your recipes are so easy to follow 🙂

  16. It just didn’t turn out very tasty. It tasted more bland, and I’m just not sure why. I made the recipe exactly as provided, but the timing was off. It came out way too done, I should have checked it at 35 minutes. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting was delicious. I’m going to try it again and see if it turns out better a second time. I really want it to work, because the ingredients just make sense. I’m surprised by the bland flavor.

  17. This recipe was fire. I added toasted almonds and it was perfect. Used 3/4 cup of sugar and it was perfect

  18. Hi. I wanted to make carrot cake pops for Easter. I have made this before and the flavor is AMAZING. Do you have any advice on turning this into cake pops?

    1. Hi Jenna, We haven’t tried it with this exact recipe but can’t see why it wouldn’t work! You can follow our assembly directions in our post on cake pops.

  19. Has anyone tried this recipe with pre-shredded carrots? I have a bag that I would like to finish up, but the recipe specifically don’t use them. Thanks!

  20. We love this recipe sooooo much… it smells delish in the oven (and out of course) I baked this in the evening and we couldn’t resist to have it for Supper – half of the loaf was gone

    Things I did different:
    • Oat Yoghurt instead of plain yoghurt (what we had in the fridge)
    • only 150gm of sugar (instead of 200gm)
    • Didn’t have ginger powder, so omit it totally
    • Used margarine instead of Oil
    • Baked it for 30 mins and used the “Aluminium Cover Losely” method for the last 30 minutes and the loaf came out nice & brown & crisp at the rim & still moist on the inside. It’s amazing…& thank you and team once again!

  21. Another great recipe Sally! I replaced the applesauce with silken tofu as I had some on hand. I used Einkorn flour and added in some dried cranberries and walnuts. Perfectly delicious!!!

  22. Also, I baked mine for 50 minutes and I should have checked at 45 min. Probably depends on your oven, everyone’s is slightly different. Great recipe!

  23. So moist and packed with flavour! My hubby who hates carrot cake went back for a second slice! Thanks Sally

  24. Fantastic taste! However the sides and bottom slightly burn? I use greased parchment inside bread pan as well. Should I reduce temperature to 325 next time?

    1. Hi Andrew, are you using a dark pan? That could be causing the sides and bottoms to bake more quickly than the inside of the bread. For next time, you can try lowering the temperature and baking until the inside is done. Feel free to tent the top with foil if it is starting to brown too soon. Glad you enjoyed this recipe!

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