Brown Butter Carrot Cake made with browned butter, freshly grated carrots, and pecans! Simple carrot cake recipe with fantastic cream cheese frosting perfect for Easter!
This simple carrot cake recipe with butter is super easy to make and it is the depth of flavor added by browning the butter that makes it uniquely wonderful. This homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is so addictingly good you are going to look forward to sharing this cake with everyone you know!
Simple Carrot Cake Recipe
As high-class and fancy as this cake is, it truly is simple at its core. It is made with basic pantry ingredients and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting, there is nothing about this cake that you will not like. From assembly to your belly this cake is just too good to resist. Once you try it you will see why it is an instant family favorite and highly requested every year.
Brown Butter Carrot Cake Ingredients
For the Cake, you will need:
-Butter: You will need 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, this is almost 1 whole stick of butter.
-Brown sugar: To give a depth of flavor and added sweetness use 1 cup of packed light brown sugar.
-Eggs: You will need 2 eggs to make the cake batter rich in taste.
-Vanilla extract: Use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to help enhance the flavors in this cake.
-Flour: The base of the cake batter is 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour.
-Baking powder: You will need ¼ teaspoon of baking powder to help the cake puff up as it cooks.
-Salt: Adding in ¼ teaspoon of salt will enhance the flavors in this cake well.
-Cinnamon: Use ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to spice the cake nicely.
-Ginger: Adding in ½ teaspoon of ground ginger will help to round out the spices and make this cake taste incredible.
-Carrots: You will need 2 cups of freshly grated carrots for a wonderful burst of color and deliciousness in every bite.
-Pecans: Use ½ cup of chopped pecans for a subtle crunch and flavor in your cake. You can simply omit this if you do not want nuts in your cake.
For the Frosting, you will need:
-Butter: You will need 4 tablespoons of unsalted room temperature butter for a nice rich frosting flavor.
-Cream cheese: Use 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese to make the frosting nice and creamy.
-Powdered sugar: 1 cup of powdered sugar will make the frosting smooth and sweet.
-Vanilla: Use ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to help flavor the frosting well.
-Lemon juice: To give a little added freshness to the frosting add in ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice.
-Chopped pecans: Garnish the cake well with ⅓ cup of chopped pecans.
How to Make Brown Butter Carrot Cake
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.
Then, grease an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. The parchment paper will help the cake to easily release from the pan.
Next, clean and grate your carrots into a small bowl and set aside.
If you have whole pecans, chop them into smaller pieces and set aside. A time saving tip is to buy the pre-chopped pecans to skip this step.
HOW TO BROWN BUTTER
Add all butter to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. (I know a large saucepan seems too big, but as the butter cooks, it foams up, so trust me on this one!)
Stir gently using a rubber scraper as the butter melts. Continue to stir as the butter cooks. It will first liquify, then start to bubble & foam, all while gently bubbling. Within about 5 minutes after the butter foams, it will begin to change color and brown bits will appear. It’s easier to see the brown as your stir the butter- you can see the foam turn colors in the video above. I like to cook it about 45 seconds to 1 minute past when it changes color.
Remove from heat and the foam will settle and you’ll be able to see BROWN BUTTER! Let cool until butter has solidified again. (It won’t return to the same state as it was per-cooking. It will be more the consistency of sour cream.)
NOTE: You CANNOT use margarine to make brown butter! REAL BUTTER ONLY.
Make the batter
In the large bowl with the melted browned add in the brown sugar and mix until combined.
Next, stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
After that, fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Stir until the flour is fully combined and the white is completely gone.
Now it is time to add in the grated carrots and chopped pecans. Stir to combine.
Then, pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Once it is finished baking, allow to cool completely. This could be 1-2 hours depending on the room temperature.
Making the frosting
In a medium size bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with a handheld mixer until smooth. This should take about 2 minutes.
Next, add in the powdered sugar and beat again for another minute.
Lastly, add in the vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix until combined. The frosting should be soft but not runny.
Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting over the entire cake.
If you want to, garnish with chopped pecans as well for added taste and appearance.
Slice, serve and enjoy!
Brown Butter Carrot Cake
- 7 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup AP flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 cups freshly grated carrots
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp lemon juice
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8×8 in. pan and line with parchment paper. The parchment paper helps the cake release from the pan.
- Next, clean and grate your carrots into a small bowl and set aside.
- If you have whole pecans, chop them into smaller pieces and set aside. A time saving tip is to buy the pre-chopped pecans to skip this step.
Browning the butter
- First you will need to add your butter to a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once you see brown specks beginning to form at the bottom of the pan, remove the pan from the heat.
- Then, pour the melted butter into a large mixing bowl.
Make the batter
- In the large bowl with the melted browned add in the brown sugar and mix until combined.
- Next, stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
- After that, fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Stir until the flour is fully combined and the white is completely gone.
- Now it is time to add in the grated carrots and chopped pecans. Stir to combine.
- Then, pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Once it is finished baking, allow to cool completely. This could be 1-2 hours depending on the room temperature.
Making the frosting
- In a medium size bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with a handheld mixer until smooth. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Next, add in the powdered sugar and beat again for another minute.
- Lastly, add in the vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix until combined. The frosting should be soft but not runny.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting over the entire cake.
- If you want to, garnish with chopped pecans as well for added taste and appearance.
- Slice, serve and enjoy!
How long is frosted carrot cake good for?
If you keep your cream cheese frosted carrot cake well covered and stored in the fridge, it will last for up to 3 or 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months in an airtight container, but I recommend freezing them in individual slices so you can simply grab and thaw one sweet serving at a time. Perfect for a treat whenever the mood strikes.
How to prevent cakes from sticking to the pan:
Make sure to grease the inside of your cake pan well and then add in a dusting of flour to help as well. For chocolate-based cakes, using cocoa powder instead of flour works well but flour is best for the lighter colored cakes. You can also use a nonstick baking spray with flour in the mix to make it a little easier as well but I’ve found that manually adding grease + flour works best as the spray doesn’t always help cakes to come out flawlessly.
What is the point of brown butter?
By browning the butter you help to add a depth of flavor because as it cooks the butter gets a deep caramelized flavor that regular butter simply doesn’t have. By adding it into the recipe it only takes a few extra minutes to prepare but the flavorful end results are well worth it.
For more delicious browned butter dessert recipes check out these sweet suggestions:
- ZUCCHINI SHEET CAKE WITH BROWNED BUTTER ICING
- PUMPKIN GINGER COOKIES WITH BROWNED BUTTER FROSTING
- BROWN BUTTER BLONDIES
- BROWN BUTTER WALNUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
- BROWN BUTTER BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
- BEST BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
If you are looking for a delicious Easter cake to serve up this Spring then look no further. This browned butter carrot cake recipe is a lovely slice of heaven and one that everyone will enjoy.