Brown Butter Carrot Cake Recipe – Step by Step Guide

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Brown Butter Carrot Cake Recipe – Step by Step Guide: Brown Butter Carrot Cake is so soft, moist, sweet, and tasty that even people who don’t like carrot cake will LOVE it. This recipe is great for Easter, Mother’s Day, or any time you want to impress people. It has a lot of cream cheese frosting on top.

Brown Butter Carrot Cake Recipe – Step by Step Guide


For the cake:

  • 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups (400 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 grams) unsweetened applesauce


  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups (296 grams) finely shredded carrots* (about 4 medium carrots)
  • 3/4 cup (84 grams) finely chopped walnuts or pecans

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 24 ounces (680 grams) cream cheese, completely softened
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, completely softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract


  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 5 cups (625 grams) powdered sugar, sifted


Make the cake:

  • Warm the oven up to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans well and put parchment paper on the bottom of each one.
  • Warm the butter in a medium-sized pan over medium-low heat. Keep cooking the butter by swirling the pan every so often. It should foam up and make noises like crackling and popping. When the popping stops, keep swirling the pan until the butter starts to smell nutty and brown bits appear on the bottom. As soon as the popping stops, the bits will turn yellow.
  • Take them off the heat and pour them into a mixing bowl. Allow to cool completely.


  • Put the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium bowl and mix them together with a whisk. Put away.
  • Add the brown sugar and eggs to the browned butter and mix them together. Add the vanilla, applesauce, and carrots and mix well. Just until everything is mixed together, add the dry ingredients. Add the nuts and mix them in.
  • Spread the batter out evenly in the cake pans that have been prepped. About 30 minutes into the baking, a cake tester should come out clean. Let it cool all the way down before moving it to wire racks.


  • Use a cake leveler or a knife with sharpened edges to cut each cake layer in half, making four pieces. While you make the filling, put the layers in the fridge.

Make the frosting:

  • Put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light, creamy, and smooth. If you need to, scrape the bowl’s sides and bottom. Slowly add the sugar while beating on low speed until the mixture is creamy.


Assemble the cake:

  • Put one layer of cake on a cake stand or plate with the cut side facing up. Cover the cake layer with about a quarter of the frosting and push it just past the edge. Do the same thing with the other layers. Spread the rest of the frosting evenly over the cake using an offset spoon, making sure the sides are smooth.
  • For up to three days, serve or put in a jar that won’t let air in and put in the fridge.


Q1. How to Brown Butter

To brown butter, a skillet is better than a pot because it has more surface area for the brown bits to form. To make brown butter for carrot cake, follow these steps:

  1. Warm the butter in a medium-sized pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Keep cooking the butter by swirling the pan every so often. It should foam up and make noises like crackling and popping.
  3. When the popping stops, keep swirling the pan until the butter starts to smell nutty and brown bits appear on the bottom.
  4. Take it off the heat and pour it into a mixing bowl. After about two to three minutes, when the bits are an orange color, set it aside to cool completely.


Q2. What Are the Best Baking Pans For Cakes?

These Fat Daddio’s pans are my best for making cakes. Cake pans that are dark should never be used. They move heat around too quickly, which often results in sides that are hard and dry and cores that are undercooked or sink.

cake pans full of batter, ready to be baked.

Q3. How to Properly Prepare Carrots for Carrot Cake

  • If you want your carrot cake to be extra moist, shred fresh carrots instead of pre-shredded ones that come in a package. Carrots that have just been grated taste better and stay moister!
  • Markets for farmers: Pick up your carrots at the farmer’s market as often as you can. They taste SO much better!
  • Fine grating: Do not grate your carrots too little. The bigger holes on your box grate will work better for making carrot “confetti” in your cake.


  • Use your food processor if you have one:If you want to grate things faster and easier, you can use the grating tool for your food processor.
  • Purchase more: About 4 medium-sized carrots are equal to 3 cups of freshly shred carrots, but you should definitely buy more in case.



Q4. Do I Have to Add Nuts to the Carrot Cake?

I added pecans or walnuts to this Brown Butter Carrot Cake because that’s what most people do, but you can leave them out if you’d rather. They give the snack a nice crunch and a spicy taste to balance out the sweetness. For a different taste, you could also try adding a few tablespoons of raisins.

Q5. Why is There Applesauce in the Carrot Cake?

Even though this isn’t exactly a healthy option, it does let us use a little less butter. Applesauce adds tenderness and a nice sweet, fruity taste to carrot cake that goes well with the carrots. There is no real “apple” taste; only freshness.


Carrot Cake Spices

  • This recipe is made so that the flavors of the brown sugar, cream cheese, and other ingredients go well together. The spices bring out the best in each other.
  • Please keep in mind that new spices have a lot more taste than old ones, so make the necessary changes based on how old your spices are.


  • If your spices have gone bad, throw them away and buy new ones. If you don’t, your cake might taste bland.

Q6. How to Tell When Brown Butter Carrot Cake is Done Baking

The Brown Butter Carrot Cake is done baking when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

cream cheese frosting in a glass mixing bowl.

The Best Frosting for Carrot Cake

The part of carrot cake that might be the best! Here are the best things I’ve learned about cream cheese frosting:

Cool ingredients to room temperature:


Be sure that the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before you start making the filling.

  • Cream cheese: Make sure you use cream cheese blocks that are full of fat. Do not use low-fat cream cheese or cream cheese made for putting on toast.
  • Scrub the bowl: Mix them in a big bowl and beat them together until they are smooth. Keep scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl until there are no more lumps. It doesn’t matter if your paddle connection cuts the sides as it goes; you should still scrape down the paddle and the bowl’s bottom to make sure there are no lumps.


  • Sift: Make sure you sift the powdered sugar! It’s annoying, but you have to do it to get smooth frosting.
  • Vanilla paste: Use vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract to get those lovely vanilla spots.

Q7. How to Assemble Brown Butter Carrot Cake

For this recipe, we cut two cake pieces in half across the middle, making four layers. Carrot cake is one thing, but cream cheese filling makes it even better! You don’t have to do this step, and you probably won’t need all the frosting. But it’s more fun and makes a better centerpiece if you make it three layers high.

You can use a cake leveler or a knife with sharpened edges to cut each cake layer. With a cake leveler, your layers will be perfectly even. If you bake cakes a lot, you might want to buy one!

the frosting being spread over one layer of carrot cake.

Q8. How to Decorate Brown Butter Carrot Cake:

  • Simple: Since cream cheese frosting isn’t as stiff as regular buttercream, you won’t be able to make very complex shapes. Carrot cake looks better to me when it’s more simple, or even “naked.”
  • Nuts: A simple but classy finishing touch is a border of chopped nuts around the cake. You can also add more chopped nuts to the bottom if you want to.


  • Cute details: If you want to have some fun, read my article on how to make carrots that look nice and can be eaten.

Q9. Can You Make This Best Carrot Cake Recipe Into Cupcakes?

Almost any cake recipe can be turned into cupcakes. 


Q10. How Can I Make Carrot Cake Ahead of Time?

Place cooled, sliced, and unfrosted carrot cake layers in a container that won’t let air in. Wrap them in several pieces of plastic wrap. Place it somewhere cool to keep it for up to three days. If you need to store something longer, read the steps below on how to freeze it.

Q11. Does Carrot Cake Need to be Refrigerated? How to Store Carrot Cake:

Yes, because of the cream cheese frosting, Carrot Cake does need to be stored in the fridge. You can keep the cake at room temperature for up to 6 hours, but if storing any longer, cover with a cake keeper and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Q12. Can You Freeze Carrot Cake

Yes! After the carrot cake layers have cooled, put them in a freezer bag and cover them with several pieces of plastic wrap. You can freeze it for up to two months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Not at room temperature, or the cake will become soft and sticky.

the whole carrot cake on a cake stand, with a slice taken out and on a plate to serve.


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