Do you like carrot cake? My mother-in-law loves it and I like it too.
My friend Carol came over recently so I could teach her how to bake a decent cake. She’s struggled with it all her life and after eating a piece of my cake she begged and I said yes.
Right on time she showed up wearing an apron that went from her neck to her ankles and I knew she was just right for me. I can make a big mess in the kitchen. She also brought three cake mixes because she thought that was the only way you could make a cake. Cake mixes do make decent cakes but she needed to know how to make one from scratch because it’s really easy.
After mixing and stirring and a lot of coffee, she left with a cake she was proud of and the knowledge of how to make one at home but I was left with three cake mixes. She left them as a thank you and I don’t use cake mixes as a rule.
When I was in the shower this morning I was trying to think of something I could bake for my MIL’s dessert today and then it came to me. I could use up one of those cake mixes and turn it into something good. I figured I could make a carrot cake out of that mix and I did.
I added grated carrot, a little crushed pineapple, spices, a few sultanas and bingo, it was time to bake. The folks at the nursing home were thrilled with their carrot cake.
- 1 yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Moist Yellow)
- 2 cups grated carrots
- ½ cup water
- 3 eggs (slightly beaten)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sultanas or raisins
- ½ cup crushed pineapple (do not drain) (you can leave this out if you hate pineapple)
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 recipe of Martha Stewarts Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and preheat the oven to 180C/350F
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or any big bowl if you're using a spoon) add all the ingredients and beat at low speed just until everything is wet, then raise the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Divide the batter into the two prepared pans and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, I rotated the pans because my oven is small and I have one pan in the back and one in the front. If you have a fancier oven than my Miele with more than one shelf, disregard this.
- When a toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan and place the layers on a rack to cool while you make the cream cheese frosting.
- Once you have the frosting made, frost the bottom layer and place the other layer on top and frost the sides and then the top.
- Sprinkle with chopped pecans and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Have you ever made something using a packaged cake mix? How did it turn out?
Joanne T Ferguson says
I LOVE carrot cake and yours looks delicious Maureen! And yes, it doesn’t get any easier than this!
Wish I could come through the screen and have a slice with my coffee!
come on over 🙂
Do you think it would work to use 2 jars of baby food carrots and NOT add the water (rather than grating carrots) ? I want my cake to be dense and moist so it cuts into neat pieces (for potlucks).
I wouldn’t but let me know if you try it.
Nancy | Plus Ate Six says
When I was at Uni I made brownies using a mix and my housemates loved them so much we wrote a letter to the company. This was back in the 80s (ugh…….) when you had to make a bit of an effort to give feedback so we were quite genuine and not looking for a freebie but then when a whole box of different cake mixes was delivered a couple of weeks later we couldn’t believe it.
Anyhoo…you’ve totally jazzed up the original cake mix and made it infinitely better in the process I bet. I’d be licking the plate clean too.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I’ve never tried a yellow cake mix. Is that like vanilla? It looks great I must say! 😀
Yes but it includes the egg yolks that make it yellow – ish. It was pretty good!
What a great cake and perfect with cream. 🙂 Bear is a big cream lover. 🙂
I too sometimes have gotten food snobby and said “I don’t use cake mixes. I make cakes by hand!” But then sometimes you want an elegant cake fast with little effort and then something like this is perfect. I’d be eating my words (and a couple slices of this cake) after this recipe!
Jess @ whatjessicabakednext says
LOVE carrot cake! Looks truly divine, Maureen! Need to give this recipe a try! 😀
Carrot cake is my husbands favorite and I never make it for him – Your recipe looks great and I love how easy it is. I’m definitely going to make this soon – maybe for Father’s Day. Thanks Maureen!
I love carrot cake, it’s one of my favorite cakes. I love that you used a cake mix, makes this so much easier. Looks great Maureen!
Carol Preibis says
Carrot cake is my favorite! This recipe sounds delish (I like the idea of the pineapple).
Wishing everyone well,
Maureen I love carrot cake, but the carrot cake of my dreams is the one I grew up enjoying – my older sister used to make it. I can almost smell it in my memory – the Brazilian type never has a white frosting, it is chocolate but a special kind – not buttercream, it is a thin crust of chocolate and sugar that crumbles as you bite into the cake
I NEED to find that recipe. Then I need to make it and show it to you…
me, the anti=cake baker, you see?
A friend asked me for a couple of my recipes including carrot cake. I had to admit I’d never EATEN carrot cake let alone MADE it. I’d like to try one day … I have a French vanilla cake mix that I’d like to use, though I’d leave out the pineapple, just because I don’t have a can in the house. Unless you think the pineapple really adds something special to it. 🙂
I’ve used cake mixes before … cause I usually get tempted by sales and then want to use them up. Though I usually turn out cupcakes, instead of full sized cakes, and dress them up. This mix was destined for a spoonful of blood orange curd and some grated orange zest to make it more ‘home made’.
I had some leftover crushed pineapple that I used in weekend drinks so I put it in rather than toss it away. 🙂
Drinks … that sounds tempting. With the hot weather having finally arrived, it might be the time to plan for some cooling refreshments and the leftovers could go into this cake. 🙂
linda Kiley says
I make a lazy man carrot cake that taste like homemade. Yellow cake mix, raisins or currants, crushed pecans, allspice, cinnamon, orange zest, 1/2 cup of spiced rum and a can of drained carrots coarsely ground to the batter. Of course all the original ingredients for the cake mix and white cream cheese icing. WOW, what a cake. *****
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
Good on you – Maureen for turning packet cake mix into something really delicious.
It was delicious, I have to say but when using a packet mix, you never feel truly clever. 🙂
Suzy @ The Mediterranean Dish says
You really did mean easy! I can’t remember the last time I made carrot cake! My hubby loves it! Must try your easy version!
I make carrot cake or hummingbird cake for my mother-in-law who has dementia. She can eat her portion and yours and mine and she’s the size of a pencil. 🙂
You’re so clever Maureen, to just figure out how to make carrot cake on the fly using a cake box mix. I could never do that.
Of course you could, you are so talented in the kitchen. Even with those wee fingers. 🙂
It looks fabulous! Betty Crocker would be proud! 🙂 What are you going to do with the other two boxes? 🙂
I don’t know. Their use-by date is in 2016 so I have plenty of time to think. 🙂
Red velvet or lemon cake maybe? ?
It wouldn’t be my choice but if it’s your favorite – give it a try. 🙂
I’m prepping all the gluten free for a church bake sale. With the need to produce 60 or more cakes, I turned to GF mixes: yellow for the base of a lemon pound cake; yellow for an apple pie cake, white for coconut creme cake. All of these use an appropriate no-cook pudding mix and turned out perfect. BTW, one box makes four or five small tins – perfect for the bake sale. Will gladly use yellow for your carrot cake. Am finding recipes for cookies and bars using cake mixes – so there’s plenty out there. Thanks for this recipe; I’m sure it will be a winner.
Norma Chang says
I don’t like to bake and seldom do but you have given me the incentive to try this one. Looks so delicious. How did you figure out how much carrot to add?
I used the same amount of carrot that I use in my from scratch recipe. I figure the worst that could happen would be a waste of an hour and a few carrots. 🙂
Stephanie - The Dessert Spoon says
I love carrot cake. It’s one of my favourites! I haven’t made it with crushed pineapple though. I’ll have to try it.
I haven’t made a packet cake mix since high school (quite a long time ago!). They have probably improved since then and it’s a great option if you’re short on time.
Maureen I do ! Which I can have a piece right now. I have a version that I make … but yours is super easy. Now, who wouldn’t want to try this? YUM!
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Oh yeah…. I love carrot cake, especially the frosting bit, that prob goes for all cake huh?!
I sometimes use the packet mix for cake (I dont much enjoy baking late into the evening after work) it takes a quarter of the time and perfect to treat my colleagues for weekly morning tea. Totes trying your easy peasy recipe. 🙂
Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says
that was so very sweet. I love helping people learn to bake – all it takes is a little confidence! And then you turned a cake mix into this beautiful treat – bravo Maureen!
John@Kitchen Riffs says
I don’t knock people for using cake mixes — if that’s the only way they’re comfortable baking, they should go for it. But it’s so easy to bake a cake! Usually. 😉 Anyway, this is great — I love a good carrot cake. Thanks.
Tara Noland says
Yes, I love carrot cake and it is one of my favorites. You don’t see it around that much but I had the most heavenly of carrot cake cupcakes with sinful cream cheese frosting from Harrod’s when I was in London. Your cake looks magnificent and would be perfect right now for dessert.
Kate @ Babaganosh.org says
Ah yes, I love using cake mix as a base and then making a unique delicious cake out of it! I use cake mix as the base for my Caribbean tres leches cake, and for a pumpkin spice cake. I haven’t tried it for carrot cake yet because carrot cake is a great way to get away with whole wheat flour for the cake batter (since there are so many mix-ins!), but it is a good idea because it does make everything so much easier.
Bam's Kitchen says
Maureen you are like the cake doctor , brilliant idea! I love carrot cake but I really don’t like the baking part where you need to measure (you know actually measure with cuts and teaspoons and such) and sift so this cake is perfect. I could eat just the cream cheese frosting and be happy as ever. Wishing you a super day!
Hotly Spiced says
Carol sounds hysterical. I would have loved a picture of her in that apron – it sounds like she got it from the Amish. Your cake looks so good! I love the first image – it’s picture perfect xx
Sugar et al. says
This is cool idea! I’ve used cake mix only twice in my life but this one is different because you are adding in all the beautiful flavours without having to weigh out the dry ingredients. The cake looks gorgeous and I am definitely making this in the near future.
Vanny @Nessy Eater says
I almost licked my monitor! Fantastic recipe and photos Maureen 😀
Sarah | Broma Bakery says
An apron to the ankles! I love it! I need about three of those. This cake looks marvelous. Carrot is my second favorite cake next to chocolate, so I’m drooling over here!
She’s short. 🙂
Dawn Mordecai says
I wanted to know if I can use apple sauce in sted of pineapples
It’s your recipe, so use whatever you like. I like the pieces of pineapple but thick applesauce would be nice.
Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner says
I love carrot cake but I LOVE it more that this one is easy! Pinned! 🙂
Mary Frances says
Yum!! What a delicious looking carrot cake! And with a mix–wow! The pecans on top are a nice touch too 🙂
Kathleen | HapaNomNom says
I am not a big sweets person, but i absolutely ADORE carrot cake! I seriously can’t get enough – I keep going back for slice after slice! Great to know that I can know make and enjoy it more quickly! 🙂
Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron says
I love carrot cake! Your version looks wonderful, and I love that you made it a double-decker cake 🙂
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
I love it! I need an apron from my neck to my ankles – I’m such a messy cook.
This carrot cake looks so good Maureen. Yummy!
Chineka @ Savor The Baking says
You can’t beat a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I adore carrot cake and the easier, the better! Who could resist that luscious frosting? 😉
Maureen, this carrot cake looks awesome, and yes, I love when the recipe comes with the word “EASY”…
I’m all about easy ?
Carrot Cake is my all time favorite! This looks just perfect.
Hi Nicole! Lovely to meet you and thanks so much for leaving a comment. 🙂
Can I make it without the pineapples?
That was a smart idea to create something delicious like a carrot cake from a cake mix. They were all the thing about 40 years ago when everyone baked but were looking for an easy way out. They seem to have an artificial taste to them but I haven’t tried one for years and years so maybe they are better now. Your solution was a great way to add flavour.
David Crichton says
My favourite type of cake ever, Maureen. Made even better when it has pineapple in it. Can’t remember the last time I had some. Might make an exception this weekend.
Shashi at RunninSrilankan says
WOA what a way to jazz up a cake mix! This carrot cake is so easy! All I have is watermelon to go with my coffee…I wish I had a slice of this cake instead…
Yes, I do !! The best ones I even eat it was in London but I’m sure yours it’s very very good ! Looks terrrific 🙂
Is that first piece for me? This is one beautiful carrot cake Maureen and I love that it’s so easy. Easy is the only way I bake!
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
I cut my baking teeth on packet mixes, so I know their worth – although these days I prefer to bake from scratch, just like you.
Such a great idea! I’m also usually a no-cake-mix kind of gal, but if it worked for you, I’m on board. I’m glad you guys had the baking sesh–it sounds like such a great time! <3 spreading the baking love, one friend at a time!
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Maureen, I never use cake mixes either, but I hate waste so would probably do what you did. Turning the mix into carrot cake would solve one of my problems with mixes–the flavor. The carrot and spices would hide the artificial flavor. Which cake did you teach Carol to make? Loved your comment about her long apron (I, too, can make a big mess in the kitchen!).
She wanted a coconut cake with fluffy icing. 🙂
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
What a great way to use up a boxed cake mix, like you as a rule I don’t use them but recently I have been given a whole load of them and I am struggling to know what to do with them. This is definitely happening to one of them I love carrot cake.
Simply Sweet Justice says
Carrot cake = vegetable serving, just sayin’ 🙂
You are SO right.
Katy | Her Cup of Joy says
I am not against cake mixes, they are perfect when you are short on time, they also produce fluffy cakes all the time. I usually like “doctoring” my cake mixes 🙂 This look so perfect and simple!!
I’m so much in carrot cakes… love them so much. I liked the addition of pineapples and raisins and never thought I could make one with packaged cake mix!!!
Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I do love carrot cake.
Dorothy Dunton says
Hi Maureen! I have a BIG weakness for carrot cake! I add toasted pecans. It’s the cake I always make for Easter and my birthday!
Can I use this recipe for cupcakes? How long should they bake?
Hi Victoria. I’ve never made this into cupcakes but about 20 minutes I would think. Check them at about 18-19 minutes and if they bounce back when touched on top, they’ll be done. If not, bake another few minutes.
Bammie Cooper says
I am baking this cakein a bundt pan now. I left out the raisons as my family does not like raisons.
Terri Miller says
Bammie! I want to do it in a bundt pan! How did it turn out? Did the cooking time take longer?
Mary Ann says
Sounds delish! Funny, as a kid, I bugged my mom for a “box cake”. She always made everything from scratch & I thought it was like being “rich” to make one from a box!
Do you think I could use gluten free King Arthur cake mix?
Absolutely, it would work just fine.
This is my second time in a week to make this. No extras just carrots, coconut milk not water, and two tsp vanilla. I have Anne Byrn’s books and her recipes are gold. I didn’t have a pudding mix so I need more info. Thank you for this recipe.
Can you make this in a bundt pan?
Absolutely you can!
Can you use a spice cake mix to make your carrot cake?
I have used boxed cake mixes to make cookies! Very easy. My favorite it to use a lemon cake mix for cookies. I add some grated zest to the cookie dough. Just another suggestion to use up cake mixes 🙂
I’m making this for the second time now but in cupcake form. Everyone raves about them! Love different cakes made from box mixes. Thank you.
So enjoyed this cake. It is super easy to make and even without frosting absolutely delicious as it is so moist and fluffy. Lightly blended some pineapple chunks as I didn’t have crushed pineapple and used shop bought grated carrot and a Berry Crocker lemon cake mix for the easiest carrot cake ever. Thank you so much!
Vicki Ervin says
I have used boxed and used apple sauce and carrots and mashed bananas. Cut the amount of oil and used a cream cheese frosting topped with walnuts.. turn out amazing.
I used your recipe but add I/2 cup coconut and used 1/2 cup of chopped dried apricots instead of the sultanas or raisins. And used apricot jam spread
between the layers then cream cheese frosting on top for the filling and left out the nut meg as daughter is allergic. was delicious! Thanks for the recipe.
Amina Advany Maglajlic says
I made this tonight, it was delicious! I didn’t have sultanas… or enough raisins so I diced some dates and used a mixture of white raisins and dried cranberries, it was fantastic!!!! I’m glad I didn’t have pineapple (sounds like I’m mother hubbard, also didn’t have any cream cheese so I just shook powdered sugar on top) because the cake was more than moist enough without it. It was fantastic, I cannot thank you enough for sharing this delicious recipe
Colette Vail says
I made this carrot cake Saturday just as the recipe states. Perfectly moist. Amazing! I will make it again using pineapple. Making it again today with my sister, replacing pineapple with applesauce. I didn’t use cream cheese icing. I used butter cream frosting.
I look forward to trying more recipes
Glad you enjoyed it!
Toni Perreira says
Made this recipe today and wow I am impressed! It came out so delicious and moist. I don’t use oil so I substituted an equal amount of applesauce plus a small container of yogurt. Cake was delicious! Thank you!
This cake was a total fail! Mushy, fell apart as I took it out of the pan. Not enough spice. Will not be making this again.
I’m so sorry. It worked for quite a few people but if it didn’t work for you, I agree, don’t make it again.
Chinese Food says
My first time to make CARROT CAKE and success, thanks a lot!
Yum!!! I used pumpkin pie spice and walnuts in the batter (I didn’t have pecans or pineapple on hand) and it turned out great. Thanks for this recipe! And now I’m curious: what kind of cake did you make with your friend?
Why do people give recipes 5 stars before even trying it? It’s frustrating. I am looking for honest reviews, not comments saying how good it looks!!! Has anyone actually tried it?