Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

If you’re looking for a fabulous carrot cake recipe, look no more. This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted.  It’s sweet but not too sweet; moist but not too dense or heavy. The frosting was a perfect match for the cake – light and creamy.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make carrot cake since Bethie, You Know What You Oughta Do, posted Cook’s Illustrated’s Simple Carrot cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. A recent family get together/birthday party was the perfect excuse.

I decided I wanted to bake with Earth Balance Coconut Spread again, which lead me to adapt Cook’s recipe in to a Tropical Carrot Cake loaded with shredded coconut, crushed pineapple and macadamia nuts, topped with a Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. I also reduced the spices so the tropical flavors would shine through.

The result was fantastic. Everyone loved the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake, but they raved about and came back for seconds of the carrot cake. (Have you noticed that when you serve two cakes almost everyone wants a little slice of each. I know I always do.)

The method for mixing the cake is a little unusual. You use the food processor to emulsify the oil with the sugar and the eggs before incorporating the rest of the ingredients.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the cakes after they came out of the oven. They baked up beautifully. I loved the gorgeous color. I wish I’d gotten a better picture of the cut cake, but I was lucky to get a picture before it was gone.

You can make this cake in a 13 x 9-inch pan and I think it would make a great bundt cake too. Just make the frosting a little thinner so you can drizzle it over the bundt and then sprinkle with toasted coconut. Now that I think about it, I hope I have a good excuse to bake a bundt cake soon.

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour**
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder *
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups peeled, shredded carrots, (6 to 7 medium)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar*
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup melted Earth Balance Coconut Spread or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking pan or 2 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Shred carrots in food processor fitted with large shredding disk; transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor bowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer.
  4. Pour mixture into large bowl. Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, and pineapple. Mix in dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. For 9-inch rounds Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
  6. *I reduced the amount of baking powder and sugar for high altitude baking. Original recipe calls for 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
  7. **How to Measure Flour
  8. Note: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
  9. Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
  10. When cake is cool, beat together cream cheese, coconut spread, sour cream, and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.
  11. Frost cake and sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Store in the fridge.

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Janie Avila says

    You have won me over to try that Earth Balance spread – I’m adding it to my grocery list today and just praying I can find it here in central Oklahoma. I love the twists on this carrot cake. You know how to pick ‘em Barbara!

  2. Sheri Chen says

    Can i subsitute the same amount of butter for the Earth Balance? looks yummy and something different. I love all these cake recipes you’re posting!

    • says

      Hi Sheri – I would recommend substituting canola or vegetable oil in the cake and butter in the frosting. You could try melted butter in the cake, but since butter has less fat and I haven’t tried it with butter, I can’t recommend it. Let me know if you try it. Thanks!

  3. Mary Jones says

    wow if it tastes as good as it looks then its going to be fantastic.
    I have friends coming over this weekend so i’m gonna make it for them.

    i’ll let you know how they like this carrot cake recipe compared to theirs.

  4. says

    The funeral potatoes look awesome, but I have a sweet tooth today. I use Earth Balance on a daily basis, toast, and anything ‘I eat’ that calls for butter. Of course, I use real butter in all my baking and cooking for the blog and others, so I love that you used EB in this cake. If I had in mine, maybe I would have had more than one piece. It looks gorgeous, Barb – love how you stacked and topped it.

  5. Frances says

    I want to make this for my son’s birthday. Can i subsitute the same amount of butter for the Earth Balance?

  6. says

    You have won me over to try that Earth Balance spread – I’m adding it to my grocery list today and just praying I can find it here in central Oklahoma. :)

    In spite of making about a hundred different recipes of carrot cake and loving many of them, I always try a new one when I make it – I rarely go back to the same recipe. So guess what – I’ll be trying this one next time. Macadamia nuts, pineapple, and coconut? Yum!

  7. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi says

    Love how you’ve added the coconut element. I am a piggy come dessert time – I want a slice, spoonful and sample of EVERYTHING!

  8. says

    This cake looks beautiful! I always use coconut & pineapple in my carrot cake, but now I have to try adding macadamia nuts too! Sounds perfect :)

  9. says

    I am in love! Not only is cake the next best thing to cookies (remember i am a cookieholic) my favorite flavor is coconut! How divine this looks and I swear I could take it down all by myself! amazing job! Amazing

  10. says

    I love the twists on this carrot cake. I will have to look for the EB Coconut Spread..will take a look at Whole Foods next time I am there. I also love that you used pumpkin pie spice and macadamia nuts in this – I bet it was wonderful. I would have a slice of each, too!

  11. says

    Wow Barbara you put all my favorite flavors in one cake. I have 2 half size bundt pans. These are perfect, one to keep, one to share. Can’t wait to make this one.

  12. says

    Just stumbled across your site this evening. I’m drooling all over my keyboard. I need to make this carrot cake recipe for my husband. It’s his absolute favorite cake that he typically wants for his birthday cake.

    I look forward to reading more!

  13. says

    The combination of coconut, carrots, pineapple and macadamias is delightful! I just might be enticed into trying the Earth Balance Coconut Spread, just so I can replicate your tempting recipe.

  14. says

    This looks so good, I like how moist it is. That is the one thing I don’t like about carrot cake is the too sweet frosting. This is perfect!

  15. says

    I want this cake for my birthday – it looks beautiful and delicious!

    P.S. Thanks for the mango/strawberry salsa – my kids loved it

  16. says

    That looks delicious and beautiful. I just made some zucchini/carrot cupcakes and now I’m in the mood. Will have to try the EB Coconut Spread.

  17. says

    I have been curious about that Earth Balance Coconut Spread, which seemed like a natural for baking. This sounds quite amazing. I can’t bake worth a darn, but if you put this in front of me I would happily eat it!

  18. says

    I love a good carrot cake! I actually thought I had found the only carrot cake recipe I would ever need a few years ago but I might have to try this one.