Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

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If you’re looking for a fabulous carrot cake recipe, look no more. This Layered Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting 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.

Two layer Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese frosting on a cake stand

This cake has become one of my daughter’s favorite cakes. She’s not a cooked carrot lover, but the carrots in this cake just add sweetness and moisture.

Tropical Carrot Cake Details

  1. Two layers of moist, flavorful carrot cake loaded with pineapple, macadamia nuts,  and coconut. Spiced just right with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Two layers of rich and delicious coconut cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese does a wonderful job of balancing all the sweet.
  3. When the above are eaten together they melt in your mouth.

It’s a tropical version of Cook’s Illustrated’s Simple Carrot cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I added 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.

Collage of ingredients and mixing a tropical carrot cake

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. You could use an immersion blender, a mixer, or even a wire whisk.

Tips For A Great Tropical Carrot Cake

  1. All ingredients should be at room temperature, this will ensure even baking temperature so your edges are not over baked while your center is under baked.
  2. Clean your carrots well prior to shredding, remove the ends and any little wispy roots that are still hanging on. Using a food processor to shred your carrots will save you a lot of time and energy.
  3. When mixing the sugars, eggs, oil in the food processor this is emulsifying (combining) these ingredients into one. Be certain to process them well according to the recipe so they become completely emulsified together.
  4. When mixing in your additions (carrots, pineapple, nuts, etc) make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the batter so each bite gets all that flavor.
  5. When adding in your flour mixture make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl so everything gets mixed in completely.
  6. The frosting is a wonderfully rich and creamy and melts into each bite of cake. Due to its decadent nature and the cream cheese, it has a softer consistency.
  7. When toasting your coconut for garnish, do so on a parchment/Silpat lined baking sheet in a thin layer at 350 degrees F. Do not walk away to work on something else, the coconut can burn quickly. I suggest setting a timer for 2 minutes at time and keep an eye on it. Ideally, it will toast within 5 minutes. Let cool before adding to your cake.
  8. This cake is best served at room temperature.
collage of before and after baking carrot cake layers

Here’s a before and after baking picture of the carrot cake layers. I love that they bake up so nice and level and the color of the baked cakes is beautiful and there’s no need to ice the sides of the cake.

Can I bake this Tropical Carrot Cake in a 13 x 9-inch pan?

Yes, you can bake this cake in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake it for 35 to 40 minutes. 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. Sally, Sally’s Baking Addiction, has a Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake and she cooks it for 55-75 minutes, or when the Internal Temperature Reads 210°F.

Two layer Tropical Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese frosting on a cake stand

This Layered Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting is easy to make and everyone who’s tried it loves it. I’m sure your family will love it too.

Two layer Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese frosting on a cake stand
Yield: 12-16 servings

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes



  • 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 can (8 oz.) 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour mixture into large bowl. Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, and pineapple. Mix in dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. *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. **How to Measure Flour 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.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. 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.
  2. Frost cake and sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Store in the fridge.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 417Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 4gSugar: 39gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

More Cakes You Might Like:

The Best Ever Coconut Bundt Cake, Barbara Bakes
Carrot Raisin Coffee Cake, Barbara Bakes
Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with a Coconut Cream Cheese Filling, Barbara Bakes
Carrot Cake Cheesecake, Easy Dessert Recipes

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Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting on a marble cake stand
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