Carrot Cake Bars

These carrot cake bars are easy to make, super moist, packed with carrots and are topped with a dreamy cream cheese frosting. You can make them with all-purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free flour.

Here’s a really simple Easter dessert. I’ve been making the layer cake version of this recipe since 2009. I make it every year for Easter, and every year, people ask me for the recipe.

If you’re looking for something super simple but incredibly tasty, this is it!


Here’s an overview of everything you’ll need.

Cake base

The recipe was adapted from my Healthy Carrot Cake, which was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s carrot cake recipe.

I used 25% less sugar, 60% applesauce and 40% oil instead of 100% oil, less salt, and a bit more carrots.

The cake recipe has three layers, but I know not everybody needs or wants a 3-layer cake, so I halved everything for a 8″x8″ pan.

So here we have a bar version.

These bars are easy to make and take about 23 minutes to bake, so they’re perfect for a last-minute event. You’ll need to let the bars cool completely before frosting, which takes just over an hour, so keep that in mind.

The frosting

This frosting is less sugary than your typical cream cheese frosting. It’s my Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting that I use in every recipe that requires cream cheese frosting.

If you can’t have dairy, you could use my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, which is made with maple syrup, coconut milk/yogurt and oil.

How to make them

Here you can see it’s a super basic cake base recipe. No egg separating, creaming butter, or anything.

The full recipe is below.

Some people like step-by-step photos, so here they are. If you find them useless, please just keep scrolling. :)

The carrots don’t need to be finely grated. I used the grater attachment on my food processor, and it worked great.

If you live outside of the US or Canada, be sure to read the notes concerning cream cheese under the recipe.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, see my disclosure.

Can I add nuts and pineapple?

Walnuts, pecans or raisins would be okay to add to the batter. I wouldn’t add pineapple or anything liquid because the cake base would be soggy.

Can I use almond/coconut/whatever flour?

You have to use a type of flour that’s meant as a 1-to-1 sub for all-purpose flour. So that means no almond flour, coconut flour, buckwheat, oat flour, rice flour, etc., as those aren’t interchangeable with all-purpose flour.

If you’re looking for a grain-free recipe, try these Almond Flour Carrot Muffins. That recipe uses almond and coconut flour.

I’ve tested these bars with both Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour and King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour. Both work great.

The gluten-free version, after cooling and made with one of the brands I mentioned above, really tastes like it was made with all-purpose flour.

Can I use a different type of oil?

I’ve listed canola or vegetable oil, but you can use any neutral-tasting oil, such as grapeseed or olive oil.

You can taste the olive oil when the cake is hot and fresh out of the oven, but you won’t be able to taste it once it cools.

But don’t use a very flavorful or expensive olive oil. If you have light olive oil, that’s a great choice.

I haven’t tried coconut oil, but if you do, I’d recommend using refined coconut oil unless you want some coconut taste in the cake.

The cake wouldn’t be as moist if you used butter instead of oil. Butter is 80-82% fat, and oil is 100% fat, so it’s best to go with the oil for the moistest cake.


You can’t use a liquid sweetener in place of the granulated sugar. But you can use coconut sugar!

The cake will be darker in color, which you may not like if you like the orangeish color. But it does taste good.

This recipe already calls for 25% less sugar than the original, so I really don’t recommend reducing the sugar. Reducing it even more would result in a dry cake.

Can I use a different pan?

This recipe uses an 8”x8” pan, but here’s a handy pan conversion chart if you don’t have that size.

I don’t have the baking time for other sizes of pans, so you’ll just need to keep a close eye on the cake bars while they’re in the oven.


You can go the natural route and use toasted pecans for a bit of crunchy richness. A single pecan per cake bar, or you could chop them up after roasting and sprinkle them all over the top.

For something extra tasty, you could use these maple syrup Candied Pecans or Maple Walnuts. With either one of those, place them on the cake just before serving or else the maple syrup will liquify and create some moisture around the nut.

If you don’t have pecans, a dusting of cinnamon looks nice.

For something more festive, my photographer got a 12-pack of bunnies and carrots for $4.99 from Target. The ingredients aren’t fantastic, but you can just remove them before eating.

Or you could use some candy eggs on these bars and then on this no bake mini egg cheesecake!

How to freeze

You can freeze the bars frosted or unfrosted. Either way, they’ll last about three months.

To thaw them, put them in the fridge overnight or on the counter for about 1-2 hours or until thawed.

If you’d like to freeze the cake bars separate from the frosting, and then frost once thawed – that also works. Cream cheese frosting freezes great.

More treats for spring

I hope you’ll like these carrot cake bars! If you make them, please comment below to let me know what you think. Thanks! :)

Carrot Cake Bars

Rated 5.0 by 6 readers
Carrot Cake Bars
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 16 bars



  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or for gluten-free use 1 cup (138 grams) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour or 1 cup (125 grams) King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (50 grams each, out of shell), room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (91 grams) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 oz (198 grams – 1 3/4 cups) grated and peeled carrots1
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • one 8-ounce package (250 grams) full-fat cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar


    Prepare the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line an 8”x8” (23 cm x 23 cm) pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined.
  5. Then fold in the carrots only just until combined.
  6. Bake for 23 minutes. It’ll have browned a bit. The toothpick came out clean at 20 minutes, but I dug in with a fork, and it was still gooey in the middle. At 23 minutes, it was done.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled, about 70 minutes, before frosting.
  8. Prepare the frosting:

  9. Beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until soft and smooth.
  10. Add the salt and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy.
  11. Spread over the cooled cake.
  12. Cut into 16 bars and top with pecans or Easter decorations.
  13. Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. I used the grater attachment on my food processor to grate the carrots, so they weren’t super finely grated.

Cake base adapted from from Smitten Kitchen's carrot cake recipe

Recipe by  |

Pin post on Pinterest Share post on Facebook Share post on Twitter Share post on Google+

15 comments on “Carrot Cake Bars” — Add one!

8 comments are awaiting moderation!

  • Laurie Hoffman
    April 2, 2024 @ 4:40 am

    Mmmm delish… couldn’t stop eating it! I subbed half the sugar with a powdered stevia/monk fruit mix. I did strain my carrots , just because I used gluten-free flour which seems to make cakes to be on the wet side. Love the mass amounts of carrots, almost didn’t feel bad eating half the loaf in one sitting. I might add some dates and walnuts next time. Thank you!

  • Kristina
    March 31, 2024 @ 6:20 pm

    My kids loved these bars and I love how I can sneak carrots into their diet under the guise of a treat. This is a great recipe!

  • wendy says
    March 30, 2024 @ 6:50 am

    I’ve just made the traditional easter lamb cake ( 3d mold style ) with the carrot cake recipe. Do you think i could use this frosting to pipe the lamb?
    I’m not a buttercream fan and i’d love to not have my granddaughter filled with so much sugar – but im hoping to be able to get a curly pipe or even a ribbon effect.
    Thanks so much in advance for any suggestions. Will let you know how the cake turned out once Easter dinner is done. !

    • Erin replies to wendy
      March 30, 2024 @ 10:58 pm

      I hope that the lamb cake out well! You can pipe it the way it is, but it’s better to double the butter if you want to do a neat piping job. I talk about it in my healthier cream cheese frosting recipe, which is the same frosting as on the carrot cake bars. I hope it’ll be a hit! Happy Easter. :)

      • Wendy
        replies to Erin
        April 1, 2024 @ 5:40 am

        Thanks so much for the quick reply ! I had missed the part about piping. I doubled the recipe to make enough for the cake but used only 8 tbsp of butter and chilled the icing before frosting. Worked wonderfully. Held the rosette piping beautifully. Like many others have commented the icing is delicious-.tangy with just enough sweetness I made a fresh strawberry sauce to accompany the cake – I’m not a sweet lover so I like the contrast of fresh fruit but I have to say even without it the frosting was not too sweet – everyone loved it. )
        This will definitely be my go to. I have some icing left over and am going to experiment with some flavor additions. Thanks again & Happy Easter 🐣

  • Robin
    March 28, 2024 @ 2:43 pm

    These are delicious! I used refined coconut oil, but that was the only change. They were so moist, my whole family enjoyed them! I used jelly beans on top for decoration because that’s what I had. Haha Another amazing recipe, thank you!

    • Erin replies to Robin
      March 30, 2024 @ 11:01 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad that they came out well. Jelly beans sounds like a fun idea! I’m on vacation in the US right now and bought some Yum Earth jelly beans to bring back for next year’s Easter in Germany. 😆 Maybe I should use them on these bars instead. 😋 Thanks for the idea and for your feedback! Happy Easter. :)

  • Jacqueline
    March 28, 2024 @ 11:16 am

    I adore these carrot cake bars. I made one batch as a trial run and now I’m making another for Easter! Great recipe.

  • Dennis
    March 27, 2024 @ 12:45 pm

    I made your carrot cake bars for my wife’s book club and they absolutely loved them. Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe!

  • NickiB says
    March 26, 2024 @ 4:09 pm

    These look so yummy! Do you think the cake would make a good base for an ice cream cake? Daughter is wanting a carrot cake ice cream cake for he birthday and I have only ever made one ice cream cake before, which was chocolate. Not sure if there has to be a certain “type” of cake for ice cream cakes. Thanks!!

    • Erin replies to NickiB
      March 27, 2024 @ 3:35 am

      Thanks! It’s crazy, but I’ve never even had an ice cream cake. Frozen cake always seemed odd to me. So I have no idea. But I googled it and think this may be helpful: I’m on vacation and have bad jetlag (and really want to sleep 😴), or else I’d research further for you. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! I hope your daughter has a great birthday. :)

      • NickiB replies to Erin
        March 28, 2024 @ 5:44 pm

        Thank you so much for your reply! It was immensely helpful, and I hope you enjoy (or have enjoyed!) your vacation.

        • Erin replies to NickiB
          March 30, 2024 @ 10:59 pm

          You’re welcome! And thanks. We’re indeed enjoying it. :)

  • Anna says
    March 26, 2024 @ 4:52 am

    Where are the Carrot Cake ingredients? I’ve looked and looked and I keep getting back to the same page with no list of ingredients! Please tell me where to find the ‘actual’ recipe, I’d love to make these. Thanks,

    • Erin replies to Anna
      March 27, 2024 @ 3:23 am

      The full recipe is in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, but before your comment. You had to scroll past the recipe to get to the area where you wrote your comment. I hope you’ll enjoy them!


Comments? I’d love to hear from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *


Comments are moderated. If you don’t see your comment immediately, don’t panic… it went through! Thank you so much for taking time to leave feedback!

Please help others by rating the recipe: