Easy Sourdough Carrot Cake

No layers, no separate bowls, no sifting. This Sourdough Carrot Cake combines the tangy flavor of sourdough starter discard with the sweet, moist richness of carrot cake, creating an amazing dessert.. Perfect for using up that sourdough discard and adding an extra layer of flavor, this recipe is perfect for a spring party or a cozy family dessert.

Sourdough carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, in soft focus, creating a dreamy effect that emphasizes the texture of the cake and the creamy frosting on a white plate with a grey cloth in the background.

Sourdough Carrot Cake Recipe

Easy to make, super moist, and topped with the best cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serving Size 16 people


  • 9 x 13 baking dish



  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter discard/unfed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple drained
  • 2 cups carrots grated
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 6 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 9 ounces butter melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch salt if using unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tablespoons milk or cream adjust if frosting is too thick


  • Preheat Oven: Set your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan or line it with parchment paper.
  • Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, beat together the vegetable oil and white sugar. Incorporate the sourdough starter gently. .
    A bowl of creamy batter with an electric mixer's beaters lifted above, showing the thick consistency ideal for carrot cake.
  • Add Eggs. Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
    A bowl of cake batter with an electric mixer's beaters, now colored yellow from the added eggs.
  • Add Fruits and Carrots. Reduce mixer speed and mix in the grated carrots, drained crushed pineapple, and golden raisins.
    The same bowl of cake batter with freshly grated carrots and golden raisins added, next to the mixer's beaters.
  • Dry ingredients. Add the all-purpose flour, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
    The batter fully mixed, showing a thick consistency with carrots and raisins throughout, ready to be baked.
  • Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
    A freshly baked carrot cake in a glass baking dish, with a golden-brown top, just out of the oven.
  • Make the Frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt (if using unsalted butter), beating until smooth. If necessary, thin with milk or cream to reach desired consistency.
  • Frost the Cake. Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the frosting evenly over the top.
    A container of homemade strawberry ice cream with scoops taken out, showing a creamy pink texture with visible strawberry pieces.


For 2 cups of grated carrots, you would typically need about 4 to 5 medium-sized carrots.
Store any frosted leftovers in the refrigerator and unfrosted cake at room temperature. The unfrosted cake can also be frozen for up to a month.
Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 302mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 3260IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

It’s now my go-to recipe for gatherings, and my friends always ask for it. The tangy sourdough twist to the classic carrot cake is something I never knew I needed, but now can’t live without. Whether it’s a casual Sunday or a special occasion, this cake has a way of making the day brighter.

Close-up of a slice of sourdough carrot cake on a plate, showing a moist crumb with visible flecks of grated carrot and raisins, topped with a smooth layer of cream cheese frosting.

No one knows or notices that there’s sourdough starter in it. It just tastes like a classically delicious carrot cake.

Sourdough Cake Tips

  • Sourdough Starter Consistency: The consistency of your sourdough starter can vary. If yours is particularly thick or thin, adjust the amount of flour or liquid slightly to achieve a batter that’s thick but pourable. This ensures the cake’s texture is just right.
  • Drain the Pineapple Well: Make sure to thoroughly drain the crushed pineapple. Excess moisture can make the batter too wet, affecting the cake’s structure and baking time.
  • Grate Your Own Carrots: While it might be tempting to use pre-grated carrots for convenience, grating your own carrots ensures they are fresh and moist, which contributes to the cake’s overall texture and flavor.
  • Don’t Overmix: After adding the dry ingredients to the wet, mix just until combined. Overmixing can develop the gluten in the flour, leading to a denser cake.
  • Bake Time Variability: Oven temperatures can vary, so start checking the cake for doneness at the 40-minute mark. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. If not, give it a few more minutes.
  • Cooling is Crucial: Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. This prevents the frosting from melting and ensures it spreads evenly.
  • Frosting Thickness: Adjust the milk or cream in the frosting to get your desired consistency. Start with a little, then add more as needed. It should be smooth and spreadable but not runny.
  • Flavor Development: This cake tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to meld together. If you can, make it a day ahead of when you plan to serve it.

Key Ingredients and Tools

  • Sourdough Starter Discard. You can usually find sourdough starter from fellow bakers or online, but it’s also easy to make at home. The sourdough starter discard adds a unique tangy flavor to the cake that you won’t get with regular batter.
  • Crushed Pineapple. Look for canned crushed pineapple in the canned fruit section of most grocery stores. It adds moisture and a tropical flavor to the cake, making it exceptionally moist and delicious.
  • Golden Raisins. These are found in the baking aisle and add a sweet, chewy texture to the cake. If you can’t find golden raisins, regular raisins or even dried cranberries can be a good substitute.
  • Cream Cheese. Found in the dairy section, cream cheese is crucial for the frosting, giving it a rich, tangy flavor that pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the cake.
  • Each of these ingredients plays a vital role in making the sourdough carrot cake both flavorful and texturally interesting. While some ingredients like the sourdough starter may require a bit of prep or searching, the end result is a cake that stands out from the usual carrot cake, making it well worth the effort.

Having the right tools on hand makes cooking this straightforward and hassle-free.

How to Shred Carrots for Carrot Cake

You can s do it by hand or use the shredding disc of your food processor. I use my food processor and even though the pieces seem large, they soften up a lot in the cake.

Shredded orange carrots in a food processor bowl, ready to be mixed into the cake batter.

You can always grate by hand or buy grated carrots if you prefer smaller pieces.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with coffee, tea, or milk.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I use fresh pineapple instead of canned?

Yeah, you can definitely use fresh pineapple if you have it. Just make sure to chop it really fine and drain any excess juice. The canned stuff is just more convenient and consistent in sweetness and moisture.

What if I don’t have golden raisins?

No biggie! You can use regular raisins, dried cranberries, or even chopped dates. The golden raisins add a nice color and a slightly different flavor, but it’s all about using what you have and what you like.

Can I make this cake gluten-free?

Sure thing. Just swap out the all-purpose flour for your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Just keep an eye on the texture; you might need to adjust the amount a little bit to get it just right.

What can I use if I don’t have a sourdough starter?

The sourdough starter adds a unique flavor, but if you’re in a pinch, you can use plain yogurt or buttermilk. Just know it won’t have that slight tanginess that the sourdough starter brings to the table.

Overall, if you need to make a few changes here and there it’s no big deal.

Storing Leftovers

Storing this sourdough carrot cake properly will keep it tasting great for days. Here’s how to do it:

Refrigerating the Frosted Cake

  • Once frosted, this cake needs to be kept in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting.
  • Place it in an airtight container or cover it well with plastic wrap. This will keep it from absorbing any odd smells from the fridge and prevent it from drying out.
  • It’ll stay good for 3 to 5 days. Just take it out a little bit before serving so it’s not too cold.

Storing Unfrosted Cake at Room Temperature

  • If you haven’t frosted the cake yet, you can keep it at room temperature. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
  • It’ll be good for a couple of days on the counter.

Freezing the Cake

  • You can freeze this cake either frosted or unfrosted. For frosted cakes, freeze it for about an hour uncovered first, so the frosting hardens. Then wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil to protect it from freezer burn.
  • For unfrosted cakes, just wrap it well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
  • Label it with the date, and you can keep it frozen for up to a month.
  • To thaw, just leave it in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours if it’s unfrosted.

Following these steps ensures your sourdough carrot cake stays delicious until you’re ready to enjoy it again.

More Sourdough Desserts to Love

When you’re craving a sweet from scratch and have some sourdough discard to use up, turn to one of these.

For a spring or Easter gathering, make any of these Sourdough Easter Desserts

Sourdough Apple Cake is very similar but has more fall flavor.

Here’s how to Make Easy + Delicious Sourdough Cinnamon Sugar Muffins that are perfect for any time of the day.

And if you don’t feel like shredding anything, you’ll love this Sourdough Pumpkin Cake.

The same as the first image, it can be described as a close-up view of a moist, freshly baked sourdough carrot cake slice with cream cheese frosting, highlighting the textures and colors of the ingredients.

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

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