New Recipe: Ina Garten’s Twist on the Classic Carrot Cake Is Perfect for Spring

Ina Garten often updates classic recipes and her carrot cake is no exception. The bestselling author who films Barefoot Contessa inside a “barn” just steps away from her home in East Hampton, New York, puts her own touch on the classic dessert with fruit.  

Ina Garten’s carrot cake uses oil instead of butter

Ina Garten smiles as she sits at a table during a book signing at William Sonoma
Ina Garten | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

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Most of the Barefoot Contessa’s cakes — and many of her recipes in general — call for butter. Unlike many of her cakes that start with room temperature butter, she skips it in her carrot cake and opts for vegetable oil. 

Apart from the butter swap, the mixture for Garten’s carrot cake includes plenty of pantry staples that are often used in homemade cakes. There’s vanilla extract — the Barefoot Contessa’s favorite “good” vanilla is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract — in the batter as well as baking soda, salt, eggs, flour, and sugar. 

As a fresh take on the traditional carrot cake, Garten adds fresh pineapple to the batter. After combining the wet and dry ingredients and tossing in shredded carrots, raisins, and walnuts — classic carrot cake mix-ins — she adds a bit of chopped fresh pineapple. A simple addition, Garten fuses together two retro flavors; carrot cake and pineapple. 

Not sure about adding pineapple to a carrot cake? The Barefoot Contessa’s Carrot and Pineapple Cake averages five stars on Food Network’s official website. At the time of publication, the recipe has 651 reviews, many of which refer to it as the best carrot cake ever. 

“It is soft, moist, not too sweet and the perfect balance of sweet, crunchy carrot goodness,” one person wrote. Another praised it for being “so easy to veganize and get identical results.”

If pineapple and carrot cake still doesn’t sound good, Garten also has popular dessert recipes including a Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Frosting.

How to make Ina Garten’s Pineapple and Carrot Cake

Ina Garten on the Today show
Hoda Kotb, Ina Garten, and Al Roker on the Today show | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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This cake recipe begins with the same tools as Garten’s other cakes. She uses a standing mixer to combine the wet ingredients. Another signature move of hers, sifting the dry ingredients, happens too.

The cookbook author then adds the mix-ins. But before she does, Garten tosses them with flour so they don’t stick to the bottom of the cake pans. She also warns against over-mixing the batter so it doesn’t get tough.

Once the cakes have cooled, Garten frosts them with cream cheese frosting. Last but not least, she adds more diced pineapple to the top. 

Ingredients for Ina Garten’s Carrot and Pineapple Cake:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the decoration:

  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

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