Small Carrot Cake

Moist and flavorful, this small carrot cake is filled with warm spices and packed with goodies (like raisins and pecans). Top it with cream cheese frosting for an extra special treat! 

Slice of cake with a forkful taken out of it.

This cute little cake is a mini version of your traditional carrot cake. It’s still super moist (thanks to a combination of applesauce and oil) but the recipe makes just a few servings, about 2 to 4.

It’s easy to customize and can be baked in a 6-inch round cake pan or mini loaf pan. The perfect size for popping in a toaster oven! 

Shredded fresh carrot, raisins, pecans, coconut, and pineapple.

Ingredient Notes

  • Carrots: You’ll need one large or 2 small carrots, peeled and grated. I like to use a box grater and do a mix of finely grated (small holes) and coarsely grated carrots (large holes). Avoid the pre-shredded carrots at the store or your cake will be super dry.
  • Mixins: We used a tablespoon of chopped pineapple, raisins, chopped nuts, and shredded coconut. You can go with any combo, you just want to keep the total amount of mixins to 1/4 cup or less.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set the rack in the center of the oven. If you’re using a toaster oven, adjust the cooking rack to the bottom placement and select the BAKE setting. Spray your pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil. 

Glass bowl with cake batter on a cutting board.
Carrot cake batter in a 6-inch round cake pan.

2. Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

3. Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Then, stir in the carrots and any mix-ins.

4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Stir just until combined and no flour streaks remain.

5. Bake: Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan. Bake the cake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Cool completely (about 30 minutes) before frosting.

Carrot cake on a plate with a mound of frosting on top next to a cutting board of chopped pecans.

Plain or Frosted, It’s Up To You!

To top the mini cake pictured, we made a small batch of cream cheese frosting. The recipe is included in the printable card below. It’s rich and creamy and has a little bit of orange zest that pairs nicely with the spiced cake.

For a lighter frosting, try this tangy yogurt-cream cheese frosting. It’s not too sweet and is a great option if you’re out of powdered sugar. 

Of course, you can also enjoy the cake plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or topped with some small-batch whipped cream and toasted coconut.

Overhead view of frosted cake topped with chopped pecans and cut into four slices.

More Small Batch Baking Recipes 

Overhead view of frosted cake topped with chopped pecans and cut into four slices.

Small Carrot Cake

Yield: 6-inch Round Cake
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes

This little recipe has everything that makes carrot cake fun: lots of warm spices, chopped nuts, and a tangy cream cheese frosting!  


For The Cake

  • ½ cup (60 grams) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon Table Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch Ground Cloves
  • 1 Large Egg (50 grams weighed outside of shell)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Neutral Oil (we used Canola Oil)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ⅔ cup (75 grams) Peeled and Grated Carrots (about 1 large or 2 small carrots)
  • ¼ cup Mixins: Chopped Walnuts or Pecans, Raisins, Shredded Coconut, or Finely Chopped Pineapple (use any combo you want)

For The Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) Cream Cheese, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon Fresh Orange Zest
  • ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch Salt
  • ½ cup (60 grams) Confectioner's Sugar, sifted


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. If using a toaster oven, adjust the cooking rack to the bottom position and select the BAKE setting. Coat a 6 x 2-inch round pan with oil or non-stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla until combined. Stir in the carrots and any mix-ins.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture, stirring just until combined and no flour streaks remain.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few crumbs, about 20 to 24 minutes.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting, about 30 minutes.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, orange zest, and vanilla until light and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Sift the confectioner's sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  9. Frost the cooled cake and decorate with chopped nuts or toasted coconut if desired. Slice it up and dig in!


Flour Substitutions: We've had success using White Whole Wheat Flour and Bob's Red Mill's 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour (measured by cups not weight).

To Make A Mini Carrot Cake Loaf: Reduce temperature to 325°F, pour batter into a greased 3 x 5.75 x 2.5-inch loaf pan, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 to 33 minutes.

Toaster Oven Sizes: The baking time in smaller/lower-wattage toaster ovens may be increased by a few minutes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting: Omit the orange zest and increase the vanilla extract to ½ teaspoon.

Nutritional information is an estimate for 1/4 of a frosted 6-inch cake without any mix-ins. The unfrosted cake has about 228 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving.

Recipe adapted from the cookbook 101 Things to Do with a Toaster Oven.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 Frosted Cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 19.1gSaturated Fat: 7.7gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 1904mgCarbohydrates: 47.2gFiber: 1.2gSugar: 33.2gProtein: 4.5g

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  1. Can you successfully bake a cake in a 9”x13” cake pan? That size will fit in my airfryer toaster oven. Will it rise evenly?

    1. We can fit a 9″x13″ pan in our countertop oven too but there is very little room around the sides of the pan meaning the warm air can’t flow as freely.

      So I’ve only baked cake recipes as single layers and have had great success using 8″x8″ and 9″ round pans.

      Baking a cake that size might work well in your oven but since all toaster ovens are different I couldn’t say for sure. If you give it a try here are a few things to keep in mind.

      1. Make sure there is enough room for the cake to rise without touching the top heating elements.

      2. The cake may need covering at some point during the baking, as there’s a chance it will brown too much on top before the cake is baked all of the way through.

      3. You might want to lower the temperature by a few degrees. Similar to #2 it can help to prevent having overcooked edges and a raw middle.

      Hope that helps – Happy baking!
      ~ Brie

  2. I know you didn’t plan this with us in mind, but this is the best solution for seniors living alone. Cake for one that isn’t a mug/microwave cake (not my favourite), and, taste memories of when there were four. I will try the entrees too.

    <3 More like this please?

    1. P.S. I am using little pyrex dishes that have snap on lids. Perfect! And I’m using a toaster oven. No microwave in this home.

      1. Glad to hear the Pyrex worked for you, Nonna. We actually ran into a little trouble with it and discovered the manufacturer does not recommend it be used in a toaster oven.

        To help others we did some research and wrote a post with more information that you can check out here if you’re interested:

        The positive news is there are lots of good toaster oven-friendly alternatives these days.

        Happy Baking!

    2. Hi Nonna!

      Thanks for sharing your success with the cake, so glad it brought back happy memories. That warms our hearts and we’ll definitely be working on more recipes like this 🙂

  3. So good! My grandmother wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so I made this because I knew she liked carrot cake. She said it was the best she’d ever tasted and that I’d have to cook it every week! I used regular whole wheat flour, all oil, and 1/4 cup pecans.

    I did have a hiccup though because of what I cooked the cakes in. I baked the batter in two 8-oz. ceramic ramekins and placed a square of aluminum foil over the top because I worried it would burn. I baked them for 26 minutes, and the insides were still like batter while the outsides were getting done. I think I should’ve left them uncovered and baked a little longer. I ended up finishing my grandmother’s cake in the microwave after scooping it out onto a plate. Lol. I’m definitely going to be trying this again to figure out what mistake I made!

    1. Hi Angel,

      You sound like a really awesome granddaughter! 🙂

      With the ramekins, there’s a larger volume of batter in the middle than say a square pan or the 6-inch pan. Since cakes bake from the edges of the pan inward, the increased volume means it will take longer to cook through. I’m thinking the timing would be similar to the mini loaf pan (so you were super close!).

      Also, the foil may have kept them from baking in the middle. You might want to try baking without covering for the first 20 minutes. If you start to see the tops of the cakes over-browning, then you can cover them with the foil to protect them until the middle is cooked through.

      It sounds like you did great (especially coming up with a solution on the fly!) and that your grandma really appreciated and enjoyed your efforts 🙂

  4. I need to get a set of those mini 4″ square pans. My favorite mini pan I use is the casaware mini muffin pan that has 12 wells. I have two so I can fill all the wells at one time and the second batch can go right in while the first one cools after coming out. I make apple cinnamon mini muffins to eat with my eggs for breakfast before work. The combo is so amazing. I love carrot cake so I will definitely be trying this out.

    1. That’s really impressive, Cindy! Fresh apple cinnamon mini muffins sound fantastic and how can you have a bad day when it starts off that way!

      We did try this recipe in our mini muffin pan, it took about 12 minutes. They were tasty but I didn’t think they were as moist as the mini cakes. I would suggest reducing the temperature a few degrees and cooking a little longer (13 to 15 minutes) if you give it a go 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your great ideas!