Carrot Cake Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting


Carrot Cake Bars – deliciously spiced, sweet tender carrot cake flavored bars topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting! Easier to make than a layered carrot cake and it has even more flavor thanks to the delicious addition of browned butter.

carrot cake bars

Carrot Cake Bars

It is true that I have too many favorite kinds of cake to ever pick just one, but carrot cake is most definitely on my list of top 10 favorites, and yes somewhere near the top of the list. The spices, the sweetness and moisture from the carrots, its pleasant texture, the aroma… it’s all just perfect. I’ve made carrot cake more times than I could ever be able to count. When I was little I wasn’t fond of carrot cake.

Quite possibly it could have something to do with its name and the fact it contained a vegetable in it and also it may have been from tasting the wrong carrot cakes, but once you’ve had a really good carrot cake, you will be hooked. For life. And you will never look back, and why should you? My problem with carrot cake is always knowing when and how to stop.  It’s just too good!

carrot cake bars2

Upgraded Carrot Cake!

I decided to add a ritzy twist to these carrot cake bars, simply because browned butter is basically my absolute favorite thing in the world =). If it didn’t have so many calories I could literally sit down and eat it by the spoonful and spread it over nearly every and any meal.

Mmmm yes these are the things I refer to as the finer things in life. Not designer shoes, expensive and ridiculously fast cars or lavish parties, but browned butter and carrot cake. All it takes is good food to keep me happy =).

If you’d like to add the carrot hearts on top of the bars, add them just before serving as they will begin to break down and become watery if the rest on top of the frosting too long. For the carrot heart how-to you can check out this link at Sophistimom. Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Deliciously spiced, sweet and tender, carrot cake flavored bars topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting! Easier to make than a layered carrot cake and it has even more flavor thanks to the delicious addition of browned butter.

Servings: 20
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (or an additional 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for 30 seconds, set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, blend together brown sugar, granulated sugar, vegetable oil and applesauce until smooth. 
  2. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined, then add remaining dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in grated carrots. Pour into a buttered 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spread into an even layer. 
  3. Bake in preheated oven 30 - 32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.
  4. For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
  5. Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (for how to brown butter see link here. Be sure to brown it long enough to get the good brown butter flavor). 
  6. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof airtight container, cover with lid and chill in refrigerator until butter has cooled (if it's too cold when you go to prepare the frosting you will have to let it rest at room temperature for several minutes until soft enough to blend. The butter should be soft like room temperature butter).
  7.  Scoop butter into a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer whip butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and mix until well combined, Mix in an additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar to thicken if desired.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Carrot Cake Bars


  • Cara: Which type of 13×9 baking dish would you recommend? If I use glass should I reduce the temp? June 24, 2019 at 1:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glass or metal (steel) are preferred and not dark coated metal or ceremic. If using glass you shouldn’t need to reduce the temp that’s what I used for this recipe. June 25, 2019 at 11:55pm Reply

  • Asma: Hi Jaclyn can i add nuts to this recipe and if so how much please. Love your recipe and I can’t wait to bake it. January 30, 2018 at 1:25am Reply

  • Dan: Hi Jaclyn:
    Would this recipe work if I use 8 or 9 inch rounds for a layer cake instead of a 9×13? April 8, 2016 at 10:09am Reply

  • Dan: Hi Jaclyn
    Do you think this recipe work as a layer cake?
    I’m wanting to make a 2 layer carrot cake, and was thinking of trying this in two 8 inch rounds. April 7, 2016 at 7:07pm Reply

  • Alexa: OH my Gosh, I’ve made these carrot cake bars yesterday and they are soo damn delicious. My parents really loved them too. the brown butter cheese frosting is everything, ate half of it before I could put it on the cake haha April 1, 2016 at 6:14am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad your family liked them Alexa :)! April 1, 2016 at 10:08am Reply

  • Michelle Hobbs: Made these today made four batches first was gone in 7 min everyone loved them March 24, 2016 at 5:16pm Reply

  • Michelle Hobbs: Would adding nuts change it at all? I’ve tried many of your recipes and they always turn out awesome this site is my go to never fail me site March 23, 2016 at 1:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That would be just fine. I’m so happy to hear you’ve enjoyed my recipes Michelle, thanks for letting me know :)! March 23, 2016 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Jocelyn: These are so good! I have been looking for a fabulous carrot cake recipe without pineapple, raisins, and nuts; this is it! Of course, my kids would be happy just eating the frosting.

    Thanks so much. March 21, 2015 at 8:38pm Reply

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