The Buttermilk Glaze Makes this Carrot Cake the Best You’ll Ever Eat


Southern Living’s buttermilk glazed carrot cake is the best (and richest) you’ll likely ever eat. The buttermilk glaze takes it over the top!


This carrot cake is a Southern Living best recipe.
When Southern Living published this recipe and named it their Best Carrot Cake, I took note. I made this for a small group, and it was a hit. I had several requests for the rcipe, and many folks commented that it was the best carrot cake they’d ever eaten.

Make this carrot cake ahead.

 I like to make the layers a week or two ahead and freeze them, as they frost so much better when frozen. On the day of serving, I make the frosting, spread it on mostly frozen layers, and place the cake in the fridge until serving time. The cake needs to be refirgerated to maintain best consistency.

The buttermilk glaze sets this cake apart.

The buttermilk glaze really sets the cake apart and makes it special. The buttermilk adds a tang that is subtle but so yummy. Since it is so sweet, I usually only end up using half to 3/4 the amount.  I pour just a little bit on each layer before spreading it evenly with a pastry brush.

Use your favorite nut.

You can use either pecans or walnuts, and you can put in the cake, the frosting, or both! Do whatever suits you, but make sure the nuts are chopped as small and uniformly as possible for the best appearance.

This cake truly is delectable and worth the effort to make. Guests will truly oooooh and aaaahh when you serve it. If you make it, please leave your comments. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

best carrot cake

Southern Living's Best Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Southern Living's best carrot cake with a tangy buttermilk glaze.


  • CAKE:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup finely diced walnuts (may use pecans)
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 3 (8-inch) round cakepans with parchment rounds.
  3. Spray cake pans with floured spray (Baker's Joy); set aside.
  4. Stir flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon in small bowl.
  5. In mixer bowl, add eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk & vanilla.
  6. Mix at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  7. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
  8. Fold in carrot, pineapple, coconut & walnuts.
  9. Pour batter (divided evenly) into prepared cakepans.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Allow layers to cool at least 10 minutes.
  12. Using toothpick, poke holes randomly in each layer (to absorb glaze).


  1. Bring first 5 glaze ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
  4. Drizzle glaze evenly over layers; spread over layers with pastry brush.
  5. Cool layers in pans for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from pans, and cool completely on parchment paper.
  7. Freeze layers until they firm up completely (at least an hour, preferably all day).
  8. Remove when ready to frost.


  1. Beat butter & cream cheese at medium speed with mixer until smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  3. Add more sugar if needed to reach desired consistency. Stir in nuts.
  4. Spread frosting onto frozen layers~putting more on top & sides.
  5. Keep cake in fridge until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information
Yield 14 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 740Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 23gCholesterol 89mgSodium 621mgCarbohydrates 92gFiber 3gSugar 74gProtein 7g

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  1. Hi Pamela, I am sorry you are disappointed in the glaze! Mine has always been white~just like cream cheese icing~and it looks and tastes great! I am not sure how to make the glaze caramel colored…….

  2. I made this for the first time and I must say I am disappointed that the buttermilk glaze is white… the photos I found online show a lovely caramel colored glaze and I like that contrast with the cream cheese frosting…. White sauce with white frosting doesn’t do it for me.

  3. Hi!!! I actually no loner use parchment IF I spray liberally with flour baking spray. Also, I let the cake cook for at least an hour until not one bit warm before turning it out. Also, I glaze it once removed from the pan (put on parchment) to avoid the sticking in the pan!! I glaze whenever I have time after cake is removed since cake will be cool anyway!! Hope this helps!!

  4. Hi, I also love this recipe. I do have some questions.
    -Do you only put the parchment paper on the bottom and the sides of the pans?
    – I find it is sometimes hard to get the cake out of the pans when the glaze is hardened.
    -How long do you cool the cake before you add the glaze and how long do you wait until you remove the cake from the pans?
    Thank you,

  5. Hi Kristyn! I freeze my cake layers plain and do the glazing/frosting simultaneously. You can also make just a day or two ahead and refrigerate the layers until frosting. Hope this helps!!!

  6. Do you glaze your cake layers prior to freezing or do you glaze it just before you frost the cake? I’m a little worried about the glaze crystallizing when frozen.

  7. I would use at least half sweetened, but you could probably do half unsweet to lower carbs without affecting the taste much! But all I’ve ever used is sweetened, so I can definitely attest to it working:-)

  8. Hi Nancy!! The glaze should be fine over the course of your baking over several hours. If it firms up, just stir it. If that doesn’t thin it enough, just pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Hope this helps!!!! XoXo

  9. Hi! For the buttermilk glaze, I was just wondering if it has to be used immediately, or if it could potentially be reheated? I don’t have a full size oven, so I need to make my cake layers individually – which means I won’t be able to glaze them all at the same time. I’m wondering if it keeps it’s consistency as a glaze, so that I can use it over the course of a couple of hours – or if it will congeal and go bad. Thank you!

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