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Cooking Hacks

Swap Grated Carrots for This Weird Ingredient To Save 15 Minutes Baking Carrot Cake

Sounds strange, tastes amazing.


When was the last time you bought baby food? It’s probably been a while, unless you currently have a baby — but if you love carrot cake, there’s a clever baking hack that’ll have you running to the baby aisle on your next grocery trip. This hack comes courtesy of chef Dan Pelosi, who shares tips on his popular Instagram account, @grossypelosi. Pelosi swears that carrot baby food is the secret ingredient needed to prepare the best carrot cake; it makes prep faster (no more peeling carrots!) and your dessert will turn out extra moist. Read on to learn how it works.

What is the carrot baby food hack?

Most carrot cake recipes call for peeled and shredded carrots — but if you’re doing this by hand, it can be tedious and time-consuming. A food processor speeds up the work, but that requires an extra piece of equipment you’ll need to clean later (and those blades can be a pain to deal with). 

If you want to cut down your cake prep time, try replacing fresh carrots with carrot baby food. Pelosi learned this hack from his mom, and grew up eating carrot cake prepared this way. His mom’s recipe — which he shares with his followers in the video below — calls for two 4-ounce jars of carrot baby food. He uses Beech-Nut Naturals (Buy from Walmart, $1.18); the only ingredient in this is carrots, so you’ll want to make sure that’s the case for whichever baby food you purchase. The mushy texture might seem unappealing, but it’ll add a nice moisture and softness to your cake once it’s baked. 

Baby Food Carrot Cake Recipe

Are you on board? Try it for yourself by following Pelosi’s mom’s carrot cake recipe below. 


For cake:

  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • one 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, strained
  • two 4-ounce jars carrot baby food

For frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In large bowl, stir all cake ingredients with wooden spoon.
  2. Grease Bundt pan with cooking spray and pour in batter. 2 round pans make a lovely layer cake, and a 13-by-9-inch sheet pan makes a lovely sheet cake. 
  3. Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on rack.
  4. To make frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar together in stand mixer.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat 4 to 6 minutes, until fluffy and white.
  6. Use a bit of frosting to hold cake in place, then flip it out onto stand or plate. Add frosting. Decorate with whole walnuts on top. 
  7. Place cake in fridge and cool.

Pelosi and his mom aren’t the only ones using the baby food hack. Celebrity chef Paula Deen and singer Tricia Yearwood have both shared carrot cake recipes made with this unconventional ingredient, too.

So, whether you’re preparing a carrot cake for Easter, a birthday party, or just for the fun of it, we hope you’ll find that using baby food is a major timesaver — and yields scrumptious results.

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