Bourbon Carrot Cake

Bourbon Carrot Cake

We’re not crazy people, I swear, but for both of our children we have made all of their baby food up until they were consistently eating regular table food.  This is actually a lot easier than it may sound and is just one small thing we can do to give our kids a healthier start in life.  We hope that this early experience with wholesome foods, prepared with love, will plant the seed of appreciation for real food and because we are not limited to the menu in the grocery store’s baby food isle, we can introduce them to endless flavor combinations.  As a parent, the aspect of making our children’s food from scratch that I appreciate the most is the control we have over what we put into our children; we actually know all the ingredients in their food and can pronounce everything on the ingredient list.  What a novelty!

When it came time for them to throw themselves fingers-first into their first birthday cake, we wanted their first experience with sweets to be as wholesome as possible.  Now as I said, we’re not crazy.  We could have denied this ritual altogether or made some sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, fat free, and entirely fun-free excuse for a cake, but that’s just not how we roll.  We are big fans of fun (and sanity!) so we decided to make each of our children’s first birthday cakes a carrot cake.  It is most definitely a cake in the indulgence sense of the word but gets in a solid serving of veggies and we are able to control what goes in it.

Bourbon Carrot Cake

Being on vacation at the time of Charlie’s first birthday with limited cooking and ingredient resources, instead of winning a creativity prize, we opted for a simple, well tested, and sure-to-be-good recipe.  We were vacationing in Savannah, GA so it only made sense to look up Paula Deen’s carrot cake recipe.

I have never been a very good baker.  Baking is a bit more scientific and precise.  I rarely measure anything I cook and I hardly ever actually follow a recipe.  I am a bit more restrained when I bake but still can’t help but color outside the lines in a few places.  Despite choosing Paula’s recipe because of my need for a “sure thing,” this instance would prove to be no different as we added our own twist to this cake recipe.

Danielle got the batter started.  I figured this was good as she would probably adhere to the letter of the recipe far more than I, but as it turns out, even she added an extra cup of shredded carrot.  After tasting the finished batter, I decided to add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon and 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger.  We decided to omit the nuts since Charlie had not been exposed to them yet.  The real deviation from Paula’s recipe happened after the cake was baked.

I was having and early evening cocktail of bourbon and ginger beer at the time.  You know where this is going… a little bourbon for me, a little bourbon for the cake!  I sprinkled the bourbon right onto the cooling cakes.  Maybe ¼ – 1/3 of a cup between the layers.  Obviously, adjust this to your taste but I found this amount to give a hint of bourbon flavor and further moisten the cake without making it too boozy.  Next time I will probably add a bit more but this is probably the right level for most people.

The finished product turned out so much better than I could have imagined it would.  It was VERY moist and had traditional carrot cake flavor but with a bourbon twist that really added to the experience.

Bourbon Carrot Cake


5.0 from 2 reviews
Bourbon Carrot Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4-16 depending on slices but usually 8
  • Butter, for pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 cups grated carrot
  • ⅓ cup bourbon
  • Frosting:
  • 2 (8oz.) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted), room temperature
  • 1 (16oz) box of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Process:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Butter 3 (9-inch) round pans. Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil.
  5. Blend gently until combined.
  6. Add carrots and combine.
  7. Pour into pans and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Drizzle slowly or brush bourbon onto each layer of the cake. Let sit for 5 minutes to absorb and distribute.
  9. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. For the frosting:
  11. Add all ingredients into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer.
  12. Spread frosting on top of each cake layer. Stack on a serving plate and then frost the sides as well.

Bourbon Carrot CakeBourbon Carrot Cake

Charlie enjoyed his birthday cake but I think I enjoyed it even more.  Maybe it was the dichotomy of getting your serving of vegetables and your serving of bourbon all in the form of a cake…  Have you stumbled upon any unusual food and booze pairings lately?  Do you consider yourself to be more of a baker or cook?  Do you follow recipes to a tee or view them as merely suggestions or inspiration?



  1. says

    G’day Thanks for sharing at our #SayGdayParty; Looks yum and pinned! Please revisit if you haven’t already and say gday to the hosts and another person at the party!
    Cheers! Joanne @ What’s On The List

  2. says

    Why have I not thought about putting whisky in a carrot cake before?! I don’t drink alcohol but I love it in cakes so I came over here straight away when I saw Bourbon in the title. Brilliant.

    • says

      Hi Laura! Isn’t it brilliant! My husband is good like that. The Bourbon really compliments that cake and adds a new whole world of flavor. I stopped by your site. The Cobweb Cake looks amazing!

    • says

      Vickie – Thank you for the comment. I just looked at your site and love the idea of what you and your husband are planning for with your homestead. We actually have four chickens but we live in the city! We are waiting on our first eggs. Any day now! Loved looking at a small piece of your life. I will be stopping by again! Great ideas!

  3. says

    OMG! My dad loves carrot cake, he would die for this, (I’m a big fan too..) it literally looks PERFECT!! I’ll have to save this for sure- thanks for sharing, yum!!!

  4. says

    Oh, I agree! Kids need a wonderful birthday cake for this special occasion! And what a wonderful cake Charlie got for his first! So funny, because I was going to stop and buy some bourbon on my way home from work so that I could make this ginger cake recipe that I found. It calls for bourbon too! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much for bringing this lovely, boozy cake to FF! :D

    • says

      Thanks, Julianna. It was such a fun day and what great memories we will have to share with Charlie! Let us know if you try this cake. It was enjoyed by all and I am sure you will enjoy it too! Have a great weekend!

  5. says

    What precious photos of your little guy and that Carrot Cake looks fabulous! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen


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