Carrot Cake Bars are dessert bars loaded with shredded carrots and chopped walnuts with a cheesecake swirl and a crumble topping. Check out my Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for the best carrot cake recipe!

Hand Holding Plate with Carrot Cake Bars
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Carrot Cake Bars

The thing that sets these carrot cake bars apart from the rest is the cream cheese frosting swirl INSIDE the bars! So, you still get the cream cheese frosting with the carrot cake, but also leave room for the crumble topping! The delicious bars also have walnuts added to the batter for a little nutty crunch in every bite.

Carrot Cake Bars Being Made in Pan with Challenge Butter Box

Carrot Cake Bars Ingredients

There are three important parts to this recipe–the crumble topping, bars, and cheesecake frosting swirl.

ButterYou will use a stick of butter for both the topping and the bars (a total of two sticks), so I chose to use Challenge Butter. Challenge Butter is made the old-fashioned way, churned fresh daily from the freshest milk and cream from happy cows at family-owned dairies since 1911.

In fact, Challenge is the only major U.S. dairy product company that controls the whole process when it comes to making its butter, from milking the cows, to transporting milk, to making the butter to packaging and distributing. Talk about quality control! I also featured Challenge Butter in my Kentucky Butter Crunch Cake and Buttery Bubble Bread.

Carrots: You can’t have carrot cake without shredded carrots! You will need 2-3 large carrots for this recipe. Freshly shredded carrots are best; pre-shredded can be too dry.

Walnuts: I like adding walnuts to these bars for a crunch. However, you can definitely leave them out. If you do leave out the nuts, I recommend that you grate the carrots even finer.

Carrot Cake Bars from Overhead

How to Store Carrot Cake Bars

Allow the bars to cool completely before storing. Store the leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can freeze the bars for up to 3 months. If freezing, wrap the bars in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer-safe container that has been labeled and dated.

Carrot Cake Bars with Bite Missing on Plate

More Delicious Bars

4.50 from 4 votes

Carrot Cake Bars

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Carrot Cake Bars are dessert bars loaded with shredded carrots and chopped walnuts with a cheesecake swirl and a crumble topping.


Crumble Topping

  • ½ cup (1 stick / 113 g) Challenge butter, cubed
  • ¾ cup (94 g) all-purpose flour
  • cup (42 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • ½ cup (1 stick / 113 g) Challenge unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • cups shredded carrots, approximately 2-3 large carrots
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped

Cheesecake Swirl

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup (62.5 g) confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside. You can also line the pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Crumble Topping

  • To a medium bowl, add the flour, confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk together to combine.
  • Add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, sift the flour mixture over the butter and then start breaking down each cube into pea-sized pieces. When done, every ingredient should be well incorporated (with a few chunks). Place in the refrigerator until ready.

Carrot Cake Bars

  • Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. If needed, microwave another 15 seconds to melt the butter completely.
  • In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and sugar. Mix to combine.
  • Stir in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Add in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Stir until completely combined.
  • Fold in the shredded carrots and chopped walnuts. Set aside.

Cheesecake Swirl

  • In a medium bowl, add in the cream cheese and sugar. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.


  • Add about half of the carrot cake batter into the pan and spread it out with an offset spatula.
  • Add the cheesecake batter to the carrot cake batter that is in the pan, spreading it out into an even layer.
  • Add the remaining carrot cake batter on top of the cheesecake batter and spread it out into an even layer.
  • Using a knife or skewer, swirl the batters together.
  • Top with crumble topping.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. There will be very little jiggle to the center.
  • Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. I had a craving for carrot cake and found this yesterday. The actual carrot cake and cream cheese layers are delicious! The directions say to swirl them together but mine did not swirl at all. I’m not so sure that the crumble topping is needed. The texture is different and it’s a bit dry. The flavor just doesn’t add anything to the bars.

  2. Please Note : to take out your package of cream cheese ahead of time makes for spreading easier.. Doesn’t spread too good if cream cheese is cold ..

    1. Hi Amy! The recipe states that the cream cheese should be at room temperature. So that means it would either need to be out of the fridge to come to room temperature or softened prior to use. Hope that helps. 🙂

  3. This might be a dumb question, but do you have to swirl the cream cheese and batter together? I sort of like the look of the cream cheese layer in the middle all to itself. Would it change the texture of the batter without swirling?

  4. I made these for a block party and then took them to work. Rave reviews. Easy- although prep always takes me longer than stated.

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