Chef Ann Kim’s Foolproof Sweet Potato Carrot Cake

A holiday favorite from the Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta

Carrot cake on a white plate

photo: Amy Sinclair
Chef Ann Kim.

Sweet potatoes are nearly always relegated to the pie section of the holiday table. But according to chef Ann Kim of the Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta, Korean cuisine utilizes the versatile veggie in wide-ranging ways. That’s part of the inspiration behind her sweet potato carrot cake. 

“I love carrot cake, and adding sweet potato brings a natural moistness to the cake,” Kim says. The traditional Korean sweet potato has purple skin with a white flesh that imparts a chestnut flavor, but Kim says you can use any sweet potato you like. In fact, pumpkin and squash substitutions—even canned purees—work just as well in this foolproof recipe.

“I’m not a baker, I’m a chef. So when I’m making desserts, I create recipes that won’t fail,” Kim says. Even if you add a little extra nutmeg or leave the cakes in the oven a minute too long, don’t fret. Kim says the sweet potato guarantees a moist cake that will wow your holiday guests. 

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The Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta accepts walk-in diners and reservations. Visit the Club’s website for the menu and more information.


  • Sweet Potato Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Yield: 10–12 servings)

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 2 tsp. baking powder

    • ½ tsp. baking soda

    • 1 tbsp. cinnamon, ground

    • ½ tsp. nutmeg, ground

    • ½ tsp. ginger, ground

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 4 large eggs, room temperature

    • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed

    • ⅔ cup vegetable oil

    • ⅓ cup buttermilk

    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 1 cup sweet potatoes, roasted and pureed

    • 1½ cups carrots, grated

    • ½ cup pecan pieces, toasted

    • 1 orange, zested

    • ½ cups toasted pecans, for garnish (optional)

  • For the cream cheese frosting

    • 1 lb. cream cheese, softened

    • 8 oz. butter, softened

    • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

    • 2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350℉. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

  2. In another bowl, mix eggs, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, sweet potato puree, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients bowl and whisk. Add remaining ingredients. 

  3. Spray two 9-inch cake rounds with nonstick baking spray. Divide batter between the two pans. Bake for 15 minutes and rotate. Set timer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until cake is fully cooked through.

  4. Allow cakes to cool in baking pan on cooling rack. Remove cakes after 10 minutes and place back on cooling rack. Allow cakes to cool completely. While cakes are cooling, make frosting.

  5. Make the frosting: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and cream cheese. Start on low and gradually increase speed to medium until blended. Use rubber spatula to scrape off the sides. Turn speed off. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Start at lowest speed to prevent the powdered sugar from getting everywhere. Gradually bring speed up to high. Once again use spatula to scrap off the sides and continue mixing until incorporated.

  6. You can make this a two-layer cake or take the two layers and slice them horizontally in half to get four halves. This will create a four-layer cake. Divide frosting in half. Use half of the frosting to spread on all the layers of cake. Use the remaining half to cover the exterior of the cake.

  7. Sprinkle pecans on top of frosted cake along edge. Serve.