How to Make Carrot Cake as Good as Grandma’s

Filling your house with the sweet smell of freshly baked carrot cake is way easier than you might think.

There’s something about carrot cake that is simply irresistible. With its mellow carrot sweetness, cinnamon spice and tangy cream cheese frosting, you can’t help but cut yourself a slice. This is especially true for Taste of Home contributor Kim Orr of West Grove, Pennsylvania.

Growing up, Kim would beg her mother to this old-fashioned carrot cake recipe each year for her birthday. Luckily for us, Kim has shared this celebratory carrot cake recipe with the entire Taste of Home community. Keep reading to learn how to make this traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. We bet you’ll love it enough to serve on your own birthday!

But first, make sure you have the right cake supplies to create sweet success!

How to Make Carrot Cake 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups grated carrots

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • Orange and green food coloring, optional

Step 1: Mix the ingredients

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and oil, and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and powder, nutmeg and salt. Then, a third at a time, stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until it’s fully combined. Fold in the grated carrot.

Test Kitchen tip: Add an old-school touch to your carrot cake by stirring in some raisins, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts and/or well-drained crushed pineapple. Each will give your carrot cake texture and some added sweetness.

Healthy tip: You can also replace half, or all, of the canola oil with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce. This swap not only gives your cake some apple flavor but reduces the fat content, too.

Step 2: Bake your carrot cake

Grease and flour two 9-in. round baking pans (Psst! Check out our no-fail way on how to grease a cake pan. Divide the cake batter evenly between the pans and then bake them in a 350° oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven and allow them to cool for about ten minutes. Then, transfer the cake layers from the pans to a wire rack; cool completely. Did your cake turn out wonky? Take a look at 8 common cake mistakes and how to fix them.

Step 3: Prepare the cream cheese frosting

While the cake layers are cooling, start on the frosting. Cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until it’s nice and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract. Next, beat in the powdered sugar gradually, then add milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Reserve about 1/2 cup of frosting for optional decorating. Fold the chopped walnuts into the remaining frosting, if desired.

Test Kitchen tip: If walnuts aren’t your favorite, feel free to use a different nut, or none at all. We recommend pecans, almonds or pistachios.

Step 4: Frost and decorate

After your cake layers have completely cooled, spread the frosting between the layers and over top and sides of cake.

Optional Decoration

For an old-school touch, add a cute carrot topper to each slice of cake. To the reserved frosting, tint 1/4 cup of it orange and the other 1/4 cup green. If you’re in need of food coloring, we love Wilton’s icing colors set.

Next, cut a small hole in the corner of a piping bag or plastic bag and insert a #7 round pastry tip. Fill the bag with the orange frosting and pipe 16 carrots on the top of the cake, so each slice will have one. In another cut pastry or plastic bag, insert a #67 leaf pastry tip and the green frosting, then pipe a leaf at the top of each carrot.

Step 5: Enjoy

Slice your carrot cake and dig in! If you want your dessert experience to be extra-decadent, serve each slice with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream.

Check out more cake recipes that’ll have you coming back for more.

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Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.