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!
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.
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.
Citrus trees grow abundantly in California, and I'm always looking for new recipes which use the fruit from the orange and lemon trees in my yard. This is one of my favorites! My mother passed this recipe down to me. —Richard Killeaney, Spring Valley, California
When I was married in 1944, I could barely boil water. My dear mother-in-law taught me her specialty—making the lightest angel food cakes ever. This chocolate version is an easy, impressive treat. —Joyce Shiffler, Colorado Springs, Colorado
It's just not Christmas at our house until this festive cake appears. This is different from other red velvet cake recipes I’ve had; the icing is as light as snow. —Kathryn Davison, Charlotte, North Carolina
My grandmother gave me my first cast iron skillet, and I've been cooking and baking with it ever since. Sometimes I add drained maraschino cherries to this banana skillet dessert and serve it with a ice cream. —Terri Merritts, Nashville, Tennessee
My grandmother made up this recipe for her children. Using Ozark-grown cherries and walnuts, she invented one they all liked. Granny always used cream from the dairy farm near her home, but the half-and half works well and is easier to find. —Diana Jennings, Lebanon, Missouri
A cross between a cake and a cobbler, this dessert is a hit whenever I make it to share at a potluck. My family insists I make an extra batch to leave at home. A neighbor shared the recipe over 30 years ago. —Brenda Parker, Kalamazoo, Michigan
My family's best carrot cake recipe dates back to my great-grandmother! We bake up a few of these carrot cakes for special occasions to make sure there's enough to go around. You'll love the texture this pretty, moist treat gets from pineapple, coconut and, of course, carrots! —Debbie Terenzini-Wilkerson, Lusby, Maryland
Here’s a family-sized version of my grandma’s summertime dessert. I can still taste the sweet juicy berries piled over warm biscuits and topped with a huge dollop of fresh whipped cream. My father added even more indulgence to his serving by first buttering his biscuits. —Shirley Joan Helfenbein, Lapeer, Michigan
I remember Aunt Murna telling me that she created her jam cake recipe as a young girl. She made improvements over the years, such as soaking the raisins in crushed pineapple. This cake is a favorite at our annual family reunions. —Mrs. Eddie Robinson, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
My grandma used to bake a version of this for me when I was a little girl. She would make it using fresh apples from her tree in the backyard. I've adapted her recipe because I love the combination of apples, pecans and caramel. —Emily Hobbs, Springfield, Missouri
I asked my grandmother for this recipe after trying these irresistible spice cupcakes at her home. I love their creamy caramel frosting. They're such a scrumptious dessert, you actually forget you're eating your vegetables, too! —Virginia Lapierre, Greensboro Bend, Vermont
My grandmother occasionally brought over this wonderful cake warm from the oven. The spicy apple flavor combined with the sweet cream cheese frosting made this recipe one that we treasured. Even though I've lightened it up, it's still a family favorite. —Lauris Conrad, Turlock, California
Every spring when her rhubarb was ready, my mother-in-law chopped it up for this moist cake. If your rhubarb is too tart for the sauce, just add in some strawberries. —Rena McCalment, Sharpsville, Indiana
At our house, cranberries are a favorite. I made this dessert for the first time in the 1990s. It started out as a pineapple upside down cake—I just changed a few things around! It keeps and travels well, so it’s perfect for taking to church dinners. And we love to share it with our son and grandchildren. —Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina
My Aunt Anne, who is a great cook, gave me a taste of this golden upside-down cake and I couldn't believe how delicious it was. Apricots give it an elegant twist from traditional pineapple versions. —Ruth Ann Stelfox, Raymond, Alberta
I add root beer to both the cake batter and fluffy frosting of this summery dessert to get that great root beer float taste. Serve this moist cake to a bunch of hungry kids and watch it disappear! —Kat Thompson, Prineville, Oregon
My husband’s German family calls this Oma’s apfelkuchen, which translates to "Grandma’s apple cake." They’ve been sharing the recipe for more than 150 years. I use Granny Smith apples, but any variety works. —Amy Kirchen, Loveland, Ohio
Even though Nana is no longer with us, her treats bring me so much joy every time
I bake them. For a more indulgent version, double the frosting and pile it on high! —Chekota Hunter, Cassville, Missouri
My mom made this for me, and one bite can completely take me back to my childhood. You can easily convert it into a great carrot cake recipe: just use grated carrots in place of pumpkin and add raisins. —Melissa Pelkey Hass, Waleska, Georgia
I can still remember my grandma serving this delicious cake on the big wooden table in her farm kitchen. Every time I bake this unusual cake, it takes me back to those special days at Grandma's. —Diane Ganssle, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Even those who don't care for fruitcake love this special holiday dessert. It's a fun way to dress up that old favorite, carrot cake. Try it—your friends and family will agree. —Ann Parden, Chunchula, Alabama
Years ago, I drove 4-1/2 hours to a cake contest, holding my entry on my lap the whole way. But it paid off. One bite and you'll see why this velvety beauty was named the best chocolate cake recipe and won first prize. —Sandra Johnson, Tioga, Pennsylvania
Now that I've retired from teaching, I have more time to bake. This buttermilk pound cake is the one I make most often. It is a truly southern recipe, and one I think can't be topped—once people taste it, they won't go back to their other recipes with buttermilk. —Gracie Hanchey, De Ridder, Louisiana
I come from a line of family cooks and have liked to cook and bake since I was young. Mother and Grandmom were always in the kitchen cooking up something delicious. These carrot cupcakes were Grandmom's specialty, and we always have them at family gatherings. —Lisa Ann Panzino DiNunzio, Vineland, New Jersey
My grandmother made luscious fruit pies and cobblers using blackberries from her garden. I decided to follow her lead and create a blackberry cake that's always lovely with a summer meal. —Lisa M. Varner, El Paso, Texas
These old-fashioned molasses cupcakes were my grandmother's specialty. To keep them from disappearing too quickly, she used to store the tempting goodies out of sight. Somehow, we always figured out her hiding places! —Beth Adams, Jacksonville, Florida
As far as I know, this cake recipe can be traced back to my German great-grandma. When I got married, my mother gave me a copy and I hope to someday pass it down to my children. —Stephanie Travis, Fallon, Nevada
We love the combination of classic fall fruits in this cake. I bake the apples on the bottom to keep them plump and moist, then flip the cake so they're on top. This is best served warm with vanilla ice cream, but we enjoy digging in any time of day. —Christina Yahraes, San Francisco, California
My grandmother first used this recipe for gingerbread more than 100 years ago. I remember that the kitchen smelled like heaven when Grandmother baked her gingerbread. The only thing better was when she took it out of the oven and served it with a generous topping of fresh whipped cream! —Ellouise Halstead, Union Grove, Wisconsin
I found this recipe when going through my grandmother's old files. It was originally made with an orange filling, but using lemon pudding in the filling makes it easier to prepare. It is simply the best. —Angela Leinenbach, Mechanicsvlle, Virginia
I watched my grandma prepare her red velvet showstopper many times for family get-togethers. The fluffy butter frosting perfectly complements the flavor of this gorgeous cake.—Jodi Anderson, Overbrook, Kansas
My grandmother taught me the tricks to making this cake, and I've added my own special touches. The melted chocolate keeps the icing from being too dry and gives it a texture similar to chocolate ice cream. I have more requests for the icing than I do anything else! —Susan Hayes, Massapequa, New York
This moist chocolate cake recipe with coffee reminds me of my grandmother because it was one of her specialties. I bake it often for family parties, and it always brings back fond memories. The cake is light and airy with a delicious chocolate taste. This recipe is a keeper! —Patricia Kreitz, Richland, Pennsylvania
I look forward to August because our family reunion means fun and great food, like this classic cake with the special flair it gets from pineapple. My great-aunt gave me this recipe, and I always make it for the reunion.
—Victoria Casey, Enterprise, Oregon
As 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.