Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Bake: 35 min. + cooling


16 servings

Updated: Oct. 23, 2023
A pleasingly moist cake, this treat is the one I requested that my mom make each year for my birthday. It's dotted with sweet carrots and a hint of cinnamon. The fluffy buttery frosting is scrumptious with chopped walnuts stirred in. One piece of this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is never enough—it's better than all the other carrot cakes I've tried! —Kim Orr, West Grove, Pennsylvania


  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 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
  • 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
  • Optional: Orange and green food coloring


  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and oil. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; beat into egg mixture. Stir in carrots.
  2. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. For frosting, in another large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Add enough milk to achieve desired spreading consistency. If desired, reserve 1/2 cup frosting for decorating. Stir walnuts into remaining frosting, if desired.
  4. Spread frosting between layers and over top and side of cake. If desired, tint 1/4 cup reserved frosting orange; using a #7 round tip, pipe 16 carrots around the top of the cake, one per piece of cake. Tint remaining 1/4 cup frosting green; using a #67 leaf tip, pipe a leaf at the top of each carrot. Store in the refrigerator.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Tips

What's the trick to a moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

Cakes made with oil tend to retain more moisture than cakes made with butter or shortening. Ingredients such as sour cream or buttermilk are also key ingredients to a moist carrot cake because they contain acids that tenderize the developing gluten in the flour.

What is a good substitute for cream cheese frosting?

Instead of cream cheese frosting, use a traditional buttercream frosting or try your hand at Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

What's the best oil for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

Canola oil is best for this carrot cake because it has a nice, neutral flavor which doesn’t interfere or clash with any of the other flavors going on in the cake. If you prefer a butter-based carrot cake, check out our recipe for three-layered carrot cake. To convert oil measurements to butter, the general rule is 1 cup butter to 3/4 cup oil.

How do I make the frosting less sweet?

To keep the frosting from becoming too sweet, cut back on the confectioners’ sugar slightly (a few tablespoons may be enough to make a difference). As you prepare the frosting, add a little sugar at a time and taste as you go. Also, you could add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the frosting because the acidity in the juice counters the sweetness of the sugar. If the frosting still seems too sweet, simply decrease the amount you use on your cake.

How do I prevent my frosting from getting runny?

Because it is made in a mixer, cream cheese frosting can become runny if overmixed. Mix just until all of the confectioners’ sugar has been incorporated, and you have whipped in some air for stability. To thicken your frosting, pop the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow the butter and cream cheese to firm up a bit more.

Lisa Kaminski, Taste of Home Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 531 calories, 28g fat (7g saturated fat), 67mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 68g carbohydrate (54g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.