Grandma Catherine’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

old fashioned carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

This made from scratch, old fashioned carrot cake recipe includes two options for cream cheese frosting – one traditional, and one with less sugar.


Units Scale

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (I use crispy nuts)
  • 3 cups grated carrots

For Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 23 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For Less Sugar Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar or 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Blend together dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and then add to egg mixture. Add nuts and carrots.
  2. Pour carrot cake batter into a greased and floured 9″x13″ cake pan or two nine inch round cake pans. Bake at 325°F until edges are lightly browned and cake tests done with toothpick, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Leave in pan and set on cooling rack, or invert onto wire rack to cool. Once the cake has cooled completely, ice with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

For traditional cream cheese frosting

  1. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together for about 3 minutes on medium speed, until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.

For less sugar cream cheese frosting

  1. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, blend cream cheese, sugar (or honey) and vanilla until smooth. Fold cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream.


It’s best if you wait to frost the cake until it is completely cooled. To frost a two layer cake with crumb coat:

  • Place first layer on serving plate, and scoop a large dollop of frosting in the center of the layer. Spread the frosting to the edges of the cake. Place second layer of carrot cake on top of the first layer. Scoop an ample dollop of frosting onto the center of the cake. Spread the frosting outward and down sides of cake, coating evenly. Let set for five to ten minutes, until the frosting has a chance to dry slightly. Wipe away any crumbs that have stuck to the edge of the plate. After the crumb coat has set, apply the rest of the frosting.
  • For the cake shown in the photos, I used the traditional cream cheese frosting and applied it with a 16″ pastry tube and #4B star icing tip.

Keywords: carrot cake, old fashioned, family recipes