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old fashioned carrot cake recipe
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5 from 6 votes

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot cake with pecans covered with homemade cream cheese frosting
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Cooling Time8 hours
Total Time9 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 874kcal
Author: Cari


  • 1 ½ cups Packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 4 Large eggs
  • ¾ cup Cinnamon applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 cups Grated carrots
  • 3 cups Chopped pecans divided
  • 16 ounces Full-fat cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup Unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups Powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons Pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Cream of tartar


  • Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.
  • Grate your carrots, cover with a paper towel and set aside.
  • Whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together in a large bowl until combined and no brown sugar lumps remain.
  • In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined.
  • Fold in the grated carrots and 1 cup of the toasted pecans.
  • Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the 3 cake pans. bake for 20-24 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Wrap the cakes in cellophane wrap and store in the refrigerator for an hour, overnight is best. When placing them in the refrigerator, place them upside down as this helps flatten the top. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting.
  • To make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, vanilla extract and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 1 minute then increase to high speed until creamy.
  • Cake assembly: Place 1 cake layer on your cakeboard or serving plate. I use an ice cream scoop and add two scoops of frosting to make sure each layer gets the same amount of frosting. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer, 2 scoops of frosting, and then top with the 3rd cake layer. Spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides.
  • Do no worry if the sides aren't perfectly frosted. With the remaining pecans, cover the sides of the cake. The frosting will act as an adhesive for the pecans.
  • Refrigerate cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  • Cover leftover frosted cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.



  • When placing the baked cake layers in the refrigerator, place them upside down as this helps flatten the tops.
  • Use an ice cream scoop when pouring the batter into the cake pans to ensure each pan gets the same amount of batter. 
  • Use an ice cream scoop to adding the frosting between cake layers for even frosting layers. 


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 874kcal | Carbohydrates: 130g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 742mg | Potassium: 490mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 4704IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 287mg | Iron: 3mg