Old Fashioned Carrot Cake

4.80 from 5 votes
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Friends, I have been dying to show you this recipe! Carrot and coconut flakes in a cake? Yes, Yes, Yes!!! Seriously, nothing could be better. My mint tea has found a new bestie in this Old Fashioned Carrot Cake.

Layered carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

This carrot cake is filled with warm spices, flaky coconut, and shredded carrots. It is unbelievably moist and perfect for when you want a treat that isn’t overly sweet.

AND the creamy cream cheese frosting is everything! I won’t lie. This carrot cake is delicious on its own without a frosting. BUT, the cream cheese frosting used in this recipe is so cheesy, creamy, and yummy that I couldn’t resist adding it.

If you happen to love cream cheese frosting, you should also try my Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting or Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – they definitely won’t disappoint! But for now, let’s get back to this heavenly carrot cake recipe.

Slices of old fashioned carrot cake.

Why You’ll Love This Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe

  • It’s classic. If you love old-fashioned baking, this is the recipe to make. Carrot cake has stood the test of time, reigning as one of the most recognizable and classic desserts. If you’ve never made one, now is the time!
  • My recipe is easy to follow. It guides you through making a gorgeous layered carrot cake. And you don’t have to be a professional to make it. Your family or guests will be so impressed by the outcome. Not only is it pretty to look at it, but it is a dream to eat.
  • It’s perfect for holidays and celebrations. Not quite sure what to make for Easter? Or Mother’s Day? Or what to bring to the next family gathering? This cake is the answer! No matter what you’re celebrating, this dessert is sure to win everyone over.

Ingredients Needed

Here is what you need for the best carrot cake:

Ingredients for old-fashioned carrot cake.

Let’s talk about this cake for a minute. It is so easy to make. It requires simple baking ingredients, such as all purpose flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and leavening agents. However, it also has some special ingredients that give it some pizzaz! Here are some notes about them:

  • Grated Carrots: Of course, it’s not a carrot cake without some grated carrots! You’ll want to use thin shredded pieces. If they are too thick, you will end up with chunky or chewy pieces that don’t seamlessly blend into the cake. Use a grater or food processor instead of chopping them by hand!
  • Coconut Flakes: Coconut adds both texture and flavor to the cake. Although not every carrot cake recipe calls for them, I believe they add value to the recipe!
  • Ground Cinnamon: This spice gives the cake a warm flavor. It is part of what makes old fashioned carrot cake so darn delicious and comforting!
  • Apple Sauce: Apple sauce adds subtle sweetness while providing the cake with moisture. You can use homemade apple sauce or store-bought.

You will also need a few simple ingredients for the icing, such as cream cheese, butter, powdered or confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract:

Ingredients needed for cream cheese frosting.

How To Make An Old Fashioned Carrot Cake

Here is how to make this traditional carrot cake:

  1. Grease and flour the pans. Cover the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine flour and all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Then gradually add the wet ingredients and mix-ins to form a stunning orange-looking batter.
  3. Stop mixing the batter once everything is thoroughly incorporated. It’s a one-bowl mixing affair!
  4. Evenly distribute the carrot cake batter between the two cake pans, using cake strips if you have them.
  5. Bake the cakes until thoroughly baked (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean).
  6. Let the cake cool on a wire rack while you make your cream cheese frosting.
Steps for making an old fashioned carrot cake.

How To Frost an Old Fashioned Carrot Cake

  1. To make the frosting, mix the ingredients using an electric mixer or a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Frost the cooled cake with your prepared piping bag and tip. Frost the bottom layer first, starting at the edges.
  3. Entirely cover the bottom layer’s surface with stars.
  4. Place the second cake onto the first and frost the top in the same fashion.
Steps for frosting an old fashioned carrot cake.

This cake has a moist texture, rich flavor, and the cake layers are so beautiful when frosted this way. It tastes even better the next day.

Classic carrot cake is a great thing to serve on a special occasion like Easter or memorable family gatherings. Slice and enjoy!

You can make this cake a layer cake or a sheet cake baked in a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Substitutions and Variations

You can switch up things and make this old-fashioned carrot cake recipe your own. Here are some suggestions:

  • Spices: In place of the cinnamon, you can use nutmeg!
  • Nuts: For a crunchy addition, consider adding chopped walnuts or pecans.
  • Pineapple: For a more tropical carrot cake, you can replace the applesauce with fresh pineapple pieces. The sweet and tart flavor of the pineapple pairs wonderfully with the cake and rich frosting.
  • Raisins: Some people prefer to use raisins in their old fashioned carrot cake! You can always add some. I suggest soaking them in hot water for a few minutes first to help plump them up. Otherwise, they might try to absorb the liquid from the cake and make the cake itself dry.
  • Coconut: If you don’t have access to coconut flakes, you can use coconut sweet, which is a sweet snack made from shredded and toasted coconuts!
Decorated carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Expert Tips

  • Allow the cake to cool completely before you begin frosting it. If it is still warm, the icing will melt and become a mess, which you certainly don’t want!
  • For best results, use fresh carrots and shred them yourself. Although buying pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store saves time, they are usually dry and don’t have as fresh a flavor.
  • Use cake strips if you can! You just have to soak them in water, wring out the extra liquid, and then wrap them around the cake pan, securing them in place. The dampness from the strips protects the cake’s edges, so they don’t cook faster than the center. You can use them for any cake you make.
  • When making the icing, it’s crucial to use softened butter and cream cheese; otherwise, it will come out lumpy and be hard to pipe. I suggest allowing them to sit at room temperature for a while. If you try to take a shortcut and soften them in the microwave, they might melt!
  • To store carrot cake, let the layers cool completely then wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze them. Assemble the layers with frosting before serving.

Recipe Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Icing Traditionally Goes on Carrot Cake?

Cream cheese icing is the traditional choice for carrot cake, especially for old-fashioned carrot cake!
Sometimes, you might find recipes that use something else, but the cream cheese icing is used for a reason. It has a sweet yet tangy essence that perfectly pairs with the spices and ingredients in the cake.

Why Does Carrot Cake Use Oil Instead of Butter?

Oil works better than butter in carrot cake because it makes the crumb really soft and moist, which is much needed to balance the texture of the carrots.

Otherwise, it might be overly cakey. In fact, carrot cake already contains many heavy ingredients and butter would just make it heavier and denser.

Why Does My Homemade Carrot Cake Fall in the Middle?

If you accidentally add too much liquid to your batter, the cake can collapse because it isn’t stable enough. Make sure to carefully measure the ingredients, so you have the right ratios.

Another possible reason for this issue is that you opened the oven door too much during the baking process, causing the cake to deflate. Resist the urge to open the door while the cake bakes because the rush of cold air into the oven can negatively affect baked goods.

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If you make this recipe please leave a star rating below. Your rating helps others find the recipe plus I love hearing from you! Thank you!

Layered carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake

4.80 from 5 votes
This is an old fashioned carrot cake recipe with the added goodness of coconut flakes. Perfect for snacking and great with tea.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 servings


  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons more to coat baking pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coconut flakes or 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce unsweetened
  • 4 large eggs

For the frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Grease 2 round 8-inch baking pans with vegetable oil and coat them with flour. Use one pan to trace out two circles on parchment paper. Cut out the parchment paper with scissors. Place a parchment paper circle at the bottom of each pan.
  • Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit or 176 Degrees Celsius.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon (or nutmeg) powder in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed.
  • Add coconut flakes, shredded carrots, vegetable oil, eggs, and apple sauce, and mix until it forms a batter.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the two baking pans and place in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Wrap the pans with baking strips if you have them. The cake is ready when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely for about an hour. Then, you can proceed with the frosting.

For the frosting

  • To make the frosting: Place butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until it has a whipped consistency.
  • To assemble the cake: Place the frosting into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip. Place the first layer of cake upside down on a cake stand or plate. Pipe pretty stars on the first layer to completely cover it. Place the second layer gently upside down on the stars. Pipe pretty stars over the second layer. This video on how to decorate naked cakes is useful. If you do not have a piping bag or open star tip, use a Ziploc bag in place of a piping bag and pipe small dollops of the frosting over the cake. See recipe notes for instructions on how to frost the cake if that's your preferred method.
  • Slice and enjoy!


  • In place of apple sauce, you could use crushed pineapple. To make apple sauce at home, peel and cut some apples, cook until soft, then blend into a paste.
  • For those without access to coconut flakes, coconut sweet (a sweet snack made from shredded and toasted coconuts) will be a good substitute. 
  • You could also bake this cake in a 9 by 13 baking dish.
  • Substitute the cup of shredded coconut with chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or a mix of both.
  • Alternatively, frost the cake by placing one cake on a plate or a cake stand, topping with about ½ cup of the frosting and levelling with a spatula. Continue with the second cake, then coat all the cake with frosting. Garnish the bottom of the cake with chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired.
  • Baking strips help the cake stay even on top as it bakes. I recommend getting them if you can.


Calories: 714kcal | Carbohydrates: 121g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 4656IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 714
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Carrot and flakes baked in a cake. I mouth watering likely wonder how it feels to slowly chew into a bite, savouring every single particle. If wishes were horses.

  2. Hello Precious dear. That carrot cake looks delicious, I tried it without eggs and it was wonderful. But am still waiting … you promised doing something for vegans …

  3. Hi precious have learnt so much from your blog you are doing a great job πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ will try out this carrot cake using your recipe. Thanks so much