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Homemade Carrot Cake- It Must Be My Sister’s Birthday

Homemade Carrot Cake- It Must Be My Sister’s Birthday

beauty shot

I can’t eat a piece of carrot cake without thinking of my sister. Ever since I can remember, she has chosen to have a homemade carrot cake for her fall birthday. I should mention she is my older (and only) sister. I like to remind her that she will always be the older one, even though we are only 20 months apart.


I will admit I can be pretty merciless when it comes to birthday cards.  You see, in my family the funnier the card, the better. I have been known to purchase “the perfect card” for her months in advance, and if it points out how “old” she is, all the better.

Tradition runs pretty deep in my family so it is very unusual to ever waver with the decision of what kind of birthday cake you choose each year. Yet, year after year our mom asks the following question, “What kind of cake do you want me to make for your birthday?” My response is always the same, Angel Food Cake. My sister’s response is always the same, Carrot Cake. Carrot cake is one of those rich, moist cakes that is chock-full of goodies. This recipe, Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, has mandarin oranges, coconut, pecans and of course, carrots. It has just the right touch of cinnamon, too. Since my sister is allergic to nuts, her birthday cake is made without the pecans. I love pecans, so since I wasn’t making this cake for her I was happy to include them. When I make carrot cake I like to prepare all my ingredients before I begin mixing the batter together. So, I melt the butter, open the canned mandarin oranges, grate the orange zest, chop the pecans and grate the carrots. Normally I buy the little mini carrots since they are just the right size for eating, but for this recipe I buy regular full-size carrots. The larger carrots are much easier to grate.

Once the ingredients are prepped, heat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine 1 cup melted butter, the brown sugar, sugar and eggs.



Beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until smooth.

Add the mandarin oranges (do not drain the oranges as you want to add any liquid that the oranges are packed in too), vanilla and orange zest.

Continue beating until well mixed. The oranges will break apart as you beat the mixture.


Now add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.


Make sure you reduce the mixer to low speed so you don’t send flour flying all over the kitchen, and beat, scraping the bowl often, until well mixed.



By hand, gently stir in the coconut, pecans and carrots…

…until well mixed.

Pour into a greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan.


Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely. I usually place the cake on a cooling rack so the air will circulate and cool the cake more quickly.

When the cake is completely cooled, it’s time to prepare the cream cheese frosting. Combine all the frosting ingredients, except for the chopped pecans, in a medium bowl.




Beat at medium speed (start on slow speed and slowly increase to medium so the powdered sugar won’t go flying all over), scraping the bowl often, until smooth and creamy. I think cream cheese frosting is simply beautiful – it’s so smooth and silky.

Frost the cooled cake by gently spreading the frosting.

Feel free to get a little fancy as you frost and create a design in the frosting by swirling the frosting with the spreader. There is no right or wrong way to frost a cake, just have fun!



Now, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the frosting.


Voila! Homemade Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting – and it’s not just for birthdays.


Once you’ve tried Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, I’d enjoy hearing from you. Please rate and review the recipe, too.


Come back on Monday to get a sneak peek into the Test Kitchens and what we're baking for a good cause.


Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O’Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.
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Why does my carrot always sink in the center?

Posted February 25, 2014 by Olga
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
A hint when making carrot cake or another baked recipe with fruit like this is to add a little flour (1/4 cup) to the carrots and stir to coat. This will help to keep the carrots suspended in the batter and not sink.
Posted February 27, 2014

Hi there ! Thanks for sharing your recipe I'd like to request more recipe the fact that I'm learning still to make it perfect , it's great that I could just easily learn from here without me attending baking class pls give some recipes with picture instructions too., more power to you

Posted February 10, 2014 by Joann
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Thanks so much. Glad you found this information helpful!
Posted February 11, 2014

can't wait to make it, seems so yummy...

Posted May 12, 2013 by Miguel G.

I was hoping to find on this site a copy of the carrot cake recipe that was found in the old Land O Lakes cookbook that was published probably about 20 years ago. I remember saving up the proof of purchase labels from the butter my parents would buy, and sending away for the book as a kid. My father loved that carrot cake recipe, and I wanted to bake it for him today. The search continues...

Posted June 16, 2012 by Lauren
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Lauren – I am so sorry I didn’t get you this information before Father’s Day. Maybe you can make it for your dad this weekend. I hope this the recipe used int this blog is the one you are looking for, it’s a great carrot cake! I love the cream cheese frosting on it!. Enjoy!
Posted June 19, 2012

Leticia, This recipe was developed using butter so I know it will work for you, but I often use melted butter in place of oil in cake recipes. Substituting melted butter should work just fine in most recipes and you will have a buttery flavor you won't find when you use oil. Becky

Posted April 07, 2011 by Becky

Most of the carrot cake recipes call for vegetable oil, instead of butter. Is the result the same if you use melted butter?

Posted April 04, 2011 by Leticia

From the Test Kitchens... Thanks for your interest in this recipe and this blog post. If you click on the name of the recipe in the blog copy, either where it is mentioned in the beginning of the post or at the end, you will go to the actual recipe for your review.

Posted January 03, 2011 by Cindy

i want to know ingredients pls...

Posted December 27, 2010 by irish c.

Carrie, I'm so glad the cake was a big hit! What a nice co-worker you must be to bring in homemade goodies.

Posted December 20, 2010 by Becky

Priscilla, Hope you like the recipe. Once you've made it I'd love to hear what you think. My family celebrated my sister's birthday yesterday (a little late) and guess what kind of cake my mom made for her? Yep, carrot cake!

Posted November 01, 2010 by Becky

Needed a recipe for a Ladies function. Am going to try this one cold turkey

Posted October 30, 2010 by Priscilla

Muriel, Becky asked me to respond to your question. Here are some guidelines for baking this cake at a high altitude - over 5000 ft. Here in Minnesota I do not have to think about adjusting recipes when I'm baking. I reviewed information I had so I can give you some tips. A couple of things first - be sure to measure accurately since measuring is critical when baking at a high altitude. Always measure the brown sugar lightly rather than packing it the cup. In addition at 5,000 ft here are suggestions for adjusting a cake recipe: - Reduce the leavening or baking soda in this recipe 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon for each teaspoon of leavening - for this recipe reduce the soda to 1 3/4 teaspoon. - Reduce the sugar by 0 - 2 tablespoons for each cup of sugar - for this recipe I would reduce the brown sugar by 1 tablespoon and the white sugar by 1 tablespoon. Just measure the sugar amount listed and remove 1 tablespoon each of the brown sugar and the granulated sugar before mixing in with the other ingredients. - Increase the liquid in the recipe by 2 to 4 tablespoons for each cup of liquid in the ingredients - in this recipe I suggest adding 4 to 5 tablespoons water. The liquid is from the butter and the mandarin orange liquid. One more thing - check with your local Agricultural Extension Service office to get more specific information about baking in your area if you are at a high altitude. Have fun and experiment with your baking! I am sure you will be successful!

Posted October 28, 2010 by Cindy

Joan, Usually two or three places within the blog post you will find a link, which is the name of the recipe underlined. If you click on the link you will then see the recipe ingredients and method to make the recipe. Let us know if you have other questions.

Posted October 28, 2010 by Cindy

how do I print out all the above pictures of your step by step insructions for the Homeade Carrot cake. thank you

Posted October 25, 2010 by Joan

Are there any adjustments for high altitude? We are above 5,000 feet.

Posted October 14, 2010 by Muriel

Hi, We underline the name of the recipe in the post and if you click on that name the actual recipe comes up. You will then see the ingredients and recipe method. Hope that helps. Cindy

Posted October 09, 2010 by Cindy

It would have been nice if you included a list of ingredients and the amounts. I have tried to find the ingredient list and directions to no avail.

Posted October 08, 2010 by Barbara B.

E.B., Great minds must think alike! Carrot cake is the best! And, I must say I love your brand of butter :) Becky

Posted October 05, 2010 by Becky

I have family coming over this weekend -- I'll bake this and let you know. Thanks for the very clear , step-by-step photos!

Posted October 05, 2010 by Angie

How funny! I just made a cake very similar to this except no coconut, pecans or mandarin oranges for my father's birthday this weekend! And Land O Lakes was the butter of choice. ;-) I need to put it on the shopping list though, as it was the last.

Posted October 02, 2010 by E B.