This Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe is unbelievably (yes, I’m going to use the “m” word) moist and perfectly spiced and loaded up with fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting. You’re going to love it.
Springtime always = carrot cake time in our house. ♡
For years and years, I’ve had the tradition of baking up my favorite carrot cake recipe to celebrate the start of the new season, stacked high with three unbelievably delicious layers of carrot cake and an always-generous spread of cream cheese frosting. But ever since we moved into our small Barcelona kitchen with its teeny little oven that can only fit one round cake pan at a time, only a baby hand mixer to tackle all of that frosting, and officially zero fun cake stands to show off our baking triumphs (mine sadly didn’t make the cut when we were packing to move abroad) — I’ve had to admit that three-layer cakes just aren’t quite my style here.
So, we’ve pivoted to a new tradition this spring — carrot cake cupcakes.
And I have to say, I forgot how much I love a good cupcake! Especially when it involves my all-time favorite kind of cake (Team Carrot for life!) and my all-time favorite kind of frosting (I’m a firm believer that cream cheese frosting can go with any kind of cake). This carrot cake cupcakes recipe is basically just a sized-down my the three-layer cake recipe. So you can trust that the recipe itself is already well-vetted and well-loved. I can vouch that it’s also easy to make entirely by hand without any kind of mixer. And while I personally prefer to hold the nuts and raisins when baking my own carrot cake, I have included lots of options for extra add-ins below so that you can bake the cake — or cupcakes — of your dreams.
Let’s get to baking!
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
Alright, let’s talk about the ingredients to make the carrot cake cupcakes themselves. You will need:
Oil: Any mild-flavored oil will do. I typically use avocado oil, but vegetable or canola oil would work too.
Sugars: Both granulated and brown sugars.
Eggs and vanilla extract: The other wet ingredients.
Flour: I always indulge here with classic all-purpose flour. But you’re welcome to sub in white whole wheat flour instead.
Spices: Ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Baking soda and powder: This recipe uses both.
Salt: I used fine sea salt.
Freshly-grated carrots: Either grate them by hand with a box grater, use the shredding attachment on a food processor, or save yourself a step and buy them pre-grated.
Optional add-ins can include chopped nuts (such as pecans or walnuts), shredded coconut, and/or raisins.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
When it comes to carrot cake, I go all the way. ♡ This cream cheese frosting is 100% indulgent and 100% delicious and 1000% worth it. It’s made with:
Cream cheese: Full-fat or low-fat will both work here. Room temperature, please!
Butter: Also room temp.
Vanilla: Just a hint.
Powdered sugar: Basically, however much is needed to reach the consistency you prefer. (If you’re going to pipe the frosting on, you may need a bit more.) I usually don’t have much patience in life for sifting ingredients, but if you want a super-smooth frosting, sifting your powdered sugar is worth the extra step.
How To Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes:
To make these cupcakes, simply:
Make the cupcake batter. Mix together the oil and sugars, followed by the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients, and then the shredded carrots.
Fill and bake. Fill your cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full of batter. (<– I always do this with an ice cream scoop, which makes transferring the batter much easier.) Then bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temp on a wire baking rack. Meanwhile…
Make the frosting. Be sure that your cream cheese and butter are both room temp. Then stir them together with the vanilla until smooth. (It’s easier to do this with a mixer, but you can also just do it with a spatula by hand.) And finally, stir in however much powdered sugar you need to reach your desired consistency.
Frost the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes reach room temperature, go ahead and frost them however you prefer. Top with any sprinkles you might desire. And…
Enjoy!! Or if you are saving the leftovers for later, refrigerate the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Possible Cupcake Variations:
To each, her or his own when it comes to carrot cake preferences! ♡ Feel free to:
Add nuts: Feel free to stir 1/4 cup chopped nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, pepitas or hazelnuts) into the batter, and/or sprinkle extras on top of the frosting.
Add raisins: You also have the option of stirring in a few tablespoons of raisins.
Add coconut: Or a few tablespoons of toasted shredded coconut.
Spice the frosting: If you would like a bit of extra flavor in the frosting itself, I recommend stirring 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger into the frosting.
Make the recipe gluten-free and vegan: Just halve this recipe this recipe to make 12-14 cupcakes.
This Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe is unbelievably moist and perfectly spiced and loaded up with fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting. See notes above for possible ingredient variations.
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3–4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup** cupcake pan with baking liners.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture into the egg mixture, and stir until smooth. Fold in the grated carrots and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners so that they are 3/4 full. Then bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a wire cooling rack and let the cupcakes cool until they reach room temperature.
Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and stir until combined and smooth. (You can either do this with a spatula, or with a hand or stand mixer.) Gradually stir in the powdered sugar and mix until it is completely combined. Feel free to add more/less powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency.
Frost the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
**You can either grate fresh carrots by hand with a box grater, or grate them with a food processor by using the shredding disk.
**This recipe makes between 12-14 cupcakes, so you may have a little extra batter to make more than a dozen.