Carrot Cake Cupcakes

These Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist and flavorful cupcakes packed with freshly grated carrot and spices all topped off with a decadent cream cheese frosting. All of the deliciousness of a layer cake, but in much easier cupcakes.

close up of carrot cake cupcakes with carrot topping


 

These Carrot Cake Cupcakes would be perfect for an Easter dessert surprise or even a treat for your family. They are super easy to make and so delicious you will want to add this recipe to the family cookbook. And if you are a little lazy to make cupcakes (no judgement here!) feel free to make Carrot Cake Dip or even mini carrot cakes.

Origin of Carrot Cake

It is believed that carrots were used in baked goods in the middle ages when sugar was hard to come by and super costly. People started using carrots in recipes to replace the sugar and still have a sweet dessert.

carrot cake cupcakes on a wire rack

 I must say, I am glad they did because Carrot Cake is one of my favorite desserts of all time! That cream cheese frosting gets me every time. 

Crunchy walnuts have been added through the ages, although some omit them or even swap with chopped pecans.

Best Way to Grate Carrots

I highly recommend using a food processor if you have one. I use mini carrots and just put them in the food processor and pulse 5-10 times until you get small pieces of carrot but be careful not to get too crazy and end up with carrot puree. 

grated carrot on a wood plate

If you do not have a good processor that is perfectly fine. Use full size carrots and use a box or handheld grater and just grate your carrots that way. 

Does Carrot Cake Taste Like Carrots?

Fortunately for me and my kids, no, carrot cake cupcakes do not actually taste like carrots! Like zucchini bread, the brown sugar and cinnamon in the cupcakes overpowers the carrot taste so you do not even taste it at all. 

hand holding a cupcake cut in half

Other than the specks of orange throughout the cupcake, you would never know there was carrot in this recipe. The texture and taste are all quite subtle. It also has applesauce, so really you are getting your fruits and veggies.

Carrot Substitutions

If you do not have carrot, or do not like carrots, you can always replace the carrot with grated zucchini. It will have all the same benefits to the recipe as carrots, and you will not be able to taste the zucchini in the cupcakes.

cupcake with liner peeling off

I would recommend omitting the nutmeg in the recipe but leave the other spices the same and replace the same amount of zucchini for carrot.

How to Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  1. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, both sugars, and vanilla extract into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a whisk attachment and whisk until well combined. You can also use a hand held electric mixer.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and combined, being careful not to over mix. 
  3. Fold in the grated carrots with a spatula until evenly distributed. 
  4. Divide the batter evenly between 15 cupcake liners, filling about ¾ full. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean or tops gently bounce back.
  5. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack while you make the frosting. 
angle of cream cheese carrot cake cupcake

Carrot Cake Cupcake Frosting 

 Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment and cream for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth.

Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until combined. Slowly increase the speed to high for 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Add to a piping bag with a large round or star tip. 

Assembly

Pipe a small swirl of frosting on each cupcake. Dip into crushed walnut pieces and gently press to stick.

how to frost carrot cake cupcakes

Top with another generous swirl of frosting and top with some grated carrot. 

hand taking a cupcake off serving platter

Tips for Perfect Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Be patient..don’t ask me how I know this, but do not open the door before it is time to check them. I learned the hard way that if you open the door before they are completely done baking, they will fall!
  • Make sure all the ingredients for the frosting are at room temperature. If you try to mix cold cream cheese it will have lumps in it, and nobody wants lumpy frosting. 
  • Why is there so much powdered sugar in the frosting?? My cream cheese frosting has by far the most powdered sugar out of any of my frostings. Why? Because if you do not add enough powdered sugar it is almost impossible to pipe cream cheese frosting. This is the one time that I make an exception and it is so worth it.
carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for pinterest

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close up of carrot cake cupcakes
close up of carrot cake cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

4.67 from 9 votes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist, flavorful and packed with freshly grated carrot and spices. With a cream cheese frosting, they are the BEST!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Assembly Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

Frosting:

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a cupcake pan by adding liners and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a whisk attachment, add the eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, both sugars, vanilla and mix until just combined.
  • Add in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix until just combined and there are no dry spots remaining.
  • Fold in the grated carrots until evenly distributed through the batter.
  • Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly between 15 cupcake liners, filling about ¾ full.
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes come out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely while you prepare the frosting.

Frosting:

  • Add the room temperature butter and cream cheese into a bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment and cream for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla and mix until just combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until well combined. Slowly increase the speed of the mixer to high and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until the frosting is nice and fluffy.
  • Add the frosting to a piping bag with a large round tip (I used a Wilton 1A).

Assembly:

  • Pipe a small circle of frosting on the top of each cupcake and carefully dip the top of each cupcake into crushed walnut pieces. Pipe another generous swirl of frosting on top of the walnuts and sprinkle with grated carrot.
    how to frost carrot cake cupcakes
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 430 kcal, Carbohydrates: 55 g, Protein: 3 g, Fat: 23 g, Saturated Fat: 13 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 55 mg, Sodium: 192 mg, Potassium: 111 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 47 g, Vitamin A: 428 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 48 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 430
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot cake cupcakes, carrot cake recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
cupcake bitten in half
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.67 from 9 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Questions and Reviews

  1. The kids will love these cupcakes, for sure. I’m also wondering if this batter would work if baked in a 13 X 9″ OR a Bundt pan (for we adults).

    1. I’m sure it would, but I would try a 9×13 first and bake for 25-30 minutes. Bundt pan might be too thick. But these are also some pretty adult cupcakes and I ate mine with a fork 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I’m making cupcakes for easter and started my planning early and can’t wait to make these. I think my husband is going to be over the moon!

  3. 5 stars
    That decadent cream cheese frosting is what I’m all about! These carrot cake cupcakes are the perfect treat indeed!