Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Flavorful, soft, and moist carrot cake cupcakes with the best cream cheese frosting! chelseasmessyapron.com #carrotcakecupcakes #carrot #cake #cupcakes #dessert #easter #creamcheese #frosting #easy #dessert

These easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist, tender, infused with the perfect amount of spices, and topped with a sweet cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Add a sprinkle of pecans for the perfect finishing touch!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes on a cake stand

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

These Carrot Cake Cupcakes are one of my family’s favorite treats and everyone that tries these goes crazy for them! My dad’s all-time favorite dessert is Carrot Cake and after spending literally years perfecting my carrot cake recipe, I thought I’d tweak it a bit to create some perfectly moist, tender, and flavorful cupcakes.

All in the name of “testing,” we’ve made these cupcakes more times than I can count the last couple of months. My toddler alternates asking for these or Carrot Cake every single Sunday when we bake a treat together. As much as I love that cake, these cupcakes are easier to make (especially with four little hands adding ingredients quicker than I can monitor!).

Carrot Cake Cupcakes Taste

So what can you expect taste-wise from these cupcakes? 

These classic Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist, tender, and soft. They’re spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves — none of which are overpowering but work together subtly to create a deep, rich flavor. This cupcake recipe emphasizes brown sugar over white– which further intensifies those deep notes of spice. The brown sugar also contributes to a more moist and tender cupcake.

These cupcakes are topped with a luscious and sweet cream cheese frosting that has a hint of cinnamon spice. The slight tang of the frosting helps to balance the sweetness of the cupcakes.

Process shots-- images of the wet and dry ingredients being prepped in seperate bowls

How to make Carrot Cake Cupcakes from scratch

My top tips for success in making these homemade cupcakes:

  • Start with room-temperature ingredients. It’s important for the final texture of these cupcakes that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. Using room-temperature eggs ensures that the eggs disperse more evenly into the batter; that gives these cupcakes a lighter texture (the eggs trap air). Soaking refrigerated eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes is a quick way to do this. Otherwise, pull the eggs out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before use.  (You’ll also want the applesauce and carrots at room temperature.)
  • When you measure the flour, be sure to spoon and level the measuring cups so you aren’t adding in too much or too little flour. Too much flour and you’ll get dense cupcakes and too little flour and these cupcakes will likely sink and be too wet.
  • Stir everything until just combined. If you overmix the ingredients, you’ll end up with dense cupcakes.

Process shots-- images of the wet and dry ingredients being combined and mixed together and then added to a prepared muffin pan to bake

How to know when these Carrot Cake Cupcakes are done

  • Visual cues for doneness: Cupcakes are slightly domed and the tops are caramelized in appearance.
  • Physical cue for doneness: A toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean or with a couple of moist (not wet) crumbs. If you don’t have a toothpick, press down gently on the top of the cupcake, if the cupcake springs back nicely, they are done.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes in the pan

Process shots: making cream cheese frosting

Carrot Cake Cupcakes FAQs

1How many calories are in Carrot Cake Cupcakes?

I’ve included a full nutrition breakdown for these cupcakes below the recipe if you’re interested. The total caloric amount for one unfrosted cupcake is 220 calories. This does not include the frosting as that will change depending on how much frosting you use per cupcake. The frosting recipe below makes enough to add a “sky-high” amount of frosting to each cupcake (exactly what is pictured in these photos). If you want less frosting, cut the frosting recipe in half.

2How long do you bake mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes?

If you want to make these cupcakes in a miniature muffin tin instead of a regular muffin tin, you’ll want to make sure to still use paper liners and you’ll bake them around 10-15 minutes. Check the cupcakes around 10 minutes. You can test for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs) they are done and if it comes out wet you can add a few minutes!

3How do you store Carrot Cake Cupcakes?

Truly, these cupcakes (and the frosting) are even better the second day! The flavors from the spices have intensified by day 2, so don’t stress about having to make these the same day as an event!

For any cupcakes that don’t get eaten, store them in an airtight container (or cupcake holder) in the fridge. These cupcakes are best within 3-4 days of being made.

The finished and frosted cupcakes do not freeze and thaw well.

4Can I freeze Carrot Cake Cupcakes?

The unfrosted cupcakes freeze beautifully!

Freeze cooled cupcakes on a sheet pan for 1 hour and then transfer to an airtight container or bag for up to a month. Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge before frosting.

Unfortunately, cream cheese frosting doesn’t freeze and thaw well, but you can prepare it a day in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge and set it out to room temperature about 30-45 minutes before you want to frost the cupcakes.

A Carrot Cake Cupcake on a plate

QUICK TIP

Number 1 Tip For Success: Grate the carrots by hand! I know, it can be a pain, but this is how we ensure ultra-moist and delicious cupcakes. Pre-shredded carrots in the grocery store are much too large and dry for these cupcakes, and results won’t be the same.

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes

4.91 from 11 votes
These easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist, tender, infused with the perfect amount of spices, and topped with a sweet cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Add a dusting of pecans for the perfect finishing touch!
Print Recipe

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

4.91 from 11 votes
These easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes are moist, tender, infused with the perfect amount of spices, and topped with a sweet cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Add a dusting of pecans for the perfect finishing touch!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword carrot cake cupcakes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 286kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.96

Equipment

  • Standard size muffin tin
  • Muffin tin liners

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/3 cups (170g) white, all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup (131g) light-brown brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup (63g) white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (55g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or use 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) vegetable (or canola) oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) finely shredded carrots (~3 medium carrots) Note 1

Cream Cheese Frosting (Note 2)

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 package (8 oz.; 226g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use low fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups (345g) powdered sugar
  • Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cavity muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside. Set out the cream cheese and butter to get to room temperature.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  • WET INGREDIENTS: In a separate large mixing bowl, use a mixer to beat together the brown sugar, white sugar, and eggs until combined. Mix in applesauce and vanilla extract. With the mixer running at low speed, slowly pour in vegetable oil and mix until combined. Finely shred the carrots (on the small side of your grater) and measure to ensure you have 1 and 1/2 cups. Add the dry ingredients right on top of the wet ingredients and the shredded carrots right on top of that. Stir until JUST combined, being careful to not overmix.
  • BAKE: Pour batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. You should use all of the batter between the 12 cavities. Bake in preheated oven for about 18 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for several minutes; transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • FROSTING: Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Using a hand mixer, cream together the room temperature butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth. Mix in vanilla extract, sea salt and cinnamon. With mixer running on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well blended and smooth. If you'd like a thicker frosting, add a bit more powdered sugar. Chill the frosting while the cupcakes finish cooling.
  • DECORATE CUPCAKES: Frost completely cooled cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and if desired, sprinkle crushed pecans on top.
  • STORAGE: Store cupcakes in the fridge, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, or in a cupcake holder for up to 4 days. The finished and frosted cupcakes don't freeze and thaw well, but you can freeze unfrosted cupcakes.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Carrots: Grating carrots by hand can be a pain, but you’ll be amazed at how much moisture results from shredding the carrots. Pre-shredded carrots in the grocery store are much too large and dry for these cupcakes and results won't be the same.
Note 2: Frosting: This makes a lot of frosting (enough for each cupcake to have as much frosting as pictured in these photos). If you'd like less frosting, you can halve the recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.5g | Protein: 2.7g | Fat: 17.7g | Cholesterol: 51.3mg | Sodium: 27.8mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 18.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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57 Comments

  1. Could I substitute the applesauce with crushed pineapple? That is what I usually add to my carrot cake recipe and it makes it very moist.

  2. 5 stars
    WOW!! Best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had and I’ve tried dozens. Carrot cake is my favorite too. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  3. have you ever used this recipe to make a cake instead of cupcakes? Just wondering if it would make enough cake batter for 3 8 inch. layers

      1. Could you turn these into Whoopie pies I love this cake recipe so I wanted to turn them into something more packable and portable.

        1. I think Whoopie pies would need a pretty different recipe than this cupcake recipe. You could try these instead!

  4. Can you use a stand mixer for these or is it better to use a hand mixer? Thanks! Really looking forward to giving these a try!

  5. These look amazing. I’m in search of a carrot cake that I can make vegan for my daughter’s first birthday. She’s allergic to dairy and egg. Do you know the substitutions I can do to make this recipe vegan? Thanks!

    1. Unfortunately I can’t give you a solid recommendation without testing myself and I’m not as familiar with vegan desserts. I wish I could be more help!

  6. I live in the Colorado mountains and I need to know what altitude your dessert recipes are at so I can adjust your dessert recipes to high altitude. Thanks

  7. 4 stars
    I tried these – cupcakes came out great but my icing was very runny, I followed the recipe and even added a bit extra icing but it just ran off the cake. What could I have done wrong?

    1. Hey Shannen; did you by chance melt the butter or cream cheese at all? And you for sure had the right amount of both?

  8. Hi! In terms of storage for using the next day I want them nice and moist.. so do I store the cupcakes out of the fridge and pipe the icing right before serving?
    Thank you!

    1. That’s what I would do! 🙂 Make sure they are tightly covered/wrapped up and add frosting right before serving! Enjoy 🙂

  9. What size cupcake pan are you using? They don’t appear to be miniature 1 in, so out of three typical commercial sized pans would you say the middle size? Thanks!

  10. Made these for my daughter’s birthday. Delicious! Very moist and the icing was great. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! and so did my family, but I’m just wondering if i can double everything to make 24 cupcakes, with the same results?

    1. I’m sure pineapple could work in these, but I really couldn’t say for sure how it would work or how much without personally testing through the recipe 🙂

    1. I haven’t tried anything in place of the applesauce so I can’t say for sure. I think vegetable oil would substitute in nicely

  12. Hello! I am making these cupcakes for a wedding. How would you recommend storing them until tomorrow while still maintaining freshness?

  13. 5 stars
    Chelsea!! Thankyou for sharing this recipe!! They are just delicious! made them today, impressed everyone!!
    Super yummy!! ?

  14. I’m planning to make the cupcakes on Saturday, frost them on Sunday and take them to work on Monday…. if I keep them in a sealed container in the fridge, am I safe? Or is it risky to frost them in advance?

    1. I personally try to frost as close to possible for serving, but if you have a good airtight cupcake container I think it will be okay! The frosting firms a lot in the fridge so make sure to leave time for it to “thaw” a bit to room temperature so it’s not rock hard!

  15. These look sooo good, as do all your recipes-but I don’t have any applesauce – would it work out to substitute the same amount of canned pumpkin puree?

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure, but I think it would work texture wise. Applesauce is naturally a lot sweeter than pumpkin though so you’d end up with a less sweet baked good

  16. 5 stars
    Are they cupcakes, muffins, who cares!? 🥰They are perfect! I am at 8000 ft, I used my homemade applesauce, reduced leavening a bit, and baked at 360 degrees. Lovely!

  17. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe !! I did have a question though, can I add food coloring to it ? Thinking of making the frosting tri color for Easter !

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing !! I do want to know if the frosting will do well with color ? I want to make a tri- color frosting for Easter 🙂

  19. Have you ever tried doubling the recipe to get 24 cupcakes? Just wondering if there would be any issues with doing that. Thank you!

  20. 5 stars
    I made these exactly as the recipe called for. They were moist & so delicious! Shredding the carrots was a bit of a task. I ended up with carrot purée when I used the smallest part of the grater. May rethink that part next time. The cream cheese frosting was also delicious… decadent & yummy!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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