These Carrot Cake Cupcakes are incredibly moist and tender with lots of tangy cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of toasted pecans on top.
Spring cupcakes are a hit with everybody! Be sure to also try our Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cupcakes, and Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
There is something truly incredible that happens when you combine grated carrots with classic cupcake ingredients. Like zucchini bread, you won’t eat carrot cake cupcakes and think vegetables. Instead they are just super moist, perfectly sweet and spiced cupcakes with a tangy smooth cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans sprinkled on top for a little crunch.
It’s a great little handheld dessert that is perfect if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a full-size stacked carrot cake. This recipe is so easy you can make it by hand!
What you need to make carrot cake cupcakes
The cupcake ingredients:
- Sugar: I like a mix of granulated sugar and light brown sugar for extra flavor in these cupcakes.
- Eggs: These are a binding agent that help hold the cake together.
- Canola oil: Oil keeps cupcakes moist for days, although you could substitute butter if you need to.
- Vanilla extract: Be sure to use pure vanilla extract, not imitation.
- All-purpose flour: I find that cake flour is too light and doesn’t hold up to the shredded carrots in these cupcakes.
- Baking powder and baking soda: For leavening so the cupcakes rise and dome beautifully.
- Salt: Just enough to bring out the other flavors in the recipe.
- Warm spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves are perfectly balanced so they don’t overwhelm the flavor of these cupcakes.
- Finely shredded carrots: Don’t use preshredded carrots from the store. They are too thick and too dry for these cupcakes.
The cream cheese frosting:
- Cream cheese: Obviously!
- Butter: I prefer using salted butter in this frosting recipe.
- Powdered sugar: Just the right amount so the frosting isn’t cloyingly sweet.
- Vanilla extract: For the best flavor.
- Coconut extract: Just a little bit of this gives the cream cheese frosting that something extra that we love.
How to make carrot cake cupcakes
Make the cake
- Prep a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Beat the sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla together in a bowl. You can even just do this with a whisk by hand.
- Stir in the freshly shredded carrots.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, stirring until everything is combined. I find that if I sprinkle the spices over the batter, I can avoid whisking everything in a separate bowl. Just don’t dump them in clumps or you might end up with one cupcake getting all the cloves.
- Divide evenly between the 12 cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, just until the tops of the cupcakes bounce back to the touch or a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean with just a few crumbs. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- Here’s where you whip out the hand mixer to beat softened cream cheese and butter together until light and creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix just until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix this frosting as it tends to lose it’s structure the more you beat it.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and frost the completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with a few chopped pecans for decoration and crunch.
How to store carrot cake cupcakes
You can keep these cupcakes on the counter in an airtight container for 1-2 days, even though there is cream cheese frosting because the sugar in the frosting helps preserve it. Any longer than that and I recommend storing them in the refrigerator where they will keep for 5-7 days.
You can also make the cupcakes in advance and freeze them plain for up to 3 months.
More cupcake recipes you’ll love!
- Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- The Best Vanilla Cupcakes
- Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
- Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 (8-ounce) pkg. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the sugars, eggs, oil, and vanilla with a hand mixer or even just by hand with a whisk. Stir in the freshly shredded carrots with a large spoon.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, stirring until everything is combined. Don’t overmix the batter.
Divide evenly between the 12 cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, just until the tops of the cupcakes bounce back to the touch or a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean with just a few crumbs. Cool completely before frosting.
Beat softened cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing again just until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and frost the completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans for decoration and crunch.