Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 30 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
353 Calories
18g Fat
46g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 353
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 215mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 39mg 3%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 103mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Carrot cake cupcakes are moist and flavorful like your favorite carrot cake but in cute, individual servings. Fluffy and moist, they're topped with a blanket of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. You can create pretty carrots on top with the colored icing or skip the decorating and simply spread the frosting on top.

If you like nuts and/or raisins in your carrot cake, feel free to add some to the batter. Make them nut-free by omitting the chopped walnut decoration. A hint of cardamom adds additional flavor and interest to the batter, but you can easily omit it and increase the cinnamon to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you prefer or can't find the spice.

Make carrot cake cupcakes for Easter, take them to bake sales and potlucks, or serve them at a spring birthday or shower. You can easily halve the recipe to make a dozen.

“These little carrot cakes are perfect for an Easter treat or to share with a neighbor. I love the little carrot decor, and cupcakes make it easy to share. The little bit of spice added in makes them unique, with a classic cream cheese frosting to finish them off” —Tracy Wilk

carrot cake cupcakes/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 3 cups finely grated carrots

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Decoration:

  • Orange food coloring

  • Green food coloring

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Steps to Make It

Make the Cupcakes

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat to 325 F.

    Carrot cake cupcake ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin or cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.

    Cupcake pans with liners

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

    Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in a stand mixer with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the grated carrots, vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Alternatively, use a large bowl and a hand-held electric mixer.

    Cupcake batter in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans until about 3/4 full.

    Cupcake batter in lined cupcake pans

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

    Cupcakes on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Frosting and Decorate

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Frosting ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. For the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-low speed until fluffy.

    Cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat until light and fluffy.

    Frosting in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. For the decorative topping, remove 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting into a small bowl. Tint with orange food coloring, mixing until the color is evenly combined. Remove 1/3 cup of the frosting to a separate small bowl and tint with green food coloring, mixing until combined.

    Green and orange frosting in bowls with spoons

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Transfer the colored frostings to 2 separate piping bags or zip-top bags.

    Green and orange frosting in piping bags

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Frost the tops of the cooled cupcakes with the white cream cheese frosting.

    Carrot cake cupcakes with white frosting on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Roll the edges of each cupcake in the chopped nuts.

    Frosted Carrot Cake Cupcakes with nuts on a cooling rack and nuts in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Pipe the orange frosting in the shape of a carrot on top of each cupcake.

    Carrot cake cupcakes with nuts and frosting on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Pipe the green frosting as carrot tops on each cupcake. Serve and enjoy!

    Carrot Cake Cupcakes with nuts and frosting on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Finely grate the carrots yourself for the best results. Pre-shredded bagged carrots tend to be too dry. You can use a box grater or a food processor.
  • If you want to make these decorative cupcakes but don't have a traditional piping bag with a tip, it is easy to fashion a makeshift piping bag with a plastic baggie or zip-top bag. Simply fill two bags with the orange and green frosting. Squeeze it down to one corner, twist the top of the bag to remove the air, snip off a small corner, then squeeze to pipe.
  • Feel free to skip the decorations and simply frost the cupcakes and serve.

Recipe Variations

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store leftover decorated cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in a container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
  • The unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen. Let cool completely, then wrap each individually in plastic wrap. Place in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge before decorating and serving.

Why Is There Oil in Carrot Cake?

Oil adds a lot of moisture to carrot cake. Since the cake is so flavorful thanks to spices and other ingredients, butter isn't necessary. While you can make carrot cake with butter, you shouldn't simply swap oil for butter or vice versa, since butter also contains water in addition to fat and the texture will be noticeably different.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in a Carrot Cake?

Neutral oils like vegetable and canola are usually used for baking since they're flavorless. You can use a flavorful oil like olive oil, but it will impact the taste.