Moist, tender, and rich with warm spices and topped with silky cream cheese frosting, these are the BEST Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
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I have to admit… I was never a fan of Carrot Cake until I made this recipe. The first time I made it was for my dad’s birthday. He LOVES carrot cake. I was surprised by how much I liked it.
These carrot cake cupcakes are perfectly spiced, moist, and tender.
When topped with the cream cheese frosting 🤤, I can easily eat the whole batch.
This is my family’s favorite carrot cake recipe. I usually make it for Easter or as a special treat.
I also like to make it into a birthday cake for my dad by baking this exact recipe in a cake pan. For layer cake, I double the recipe. But, this post is about the cupcake form!
Cupcakes are always easier to make, serve, and store than cake. Which is why I prefer them.
Why is this the BEST Carrot Cake Cupcake Recipe?
- It can easily be made in one bowl by hand.
- It’s incredibly simple with minimal ingredients (compared to other carrot cake recipes). This recipe calls for fresh carrots, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and three warm spices.
It doesn’t include shredded coconut or coconut oil. There’s no pineapple, unsweetened applesauce, greek yogurt, or sour cream. My dad dislikes all of these things, so I worked around them and still created super moist, delicious carrot cake cupcakes.
- These cupcakes have a ton of moisture because of the brown sugar, oil, and extra shredded carrots. Does using more carrots mean it’s a healthy carrot cake? 😉
- You can add nuts, raisins, or even chocolate chips to the cupcake batter. I have never tried carrot cake with chocolate chips, but it may be interesting.
My dad is a firm believer that traditional carrot cake doesn’t have nuts or raisins in the batter, so I usually add walnuts on top of the cupcakes.
One time, I did add walnuts to the batter. Unfortunately, they were too big and didn’t work well with the tender crumb. If adding walnuts, I recommend using finely chopped walnuts.
Can I use store-bought shredded carrots for homemade carrot cake?
For best results, please don’t use pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store. They are much drier, thicker, and longer than freshly grated carrots.
If you use pre-shredded carrots, the cupcakes will not be as moist. You need the moisture from fresh carrots for this recipe.
I recently tried to save time by replacing half of the freshly grated carrots with the same amount of packaged, pre-shredded carrots from the store. Oy vey!
They did not break down AT ALL while baking. The grocery store grated carrots looked exactly the same… just IN the cupcake.
They were also still crunchy, hard, and chewy. It was very weird for carrot cake.
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What is the best way to grate fresh carrots?
First, rinse the carrots under cool water while scrubbing the exterior to remove any dirt and pesticides.
Then use a vegetable peeler to remove the carrot’s outer layer. Cut off the tops with a sharp knife and discard.
With a cheese grater, carefully shred the carrots by placing each carrot against the side of the grater that has the smallest holes.
I recently watched a baking show that had contestants making carrot cake. Some of them used a food processor to grate their carrots faster.
I haven’t tried this method yet, but it’ll definitely be helpful when making a lot of carrot cake cupcakes or a layered carrot cake. I recently made a three-layer carrot cake and my arm hurt from all the grating.
Tips for the BEST Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Use FRESH whole carrots. Grate them at home with a cheese box grater, like this Spring Chef Professional Box Grater.
- Prepare cupcakes pans with paper liners for easy clean-up. I also use them for a fun, festive feel. If you're making these cupcakes for Easter, check out these Easter Cupcake Liners. The bunnies are SO adorable!
- Use an ice cream scoop to easily fill each cupcake liner. Fill it about 2/3 of the way full.
- Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will start to melt and slide off.
Tips for the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting
- Use a block of regular cream cheese (not low fat). If the cream cheese is in a plastic tub, it’s formulated to be spreadable and has a higher water content. This will cause your cream cheese frosting to be thin and runny.
A brick-style (wrapped in foil), full fat cream cheese will make the creamiest frosting.
- Cream Cheese Frosting is also best made with an electric mixer, like this stand mixer or this hand mixer. It’s the only way to get that silky smooth cream cheese frosting that is a huge hit with everyone.
- With a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. With a hand mixer, use the beats.
- Always start mixing on low speed. This is one way to prevent the powdered sugar from billowing up into your face and covering your kitchen. Another way is to add the powdered sugar just one small measuring cup at a time.
- My favorite way to frost any cupcake is with a decorating bag and piping tip. I like this Wilton Cupcake Decorating Icing Tips Set. It includes piping bags and the most popular piping tips. I used “Tip 4B” on these cupcakes.
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
To make gf carrot cake cupcakes, use a 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour (that already contains xanthan gum) instead of all-purpose flour. I like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
How to store moist carrot cake cupcakes?
Because of the cream cheese frosting, we need to store these cupcakes in the fridge. Unfortunately, this may cause them to dry out some.
Storing them in an airtight container helps to keep them moist. I would only store them for up to 3 days though. They may be too dry after that.
If I have room in my refrigerator, I like to use my cupcake caddy to store my homemade cupcakes. It keeps them safe from accidental hits or squashing.
If you’re not frosting the cupcakes (they’d be more like carrot cake muffins) or need to store them before you do, you should allow them to cool completely before placing in an airtight container. Otherwise, the cupcakes will have sticky tops.
The cupcakes without the cream cheese frosting do not need to be stored in the fridge.
If you enjoy Carrot Cake or are looking for another quick Easter dessert, you should try my Easy Carrot Cake Cookies (with Cream Cheese Frosting) or these Carrot Cake Bars (Swirled with Cream Cheese).
Homemade Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 3 cups Shredded Carrots (about 8 medium carrots)
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 cup Oil canola or vegetable
- 3 Eggs large
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 2 tsp Cinnamon ground
- 1/2 tsp Ginger ground
- 1/4 tsp Cloves ground
- 1/4 tsp Salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
- 8 oz Cream Cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 4 cups Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
- Wash and peel fresh carrots. With a grater, shred carrots. Set shredded carrots aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, and oil.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix.
- Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, & salt) to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Stir in the shredded carrots.
- Scoop batter into the cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until done (a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
- Cool cupcakes in the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Let them cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer.
- Once smooth, add the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- On low speed, add salt and SLOWLY add confectioners’ sugar. It’s best to add the powdered sugar in increments.
- Once combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1-2 minutes until the frosting is thick, whipped, and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, when needed.
- Frost or pipe onto cupcakes.
If you make these cupcakes or any of my other recipes, I'd LOVE to see them. Please tag @lovemischka on insta, fb, or Pinterest. You can also comment below. Thank you!