These carrot cake cupcakes are a scaled down version of my popular carrot cake recipe. You can mix this easy cupcake batter by hand, though I recommend using a mixer to make the cream cheese frosting. The white chocolate carrot topper is optional!
- 1 and 1/3 cups (166g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened applesauce, sour cream, or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) peeled and shredded carrots* (about 3 large carrots)
- optional add-in: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans; raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- optional garnish: white chocolate carrot topper (see Notes) and/or finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract together until combined, and then whisk in the carrots. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold or whisk together until completely combined. Batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only about 3/4 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 21–23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 12–13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate the frosting as the cupcakes finish cooling—this is helpful if you plan to pipe the frosting with a piping bag + tip. Cold cream cheese frosting holds its shape better.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and top with optional garnish, if desired. I used an Ateco 808 piping tip and then swirled the center with a small icing spatula (you can see me do that in the video– totally optional way of decorating). Cover and store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Plain cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. If frosting is thick/stiff after refrigerating, beat it with your mixer for a minute to help loosen it up. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Special Tools: Hand Mixer, Box Grater, Cupcake Pan, Disposable Piping Bags or these Reusable Piping Bags, Ateco #808 Piping Tip
- Vegetable Oil: You can use melted and slightly cooled coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. If doing so, it’s imperative all other ingredients in the cupcake batter are room temperature so the oil does not solidify.
- Applesauce/Sour Cream/Yogurt: You can use any of these options, but applesauce is my favorite because it adds a little extra flavor. Or you could use the same amount of canned crushed pineapple instead (no need to drain).
- Carrot: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle because they’re quite dry. Rather, freshly shred large carrots to yield approximately 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) of moist carrot shreds. Before measuring, give the shreds a rough chop so the pieces are finer and distributed nicely in each cupcake. And instead of carrots, you could even use shredded apple or zucchini.
- How to Make White Chocolate Carrots Garnish: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 4 ounces (113g, usually 1 bar) of white chocolate in 20-second increments, stirring after each until perfectly smooth. Separate into two bowls (don’t worry about making them perfectly equal). Tint one bowl with orange gel food coloring, and the other with green gel food coloring. (Use gel food coloring because liquid food coloring can change the consistency. I like the brand AmeriColor—you can find their gel colors in the baking aisle of craft stores or give it a quick search online. I use and recommend this set of 6 colors or this set of 12 colors.) Pour into two squeeze bottles. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, wax paper, or a silicone mat, drizzle the orange melted chocolate into a carrot shape, then drizzle the green melted chocolate onto the tops to make the carrot stems. Refrigerate the pan until the chocolate carrots are set, at least 15 minutes. The white chocolate carrots do soften up when they come back to room temperature, so if making these cupcakes in advance, make sure to keep them in the refrigerator until it’s nearly time to serve them.
- Adapted from Carrot Cake Cupcakes in Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook. This version yields fewer and the cupcakes aren’t as dense.
Keywords: carrot cake cupcakes