Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Super soft and moist coconut carrot cake cupcakes are loaded with coconut, sweetened with brown sugar, and flavored with warm spices. They’re topped with silky smooth cream cheese frosting– like carrot cake in cupcake form! If you aren’t a fan of coconut, see my recipe notes.

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Up until today, you couldn’t find a carrot cake cupcake recipe on my blog. Considering carrot cake is simply known as “birthday cake” in my family, I’m ashamed. No miniature version of the world’s best cake flavor? Who even am I?

In my defense though, I published a recipe for them in Sally’s Baking Addiction. But let’s make room for carrot cake cupcakes on the website. They’re a long time coming and I think you’ll appreciate this recipe, too.

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Why You’ll Love These Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Deliciously moist
  • Perfectly spiced
  • Coconut-y
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • A great make-ahead recipe
  • Garnished with cream cheese frosting

Carrot cake cupcake batter on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Carrot Cake Should be Spiced & Moist

Let’s be honest. Carrot cake is only good if it’s spiced and if it’s moist. Under-spiced carrot cake tastes like nothing. Dry carrot cake tastes like you forgot you were baking a cake and frosted a vegetable instead. I encourage you to stick to my recipe below for best results! This recipe yields flavorful and moist carrot cake cupcakes. From the oil and brown sugar to the eggs and Greek yogurt, there are many moist-makers in these carrot cake cupcakes.

Two stand out the most:

Carrots: Pick up whole carrots and freshly grate them at home. Carrots that you buy pre-shredded are much drier and thicker than freshly grated carrots. Use those and you’ll miss out on a ton of moisture, not to mention experience large chunks of carrot in each bite.

Coconut: While the main player in this recipe is the carrot, we can’t ignore the coconut. It’s best to use sweetened shredded coconut in these cupcakes– it’s a little sticky and adds mega moisture to these cupcakes. Unsweetened is fine, but it’s typically drier and less flavorful than sweetened coconut.

Carrot cake cupcake batter on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Make Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Just like hummingbird cake, these cupcakes are simple to make!

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together. Add the carrots and coconut.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. The batter will be thick.
  4. Fill cupcake liners. Pour the batter into cupcake liners– only about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake.
  6. Make the frosting.
  7. Frost the cupcakes. Make sure they’re completely cool before frosting.
  8. Garnish with coconut flakes.
  9. Enjoy!

Coconut carrot cake cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Frost Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot cake cupcakes are great, but they’re muffins without a swipe of cream cheese frosting. (Albeit super moist and spiced and delish carrot cake muffins!) Cool, creamy, and smooth-as-silk cream cheese frosting complements the warm spices in our carrot cake cupcakes. It hold its shape when piped, too– I used the Ateco #808 large round piping tip for today’s pictured cupcakes. For even more coconut flavor, try adding a little coconut extract to the frosting.

These coconut carrot cake cupcakes would also be delicious topped with the brown butter cream cheese frosting from my banana layer cake recipe or the cinnamon cream cheese frosting from my banana cupcakes recipe. Have fun mixing and matching flavors!

Cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These cupcakes taste even better after a few hours because the flavors have settled, mingled, and married. The moisture prevails and the cream cheese frosting sets into the tops. They’re the perfect treat to make ahead of time– even a day or 2 before.

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredient Substitutions You Can Make

Here are ingredient substitutions I’ve tested with success.

  • Coconut: Use either type of coconut– sweetened or unsweetened. For best results, however, sweetened coconut adds the most moisture. If coconut isn’t for you, leave it out! You can replace it with 1 cup of chopped nuts or raisins.
  • Coconut Extract: Totally optional for amped up coconut flavor. If you can’t get your hands on it or don’t enjoy coconut, simply leave it out.
  • Yogurt: Use 1/3 cup of sour cream or unsweetened applesauce instead. Or try using 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple in place of the yogurt. They’ll taste like pineapple carrot cake!
  • Oil: Instead of vegetable oil, try melted coconut oil for even more coconut flavor.
Print

Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. 


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (156g) 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 EACH ground nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) plain yogurt, sour cream, or unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 cup (130g) freshly grated carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut*

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, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • toasted coconut flakes for topping*

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, yogurt, vanilla and coconut extract (if using) together until combined. Whisk in the carrots and coconut. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 20-22 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.
  4. 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 3 confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, coconut extract (if using) and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it).
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes however you’d like. I used an Ateco 808 large round piping tip for these pictured cupcakes. Top with coconut flakes.
  6. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Glass Mixing Bowls, Measuring Cups, Box Grater, Cupcake Liners, Cupcake Pan, Frosting Bags, Ateco #808 Tip, and Marble Cake Stand
  3. Coconut Extract: For extra coconut flavor, you can add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to both the cupcake batter and cream cheese frosting.
  4. Carrots: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 2 medium carrots to yield approximately 1 cup of moist carrot shreds.
  5. Coconut: I suggest sweetened shredded coconut in the cupcake batter. You can use unsweetened coconut, but unsweetened coconut tends to be drier and milder in flavor than sweetened. Keep that in mind if you make the switch. You can use either for the garnish on top, though. I used sweetened coconut flakes for the topping. To toast them, simply spread on a lined baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes at 300°F (149°C).
  6. Not a Coconut Lover? Leave the coconut and coconut extract out completely. Or you can replace with 1 cup chopped nuts or raisins. Or if pineapple carrot cake is your thing, sub in 1 cup of crushed pineapple. If adding the crushed pineapple, leave out the 1/3 cup yogurt.
  7. Pineapple: What about pineapple coconut carrot cake cupcakes? We can do it! Sub 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple in for the 1/3 cup yogurt.
  8. Cake Recipe: Follow my carrot cake recipe (same-ish recipe, doubled). Add 2 cups of sweetened shredded coconut to the batter. You can leave in the nuts or skip them in that recipe.
  9. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: coconut carrot cake cupcakes

Super spiced and moist carrot cake cupcakes filled with shredded coconut and topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

100 Comments

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  1. Delicious, easy to make, AND super moist too!

    1. Hi! In our country we only get unsweetened dessicated coconut. If using that would you reccomend any other changes to avoid the recipe being not sweet enough/dry?

  2. Love the recipe I added carob powder, orange zest and little orange juice, and hulled hemp seeds. Taste so good! Thank you

  3. Can you substitute applesauce for the oil?

    1. I don’t recommend it. Without that fat, the cupcakes will taste a bit rubbery.

  4. Made these last night as a quarantine treat and they are divine! I didn’t have cream cheese so I used the vanilla buttercream recipe on your website – perfection!

  5. Hi Sally – the vanilla cake pops are a current hit in our house for my daughter who usually orders them at Starbucks. My husband loves carrot cake so I was hoping the next round of pops could be for him. Other than the carrot being shredded more finely, what sort of edits do I need to make? Thanks much!

    1. Hi Kate! This recipe would be just fine to yield cake pops, but you would need VERY little frosting since the cupcakes/cake crumb is so moist already. Maybe only a scant 1/3 or 1/2 cup of cream cheese frosting total until you get a semi-moist crumb like my vanilla cake pops. I recommend halving the frosting– you’ll have some leftover.

      1. So this worked out pretty well – especially since I somehow forgot the oil lol. I ran out of candy melt and I don’t really want to trek to the store for a pretty non-essential item. Could I make a think royal icing as a coating or do you have a recipe that doesn’t require cocoa butter?

  6. Jessica Nolan says:

    If I leave out the coconut, do I have to replace it with anything? Or is it fine to just omit? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jessica, Check out recipe note #7 for suggestions!

      1. Jessica Nolan says:

        Thank you! I saw the suggested options but I wanted to leave out all of them :/ would that be ok?

      2. Yes, leave it out without making any other changes 🙂

  7. Sally I just made these for myself as a cake is too much for one person. Not only are they easy and quick to make, they are delicious! I tried one after it cooled and now I can’t decide if I want muffins or cupcakes!

  8. These cupcakes are delicious! You’re definitely my go to person for sweet treats. How did you get the pretty brown swirl in your icing?

    1. victoria stevens says:

      I don’t think that is a brown swirl I think it’s toasted coconut

  9. The Best Cupcakes I’ve Ever Made!

    The cupcakes were so rich and smooth in flavor (so moist too!) The frosting had a perfect consistency for piping. Definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  10. I was so excited to find this recipe!! Then I found out my mom doesn’t like coconut OR nuts in her carrot cake. So I followed your option of omitting both, and adding a cup of crushed pineapple instead. I don’t think I drained it enough so the batter was a little liquidy and made 15 cupcakes instead of 12… but they baked perfectly and were absolutely divine!! And the cream cheese frosting may be the best I’ve ever had. Definitely will be making again!

  11. another amazing creation !! I add the coconut but instead of the extract i added spiced rum to the mix and to the frosting…YEAH BABY !!!! Little Boozy treat never hurt anyone..
    Thanks again Sally…ive requested your cookbook as a mothers day gift…

  12. Can any of your cupcake recipes be made into jumbo cupcakes in a jumbo muffin pan? And how many would a recipe make?

    1. Hi Rylee, You should be able to bake most cupcake recipes as jumbo cupcakes. The yield and the bake time will differ between recipes so keep an eye on them and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  13. Jessica Nolan says:

    I made these and LOVED them, with no additions. Super good 🙂 I have an order for a cake for this week so I think I’m going to use this recipe for 2 7” cakes…. the cake recipe is too big so I’m hoping this recipe as-is will work for the size cake I need!

  14. I wanted to make carrot cake (one of hubby’s favorites) to break in my new food processor. I ended up going all-out with these cupcakes: used coconut, pineapple (no yogurt), walnuts and steamed raisins (about 1/4 cup of each). The batter was more wet as a result; I added an extra tablespoon of flour (altitude baking!) and increased the bake time by 10 total minutes, but they turned out perfectly! And were very, very delicious. Thanks for a fab recipe.

  15. Delicious cupcakes – though I would say mostly carrot. I did not detect the coconut really. Our household is coconut fanatics, however.

  16. Is this a recipe I can use to make a 3 layer, six inch cake?

    1. Sure can! You can see the details and baking instructions on my post 6 Inch Cakes.

      1. Sally, it came out great. I used my Wilton easy layer pans and substituted pecans for the coconut flakes. It’s just as good as your full size cake recipe. Thank you!

  17. Hi Sally!

    Thanks for the amazing recipe. It was a hit!!! I wanted to maybe add nuts and raisins, any advice on amount and baking time?

    1. I would add 2 cups of add-ins total, including the coconut. So maybe 1/2 cup coconut with 3/4 cup chopped nuts and 3/4 cup raisins. Or any combo of add-ins equaling about 2 cups. Same bake time!

  18. Hi Sally!

    This recipe is absolutely divine. I’ve made it twice in the span of a month and my boyfriend, who usually does not have a sweet tooth, devoured it. I’d like to make these cupcakes as a 9-inch two-tiered cake for his birthday along with the frosting. What measurements do I use?

    Thanks in advance.

    P.S.: I LOVE all your recipes and you’re my go-to person for all things sweet

    1. Hi Srishti, so glad these cupcakes were a hit! I recommend using my carrot cake recipe (see “add-ins” in the notes to add coconut) for a layer cake. For a more specific conversion based on the exact size cake/tiered cake you want, use my cake pan sizes and conversions page to help guide you.

  19. Hi Sally, would I be able to use safflower oil instead of vegetable oil ?

    1. I can’t see why not!

  20. Can I double the recipe?

    1. Hi Becky! You can double the recipe or make 2 separate batches. Either works!

  21. Emily Dougherty says:

    Hi Sally, would I be able to leave out all of the coconut and not add anything else as a substitute?
    Thanks xx

    1. Certainly! You can leave out the coconut and coconut extract without substituting anything for it.

  22. Emily Dougherty says:

    Thank you so much, I love all of your recipes!!

  23. Made this recipe gluten free using measure for measure gluten free flour. Came out perfectly. Thanks so much!

  24. Hi sally
    I hv tried most of your cupcakes and they hv all turned out delicious. Thank you very much.

    For this recipe can we add the shredded coconut and make a single layer cake without doubling the recipe. How much of coconut shd be added.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Sal, See recipe note.

  25. Hi, if I’m allergic to coconut can I just omit it without any problems? Or should I add more Carrot?

    1. Hi Anie. You can leave it out, no problem– see recipe note.

  26. I haven’t made these cocounut carrot cake cupcakes yet I’m wondering if I should use 1/2 cup crushed pineapple or 1/4 cup instead of the yoghurt or apple sauce . I’ll assume the pineapple needs to be well drained?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi! You can certainly use crushed pineapple. See recipe note #7. Use 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple (drained) in place of the 1/3 cup yogurt.

  27. I love your recipes and I can’t wait to try this one for my birthday. Can I make the cream cheese frosting without a hand mixer? Ive got a whisk…and arm muscle.

    1. Hi Sally, can buttermilk be used instead of apple sauce/ yogurt / crushed pineapple? Thanks!!

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