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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 and coconut cake in one!

carrot cake cupcakes on a marble and wood cake stand

I published a recipe for carrot cake cupcakes in my cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction. They’re wonderful with a denser texture, similar to muffins. I adapted today’s version from my book’s recipe and added coconut flavor. What a treat!

carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut flakes on a cooling rack

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

If you’re looking for traditional cupcakes without the coconut flavoring, here are my regular carrot cake cupcakes. Very similar to today’s recipe!

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! From the oil and brown sugar to the eggs and Greek yogurt, there are many moist-makers in these coconutty carrot 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 in a glass bowl and cupcake batter in a cupcake pan

How to Make Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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

  • Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  • Mix the wet ingredients together. Add the carrots and coconut.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients. The batter will be thick.
  • Fill cupcake liners. Pour the batter into cupcake liners– only about 2/3 full.
  • Bake.
  • Make the frosting.
  • Frost the cupcakes. Make sure they’re completely cool before frosting.
  • Garnish with coconut flakes.
overhead image of carrot cake cupcakes without frosting

How to Frost Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Coconut carrot cake cupcakes are great, but they’re basically muffins without a swipe of cream cheese frosting. (Albeit super moist and spiced and delish muffins!) Cool, creamy, and smooth-as-silk cream cheese frosting complements the warm spices in our coconut carrot cupcakes. It holds 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 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 with stand mixer

carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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.

carrot cake cupcakes on a marble and wood cake stand

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
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carrot cake cupcakes on a marble and wood cake stand

Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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 ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon 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 cups 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, Piping Bags (Reusable and Disposable), 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These were fabulous! I subbed walnuts for coconut and I don’t think they could have been better.

  2. I always come to your page first when I’m looking for a specific baked good. I made these with coconut oil and unsweetened coconut. Added a bit of raisins and pecans and the batter wasn’t as thick as yours. They were delicious that evening but dried and became a firm overnight. Not sure where I went wrong to lose the moisture.

  3. These are so yummy! I always reduce the sugar in the recipe because its otherwise to sweet for me but even then it is really nice ! Love the new website

  4. Hi Sally,
    i just had to tell you how absolutely delicious these were! I made them for a baby shower and they were a hit. The icing is PERFECT, and looked so beautifully when i piped it on. I have tried many of your recipes, and I knew i could trust this one for such an important event.
    Thanks so much,
    Sarah N

  5. I love the carrot cake recipe but I want to make some six inch layers and you suggest using the cupcake recipe.
    How do I use the cake recipe, using the six-inch pans?
    How many six-inch pans?
    How long do I bake a six-inch?

    1. Hi Jo, this batter is the perfect amount for a 3 layer, 6 inch cake. Using this batter, follow the bake time and temperature from our 6 inch cakes post.

  6. Holy “bleep” these were delicious. I had a ton of baby carrots and made a big batch of these cupcakes. They are going to love me at work. They are delicious with or without frosting. 🙂

    1. The carrots and coconut tasted raw to me. I’m not new to carrot cakes but new to making carrot cupcakes. What happened? Flavor was good but the texture was disappointing.

  7. I loved this recipe! My all time favorite recipe. Just wanted to know that when baking, should I use both top & bottom oven heat plates or just the bottom?

  8. Love this recipe! Just have a common baking conerna, while baking should I switch on both top & bottom oven plates ir just bottom?

    1. Hi Sam, You should have both top and bottom heat on. Happy baking!

  9. Really fun recipe (coconut carrot cake). A few comments. You were absolutely right about grating the carrots – store bought are too thick and dry. This was my first attempt at 6” and I bought the Fat Daddios per the link. Your recipe called for 350 deg, but the Fat Daddios insert suggest 325? Also I was a little confused by the actual amount of crushed pineapple since I omitted both yogurt and coconut (used coconut oil instead of vegetable). Lastly cake and frosting were delish, but only filled 1/4 of each of three pans (so only 1/2 inch baked layers) not sure what I did wrong ?t

  10. Oh my… wow!
    These are absolutely delicious! Perfectly moist, perfectly spiced… delicious. I made them just as the recipe suggested with the exception of the 1 cup of coconut. I only had 1/4 c in my pantry, so I used it and added 1/4 c raisins and 1/2 c chopped pecans. Haven’t frosted them yet, but couldn’t wait for them to cool before tasting. Delicious.

  11. This recipe sounds delicious! Do you think this recipe could be used to make cake pops or is it too moist? I want to make bunny cake pops for Easter. Thank you! I just love your website, recipes and Advice that you give.

    1. Hi Kristy, 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. Thank you so much! I’ve used the vanilla cake pop recipe multiple times with great success, so I appreciate your response with my question and will try it out!

    1. Hi Vicki, Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

  12. Hi, I made your carrot cake recipe and enjoyed it very much, and now I want to make 2 dozen cupcakes out of it. However, your full cake recipe, which is essentially double this recipe, says it makes “about 3 dozen cupcakes,” but this recipe says it makes 1 dozen. That math doesn’t add up. Which is more accurate? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michael, you’ll get slightly more than 24 cupcakes turning the carrot cake recipe into cupcakes. (Let me change the 3 dozen note.) I love that recipe as well.

  13. Hello Sally
    These carrot recipe looks amazing, I was wondering how can I filled them with the frosting instead of putting it on top?

    1. Hi Julia, you could certainly fill the cupcakes with some of the frosting. See this recipe for an example of how we core and fill cupcakes. Enjoy!

  14. These were Absolutely Amazing. I made them exactly the way the recipe shows and they were delicious and smelled like heaven. My family enjoyed them and I will definitely be making them again. Thank you so much for posting it. Yummy yummy yummy.

  15. AMAZING. This recipe had me cleaning the batter bowl with my fingers. I made this tonight for our Easter dinner. I followed the recipe (adding toasted pecans from your cake recipe) and baked into 6x mini Bundt cakes. I left them in the overnight for 25 minutes, and it was perfect!

  16. I just baked these THEN watch the video. The recipe didn’t call for clove, but it showed it in the video and the regular carrot cake recipe shows clove in the ingredients list. Is the flavor way off without the clove???

    1. Hi Kristen, the flavor is not way off without the cloves– there’s so many other spices. How did you enjoy them? This recipe should include it and it looks like it was temporarily missing from the ingredients list.

  17. This are fantastic. I made them for my daughters 18th birthday in March and she said they were the best EVER. I’m actually in the process of making them again today because I’ve been craving them. They are in the oven now :))) Thank you for this awesome recipe!!!!!!

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