Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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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. Zero. Zip. Zilch. 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?

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

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 have a feeling they’ll fit right in with this crowd.

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(By the way. Remember when I told you hummingbird cake was better than carrot cake? I was pregnant and being silly. It’s obviously a tie.)

Carrot cake cupcake batter on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. Best not to stray from the recipe below.

From the oil and the brown sugar to the eggs and Greek yogurt, there are many moist-makers in these carrot cake cupcakes. Two stand out the most:

THE CARROTS

There are dry carrot shreds and there are wet carrot shreds. 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. Buy carrots and freshly grate them at home.

THE COCONUT

While the main player in this recipe is the carrot, we can’t ignore the coconut. Best to use sweetened shredded coconut in these cupcakes. Unsweetened is fine, but it’s typically drier and less flavorful than sweetened.

Not a fan of coconut? I got ya. Check out the recipe note below.

Carrot cake cupcake batter on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Coconut carrot cake cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Carrot cake cupcakes are great, but they’re muffins without a swipe of cream cheese frosting. (Super moist and spiced and delish carrot cake muffins, ok?)

Cool, creamy, and smooth-as-silk cream cheese frosting complements the warm spices in carrot cake. Want to jazz it up? Try my brown butter cream cheese frosting or cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You can even add a little coconut extract to really amp up the coconut flavor.

Cream cheese frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I used an Ateco 808 large round piping tip.

The coconut carrot cake 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. I had these in the fridge for a couple days before our friends came over for dinner last weekend. And, 2 days later, they tasted AWESOME.

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

Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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 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*

Directions:

  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.

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

For extra coconut flavor, you can add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to both the cupcake batter and cream cheese frosting.

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.

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).

Not a fan of coconut? Leave it out! 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 doing so, leave out the 1/3 cup yogurt.

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.

Want a cake instead? Follow my carrot layer cake (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.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Measuring Cups | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Frosting BagsAteco #808 Tip | Marble Cake Stand

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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

110 Comments

  1. Not usually a fan of carrot cake, so will have to try these! 😉 Usually the ones I’ve tried are too dry, so hopefully these will change my opinion!

  2. Sally, these look awesome! Can I use greek yogurt? My health conscious sister visited last week and left some behind. When I saw it in the fridge, I’m like, “What the heck am I going to do with this?” Promise to make these as soon as you answer……and of course I’ll let you know how they turn out! BTW, I did something new this year for Valentine’s Day and made your chocolate sugar cookies instead of your brownies. I was afraid I’d have a revolt on my hands…….but all was okay. I used black cocoa, so my youngest was complaining they weren’t sweet enough, that is, until, I magically turned them into an ice cream sandwich. My oldest two loved them- ice cream was not required!

      1. Hi Sally,

        Mission accomplished! Was too impatient to wait for your reply-boy are these yummy, and I haven’t even frosted them yet! The 12 year old approves, but he thinks they’re “Spice Cupcakes.” Didn’t dare risk him knowing these were vegetable based- bad enough there’s no chocolate in them, but if he knew the main ingredient came from the ground, well, that would have been the end of it. BTW, I made one small modification, thanks to Trader Joe’s. Next to the shredded coconut was a bag of coconut strips. (not chips.) I chopped a few up to mimic the texture of nuts and it was spot on. Thanks again for a great recipe! P.S. My son has a class party next week and apparently several kids asked, “Will you get your Mom to make those brownies you’ve brought in before?” Figured you’d want to know there are lots of 12 year old fans in Newton MA! Just wait until your daughter starts school- all the kids will request to be in her classroom!

      2. Oh good! You can’t even taste the carrots or tell that they’re in there. I’m so glad your son approves. 🙂
        I’m so excited to make classroom treats for my daughter. Like ridiculously excited!!!

  3. Hi Sally!
    The picture of these cupcakes, with those large pieces of shredded coconut, made my day! I’ve tried two of your carrot cake recipes and they are absolutely delicious. Being a huge coconut fan, I’m really interested in trying these. I have a friend who only likes carrot cake cake and no other sweets. Will have to bake these for her birthday in a few months!

  4. I make filled cupcakes. Carrot cake cupcakes filled with raisin filing and cream cheese icing is awesome. I fill when baking. As soon as they start to rise, I pull them out and fill. Check for doneness from side not center.

    1. YES! I wanted to add them to this batch, but I know a lot of people aren’t nuts about… nuts! Or raisins.
      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.

  5. Oh Sally such a dilemma… i was going to take the hummingbird cake to our community center function. Now I cant decide! Every recipe that Ive tried has been scrumptious. Should I flip a coin?

  6. Hi Sally,
    Yum! I love carrot cake yet rarely get to eat it because it usually has nuts in it. Coconut is an excellent substitution in my book, and I cannot wait to try out this recipe. ~smile~ Roseanne

  7. So excited to try these – I LOVE carrot cake! You mentioned using pineapple- could I use both the coconut and pineapple? If so, use the same measurements? Thank you!

  8. Sally, you are so funny! I have made both your carrot cakes and hummingbird cake, and you’re right–it’s a tie! But the BEST part is the cream cheese frosting! I have been meaning to write you forever to tell you how AMAZING that frosting is! It’s the best in the world!

  9. Carrot cake is my husband’s favorite, but not so much for the rest of the family. This is the perfect solution–make his favorite as cupcakes and freeze leftovers so he can indulge as needed! THANKS, Sally. Quick question about the pineapple addition–I’m guessing yes, but wanted to clarify–should this be drained before measuring?

  10. Hi Sally!
    Can I use almond flour? The cupcakes look delish! I’m really trying to watch those carbs and gluten.
    Thanks,
    Michelle

    1. If you can get gluten-free flour, carrot cake works a treat – I’ve made it several times for work, where my office bestie is GF.

  11. Hey Sally! So I know you mentioned building up your frosting category earlier in the year, and while I love your cream cheese frosting, I would also love a recipe on swiss meringue buttercream! I’m currently making macarons, and I’m having trouble finding a swiss meringue buttercream recipe online that doesn’t make 10 cups (!!!) of frosting. If you’re interested in tackling that recipe, I would love to see it!

  12. These look amazing!! My dad’s birthday is coming up and he loves carrot cake so it will give me a perfect excuse to make them!

    Also, I love the Friends moist- maker reference 🙂

    1. Lol! So glad someone else loves my Friends sense of humor 😉 Hope your dad enjoys these on his birthday! Let me know how they turn out 🙂

  13. These carrot cake cupcakes look really good. There is a local BBQ place in Oklahoma City that has really delicious carrot cake and your recipe sounds similar to theirs. I have tried some other carrot cake recipes, but it doesn’t compare to theirs. I will have to try yours and let you know!

  14. Quick question! On your notes to the recipe, you say in one comment to sub the yogurt with 1 C crushed pineapple, but in the next you say to sub it with 1/2 C pineapple. Which one is correct? These look so good, thank you for posting them! Anything in a cupcake is just so much more fun to eat!

    1. Hey Daphne! They are both correct. Leave out the coconut + yogurt and replace with 1 cup crushed pineapple. Keep in the coconut, leave out the yogurt, and replace with 1/2 cup crushed pineapple.

      1. Sorry one more question! If I want to leave out the coconut entirely but I don’t want to add any add-ins (nuts, raisins, pineapple, coconut, etc.), should I reduce anything or just leave out the coconut?

  15. Speaking of cream cheese add-ins, one day I was making frosting and added 2 T of your caramel sauce to cream cheese frosting, OMG!

  16. These look wonderful Sally. So many variations and options too!! You really do know how to spoil people. I cannot help but wonder what these might take like with a malibu cream cheese frosting… perhaps!? Hehe.
    Have a great weekend, thanks again for another super lovely recipe.

  17. Hi I was wondering if they would still be good naked (without the frosting)would it needs too dry or need extra ingredients to make it work . I love your blog and have so many of your recipes in the im must try pile. Keep going with your awesome recipes xxx

    1. I’m sure you could, but I have no experience baking with GF flours so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try anything.

  18. I love that you gave so many options for the recipe in your notes at the end! I LOVE carrot cake, so I’m excited to try all these different ways to do it 🙂

  19. Hi Sally,

    Loving all your recipes!, In your opinion what is your BEST super moist vanilla cake recipe to make cupcakes? I’m looking to make cupcakes but I can’t seem to choose from all your recipes haha Thanks!

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