Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Please welcome Garrett McCord from the food blog Vanilla Garlic as he shares his carrot cake cupcake recipe. I swear these are the best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. ~Elise

I find that you can tell a lot about someone based on the type of carrot cake they make. I find that those who enjoy pineapple and coconut in their carrot cake are a bit more flamboyant and unpredictable than the average baker and, likely, have a tiki shirt in their closet. Those who prefer heavy amount of cloves and raisins are traditionalists; they have a penchant for nostalgia and reminiscing over their fragrant and fruity carrot cakes that encapsulate their childhood. Others prefer orange juice – modernizing the classics and stirring up cocktails to pair with them.

I like to see myself as inventive, strange, and maybe even quirky – my carrot cake is a carrot cupcake (I like to think I’m a wee bit adorable, too). Toasted walnuts add a certain bittersweet and earthy taste to the cupcakes. Cinnamon and a good dose of cardamom give it a faraway newness, which is only made more intriguing with the floral and citrusy finish from the orange zest. Dolloped with some cream cheese frosting, it’s a carrot cupcake that emulates old times from way back when with a bit of a contemporary twist. A funky cupcake that anyone’s personality can appreciate.

So then, what does your carrot (cup)cake say about you?

Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes.


  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 pound of carrots (about 3 1/2 cups, grated)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk (or add a teaspoon of lemon juice to regular milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


1 Preheat the oven to 350F. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

2 Rinse the carrots and peel the rough skins off, then grate the carrots.

3 Place the carrots, buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

4 In another bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.

5 Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture, being sure not to overmix. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated.

6 Scoop into cupcake papers about 1/2 to 3/4 full and bake for 19-21 minutes at 350F, being sure to rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking. Afterwards allow to cool for 5 minutes before taking the cupcakes out of the cupcake tin and allowing them to fully cool on a wire rack. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 oz of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until well combined. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

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Showing 4 of 72 Comments

  • Martijn van Steenbergen

    This recipe looks awesome and very easy to make. I can’t wait to try it out!

    What does overmixing mean (step 5)?

    It means that if you mix too much you will increase the gluten bonds creating a denser cupcake. ~Garrett


  • Susie

    Any suggetions for an alternative, non-cheese frosting? My son loves carrot cake, but my husband can’t eat cheese.

    Try a simple glaze of orange juice and powdered sugar. Just mix them together to a proper consistency then allow a few minutes for it to sit and thicken. ~Garrett

  • zoe maya

    My carrot (cup)cake says that I love my mama! She has been making carrot cake for all of our birthdays, so four times a year, for 33 years. It is always delicious and a reflection of how she is feeling at the moment she makes the cake. Sometimes it’s heavy on the coconut, sometimes it all carrot and spice. Sometimes both! Lately crystallized ginger has made its way into the mix, yum! All I know is I have never been and will never be sick of it because when you take the first bite, it’s love. After lusting over the smell for hours and rushing through dinner for it, you experience a perfectly moist, spiced crumb with delectable surprises as you move your way through a generous slice. I can’t wait for my birthday this year…

    Sounds delish, but why wait? Make some now! (That’s how my mind works – cake is good at all times and for all reasons.) ~Garrett

  • Saumya

    Elise, love your blog!

    Please help….
    How much would a cup of chopped walnuts, sugar, flour, butter, etc be in metric?
    The metric convertor is no help since it only converts into millilitres.
    Dying to make these so really looking forward to hearing from you..
    Thanks! Saumya

    Sorry Saumya, can’t help you there. I don’t cook in metric. Perhaps someone else who tries this recipe and weighs out all of the ingredients after measuring them as given, will report back. ~Elise

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