Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett


Showing 4 of 66 Comments

  • Norm Henderson

    I made these today but modified the recipe by eliminating the vanilla extract and adding Grand Marnier instead. I also added Grand Marnier to the frosting.

  • Rahimah

    I am very happy with the recipe, the cake turned out really good. Very yummy, this is a keeper!

  • Theresa Mauriello

    I, too, would like to know what 1 pound of carrots converts to in cups. Because you are grating them, would you put 1 pound of grated carrots into this recipe? I know it sounds stupid but, someone humor me with an answer. Thank you

  • Toni

    Not sure if anyone has asked this already (I couldn’t read through all the comments!) but if I wanted to make this into just one cake (not a fan of the carrot cake with all of the other add ins like pineapple and whatnot) – would this recipe suffice to just make one cake?

    I made these as cupcakes 2 years ago and they were so good! Just want to make it as a cake.


  • Christine

    These are the best carrot cupcakes that I have ever tasted. Fantastic recipe! I halved the frosting recipe and it was plenty. I was concerned about the generous amount of cardamom, but it was the magical ingredient. I had lots of purple carrots to use up from my CSA box and they made the cupcakes look especially interesting with orange and purple flecks. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

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