Carrot Cake Cupcakes

BakingCarrotCupcake

These are hands down the best Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting you'll ever find. They're moist without being dense, and have just the right amount of spice. Add nuts or leave them out — it's up to you!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

My Favorite: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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?

Suggestions and Substitutions

So many of you have made this recipe over the years and shared with us your versions! Here are a few favorites that everyone should try:

  • Don’t like nuts? Skip them!
  • Don’t like cream cheese frosting? Make regular buttercream!
  • Don’t have (or like) cardamom? Leave it out, or add extra cinnamon
  • Add some raisins — rehydrate them in some water before mixing into the batter
  • Add a half cup of toasted shredded coconut, or sprinkle some over the tops
  • Add a splash of Grand Marnier to the batter, the frosting, or both!

How to Store These Cupcakes

The cupcakes can be baked (but left unfrosted) for a day or two before you plan to serve them. Wait to top with frosting until the day you plan to serve them, and then serve within a few hours.

Leftover frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated. Let them come to room temperature before enjoying.

Love Carrot Cake? Try These Recipes!

Updated March 18, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (100 g) chopped walnuts
  • 1 pound (450 g) carrots (about 3 1/2 cups, grated)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of buttermilk (or add a teaspoon of lemon juice to regular milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Method

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

2 Line 2 standard (12-well) cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

3 Mix wet ingredients and carrots: Place the buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Then stir in the grated carrots.

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

5 Fold dry ingredients into wet, add walnuts: Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture, being sure not to over-mix. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated.

6 Bake: Scoop the batter into cupcake papers, filling them about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 19-21 minutes at 350°F, rotating the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking.

Cool for 5 minutes before taking the cupcakes out of the cupcake tin and allowing them to fully cool on a wire rack.

7 Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until well combined. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix. Spread or pipe 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

84 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Roberta B

    Big crowd pleaser

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Cara Wong

    They look really good but I’m wondering what the nutritional information is since I’m having to watch a couple things (medical reasons).

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Dixie

    grand-daughter wants 100 carrot cake cupcakes for her graduation party. What kind of frosting can I use in place of cream cheese as it will be to warm to keep cupcakes out with cream cheese frosting.

    Show Replies (1)
  4. lisa

    amazing never had anything better

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Ann

    I was intrigued by the cardamon and was not disappointed–these are delicious! Personally, I might add a touch more cardamon next time because I love the spice, but as written, the cardamon comes through without overwhelming. The overall cake has more layers of taste than the average carrot cake. Loved it!
    I ended up only making half the amount of cream cheese frosting, which was plenty for the 24 good-sized cupcakes the recipe made. I added lemon juice to the frosting to brighten it up a bit and my family loved it. This is my new go-to recipe for carrot cake!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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Three Carrot Cake Cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting, one of them is partially unwrappedCarrot Cake Cupcakes