Carrot Cake Cupcakes


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

Featured in 12 Desserts for Your Easter Table

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

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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


  • 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


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

99 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Amanda

    This was my first attempt at making carrot cake and it was wonderful. I used King Arthur’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour and they turned out sooo good. Brought them to work and they were gone quickly. They couldn’t believe they were gluten free. The frosting is so good too. I love the addition of the orange zest. Next time I’m going to try a few swaps to see what happens.


    Show Replies (1)
  2. Robert

    Moist, tastes great. I love the mysterious taste of cardamom, so I doubled the amount to 1 tsp. Beware though, this recipe makes far more than 24 regular sized cupcakes. Either cut back quantities by one-third, or prepare for at least 36.


  3. Ramona

    These are the best carrot cupcakes! Every time I make this recipe people praise it and eat everything!! I love it!

  4. Nastasia

    Loved the recipe. Even my toddler and preteen were able to help out. Thank you.


  5. Pete

    We made this recipe but the cup cakes were burnt on the bottom, after only 19 minutes. Any suggestions?

    Show Replies (1)
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Three Carrot Cake Cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting, one of them is partially unwrappedCarrot Cake Cupcakes