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!

One single carrot cake cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting

Simply Recipes / 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 the fragrant and fruity carrot cakes that encapsulate their childhood.

Others prefer orange juice—modernizing the classics and stirring up cocktails to pair with them.

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

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

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?

Variations 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 them 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!
A carrot cake cupcake torn in half, revealing the moist interior of the cake

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

How to Store Carrot Cake 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 and will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Let them come to room temperature before enjoying.

Love Carrot Cake? Try These Recipes!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 24 servings
Yield 24 to 30 cupcakes

If you don't have buttermilk, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to regular milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes.


For the carrot cake cupcakes

  • 1 cup (100g) chopped walnuts

  • 2 cups (400g) sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (about 1 large orange)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 pound (450g) carrots, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)

  • 3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 16 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Toast the walnuts and prepare the pans:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

    Line 2 standard muffin/cupcake pans with liners.

  2. Mix the wet ingredients and carrots:

    Combine the sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Stir in the grated carrots.

  3. Mix the dry ingredients:

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

  4. Fold together and add the nuts:

    Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined, being sure not to over-mix. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated.

  5. Bake:

    Scoop the batter into cupcake papers, filling them about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted in the center of a few cupcakes comes out clean or with a few crumbs, 19 to 21 minutes, 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.

  6. Make the frosting:

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
422 Calories
27g Fat
42g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 422
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 236mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 126mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.