Carrot Cake is such a classic cake, especially spring holidays. My homemade carrot cake recipe is a favorite! It’s well spiced, moist, and topped with delicious cream cheese frosting.
If making a whole cake really isn’t your thing, I get it. Sometimes you want cake but don’t want to know the work of baking, leveling, and doing the whole tiered cake thing. That’s where cupcakes come in!
These delicious carrot cake cupcakes are easy to make, quicker to make than a full cake, and still topped with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting so you get the best of both worlds.
Watch How to Make This Recipe
Avocado Oil: a little avocado oil helps to keep these cupcakes moist.
Applesauce: instead of more oil, we’re using unsweetened applesauce as another way to keep the cupcakes moist. Be sure to grab plain, unsweetened applesauce for this recipe.
Eggs: you’ll need two large eggs to bind the batter together.
Brown Sugar: you’ll need a little brown sugar to sweeten these cupcakes
Vanilla Extract: plenty of vanilla extract is used in both the cupcake batter and cream cheese frosting.
All Purpose Flour: you’ll need a little over one cup of all purpose flour for these cupcakes.
Baking Soda and Powder: these leavening agents help to give the cupcakes a little lift.
Spices: carrot cake is nothing without plenty of spices and these include a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
Carrots: freshly grated carrots are the star of these cupcakes.
Walnuts: for a little extra crunch and texture, we’re using chopped walnuts.
Avocado Oil – you can sub the avocado oil for canola oil or melted coconut oil if you prefer.
Brown Sugar – you can substitute the dark brown sugar in these cupcakes for coconut sugar.
All Purpose Flour – if you need to keep these cupcakes gluten free you can substitute a cup for cup gluten free all purpose flour. Almond, coconut, or cassava flour cannot be used as a 1 to 1 replacement for the flour in these cupcakes.
Walnuts – if you have a nut allergy, or just don’t like the, you can leave the walnuts out of these cupcakes. You can also swap them for pecans!
The best part of carrot cake is always the thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top. These carrot cake cupcakes have a simple, yet delicious, layer of cream cheese frosting that makes them extra delicious! You’ll need four simple ingredients to make the frosting:
Cream Cheese: be sure to grab the brick of cream cheese for this recipe, not the spreadable tub.
Butter: you’ll also need a bit of unsalted butter for the frosting.
Powdered Sugar: you’ll need around two cups of powdered sugar to give the frosting sweetness and stability.
Vanilla Extract: a must have in any cream cheese frosting.
Salt: a pinch of salt helps to balance out the sweet of the frosting.
To make the cream cheese frosting you’ll need a hand mixer or stand mixer. You’ll whip everything together until nice and fluffy and then refrigerate the frosting until you are ready to use.
How to Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Step Two: To a large mixing bowl add the avocado oil, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extra. Mix until well combined.
Step Three: To a separate bowl, add the all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Step Four: Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Next, fold in the grated carrots and walnuts.
Step Five: Pour or spoon the carrot cake batter into the lined muffin tin wells until 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
Step Six: Add the room temperature cream cheese and butter to a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip until well combined and smooth. Next, add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and first beat on low to incorporate and then continue to beat the frosting on high until fluffy. Cover the frosting and refrigerate until the cupcakes have cooled completely.
Step Seven: Frost the cupcakes using either a piping tip, a ziplock bag with the corner removed, or an offset spatula. Garnish with chopped walnuts.
Tips for the Perfect Cupcakes
Peel and shred your own carrots – it may take a little extra work but it is worth it to use a box grater or food processor to grate your own fresh carrots. Pre-shredded carrots are usually hard and dry which isn’t what you want in your cupcakes.
Line your cupcake pan – to prevent sticking, use cupcake liners when making your cupcakes.
Let the cupcakes come to a complete cool – it’s tempting but be sure to let your cupcakes cool completely before attempting to frost them. Otherwise you’ll just end up with melted frosting. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the baking pan and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Place the cream cheese frosting in the fridge – speaking of frosting, keep your cream cheese frosting in the fridge before frosting your cupcakes. It keeps the frosting thick and easier to pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.
Frost the cupcakes however you like – there are a few different ways you can frost your cupcakes. First, there’s the more traditional use of a piping bag and tip. If you don’t have those tools, you can use a plastic bag with a corner removed to make a makeshift piping bag. Lastly, you can use an offset spatula to simple coat the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
How to Store
Store your carrot cake cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 6 days. Storing them in an airtight container will ensure the cupcakes stay moist and fresh. You can remove the cupcakes from the fridge 20 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.
I hope you give these Carrot Cake Cupcakes a try! They’re easy to make and so delicious!
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1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus more finely chopped walnuts for topping
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
To a large mixing bowl add the avocado oil, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extra. Mix until well combined.
To a separate bowl, add the all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Next, fold in the grated carrots and walnuts.
Pour or spoon the carrot cake batter into the lined muffin tin wells until 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
Make the frosting: Add the room temperature cream cheese and butter to a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip until well combined and smooth. Next, add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and first beat on low to incorporate and then continue to beat the frosting on high until fluffy. Cover the frosting and refrigerate until the cupcakes have cooled completely.
Frost the cupcakes using either a piping tip or a ziplock bag with the corner removed. Garnish with chopped walnuts.