Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

These cupcakes have been months in the making.

They were well worth the wait because they’re the best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

I love carrot cake and wanted to turn one of my favorite cakes into cupcakes, but the road was paved with snags.

I love this Carrot Cake Loaf, but the recipe was written to be made as a loaf cake rather than as cupcakes. The cake is incredibly moist and I knew it would produce dense, heavy cupcakes. I wouldn’t mind because I think good carrot cake should be on the denser and heavier side, but others may prefer their cupcakes a bit lighter.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

I have this Carrot Pineapple Banana Bread, a tropical spin on carrot cake. And Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Bread, which uses similar spices to carrot cake, but neither are cupcakes.

A couple months ago I tried to make carrot cake cupcakes and accidentally overfilled my muffin pan. I wound up with splooging mushrooms rather than cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

Instead I made Soft and Chewy Spiced Carrot Cake Cookies. They turned out to be some of my favorite cookies of 2013 so far, so all was not lost.

And there’s a recipe in my cookbook for Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Cookies, which have cream cheese baked in and they’re great cookies, but they’re not cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

Now I finally have my cupcakes and I love them. They’re fast and easy to make, and ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes. The batter comes together in one bowl without a mixer.

They’re soft, the perfect balance of dense yet light, and so moist. There’s nothing worse than dry cake and cupcakes tend to dry out even more so than cake, and these are anything but dry.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

They’re oil-based rather than butter-based. Oil keeps cakes, breads, and quickbreads softer, springier, and more tender than butter.

The carrots themselves add moisture and texture, as do the raisins. If you don’t like raisins, you can omit them. I’m a raisin lover and they’re a must. If you like nuts, add some, but I prefer to keep those little pebbles out of my soft, tender cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

Bland carrot cake isn’t worth eating and the cupcakes are pleasantly spiced in a way that’s robust enough to complement the natural flavor of the carrots. They’re sweet, but not overly so.

The tangy cream cheese frosting, which is a must-have, balances the sweetness and rounds out the flavors. I just spooned it on, but pipe if you prefer. I only pipe unless I absolutely have to because so much precious frosting sticks to the bag and is wasted.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

Many times I donate our extra goodies to friends, neighbors, my husband’s coworkers, my daughter’s teachers because our family of 3 does not need it all. But my husband insisted we hoard these. I agreed.

All my trials and tribulations of getting to these cupcakes were so worth it.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - Recipe at

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting - My favorite foolproof recipe for soft, moist, flavorful carrot cake cupcakes!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

I love carrot cake in any way, shape, or form, and these soft, moist, tender cupcakes are the best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had. They’re fast and easy to make, and come together with one bowl and a whisk in minutes. They’re soft, springy, and the cream cheese frosting adds the perfect tanginess to these well-spiced and flavorful cupcakes.

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2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sour cream or thick Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots (2 to 3 medium/large carrots, peeled)
1/2 cup raisins, optional
1/2 cup nuts, optional

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese (light is okay), softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, more or less as desired


  1. For the Cupcakes – Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan very well with floured cooking spray or use liners (Cosmetically, I prefer avoiding the ripples and ridges that liners produce)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first 11 ingredients (through optional salt) until combined.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
  4. Fold in the carrots, optional raisins and nuts. Note about the carrots – I use a box grater on the coarsest blade and it takes less than 2 minutes to grate them. I prefer the consistency of doing it by hand rather than using a food processor. Don’t use bagged, pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store; grate them yourself.
  5. Turn batter out into prepared pan. Fill each muffin cavity between 2/3 and 3/4-full. Do not exceed 3/4-full because they will overflow. You may have batter remaining for a 13th (or 14th) cupcake and it’s better to either discard it or bake it in another pan even though it’s a pain for just 1 cupcake. I have overfilled, and then overflown, trying to make it all work in one pan.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cupcakes are domed, set, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While cupcakes cool, make the Frosting – With an electric mixer, beat together first three ingredients on high power until combined and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  8. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat to incorporate. Play with sugar ratio based on desired frosting consistency. If you accidentally add too much sugar, add a bit more cream cheese to thin it out.
  9. Frost the cooled cupcakes. I spoon on about 2 tablespoons frosting per cupcake. Pipe it with a piping bag if desired. If you have extra frosting, it will keep airtight in the refrigerator for many weeks. Frosted cupcakes will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Unfrosted cupcakes will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe from Averie Cooks. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.

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Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cake Bites (no-bake, vegan, GF)

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Do you like carrot cake? Have a favorite recipe?

105 comments on “Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Carrot cake is one of my faves! I agree about the oil – I know some people will only use butter, but oil creates a really wonderful texture!

  2. I know I would love your carrot cupcakes because of all the spice you used in them. They look delicious.

  3. These look great, Averie! Making the perfect carrot cake is quite an art, as I learned this weekend as I went through several trials trying to make my boyfriend the perfect birthday treat. The vanilla cream cheese frosting sounds just divine!

    • Oh you know then that it’s not as easy as you’d think! So many variables from amt of carrots to sugar(s) to flour to baking soda/powder. Just trying to nail it all. And not have it explode or overflow. I think I went thru it all :) You have a lucky boyf. Bet he loved them!

  4. I love carrot cake (it’s my absolute favorite, actually) and these look like little bites of heaven! That cream cheese frosting is to die for… A must-try in my kitchen! Thanks, Averie.

  5. First off, gorgeous photos (as always!). The dark and light colors must have been awful to try to properly photograph, but the pictures really turned out lovely! I want to grab a cupcake through my screen and taste taste! They really need to work on e-sharing technology!

    Second, I never realized how good carrot cake is until a few months ago. I made your carrot cake loaf and was hooked! (That would be one of my fav recipes, no brown nosing intended :) ) Anyways, I love how you made these into adorable little cupcakes! For some reason a cupcake seems so much more manageable than a slice of normal cake!

    • The dark and light colors must have been awful to try to properly photograph <-- YES!!!! I told someone else that in the comments. Nightmare, actually. I am not really in love with the photos but just getting anything passable was a major feat :) So thanks for saying you like them. And thanks for telling me you made my carrot cake loaf and love it! I love that cake too. So much! One of my fave cakes ever. I was just worried that it wouldn't translate into fluffy cupcakes b/c you know how moist that sucker is :)

  6. Girl, you’re killing me lately with your cakey recipes. You are just banging out the best recipes lately! John is a HUGE carrot cake fan and he would love these and want to hoard them like your hubby. I wish I saw this post before Father’s day as this would have been the perfect treat for him.
    I’m right there with you on loving raisins in carrot cake but not a fan of the nuts either. Nuts in my sweets, don’t do it for me. :) xoxo, Jackie

  7. Carrot cake is one of my guilty pleasures…especially the icing. I’ve had the same difficulty when using my cake batter for cupcakes, so thank you for doing the dirty work for us all. They look spectacular!

    • After all the other carrot cake snags, I wanted to start from scratch and create a new batter recipe b/c you know how it is…sometimes cake/cupcake/quickbread batters are interchangeable and other times, well, not really!

  8. I LOVE carrot cake.. they used to sell these little carrot cakes at the local gas station growing up that had such delicious icing and it was such a special occassion when I got one. I need to try these, great share, thanks!

  9. Love Carrot Cake!!! These would be perfect for an afternoon tea, or baby/wedding shower! I just made a vegan carrot cake – my mom’s favourite is carrot cake so these would be great for a birthday too =) I love a loaded carrot cake – it’s gotta have nuts, carrots, pineapple, coconut, raisins etc! thanks for linking all the other carrot cake recipes too! so many to try..

  10. Love carrot cake and these scrumptious!

  11. These look delicious Averie! Love that cream cheese frosting :)

  12. CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES! I am so excited. These look heavenly. I love carrots in any baked goods and I’m so glad you figured out the consistency on these! Can’t wait to try them. Have you ever had carrot cake oatmeal?

  13. These look absolutely perfect! Way to go Averie :)

  14. I want to eat these all the time!

  15. I love that you made carrot cake into cupcakes. What a perfect little treat to have instead of a slice of cake! These look incredibly delicious and moist and the frosting looks amazing. Your photos, too, by the way are simply STUNNING. Since I am not a blogger, often I take for granted the good photos that I see – until I snap a photo myself and then look at it! Your photos are simply gorgeous and just sell your food. Not that it needs selling since once it is made, the taste is all that’s needed to get it out the door! I can’t wait to make these! :-)

    • ALL food needs selling! We eat with our eyes and that’s why a photo of ‘just’ a sandwich, burger, cookie does not make for a magazine cover. But when done right, you can a plain ole anything really shine! Hello, Bon Appetit or Saveur! You know how hard it is to make food shine sometimes…some times it comes easier than others, but it’s an art. As much as cooking is. So thank you for saying that, Michele :) xo

  16. Averie! These look amazing. I just love the vanilla cream cheese frosting on top! Carrot cake is my favorite – it was my birthday cake! My dad’s birthday was the day after mine and I made my own carrot cake recipe and it was gone SO fast! I have to make a double layer cake next year. :) I love raisins inside carrot cake – and nuts are always a must for me. 10 year old Sally would be shocked to hear that I love nuts in my carrot cake these days but my tastebuds changed I guess! :)

    Love these photos too Averie – so clear and crisp – I want to grab one!

    • Thanks for saying you like the pics…gah. NOT EASY. The contrast of the cake/frosting was pretty much a nightmare and any thoughts of doing like devil’s food cake with white buttercream are out the window :)

      I know you love carrot cake, too; and that’s crazy you guys share a bday (almost) and that you gobbled a whole carrot cake in short order. When it’s good, it’s the best cake ever! And I know your recipe looks so fabulous!

  17. Averie, these are gorgeous! The frosting on top is amaaaaaze! You know, I love carrot cake, but I didn’t fall in love with it until recently! All those years that I lived without it… stupid. ;-D

  18. Averie, these look amazing! I stumbled onto your blog the other day and cannot get enough of it…HOW have I never seen it before. Can’t wait to make this (and every one of your other recipes!)

  19. Even in 90 degree heat, I’m craving these gorgeous cupcakes!! I appreciate the fact that I won’t have to haul out the heavy stand mixer!

  20. Averie, I’m amazed you’re saying that these were hard to photograph because that doesn’t come across at all! All I could think of as I was reading through this post was how beautiful your photos are, how amazing, light, fluffy and downright drool-icious your cupcakes look, and how I love the styling of your pics. Thank you for going through your months of trials and tribulations with this recipe on our behalf and sharing it. I adore carrot cake but it’s so darn underrated. I don’t know too many people who like it. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to eat the whole batch myself when I make them!

    • Every time I’ve ever posted carrot cake, someone writes to say they had it as their wedding cake or wants to; or that it’s their fave cake. I think among fans, it’s kind of a cult favorite, if you will. But as a general rule, I think chocolate or others probably would win a popularity contest. But when it’s done right, carrot cake is amazing! And thanks for saying that about the pics :)

  21. These have to be incredibly moist with the addition of greek yogurt!

  22. oh gosh I can’t wait to make these. carrot cake is my hubby favorite type of cake…now cupcake for sure. beautiful photos.

  23. Wow! These look so incredibly moist and flavorful, Averie!

  24. when I am out and spot a new cupcake shop I always get a hostess clone and a carrot cake. those two are my fav’s, with the red velvet a close 2nd.
    if the red velvet is done right–those are hard to find.

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