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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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Do you like carrot cake? Have a favorite recipe?