Perfect Carrot Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Tessa's Recipe Rundown...
Taste: Carrot cupcakes have a warm sweetness that’s perfectly balanced by the tangy cream cheese frosting.
Texture: Ultra moist and tender with an ultra rich and smooth frosting.
Ease: You will dirty a few bowls and cupcake pans are kind of a pain to clean, but this recipe is totally doable by anyone.
Pros: Best carrot cupcakes we’ve ever tasted!
Cons: None, really.
Would I make this again? Yes! Absolutely.
Jared has always claimed he doesn’t like carrot cake. When I told him I was on a mission to perfect carrot cupcakes and asked him for help filming a video on it, he wasn’t as excited as usually is for his taste tester duties.
So it became part of my mission to not only find a way to make carrot cupcakes that were perfect to me, but to convince his taste buds that carrot cake could actually be good.
I’m happy to report my mission was successful. I asked him to take the first bite of the finished cupcakes and impatiently awaited his reaction.
The verdict? He LOVED them and said they may be some of the best cupcakes he’s ever had. This is coming from someone who thought he hated carrot cake. I’d say that’s a pretty raving review! And I challenge you to use this recipe to win over the carrot cake haters in your family!
Perfect Carrot Cupcake Recipe Tips
The cupcake batter comes together super easily, no electric mixer needed! AND it only uses a 1/4 cup oil. The rest of the moisture is added in via unsweetened applesauce. This lightens up the cupcakes a little without sacrificing any flavor or texture. I’ve also made these cupcakes with half all-purpose flour, half whole-wheat flour with great success.
The spices in this recipe are one of my favorite parts, I just love that warm sweetness. It goes perfectly with the brown sugar, there’s no white sugar here. The brown sugar adds more complex sweetness and also more moisture.
Shred fresh carrots, no pre-shredded packaged ones. Freshly grated carrots are more flavorful and moist! 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded carrots equals about 2 medium carrots, but definitely buy extra just in case you don’t get as much from your carrots.
Walnuts are added into the batter then used as garnish on top of the frosted carrots, if you wish. You can totally leave them out if you prefer. They add crunch, but also a bit of savory flavor to contrast the sweetness.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The shining star of the cupcakes! This recipe makes enough cream cheese frosting to generously frost each cupcake. If you don’t like or want that much frosting, feel free to cut the frosting recipe in half.
For the best and creamiest frosting, be sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. Beat them together until completely smooth, there should be no lumps. Even if you have a paddle attachment that scrapes the sides as it goes, I would still recommend scraping down the paddle and especially the bottom of the bowl to ensure no lumps.
I used an Ateco #808 tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. What you see in these photos is basic cupcake decorating, but stay tuned because in a couple days I’ll be posting another video for how to make adorable decorative carrots for your cupcakes and cakes!
Making Ahead & Storing
The cupcakes can be baked and stored in an airtight container a day ahead of frosting. The frosting itself can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Just bring to room temperature and beat until light and fluffy again.
The frosted cupcakes can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours, since the sugar in the cream cheese frosting acts as a preservative. After that, you’re best off refrigerating the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Perfect Carrot Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cups (174 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup (47 grams) canola oil
- 1 cup (198 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups (148 grams) finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (42 grams) finely chopped walnuts, divided
For the frosting
- 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, and eggs. Stir in the applesauce, vanilla, and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the walnuts.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a cake tester inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. On low speed gradually add in the sugar and beat until fluffy.
Frost cupcakes and decorate with remaining chopped walnuts, if desired. Serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
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