I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake. I think it probably started in childhood. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any child on board with the idea of putting a vegetable inside a dessert.
A lot of carrot cake at grocery stores and restaurants is horribly bland and even dry.
That’s why I made it my mission to come up with a PERFECT carrot cupcake recipe that was as easy as it was delicious. And I think baking cupcakes is so much easier than cake. Easier to actually make and decorate, easier to transport, and easier to serve.
These Perfect Carrot Cupcakes are sure to be a hit at your next family gathering – maybe even for Easter or Mother’s Day!
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 which is just a larger plain decorating tip to pipe the cream cheese frosting onto the cupcakes.
If you’d like to get a little creative and crafty, especially for Easter, check out my video post on how to make adorable edible decorative carrots for cake or cupcakes!
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.