Recipe: Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

updated Jan 21, 2020
Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One-bowl carrot cupcakes with an easy cream cheese frosting.

Makes12 cupcakes

Prep30 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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(Image credit: Yossy Arefi)

Carrot cake cupcakes are the tastiest way to incorporate a dose of veggies into a sweet treat — especially when there’s a swirl of cream cheese frosting piled on top. These cupcakes are as easy as can be, requiring just one bowl and a whisk to make the batter. Even the kids can help here! The cupcakes emerge from the oven fragrant with cinnamon and nutmeg, and the cream cheese frosting whips up fluffy and sweet to finish things up.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

For Moist Cupcakes, Grate Your Own Carrots

The key to moist, carrot-y cupcakes lies in grating the carrots yourself. With the help of a box grater, the carrot shreds are fine and retain lots of moisture, meaning they get nice and tender in the oven and add lots of carrot flavor. For a shortcut, you can use store-bought shredded carrots, but they’ll need a little stint in the microwave to soften up, and the cupcakes will have a more pronounced cooked carrot flavor (see Recipe Notes).

I’m a fan of carrot cake without nuts or fruit, but there’s certainly room for additions here if you’d like. Stir in chopped walnuts or raisins or a combination of both, or even a tablespoon or two of chopped, crystalized ginger for an elegant twist.

(Image credit: Yossy Arefi)

Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One-bowl carrot cupcakes with an easy cream cheese frosting.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 12

    paper cupcake liners

  • 1 1/3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 2/3 cup

    canola oil

  • 3

    large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 12 ounces

    carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater (2 1/2 to 3 cups grated)

  • 2/3 cup

    chopped nuts or raisins, or combination (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 3 1/4 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Pinch

    kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Make the cupcakes: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-well muffin pan with paper liners.

  2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until combined -- the batter will be thick and sticky. Add the carrots and nuts or raisins if using and stir just until combined.

  3. Divide the batter among the lined muffin wells (they will be about 3/4 full). Bake until the cupcakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.

  4. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

  5. Make the frosting: Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until lightened in texture, about 2 minutes.

  6. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the powdered sugar about a cup at a time. Add the vanilla and salt, increase the speed to medium-high, and beat until fluffy and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes more.

  7. Dollop the frosting over the cupcakes or transfer to a piping bag fitted with a tip and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and kept at room temperature for several days or frozen for up to 3 months. The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated until the frosting is set, loosely covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Using store-bought shredded carrots: For a prep shortcut, purchase shredded carrots so that you don’t have to do any grating, you’ll need 12 ounces (4 cups). These are coarser and drier than carrots you’ll shred yourself, so to soften them up, microwave with 2 tablespoons of water on high for 1 1/2 minutes to soften slightly. Let cool before stirring into the cupcake batter.