Carrot Cake Cupcakes

These spiced cupcakes are full of carrots, raisins, and nuts, and are topped with a luscious sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. 

The recipe is an adaption of my carrot cake recipe which is an adaptation of my mom’s cake that she used to make when I was a kid.

These small batch carrot cake cupcakes are mildly spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and turn out moist from bits of carrots, raisins, and nuts. An optional ingredient of crushed pineapple adds even more moisture and sweetness!

They’re then topped with a lusciously sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.

How to Make

Start by mixing together dry ingredients like wheat and white flours, baking powder and soda, and spices.

In a separate bowl, beat the oil and sugar until creamy, followed by the eggs and vanilla.

Next, add the flour mixture gradually being sure to not over mix. Finally, stir in the add-ins like grated carrot, nuts, and raisins.

Once the batter is made, line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin. You can either make 8-10 regular-size cupcakes or 12 small ones.

Once baked, leave them in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When they’re fully cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

I love the one from America’s Test Kitchen, which uses buttermilk powder. It’s sweet and slightly tart, and the consistency feels thicker and more stable than typical cream cheese frostings.

It’s now my go-to recipe for cream cheese frosting; just make sure to use buttermilk powder, not actual buttermilk! 

Sweetness

Since the cupcakes get extra sweetness from the carrots and raisins, I use the lower amount of sugar listed, and it is perfectly sweet for my family.

I do this with the frosting as well.

While my kiddos and husband are used to my “less-sweet” desserts, I know that typical American desserts are more sugary.

If you or your family prefers something sweeter, increase the sugar in both the cupcakes and/or frosting to suit your family’s preference.

Topping or Decoration Suggestions:

  • Fresh Grated Carrot
  • Toasted Chopped Walnuts
  • Pastel Colored Candies (like M&Ms)
  • Toasted Coconut (Nest) and Candied Easter Eggs

Fruit and Nut Variations:

  • Dried Cranberries + Walnuts
  • Dried Apricots + Almonds
  • Dried Cherries + Pistachios
  • Dates + Cashews
  • Apple + Pecans
  • Pineapple + Coconut

Here are some other cake recipes

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake
A classic fluffy carrot cake paired with sweet and tangy frosting.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen slice of 2 layer Carrot cake slice with cream cheese frosting.
Lemon Blackberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
A fluffy lemon cake with fresh blackberries, tart lemon curd, and sweet blackberry cream cheese frosting.
Check out this recipe
Lemon blackberry cake with blackberry cream cheese frosting.
Simple Plum Cake
A mildly sweet, tender buttery cake, with swirls of tart plums.
Check out this recipe

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and grated carrot on top.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Mildly spiced cupcakes with bits of carrots, raisins, and nuts, and topped with a luscious sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. 
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 cupcakes

Equipment

  • Hand or Standing Mixer

Ingredients
  

Carrot Cupcakes

  • ½ cup (60g) whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup (60g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • tsp ginger, optional
  • tsp nutmeg, optional
  • 2 whole eggs, room temp
  • 3-5 tbsps (36-60g) brown sugar
  • 3-5 tbsps (36-60g) white sugar
  • 6 tbsps (90ml) oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (100g) grated carrots (about 1-2, depending on size)
  • ½ (8oz) can crushed pineapple, optional
  • ¼ cup (40g) raisins
  • ⅓-½ cup (40-60g) chopped pecans or walnuts

Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4-8 tbsps or ½-1 stick (56-112g) unsalted butter, softened *(see Notes below)
  • ½-⅔ cup (60-80g) confectioners’ sugar, or more if desired *(see Notes below)
  • 1-3 tbsps buttermilk powder, optional *(see Notes below)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 oz (½ block) cream cheese, chilled and cut into cubes

Instructions
 

Carrot Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin. For regular size cupcakes, fill 8-10 of the cups. For small cupcakes, fill all 12.
  • In a small bowl, mix the flours, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the oil and sugar for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs , one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing until just combined. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and nuts. Spoon into muffin tin.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake has some moist crumbs attached. Be careful not to over bake, so definitely check at the 12-minute mark. Let muffins cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat together the first five ingredients for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  • Add cubes of cream cheese, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then continue beating the frosting for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Notes

Cream Cheese Frosting: 
  • Butter: I wrote down a range for the butter, 4-8 tablespoons (1/2-1 stick). For our family I only use about 4, but for guests or a special occasion I use 6-8 tablespoons. Use more or less depending on your preference.
  • Buttermilk Powder: Not only does it add more tanginess, it also gives structure to the frosting. But if you don’t have any, the frosting will still be delicious!
  • Powdered Sugar: The cupcakes are mildly sweet from the raisins and carrots, so I didn’t want the frosting to be overly sweet. If you like sweeter frosting, increase the powdered sugar by several tablespoons.
 
Salt: Under ingredients I list “scant 1/2 tsp salt.” A full 1/2 tsp of salt may be too salty for some, but 1/4 tsp made the cupcakes taste bland. So I would recommend somewhere in between or just a little less than 1/2 tsp.
 
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Keyword cake, carrots, cream cheese

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