Moist carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are a smaller version of a classic cake. Make this recipe in one bowl for an easy dessert!
These irresistible cupcakes have a spice blend that will make your kitchen smell amazing. No mixer is required for the cupcake batter; everything is whisked together in a bowl! You won’t believe how easily this recipe comes together.
You might have noticed by now that I’m a complete sucker for cakes. If you love it like I do, I have you covered! You can make yellow cake, white cake, chocolate peanut butter cake, coffee cake, and there are plenty of others here too. But, believe it or not, I sort of love cupcakes even more.
First of all, they are beautiful, aren’t they? While I will never turn down a slice of carrot cake, somehow moist carrot cupcakes taste better to me, simply because they look so inviting. These are every bit as good as they look.
Carrot Cupcake Recipe Ingredients
- Walnuts– This should probably be a required addition to carrot cake. But, if you have a nut allergy or simply don’t care for walnuts, the dessert will still taste great without them. To save time, you can purchase pre-toasted nuts.
- All-purpose flour– If you happen to have cake flour on hand, definitely use it instead of all-purpose. Cake flour will make your cakes and cupcakes extra moist and tender.
- Spices– Cinnamon, allspice, and a pinch of salt are all you’ll need; using too many spices can overpower the carrot flavor
- Baking powder and baking soda– Before you start making any recipe that uses them, you should test baking powder and baking soda. This will ensure that they are fresh and active.
- Unsalted butter– If you only have salted butter on hand, it’s okay to use it. Just skip adding any extra salt to the batter.
- Sugars– You will need white granulated sugar and light brown sugar
- Large eggs
- Carrots– I have notes about this ingredient down below. The nitty gritty is, please don’t use pre-shredded carrots. Shred whole carrots instead!
- Cream cheese frosting
How to Make Moist Carrot Cupcakes
You prepare this recipe almost exactly as you would prepare muffins:
- Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, along with toasted chopped nuts and shredded carrots.
- Bake, cool, frost. Inhale… I mean eat.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
1. Measure ingredients by weight.
For baked goods (as well as desserts like custard and ice cream), I always recommend using a kitchen scale. It will allow you to measure flour and other ingredients by weight rather than volume. Weight (ounces, grams, etc) will always give an accurate measurement of dry goods; volume (cups) can create varied results.
A cup of flour can weigh anywhere from 3 1/2 to 5 ounces. This can make a big difference in your recipe! If you still want to use cups, there’s a proper technique to make sure you get the best results possible.
My post How to Measure Flour explains all of this in more detail.
2. Frosting the cupcakes
I use a Wilton 1M tip and disposable piping bags to pipe cream cheese frosting on the cupcakes. To get a stiff peak from the frosting, you can use extra confectioners’ sugar, as I suggest in the recipe card notes. That might be too sweet for some.
Luckily, you can still pipe carrot cupcakes without adding the extra sugar! You can use the same tip I used and skip the stiff peak, or use a different piping tip/technique.
Here’s a great tutorial from Sprinkles Bakes that covers some options. You can also just top each cupcake with a hearty dollop and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. It will be gorgeous.
- Don’t use pre-shredded carrots. They are almost always dry and flavorless compared with freshly grated carrots. Not to mention the fact that they’re usually shredded for coleslaw, which is waaaaaaay too large.You don’t want big shreds of carrot. Instead, use the smallest setting on a box grater to create delicate pieces that incorporate into the batter. Plus, freshly grating them adds carrot juice to the batter.
- Add walnuts if at all possible. I don’t usually care for walnuts, but there are a few recipes where their subtle bitterness works. Banana bread, Waldorf salad, and carrot cake are good examples. If you prefer not to use them, it will likely reduce the bake time by 2-4 minutes.
Want to make mini cupcakes?
This recipe yields 12 regular size or 24 mini cupcakes. For the smaller version, place the oven racks on the upper and lower third shelves. This allows you to bake two pans at the same time. Also, you will want to use mini liners, and start checking for doneness at around 13 minutes.
I haven’t prepared this recipe in minis, so I can’t give you an exact time, but I find that mini cupcakes typically take anywhere from 5-10 minutes less if I’m cooking both pans at once.
If you need a mini cupcake pan, this one is my favorite.
Since cupcakes need to cool to room temperature before frosting, I recommend baking them at least a day in advance.
The frosting can also be prepared in advance (up to two weeks). So, if you really want to break things up, you can prepare the frosting, bake the cupcakes, and then pipe them on separate days. Or you can make them in one day, easy peasy.
- 1/2 cup walnuts (2 1/8 ounces, pecans may be substituted)
- 6 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups using scoop & sweep method)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 5 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 2 1/4 ounces light brown sugar (1/4 cup packed)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated on small holes of box grater (1 1/3 cups)
- 1 recipe cream cheese frosting, linked below
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, lightly spray with baking spray (Tip: spray in short bursts with your arm lifted away from the pan to keep the blast of air from sending the liners flying everywhere).
- Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan once or twice, 5-7 minutes. Once the nuts are cool enough to handle, chop finely.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients along with the toasted nuts and carrots until evenly combined.
- Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted into one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean, 19-22 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Once at room temperature, frost with cream cheese frosting.
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. (They can also be individually wrapped in plastic and frozen in a zipper-lock bag for up to 1 month.) Frosted cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for 5-7 days (but taste best within 3 days).
My cream cheese frosting recipe can be prepared up to 2 weeks in advance, as noted in the instructions.
To save time, you can purchase pre-toasted nuts.
Adapted from Cook’s Country.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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