Carrot cake cupcakes are fabulous all year round, but especially welcome as a delicious Easter treat! This one is the best carrot cake cupcake recipe you will find, yielding fabulous moist carrot cupcakes, topped with a lush cream cheese buttercream and plenty of walnuts too! Wonderfully easy to bake, these will be a firm favourite with everyone!
Ingredients you’ll need for these carrot cake cupcakes
- Oil: using oil instead of butter helps keep the cupcakes light, but also helps it last well for days.
- Buttermilk: keeps the carrot cupcakes tender and beautifully moist. If you have no buttermilk to hand, you can make it yourself really easily! Check out my tips below for different ways to make homemade buttermilk.
- Brown sugar: I love the caramel notes brown sugar brings to this bake.
- Caster sugar: for sweetness in the carrot cupcake.
- Vanilla: for added rounded sweetness in the cupcakes and icing.
- Eggs: helps with the structure and rise of each carrot cake cupcake.
- Carrots: the star of this bake! I like to grate my carrots using a larger sized grater, as I like the chunkiness of it throughout the cupcakes.
- Flour: I use plain flour for this carrot cake cupcakes recipe as it allows me to have control of the amount rising agent used in my bake.
- Baking powder/bicarbonate of soda: just for a little bit of help with rising in the bake.
- Salt: enhances the flavours in the cupcakes. You will not taste it, I promise!
- Spices: you will find many a carrot cupcakes recipe will use just cinnamon for the spice in the recipe. However, I like the addition of nutmeg, cloves and cardamom for an extra dimension of flavour in my carrot cakes.
- Walnuts: for texture and crunch. Totally optional, but a nice addition to both the cupcakes and the decoration of the bakes.
- Butter: use unsalted at room temperature, for the cream cheese icing.
- Icing sugar: used when making the icing to pipe on top of each carrot cake cupcake.
- Cream cheese: the beautiful tanginess of cream cheese goes so well with the carrot cake the two were meant to be together!
Tools for making cupcakes
- Cupcake tin*: you will need a twelve hole cupcake/muffin tin to make these cupcakes.
- Cupcake cases*: to bake the cupcakes in. I use larger cupcake cases, which are more muffin sized, so I have enough height in them for my bake.
- Digital kitchen scales*: I provide all my measurements in cups too, however I would encourage all bakers to weigh out ingredients when baking. A set of digital kitchen scales is so useful and totally an essential baking tool for me.
- Measuring spoons*: a set of measuring spoons is essential for any baker. This is because these are more accurate than using everyday teaspoons and tablespoons, which can vary greatly in size.
- Jug*: to mix the wet ingredients in before combining with the dry.
- Whisk*: for mixing together the wet ingredients.
- Grater*: to grate the carrots for these carrot cake cupcakes.
- Large mixing bowl*: to mix together the easy carrot cupcakes and cream cheese frosting mixtures.
- Sieve*: helps to remove any lumps from the dry ingredients, ensuring a smoothly mixed batter every time.
- Spatula*: used to mix the cupcake ingredients together when combining wet and dry, as well as the cream cheese icing.
- Handheld electric mixer*: to beat the icing ingredients together. You can mix everything together by hand, but I find it much easier using an electric mixer for this step.
- Ice cream scoop*: useful to evenly distribute the cupcake mixture into the cases. I prefer this as a really simple and easy way to measure the mixture out equally.
- Piping bag*: used for piping the cream cheese icing onto the moist carrot cake cupcakes.
- Piping nozzle*: I used a 1M nozzle here, to create the pretty swirl decoration on these easy carrot cake cupcakes.
How to make carrot cake cupcakes
Delicious and moist, these will be one of the best carrot cake cupcakes you will bake!
For the cupcakes
Step 1: Line the muffin tin with cupcake cases and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 170C/340F whilst making the carrot cake batter.
Step 2: In a large jug or bowl, tip together the oil, buttermilk, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Whisk to combine, then add in the grated carrots and stir to mix it all together. Set aside.
Step 3: In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), salt and spices, giving it a quick mix together. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix it all together with a spatula. Finally, tip in the broken walnuts and stir through.
Step 4: Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, divide the carrot cake mixture between the prepared cupcake cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until springy to touch and a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the tin, then transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and cool completely.
For the cream cheese frosting
Step 1: Once the cupcakes are cool, make the cream cheese icing. First, beat the butter well until light and fluffy, at least five minutes.
Step 2: Add in the icing sugar and vanilla and beat again to combine completely and fluff up. Give the cream cheese a little mix to soften it slightly, then tip it in with the other ingredients and beat to fully combine.
How to decorate carrot cake cupcakes
Step 1: Spoon the cream cheese icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (I used a 1M), then pipe swirls over the cooled cupcakes.
Step 2: Decorate with additional walnuts however you wish, and sprinkle with some additional cinnamon if desired too. Enjoy!
Carrot cake cupcakes FAQs
A few of the questions you might have when making these carrot cupcakes are detailed below. If you have any other questions, please ask and I will do my best to help.
How to make buttermilk
Buttermilk is easily available in most supermarkets. However, if you cannot find it, there are a few ways you could make buttermilk at home too. Here are a couple of ways:
- Yogurt: this is by far my favourite, and in my opinion, the easiest way to make buttermilk. Simply mix equal quantities of yogurt and milk together and you have buttermilk! I prefer using a thick yogurt (such as Greek yogurt) and full fat milk for best results. This is the way I made my buttermilk in this homemade carrot cake cupcakes recipe.
- Lemon juice/vinegar: using an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, lightly curdles the milk and results in buttermilk. For this method, mix 240m (1 cup) milk with 1 tbsp acid then leave to stand for about 10 minutes before using. With this method, choose your acid carefully as it could affect the flavour of the final bake.
- Cream of tartar: like with lemon juice/vinegar, you add this to the milk, stir and leave to sit for about 10 minutes before using. Use 1 ¾ tsp of cream of tartar for 240ml (1 cup) milk. Make sure the cream of tartar has not expired or this method will not work.
Should carrot cake have raisins in it?
Raisins are actually a bit controversial in carrot cakes. Funnily enough, it is actually the same for walnuts in carrot cake. For me, it comes to personal preference: if you like the chewy sweet texture of those little nuggets, please go ahead and add some in the cake mixture before you bake the cupcakes! The same with the walnuts: feel free to omit them if you are not a fan.
Variations on these incredible cupcakes
The flavours in carrot cake are beautiful just as they are, in my opinion. However, if you wanted to find some variations on carrot cake cupcakes, you could try any of theses ideas which would work beautifully too:
- Ginger: add a ½ tsp (or more if you wish!) ground ginger to the cake mixture before baking to give the carrot cupcakes a more fiery spiced flavour.
- White chocolate: top the cupcakes with a white chocolate buttercream instead of a cream cheese icing for extra sweet decadence!
- Lime and coconut: add 50g desiccated coconut to the cupcake mixture along with the zest of a whole lime and juice of about half the fruit. Top with a lime and cream cheese icing swirl and finish with a bit of lime zest to finish. Yum!
- Biscoff: the caramel notes in cookie butter works so well with carrot cake! Simply add a couple of spoonfuls of biscoff to the cream cheese frosting and finish the cupcakes with a sprinkling of crushed Biscoff biscuits! Yum!
Do carrot cake cupcakes need to be refrigerated?
I would recommend keeping the cupcakes in the fridge if they are not being enjoyed within a couple of hours. This is because the cream cheese icing needs to be kept chilled.
How long do carrot cake cupcakes last?
When refrigerated, these Easter carrot cake cupcakes will last for up to five days.
How to store carrot cake cupcakes
Since these are carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, they need to be kept in the refrigerator. Pull them out to bring to room temperature about half an hour before serving.
How to freeze carrot cake cupcakes
Remember to freeze these cupcakes before they are decorated. To freeze the cupcakes, first make sure they are completely cool. Wrap each cupcake in cling film and place it in a sturdy airtight container before placing the container in the freezer. I prefer placing the cupcakes in a container as it will help protect the cupcakes from bumps and knocks when in the freezer.
To thaw these cupcakes, just remove them from the container and unwrap the cling film. Place each cupcake on a cooling rack, brush off any ice crystals on them and cover with a clean tea towel while they defrost.
Tips for making carrot cake cupcakes
- Always use room temperature ingredients when baking. In this recipe, this means the buttermilk for the cupcakes and butter and cream cheese for the cream cheese frosting. Using room temperature ingredients results in better mixing and bakes, so is important unless specified in the instructions.
- Fill cupcake cases no more than ⅔ full. This will result in the cupcakes rising the perfect amount and not overflow the cases.
- Use a good quality, full fat cream cheese when making the icing. Having tried many different brands and alternatives, I always come back to Philadelphia as being reliable and good to work with (and it tastes good too!).
- Remember to beat the butter plenty enough when making the cream cheese frosting for carrot cake cupcakes. Doing this helps the butter and sugar blend together well with the cream cheese and not have the icing split.
- Ensure the cupcakes are completely cool before decorating with cream cheese icing. Otherwise you could end up with a melted liquid mess for icing and a soggy carrot cake. No one wants that!
- I have shared just a couple of different ways to decorate the cupcakes once finished. These are just a few ideas, but you could get creative and come up with other ways too! You could even try sprinkling a little extra cinnamon on the cupcakes once piped.
If you have any questions about this carrot cake cupcake recipe, please comment below and I will do my best to help. And do remember: if you enjoy this recipe for carrot cake cupcakes, please leave a rating and review below. You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world. You already know I would love to see!
More recipes from my blog for you to enjoy
Carrot cake tray bake: This is a delicious moist and fluffy cake packed with grated carrots, walnut chunks and my delicious spice mix. It is then spread generously with a tangy cream cheese icing and even more walnut pieces. Not only is this a super easy bake, but it’s always a crowd pleaser!
Raspberry white chocolate blondies: These blondies are chewy and utterly delicious, with the stunning flavours of sweet white chocolate and tart fresh raspberries perfectly complementing each other. If you’re looking for a bake guaranteed to be adored by everyone who tries it, look no further: this is the one!
Coffee and walnut cupcakes: Delicious, soft, light and fluffy cupcakes, packed with coffee flavour and with chunks of walnuts all the way through. They are topped with the most amazing smooth coffee buttercream, then crowned with a walnut and a couple of coffee beans. Coffee heaven!
Thanks for joining me today, my friends. Hope you enjoy these delicious carrot cake cupcakes as much as I do! x
Recommended equipment I used *
|Cupcake tin||Cupcake cases|
|Digital kitchen scales||Measuring spoons|
|Grater||Large mixing bowl|
|Handheld electric mixer||Ice cream scoop|
|Piping bag||Piping nozzle|