Carrot Cupcakes

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to my regular readers that I have become the designated birthday treat baker at work since starting residency.  Actually, this is a responsibility I created all on my own.  I thought it would be mutually beneficial, as it would give me another outlet to unload some baked goods and try some new flavors, while celebrating all my coworkers’ birthdays.  Win-win(-win – if you watch “The Office”) 🙂  So, last month our chief resident had a birthday and I asked her what sort of cupcakes she would like.  She mentioned that she had been craving carrot cake, and I was thrilled to hear that as I have been wanting to make carrot cake for quite some time.  I have another recipe with more mix-ins that I want to try as a layer cake, but for these cupcakes I thought I would go the classic route with just a basic traditional cake.

These were fabulous!  The cake was perfectly spiced, light and moist.  The thing I really love about this recipe is the use of the food processor to shred the carrots and to mix the batter.  I adore my stand mixer, but it’s nice to only dirty one appliance at a time.  (Though I guess I still used it for the frosting – but you know.)  I was a bit concerned that the shredded carrot pieces would be too large and affect the texture of the cake, but I think they were just fine.  I look forward to making these again!

Carrot Cupcakes
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Yield: about 20-22 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
1½ cups (10.5 oz) granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1½ cups canola, safflower or vegetable oil

For the frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese (not softened)
7½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; whisk together and set aside.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups).  Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade.  Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds.  With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: cupcakes adapted from Baking Illustrated, frosting adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

54 Responses

  1. I’ve always steered away from carrot cake, because I don’t eat cheese nor cream cheese for that matter. BUT these cupcakes look really good, I might just wing it and frost them with chocolate ganache 😛 Yikes, I can almost hear the orthodox carrot cake-lovers coming my way!

  2. Carrot cake is one of my favorite!!! These cupcakes look light, moist and perffect!!

  3. Those look great! Just one question – how do you get that beautiful swirl?

  4. Oh – no you diddn’t! lol.

    These turned out beautiful. Piping frosting on cupcakes really does make a world of difference. Carrot cakes are my husband’s absolute favorite! I had been using a recipe from Penzey’s, but I too am an ATK fan. So, I’ll have to try these. Thanks again, Annie!

  5. Impeccable frosting skills!

  6. I LOVE carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! These look so pretty! I really should use my food processer more. I’m sure I’d like the one with the mix-ins as well — I’ve only made carrot cake with lots of mix-ins… love it with pineapple, pecans. I’ve also seen a variation where there’s 2 carrot cake cookies with the cream cheese in the middle — kinda like a whoopie! Would like to try that sometime.

  7. Ooh, that frosting looks perfect. The heck with the cupcake!

  8. Annie, do you think this frosting is stiff enough to hold together a layer cake? I use the ATK cream cheese frosting recipe, but they caution that it won’t do the job in a layer cake. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi RA,
      I do think this would be fine in a layer cake. You could probably even add a little more powdered sugar if necessary, but I think it would be fine as is.
      🙂 Annie

  9. Beautiful – as always!

  10. Really cute cupcakes!!
    Your frosting is lovely 🙂

  11. Your frosting is so pretty! It looks like something from a bakery only prettier!

  12. Mmmmmm. I’m a very picky carrot cake girl – it has to be perfect for me to give it the thumbs up! I’ll have to pull this recipe out and try it sometime. I just love cupcakes though. Funny, about The Office comment – LOL.

  13. I wish I had a baking outlet like this! Living in the city and taking the train/bus makes it hard to tote many treats around. But now that I’m going back to school for teaching, I’m prepping for a career that involves lots of bringing baked goods to work! These look beautiful and sound really yummy too! Cream cheese frosting is my all time fav.

  14. Hi, love your site 🙂 Just wanted to say I just made these on a whim because I had everything already, and wow! These carrot cupcakes are divine. Yum, Yum. I ate one straight out of the oven, sans frosting, and it was perfect all alone, but with the frosting, it was even better. I did add in some pecans and flaked coconut, because I love to add texture to everything. Thanks for such a fabulous recipe 🙂

  15. These look great! I’ve been stalking your website for some time now– ever since I came across it while looking for good baby food making tips. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for all the DELICIOUS looking food. You inspire me to do some fun cooking. 🙂

  16. Those cupcakes are soooo beautiful!!! What is the number on the tip you are using?? Do tell. I’m making cupcakes for a friend’s wedding in a month and if my cupcakes could look as good as those, I know the bride will be happy.

    • Hi Jeanne,
      So sorry for the delayed response. You can find the info on the decorating tip I used here. Good luck with the wedding cupcakes, I’m sure they will be great!
      🙂 Annie

  17. Oooooooh! That looks yummy! I love carrot cake, these cupcakes are PERFECT!

  18. These sound delicious! I actually saw this photo on Tastespotting/Food Gawker and thought they looked great , but didn’t realize at the time it was your photo. 🙂

  19. Carrot cake is my absolute favorite and these look great! Great job with the frosting too, they look perfect.

  20. You have amazing piping skills. I want a piping tip that does the same piping. Can you please tell me which one you use. I always end up getting the wrong sizes.. You have a wonderful blog.


  21. I’m making these tonight and so excited! My mom’s birthday is this weekend and carrot cake is by far her favorite. I don’t have a food processor, could I get away with shredding the carrots myself and then using a blender for the rest?

    • Leandra,
      That should be okay if you have a good blender. Just make sure you are using a grater with large-ish holes for the carrots though. I have tried grating them by hand and my grater must be too small because it is very ineffective and basically doesn’t work with carrots. Good luck!
      🙂 Annie

  22. i lovee carrot cake but i tried these cupcakes twice and both times it come out too oily….more like a doughy texture.. 😦 maybe im doing something wrong?

    • Hi Atia,
      I’m sorry you’re having trouble. It sounds to me like a mistake somewhere in the baking process because I have already had comments from other readers who have made them and had them turn out well. I hope you’re able to figure out what’s going wrong.
      🙂 Annie

  23. What decorating tip did you use to pipe this frosting?! Beautiful!

  24. These sound so good. Can eating these count towards a serving of vegetable for the day? 🙂 I must try this recipe.

  25. I made these tonight for my friends birthday and he loved them! I cooked them a little hot (by accident!) and they caramelized and actually came out pretty tasty! Thanks for the recipe!!

  26. Hi Annie

    Can I use the same recipe to make a cake instead of cupcakes? Do I need to alter anything other than the baking time?

  27. Wow Annie!! I just made the cupcakes (for a picnic tomorrow) and they are sooooo good. Moist and flavorful. My food processor would’nt start and so I had to grate the carrots myself and did all the mixing in the stand mixer. Even then they came out perfect ..I just dont want to share them 🙂

  28. Oh wow, Annie, they look great! Can’t wait to try them out this weekend for Easter! =D

  29. The look delicious and I plan to make them for Easter! How many does this recipe yield?

  30. Oops! Nevermind… I just saw it up there!

  31. WOW…these baby’s are delish! Thanks for sharing!

  32. hmmm…I may just give these a try! I was wondering….it should work just fine with a hand held mixer right? (instead of using a food processor? mines too small)

    • Zahra,
      I’m not totally sure. It should work, but I think the food processor helps to emulsify the oil in the batter. Hopefully just mixing thoroughly will do the job.

  33. Hi,

    I am a Malaysian and I just love to visit your website almost everyday as it is so creative.

    I am very familiar with measurements in grams and not in cup, would you be so kind to share with me your cup to grams measurement as I am afrais if I don’t get the measurements right than the cakes won’t turn out good.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Amelia,
      I don’t use grams for cooking or baking but you can try Google for various conversions.

  34. Hello, these cupcakes look great. Would the frosting be to soft if I ad some foodcoloring?

    • Louise,
      It should be fine but to be safe, I always prefer to use the gel icing colors rather than liquid food coloring. They are more concentrated and don’t thin out the frosting the way the liquid kind can.

  35. Thank you Annie,
    Unfortunately I have no idea where to get the gel in Denmark. Og well I will try with the liquid kind and see how it goes.

  36. This is hands down the best carrot cake recipe I have found. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your recipes never fail!

  37. BEST CAKE EVER!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe – I will do this again and again and again… 🙂

  38. Hi Annie,
    Wondering if you ever do any subs on your recipes…? Specifically to make them healthier/lower in calories/fat. For instance, I was thinking of making this recipe w/ 1/3 less calorie cream cheese & using white-wheat flour for the cupcakes. Any suggestions?

  39. I am in love with these cupcakes – my best friend and I made a ‘test’ batch last weekend for my daughter’s first birthday this weekend. These are AMAZING. We each had one, and froze the rest unfrosted since I can’t make enough cupcakes for the party same day, now I’m just hoping they defrost well! I’m also going to be attempting a giant cupcake cake in this recipe, putting my baking skills to the test for this adorable babygirl turning one on Friday.

    Oh, and thanks to these, birthday girl is also now a giant fan of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting – so I’m looking forward to making another batch for the party! Now on to learning how to frost them this beautifully…

  40. I just made these and OMG they are scrumptious!! They are light, moist and just perfect. Not too sweet and not greasy at all!! MMMMM.
    Thanks for the lovely recipe!

  41. Just finished making these. I don’t even like carrot cake and these were so yummy!! My friends are really happy I found your site!!

  42. I just made these and the cupcakes turned out just lovely. Sadly, the frosting didn’t. I followed the directions exactly BUT I live in Switzerland and I do think our cream cheese (even though the brand is Phily) is different, and our powered sugar more dense, leading to a much softer and very sweet frosting. Thankfully the cupcakes stand on their own!! Just a small warning for those living and cooking abroad.

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