Perfectly moist mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes (with easy Cream Cheese Frosting) are a delicious dessert to share with the kids—whether for a spring gathering, Easter, a kid’s birthday, or any special occasion on the calendar.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
My family is a big fan of all things carrot cake, and these mini cupcakes are one of our favorite desserts. The cake part is packed with fresh carrots, cinnamon, and golden raisins, and they’re topped with a swirl of Cream Cheese Frosting.
The flavor combination is so darn good. And they store really nicely so you can make them ahead to make life a little easier.
We love these for Easter, birthdays, or just as a dessert to share whenever we’re in the mood.
They’re lower in sugar than most other carrot cake cupcake recipes, but plenty sweet when paired with the frosting. I love the sweetness level since it lets the flavor of the cinnamon, carrots, golden raisins, and applesauce shine through too.
(We love them just as much as our Carrot Cake Muffins and Carrot Cake Bars.)
Ingredients You Need
To make this recipe, you’ll need the ingredients below. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the details on amounts and steps.
- All-purpose flour: This makes the cupcakes turn out light and moist.
- Brown sugar: I like the flavor of this sweetener here, and we use just enough to lend enough sweetness to the mix.
- Cinnamon: This spice adds the classic flavor of carrot cake, so we use it here.
- Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of these two ensures the batter bakes through, rises well, and is very tender.
- Grated carrots: I prefer to grate whole carrots on a box grater so they have a fine texture in the cupcakes. They blend in and soften nicely this way.
- Applesauce: Look for a smooth, unsweetened variety with a flavor you enjoy for the best flavor in the finished cupcakes.
- Eggs: Eggs help make the cupcakes light and tender. You can use a store-bought egg replacer instead if needed.
- Unsalted butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter in my baking so I control the salt. If you only have salted butter, you can likely omit the salt in the recipe.
- Golden raisins: These add more sweetness and are a pretty color so, we love to include them. Regular raisins will work also, or you could use chopped walnuts or pecans if you prefer.
Use a gluten-free cup-for-cup flour if needed.
Use a favorite egg replacer to make these egg-free.
Swap in vegetable oil for the butter as needed.
Use regular raisins or sub in chopped walnuts or even white chocolate chips.
Here’s a look at the steps involved in this recipe so you know what to expect. Start by preheating the oven and lining a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Then:
- Add the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the rest of the cupcake ingredients.
- Stir gently with a spatula to combine well.
- Fill the cupcake liners to the brim and bake.
- Remove from oven, and cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
Then, you can make the frosting and pipe or spread onto the cupcakes and serve.
Cream Cheese Frosting
I use a simple, classic Cream Cheese Frosting to top these cupcakes. It’s a blended mix of cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and honey. I sometimes add powdered sugar for a little extra sweetness (and it helps to stiffen the frosting a little).
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do carrot cake cupcakes last?
You can store these cupcakes, once baked and cooled, for 3-5 days at room temperature. After frosting, they are best within 3 days (stored in the fridge). You can also store unfrosted cupcakes in the freezer for future use!
Do carrot cake cupcakes need to be refrigerated?
Once frosted, if you don’t plan to serve them within about an hour, you should pop them into the fridge due to the frosting. They maintain the same texture, though, they’ll just be chilled, so you can make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready for dessert.
Can I bake these as standard-size cupcakes?
Sure, you can do them as minis or full-size cupcakes. You’ll just need to adjust the baking time.
How to Store
To store, place in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can freeze unfrosted muffins in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or in the microwave in 10- to 15-second increments. Frost before serving.
Best Tips for Success
- Egg-free: Omit the eggs and add 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal and use ½ teaspoon baking soda (up from ¼ teaspoon in the recipe). Let mixed batter sit for 5 minutes before adding to the pan. Bake for about 2 additional minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out cleanly.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free cup-for-cup flour and certified gluten-free rolled oats.
- I like to use golden raisins because the flavor and color is nice here, but regular ones work just fine.
- For best results with the texture, grate the carrots yourself. OR use kitchen shears to roughly chop store-bought grated carrots into slightly smaller pieces. (Right out of the bag, the grated carrots are often in long pieces that will be hard to fit in mini muffin cups.)
- To make as full-size cupcakes, use a standard 12-cup muffin pan and bake for 18-24 minutes or until cooked through.
- Lightly coat paper cupcake liners with nonstick spray to prevent them from sticking, or use parchment liners.
- Top with a swirl of Cream Cheese Frosting.