carrot cake cupcakes recipe

Cakes & Cupcakes Sweets

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

April 10, 2022

The very best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had! Perfectly light and fluffy, incredibly moist and topped with a dreamy […]

The very best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had! Perfectly light and fluffy, incredibly moist and topped with a dreamy swirl of luscious brown butter cream cheese frosting. Perfect for any occasion!

cupcakes topped with brown butter cream cheese frosting

Classic carrot cake is one of my very favorite desserts. But the truth is I’m a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to my carrot cake. It can’t be too heavy on the spices, absolutely no pineapple allowed, and don’t even think about putting raisins in my cake. Not the biggest fan of walnuts in carrot cake either. Oh, and it better not be dry. I know, I know…. I’m super picky when it comes to carrot cake. But lucky for you, I’ve created the most perfect carrot cake cupcakes that exceed my very high carrot cake standards.

No doubt about it, these carrot cake cupcakes are THE BEST!

carrot cake cupcake with bite taken out of it

Ingredients 

Carrot cake cravings wait for no one so you’ll be happy to know you can whip these super moist carrot cake cupcakes up in no time with just a handful of pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Sugar
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cream cheese
  • Spices

mixing batter for carrot cake cupcakes

How to make carrot cake cupcakes

These cupcakes are so easy to bake and they’re a real crowd pleaser! The recipe is pretty straightforward but let’s run through it step-by-step before you get started. For complete instructions, follow the recipe card below. Pro-tip: before you begin making the cupcakes, brown the butter on the stovetop for the cream cheese frosting. That way it will be chilled and ready to use once the cupcakes have cooled. 

  1. Wash and peel the carrots and then shred them into small bits using the small side of a box (cheese) grater. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups which is equivalent to about 4 medium carrots. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners. 
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together including the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix to incorporate.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently stir to mix. Before all of the flour is mixed in, add the grated carrots and fold them into the batter using a spatula. Do not over mix. 
  6. Use a measuring cup or large cookie scoop to fill the prepared muffin pan. Be careful to only fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.
  7. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few crumbs remaining. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely before frosting. If baking 12 cupcakes at a time, repeat with the second pan. 
  8. Once the brown butter is chilled, make the cream cheese frosting and transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. If the frosting is soft, place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.

cupcakes before and after baking

Tips for the best cupcakes

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Alway use room temperature butter, eggs and yogurt to ensure your cake batter isn’t lumpy and the ingredients incorporate well. This allows for even baking and the perfect texture. For best results, take your ingredients out of the fridge at least an hour before mixing up the batter.
  • It’s all about that crumb. This carrot cake bakes up light and fluffy, but dense enough to hold a heaping swirl of that luscious cream cheese frosting. It’s all thanks to the oil and sour cream we use in the batter which helps to make this carrot cake extra moist. The cake stays fresh longer and these cupcakes taste even better the next day after the flavors have a chance to settle in. For the best texture, grate the carrots on your own with a box grater. If you are a lazy baker like me, it’s fine to use pre-shredded carrots from a bag. Just be sure to chop them up into fine bits before adding to the batter.
  • Don’t over mix. Or over fill. Or over bake! Cake batter needs a light hand so do not be tempted to over mix the batter. This simple batter comes together with just two bowls and a wooden spoon. No fancy mixer required. When folding in the dry ingredients and carrots, only mix until a few streaks of flour remain. Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 of the way so they don’t spill over the sides when baking. And no one likes a dry cupcake so be sure to keep an eye on your oven and take the cupcakes out when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs remaining.
  • Cool completely before frosting. There’s no way around this one folks. You must cool your cupcakes completely before topping with a hefty swirl of that delicious brown butter cream cheese frosting. If you’re in a rush, cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack and then pop them in the fridge for 10 more minutes.

unfrosted carrot cake cupcakes on cooling rack

Tips for the best cream cheese frosting

This recipe for a classic cream cheese frosting is leveled up big time by the addition of the brown butter. It adds a complexity and richness to the frosting that you just can’t get with regular butter. It’s lick-from-the-spoon worthy and something tells me you’ll never make cream cheese frosting any other way again. For the very best, silky smooth cream cheese frosting follow the simple steps below.

  • Use cold, softened brown butter. Hot melted butter won’t work in this recipe so be sure you’ve chilled your brown butter long enough for it to reach a semi-solid state. An hour in the fridge should do it. I like to brown the butter and place it in the fridge to chill while I make the cupcakes so it’s ready to use when it’s time to mix the frosting.
  • Use room temperature cream cheese. Rock hard cream cheese doesn’t mix well so be sure to leave your cream cheese out on the counter for at least an hour before mixing your frosting. If you are in a hurry, cut the cream cheese up into smaller pieces and microwave for just 10 seconds at a time at 50% heat. We want the cream cheese softened, not melted.
  • Sift your sugar. For the very best silky smooth cream cheese frosting, I highly recommend sifting the confectioners sugar. No one likes a lumpy, bumpy frosting and the extra step is totally worth it. The frosting will whip up like a dream and it will be easy to pipe into beautiful swirls on top of our cupcakes.
  • Whip it good. For the fluffiest, creamiest frosting, beat the cream cheese and brown butter together for a good 2 minutes until fully incorporated. And once you’ve added the sugar and vanilla, beat the frosting on high speed until light and fluffy. If you make your frosting in advance and it begins to stiffen up as it sits, simply whip it again in the mixer to bring back that silky smooth texture before decorating your cupcakes.

mixing cream cheese frosting

Variations

I for one love a simple carrot cake without a lot of extras. Feel free to let your sweet tooth do the talking and try mixing one (or more!) of these add-ins into the batter.

  • Raisins (better yet, rum-soaked raisins!)
  • Chopped walnuts or pecans. Toast them for extra flavor.
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Shredded coconut – now that’s a combo I can get behind!

close up of carrot cake cupcake

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a cupcake! But seriously, I’m not going to keep you around here one second longer because you’ve got cupcakes to make. They are perfectly spiced with the most tender crumb and that luscious frosting is definitely something to write home about. These best ever carrot cake cupcakes are at the tippy top of my baking list for Easter Sunday and I hope you’ll bake a batch to share with your love bunnies too.

Happy baking!

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carrot cake cupcakes recipe

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Heather Mubarak
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: 18 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Cakes & Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The very best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had! Perfectly light and fluffy, incredibly moist and topped with a dreamy swirl of luscious brown butter cream cheese frosting. Perfect for any occasion!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For Cupcakes

  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup full fat sour cream (or greek yogurt), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) freshly grated carrots (from about 4 medium carrots)

For Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, browned, strained, and chilled until firm for 45-60 minutes
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. *Pro tip: Brown the butter first and place it in the fridge to chill while you make the cupcakes. It will be ready to use once it’s time to whip up the frosting.
  3. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
  4. Wash, peel and grate carrots using a cheese grater. If using pre-grated carrots, cut them into fine pieces. Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
  6. Set aside.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil and sugars until well combined.
  8. Add in the eggs and vanilla, followed by the yogurt. Whisk until incorporated.
  9. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients being careful not to over mix.
  10. When a few streaks of flour remain, fold in the grated carrots and mix until just barely combined.
  11. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way using a cookie scoop or spoon. Do not overfill or cupcakes will spill out over the liners.
  12. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

For Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. To brown the butter, melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
  2. Once melted, continue to stir often and do not leave unattended. The butter will crackle and sizzle as it browns and will begin to foam slightly. Keep stirring occasionally through this stage. Once the sizzling sound stops, continue stirring as golden brown bits will begin to collect in the bottom of the pan. The butter will smell slighty nutty and aromatic. Remove the butter from the heat and strain into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer.
  3. Refrigerate the browned butter for 45 minutes to one hour until firm and cool to the touch.
  4. Once chilled, place brown butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  5. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  6. With mixer on low speed, slowly add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Once fully incorporated, add vanilla and salt and mix to combine.
  8. Increase speed to high and beat for one minute until light and fluffy.
  9. Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes. Or use a spoon or offset spatula to spread the frosting on the tops of cupcakes.

Notes

Refrigerate left over cupcakes for up to three days.
Cupcakes may be frozen before frosting.
If a cake is preferred, use batter to make two 8 inch rounds or 2, 8 x 8 snack cake layers.

Keywords: carrot cake cupcakes, carrot cake, carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    December 20, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Awesome recipe.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    November 16, 2021 at 4:04 am

    I made these cupcakes and some chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes for a party and these won. That frosting is to.die.for!!!!

  • Reply
    Angelena Ross
    October 14, 2020 at 2:35 am

    I just made these moments ago and wanted to say how good they are. I doubled the recipe, which may have been a mistake because I now have 48 cupcakes! I can’t believe how amazing the cake is. It is very moist and not too heavily spiced. Flavor is very full and rich. The brown butter frosting is absolutely the best I’ve had! I never heard of that and you’ve changed my life! Seriously. Changed my life.

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      October 17, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      We love that brown butter cream cheese frosting too! Glad to hear these cupcakes were a hit!!

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 16, 2020 at 4:40 am

    These carrot cupcakes are easily a new family favorite! Adding the browned butter to the frosting was a game changer. The cupcakes were just the right amount of sweet, the spices make them very flavorful and the texture was perfect. I made them gluten free (we have a gluten allergy in our family) using Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-1 Baking Flour and you couldn’t tell they were GF.

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      April 16, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      I’m so thrilled that you loved these carrot cake cupcakes. That frosting will forever be my favorite…just don’t tell chocolate!

  • Reply
    Emily
    April 13, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    I made these for Easter and they are AMAZING! The cupcake part is delicious, not overly sweet, and very warm and cozy. But the frosting…maybe the best frosting I’ve ever had. The browned butter adds a perfect touch. Definitely my new go-to recipe for frosting!

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      April 14, 2020 at 12:34 am

      Thanks Emily! I’m so glad you loved these!!

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