These are the BEST Carrot Cake Cupcakes! They're fluffy, moist and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cardamom to give them the most delicious flavor. Swirl browned butter cream cheese frosting on top and your tastebuds are in for a real treat! These might just be my favorite dessert!
This post was originally published on January 28, 2021. It contains affiliate links, meaning that I could earn from purchases made through them. It doesn't add any extra cost to you, but it does help support this blog!
Why We Love This Carrot Cupcake Recipe
- It's spiced with the most delicious flavors!
- The texture is super moist with a perfect crumb.
- The frosting is made with brown butter making it the best cream cheese frosting! It pairs so well with the cupcake flavor.
- It can be turned into a tasty breakfast with this Carrot Cake French Toast recipe!
- It can also be made into an easy sheet cake with this Spiced Carrot Cake recipe!
- It's a simple, gorgeous dessert for any occasion. I always make them for Easter and they're such a huge hit!
Looking for more delicious cake recipes?
- Light brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Canola oil: Any other neutral oil (like vegetable oil) will also work.
- Vanilla extract
- All purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Sour cream
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground ginger
- Ground cloves
- Ground cardamom
- Shredded carrots: Grating fresh carrots is the best option, but you can use pre-shredded carrots as well.
- Cream cheese
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
See recipe card below for quantities.
Step by Step Instructions
STEP ONE (Picture 1 above) - In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil. Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract, sour cream and applesauce.
STEP TWO (Picture 2 above) - In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all 5 spices. Sift and fold them into the wet ingredients just until a few flour streaks remain.
STEP THREE (Picture 3 above) - Add the grated carrots to the cupcake batter and gently fold them in.
STEP FOUR (Picture 4 above) - Use a large scoop to fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full with the carrot cake batter. There should be enough for about 18 cupcakes! Bake them at 350°F/177°C on the middle oven rack until a toothpick comes out clean (about 20 minutes). Let them cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
STEP FIVE (Picture 5 above) - While the cupcakes are cooling, whip up the homemade cream cheese frosting! Brown the butter in a pan over medium/low heat until it gives off a nutty aroma. Pour it into a heat-proof bowl and let it cool to room temperature (this can be sped up by placing it in the refrigerator).
STEP SIX (Picture 6 above) - Mix the cream cheese in a medium bowl until it's smooth and then stir in the cooled browned butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
STEP SEVEN (Picture 7 above) - Transfer the browned butter cream cheese frosting to a piping bag with a large piping tip and swirl it onto the cooled cupcakes! If you don't have a piping bag, you can simply cut off the tip of a plastic bag.
Tips For Success
TIP #1 - Weigh your dry ingredients in grams. Measuring flour with a scale will give you the best results since it can be tricky to accurately measure with cups. See the "metric" tab in the recipe card below for gram measurements. If you decide to use measuring cups, be sure to scoop the flour into the cup and level it off with a straightedge.
TIP #2 - Let the cupcakes cool before frosting. If you frost them while they're still even a tiny bit warm, the frosting can melt and slide off of the cupcakes!
TIP #3 - Get creative! These cupcakes are beautiful sponges with speckled frosting and can be decorated however you want! I like to use wavy cupcake liners to give them a fun shape and then frost them upside down with a large closed-star piping tip. If you're making them for Easter, you could dye some of the frosting orange and add little carrot designs on them. The options are endless!
Substitutions & Variations
- If you're not a big fan of the spices used in this cupcake recipe, feel free to leave any of them out!
- For a simpler cream cheese frosting, you can use softened butter instead of browned butter.
- This recipe can be made in a 9x5 inch loaf pan (see this carrot loaf recipe) or doubled and made in a 9x13 inch pan (see this carrot cake recipe).
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
Room Temperature: Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Refrigerator: Frosted cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Let them sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before enjoying!
Freezing Instructions: Tightly wrap unfrosted, cooled cupcakes in plastic wrap and/or a freezer-safe bag labeled "Carrot Cake Cupcakes" and the date for up to 1 month. Let them thaw at room temperature before frosting and eating them.
This is no problem! You can make these without liners in a greased cupcake pan.
This is likely from using too much flour. I highly recommend using a food scale to weigh dry ingredients in grams to avoid this issue!
No, you can use softened butter instead of browning it.
The Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Cupcake pan
- Cupcake liners
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Kitchen scale or measuring cups
- Piping bag
- Piping tip
Carrot Cake Batter
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sour cream room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce room temperature
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1½ cups shredded carrots about 3 medium/large carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter browned and cooled
- 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F and fill cupcake pans with 18 cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil. Add the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and applesauce - mixing after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently mix with a spatula until only a couple of flour streaks are visible.
- Fold the shredded carrots into the batter.
- Fill cupcake liners ~⅔ full and bake one pan at a time for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. After 10 minutes, move the cupcakes from the pan to a cooling rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Place the butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir until the butter browns and gives off a nutty aroma. Let it cool.
- Mix the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the cooled brown butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix very well.
- Pipe or spread frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!