Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings: 12
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cool Time 1 hour
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 1/4 cups (178g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) finely shredded carrots (from about 4 medium carrots)
  • 2/3 cup (140g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (78g) packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (64g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (82g) chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, nearly at room temperature
  • 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups (412g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional carrots for decoration

  • 50 g Marzipan (about 1/4 cup)
  • Orange gel food coloring
  • Cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed)
  • 12 small curly parsley stems


  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, set aside.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and brown sugar, then add eggs and using an electric hand mixer, blend mixture on low speed 30 seconds, until slightly pale. 
  3. Mix in applesauce and vanilla extract. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in vegetable oil and mix until combined, then mix 20 seconds longer. 
  4. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then pour the shredded carrots into the bowl with the remaining flour mixture and toss in flour mixture to coat carrots (they'll clump together a bit but that's fine). Pour carrot mixture into the batter and blend until evenly combined.
  5. Pour batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 19 - 21 minutes. Cool in muffin tin several minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  6. For the frosting: Using an electric mixer whip together butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Mix in vanilla extract. 
  7. With mixer running on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well blended and smooth*. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting then immediately roll edges of frosting in chopped pecans.

  8. For the optional carrot decoration: Tint marzipan with orange gel coloring and knead to evenly incorporate color. Separate small pieces at a time (I did 4g carrots) then roll into carrot shapes (roll a tapered log shape).
  9.  Dip a toothpick lightly in cocoa powder, shaking of excess then gently roll carrot across toothpick (in random places) while slightly rotating to make slight indentations (to give it that natural look).

  10. Poke a small hole in the top of each carrot and insert parsley. Gently press carrots into frosting on tops of cupcakes. 

  11. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Allow to rest at room temperature until no longer cold before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • *If frosting is slightly runny freeze in 3 minute increments then mix again and repeat if needed.