These carrot cake cupcakes are soft, moist, and mildly spiced, filled with pineapple curd, and topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting! They’re easy to make, irresistibly delicious, and perfect for spring.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Nothing shouts spring like a slice of moist carrot cake covered in tangy cream cheese frosting!
And if you’re not in the mood to bake a cake, these carrot cake cupcakes will satisfy your cravings!
- Texture: You’ll enjoy these light yet moist cupcakes that are not heavy or oily.
- Flavor: Just the right amount of spice that pairs beautifully with tropical pineapple curd and tangy cream cheese frosting
- Customizable: If you’re not in the mood for the curd filling, simply skip it.
Bring these delightful carrot cupcakes to sping brunches, showers, or parties, and everyone will love you!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- All-purpose flour – I highly recommend a kitchen scale for accurate, precise measurements. If you don’t have one, be sure to use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the flat edge of a butter knife.
- Spices – Cinnamon and nutmeg give you that classic carrot cake flavor! I highly recommend grating a whole nutmeg right before baking.
- Sour cream – It’s less about tang and more about moisture! This isn’t the time to cut calories, for best results, buy full-fat sour cream. The extra fat creates a moist and tender crumb. You can substitute full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Carrots – Grate the carrots into small pieces. I used the shredding attachment on my food processor, then pulsed them with the chopping blade a few times.
- Pecans – Optional, but recommended! Pecans add a nutty crunch. Walnuts work great too!
How to make carrot cake cupcakes:
1. Make the pineapple curd
If you’d like to make it special, make this pineapple curd to fill the cupcakes!
It’s quick and easy to make but requires time to chill. Check out my pineapple curd recipe for step by step tutorial.
2. Make the carrot cake cupcakes
Before you start, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Finely grate the carrots in a food processor.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set it aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, sour cream, oil, and both sugars until well combined. You can do this by hand too.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don’t overmix the batter or your cupcakes won’t be as light or soft.
- Lastly, fold in the grated carrots and pecans.
- Divide the batter into the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes first, then transfer them to a cooling rack. It’s much harder to transfer hot cupcakes!
3. Make the cream cheese frosting
- Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.
- Beat on low speed for another minute, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Always reduce the mixer speed to low when you add powdered sugar. This prevents it from poofing up and outside the bowl.
- Once the carrot cupcakes are completely cool, use a cupcake corer or a paring knife to cut holes in the middle of each cupcake.
- Transfer the pineapple curd to a piping bag and snip off the end. Carefully pipe a little bit of curd into each cupcake.
- Use an offset spatula or a piping bag with a large star tip to frost the cupcakes.
Tips for Success:
- Don’t overmix the cupcake batter. The more you mix it, the more gluten strands form, creating a denser texture. For a soft and light crumb, only mix until incorporated!
- Don’t overbake the carrot cupcakes. Overbaked cake equals dry cake, no matter how good the recipe! Use an inserted toothpick to check for doneness.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a box grater. It takes a bit more effort and a few muscles, but it will get the job done.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting. Warm cupcakes will melt the frosting and give you frosting soup!
- If desired, make the pineapple curd ahead of time. It lasts in the fridge for up to 6 days, which gives you plenty of time to make and chill it.
- You can make everything in stages to keep it simple. One day make the curd, the next day make the frosting, and the last day make the cupcakes. Doing this prevents overwhelm and a big mess.
- To store: Store leftover carrot cake cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated to prevent it from spoiling.
- To freeze unfrosted cupcakes: Place unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To freeze frosted cupcakes: Place the frosted cupcakes on a plate or sheet pan and freeze until solid, at least 1 hour. Transfer the frozen cupcakes to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To thaw: Let the cupcakes thaw at room temperature or in the fridge.
Carrot cake typically contains oil instead of butter. This keeps the cake moist and slightly denser than a traditional cupcake, plus it doesn’t dry out as quickly.
Carrot cupcakes will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Since they are frosted with cream cheese frosting, they MUST be refrigerated so they don’t spoil.
A dry carrot cake can be caused by several factors. One is an improper ratio of wet-to-dry ingredients. Too much flour results in a dry cake! Another cause can be overbaking the carrot cake. No matter how good a recipe you use, the overbaked cake will taste dry every time.
Crave-Worthy Cupcake Recipes:
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
For pineapple curd:
- 1 cup (240ml) canned pineapple juice Note 1
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch
- 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter cubbed and softened.
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour Note 1
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg Note 2
- 3 medium carrots Note 3
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup (60gr) sour cream at room temperature Note 4
- ½ cup (120ml) vegetable oil
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) brown sugar light or dark
- ½ cup (60g) chopped pecans Note 5
For cream cheese frosting:
- 8 oz (250gr) cream cheese at room temperature
- ¼ cup (55g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To make pineapple curd:
- Pour pineapple juice into a medium saucepan and cook it over medium-high heat to reduce to ¼ cup, about 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks.
- To temper the eggs, slowly pour the reduced pineapple juice into the eggs while whisking constantly.
- Now transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and add sugar and cornstarch.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 8-10 minutes, or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and run the curd through a fine mesh sieve. Let the curd cool for 10 minutes.
- Add butter to the curd and gently fold it until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Cover the curd with plastic wrap to contact to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until cooled completely, about 2 hours, or up to 1 week.
To make carrot cake cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the muffin cups with cupcake liners.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Using a box grater, or a food processor, grate the carrots into fine pieces.
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix together eggs, sour cream, oil, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined.
- Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Don’t over-mix at this point.
- Add the grated carrots and pecans and gently fold the batter with a silicone spatula.
- Fill the muffin cups ¾ of the way. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the baking pan, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make cream cheese frosting:
- Beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a piping tip. (I used the M1 star tip.)
To assemble the cupcake:
- Frost the cupcakes once they’re completely cooled.
- Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before filling them.
- Using a back of a piping tip (or a small pairing knife, or a cupcake corer), make a hole in the center of each cupcake. Be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom of the cupcake. (Reserve the cupcake pieces.)
- Pipe or spoon the pineapple curd into the hole. Fill it until the curd just reaches the top of the cupcake. Replace the reserved cupcake pieces to close the filling.
- Finally, pipe the cream cheese frosting on top.
Tips & Notes:
– To store: Store leftover carrot cake cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated to prevent it from spoiling.
– To freeze unfrosted cupcakes: Place unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
– To freeze frosted cupcakes: Place the frosted cupcakes on a plate or sheet pan and freeze until solid, at least 1 hour. Transfer the frozen cupcakes to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
– To thaw: Let the cupcakes thaw at room temperature or in the fridge.
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