These quick and easy carrot cake cupcakes have a beautiful, moist texture full of sweet pineapple, brown sugar, and fresh carrots. Top with the homemade cream cheese frosting for one of my favorite, most versatile cupcakes!
These cupcakes are well loved in the fall with the addition of extra spices, in the summer to use up the extra carrot produce from the garden & farmer’s market, and even in the spring for Easter and Mother’s Day. Honestly, carrot cake cupcakes are always a winning cupcake recipe loved by everyone. Best of all, in my opinion, is that this is a from scratch recipe reminiscent of the one Grandma made.
If you like your carrot cake simple and straightforward without the nuts and pineapple try my Homemade Carrot Cake recipe. Delicious and simple.
Carrot Cake cupcake recipes give you the flavors of a traditional sized carrot cake but in a delightfully smaller size perfect for individual servings, little people’s bellies, and for freezing leftovers… Everyone likes having the big giant taste of their favorite carrot cake in a little itty size!
- Carrots. There isn’t a replacement for fresh grated carrots in a homemade carrot cake. Use your food processor to speed up the process, if you like.
- Pineapple. This recipe calls for crushed pineapple to add sweetness, liquid, and flavor to the cake in a quick hurry.
- Brown sugar. Brown sugar shouldn’t be substituted for white sugar in carrot cake recipes. You lose a lot in texture and flavor. The combo of brown sugar and pineapple with the carrots is at the heart of this recipe.
- Room temperature eggs. Using room temperature eggs helps the eggs mix in with the batter resulting in a higher rising cake. Carrot cakes can be quite dense and using room temp eggs helps, a bit.
- Butter. Cream cheese frosting has 2 key ingredients…butter and cream cheese. Use quality, unsalted butter for the best results.
- Cream cheese. I mean, with a name like cream cheese frosting.
- Nuts. Nuts or not…that is forever the argument around carrot cake recipes. Leave them out, if you like. If you DO add them be sure they are chopped fairly small in keeping with the smaller cupcake size.
Why do you put oil in carrot cake?
Oil is used in carrot cake, instead of butter, because it helps keep the cake moist and last much, much longer. Many recipes allow for a quick sub of applesauce instead of oil. In this recipe I would sub only 1/2 of the oil for applesauce.
Why do you use pineapple in carrot cake?
Pineapple has enzymes in it that breaks down proteins and tenderizes, helping carrot cake remain moist and sweet. It provides a replacement for some of the oil. And the pineapple adds sweetness without the need for more sugar. Now you can understand why pineapple is found often in carrot cake recipes, right!
- Prepare your muffin pans with cupcake liners or by greasing them well.Grate the carrots. Pull out your vegetable peeler and grate your carrots the old-school way. Or pop them into the food processor for a few whirls around being careful not to over process and create a carrot pulp!
- Whisk the flour, powder, soda, and salt together and set aside.
- Mix the oil and sugars together with a stand mixer or electric mixer
- Add the dry mixture, water, and vanilla.
- Add eggs one at a time, mix after each.
- Stir in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts.
- Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake in the oven.
- Beat the frosting ingredients.
How do you keep cream cheese frosting from getting grainy?
The only for sure way is to use softened cream cheese and softened butter. Cold butter and cold cream cheese simply don’t beat up as well as their softened versions. Always use soft cream cheese and butter for cream cheese frosting.
What is the best oil for baking cakes?
Canola oil is the most preferred oil for cakes because it is light and neutral in flavor and texture resulting in the best flavor and textures. It doesn’t interact with other ingredients in the same way other oils might.
How to store carrot cake cupcakes:
Cream cheese frosting should always be kept in the fridge! Keep these cupcakes in the fridge, in an air-tight container for 2-3 days or in the freezer for several weeks. To thaw, take them out and let them rest on the counter until no longer frozen and then move to the fridge.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
For the Cupcake:
- 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 cup crushed pineapples
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or pecans optional
For the frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cupcake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, mix the oil and sugars until well combined.
- Add the dry mixture, water, vanilla extract, and mix. Then slowly add the eggs, one at a time.
- Remove from the stand mixer and fold in the grated carrots, pineapples, crushed peanuts or pecans.
- Scoop out batter into the prepared muffin tins, fill about ¾ full and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to completely cool before adding your desired frosting.
For the frosting:
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter and softened cream cheese until well blended and no clumps.
- Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, then add vanilla and beat until creamy.
- Frost and enjoy!
● Feel free to omit the crushed pineapples, but I found that it helps keep the cake extra moist and tender. If you want larger chunks of pineapple in the cupcakes, feel free to do so.
● Feel free to use walnuts or raisins to this recipe. This batter can hold about ¼ cup to ½ cup of add-ins.
● Unfrosted cupcakes will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Frosted cupcakes up to 3 days at room temperature.
● Frosting can be refrigerated and piped before serving.
● This recipe can be doubled to make 24 cupcakes.