I’m sure it comes as no surprise to my regular readers that I have become the designated birthday treat baker at work since starting residency.  Actually, this is a responsibility I created all on my own.  I thought it would be mutually beneficial, as it would give me another outlet to unload some baked goods and try some new flavors, while celebrating all my coworkers’ birthdays.  Win-win(-win – if you watch “The Office”) :)  So, last month our chief resident had a birthday and I asked her what sort of cupcakes she would like.  She mentioned that she had been craving carrot cake, and I was thrilled to hear that as I have been wanting to make carrot cake for quite some time.  I have another recipe with more mix-ins that I want to try as a layer cake, but for these cupcakes I thought I would go the classic route with just a basic traditional cake.

These were fabulous!  The cake was perfectly spiced, light and moist.  The thing I really love about this recipe is the use of the food processor to shred the carrots and to mix the batter.  I adore my stand mixer, but it’s nice to only dirty one appliance at a time.  (Though I guess I still used it for the frosting – but you know.)  I was a bit concerned that the shredded carrot pieces would be too large and affect the texture of the cake, but I think they were just fine.  I look forward to making these again!


For the cupcakes:
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
1½ cups (10.5 oz) granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1½ cups canola, safflower or vegetable oil

For the frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese (not softened)
7½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; whisk together and set aside.

  • 02

    In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups).  Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade.  Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds.  With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

  • 03

    Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.


  • I’ve always steered away from carrot cake, because I don’t eat cheese nor cream cheese for that matter. BUT these cupcakes look really good, I might just wing it and frost them with chocolate ganache :P Yikes, I can almost hear the orthodox carrot cake-lovers coming my way!

  • Carrot cake is one of my favorite!!! These cupcakes look light, moist and perffect!!

  • Annie D

    Those look great! Just one question – how do you get that beautiful swirl?

  • Oh – no you diddn’t! lol.

    These turned out beautiful. Piping frosting on cupcakes really does make a world of difference. Carrot cakes are my husband’s absolute favorite! I had been using a recipe from Penzey’s, but I too am an ATK fan. So, I’ll have to try these. Thanks again, Annie!

  • Impeccable frosting skills!

  • HB

    I LOVE carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! These look so pretty! I really should use my food processer more. I’m sure I’d like the one with the mix-ins as well — I’ve only made carrot cake with lots of mix-ins… love it with pineapple, pecans. I’ve also seen a variation where there’s 2 carrot cake cookies with the cream cheese in the middle — kinda like a whoopie! Would like to try that sometime.

  • oneordinaryday

    Ooh, that frosting looks perfect. The heck with the cupcake!

  • Annie

    Hi Annie,
    I just use a pastry bag with a large star tip. I think it makes the prettiest cupcakes!
    :) Annie

  • RA

    Annie, do you think this frosting is stiff enough to hold together a layer cake? I use the ATK cream cheese frosting recipe, but they caution that it won’t do the job in a layer cake. Thanks in advance!

  • Beautiful – as always!

  • Really cute cupcakes!!
    Your frosting is lovely :)

  • Your frosting is so pretty! It looks like something from a bakery only prettier!

  • Mmmmmm. I’m a very picky carrot cake girl – it has to be perfect for me to give it the thumbs up! I’ll have to pull this recipe out and try it sometime. I just love cupcakes though. Funny, about The Office comment – LOL.

  • I wish I had a baking outlet like this! Living in the city and taking the train/bus makes it hard to tote many treats around. But now that I’m going back to school for teaching, I’m prepping for a career that involves lots of bringing baked goods to work! These look beautiful and sound really yummy too! Cream cheese frosting is my all time fav.

  • Amanda

    Hi, love your site :) Just wanted to say I just made these on a whim because I had everything already, and wow! These carrot cupcakes are divine. Yum, Yum. I ate one straight out of the oven, sans frosting, and it was perfect all alone, but with the frosting, it was even better. I did add in some pecans and flaked coconut, because I love to add texture to everything. Thanks for such a fabulous recipe :)

  • Debbie

    These look great! I’ve been stalking your website for some time now– ever since I came across it while looking for good baby food making tips. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for all the DELICIOUS looking food. You inspire me to do some fun cooking. :)

  • Jeanne

    Those cupcakes are soooo beautiful!!! What is the number on the tip you are using?? Do tell. I’m making cupcakes for a friend’s wedding in a month and if my cupcakes could look as good as those, I know the bride will be happy.

  • Oooooooh! That looks yummy! I love carrot cake, these cupcakes are PERFECT!

  • These sound delicious! I actually saw this photo on Tastespotting/Food Gawker and thought they looked great , but didn’t realize at the time it was your photo. :)

  • Carrot cake is my absolute favorite and these look great! Great job with the frosting too, they look perfect.

  • You have amazing piping skills. I want a piping tip that does the same piping. Can you please tell me which one you use. I always end up getting the wrong sizes.. You have a wonderful blog.


  • Leandra

    I’m making these tonight and so excited! My mom’s birthday is this weekend and carrot cake is by far her favorite. I don’t have a food processor, could I get away with shredding the carrots myself and then using a blender for the rest?

  • Annie

    That should be okay if you have a good blender. Just make sure you are using a grater with large-ish holes for the carrots though. I have tried grating them by hand and my grater must be too small because it is very ineffective and basically doesn’t work with carrots. Good luck!
    :) Annie

  • Annie

    Hi RA,
    I do think this would be fine in a layer cake. You could probably even add a little more powdered sugar if necessary, but I think it would be fine as is.
    :) Annie

  • atia

    i lovee carrot cake but i tried these cupcakes twice and both times it come out too oily….more like a doughy texture.. :( maybe im doing something wrong?

  • Annie

    Hi Atia,
    I’m sorry you’re having trouble. It sounds to me like a mistake somewhere in the baking process because I have already had comments from other readers who have made them and had them turn out well. I hope you’re able to figure out what’s going wrong.
    :) Annie

  • Niki

    What decorating tip did you use to pipe this frosting?! Beautiful!

  • These sound so good. Can eating these count towards a serving of vegetable for the day? :) I must try this recipe.

  • Annie

    Hi Niki,
    You can find the info about my decorating tip here.
    :) Annie

  • Annie

    Hi Katherine,
    You can find the info about the decorating tip I used here.
    :) Annie

  • Annie

    Hi Jeanne,
    So sorry for the delayed response. You can find the info on the decorating tip I used here. Good luck with the wedding cupcakes, I’m sure they will be great!
    :) Annie

  • Jeane

    I made these tonight for my friends birthday and he loved them! I cooked them a little hot (by accident!) and they caramelized and actually came out pretty tasty! Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Sana

    Hi Annie

    Can I use the same recipe to make a cake instead of cupcakes? Do I need to alter anything other than the baking time?

  • Annie

    Hi Sana,
    Yes, you can make these into a cake and all you need to change is the baking time.
    :) Annie

  • Sana

    Wow Annie!! I just made the cupcakes (for a picnic tomorrow) and they are sooooo good. Moist and flavorful. My food processor would’nt start and so I had to grate the carrots myself and did all the mixing in the stand mixer. Even then they came out perfect ..I just dont want to share them :)

  • Oh wow, Annie, they look great! Can’t wait to try them out this weekend for Easter! =D

  • Alison

    The look delicious and I plan to make them for Easter! How many does this recipe yield?

  • Alison

    Oops! Nevermind… I just saw it up there!

  • Heidi

    WOW…these baby’s are delish! Thanks for sharing!

  • hmmm…I may just give these a try! I was wondering….it should work just fine with a hand held mixer right? (instead of using a food processor? mines too small)

  • Annie

    I’m not totally sure. It should work, but I think the food processor helps to emulsify the oil in the batter. Hopefully just mixing thoroughly will do the job.

  • Amelia


    I am a Malaysian and I just love to visit your website almost everyday as it is so creative.

    I am very familiar with measurements in grams and not in cup, would you be so kind to share with me your cup to grams measurement as I am afrais if I don’t get the measurements right than the cakes won’t turn out good.

    Thank you in advance.

  • Annie

    Hi Amelia,
    I don’t use grams for cooking or baking but you can try Google for various conversions.

  • Louise

    Hello, these cupcakes look great. Would the frosting be to soft if I ad some foodcoloring?

  • Annie

    It should be fine but to be safe, I always prefer to use the gel icing colors rather than liquid food coloring. They are more concentrated and don’t thin out the frosting the way the liquid kind can.

  • Louise

    Thank you Annie,
    Unfortunately I have no idea where to get the gel in Denmark. Og well I will try with the liquid kind and see how it goes.

  • Bridget

    This is hands down the best carrot cake recipe I have found. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your recipes never fail!

  • Goody

    BEST CAKE EVER!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe – I will do this again and again and again… :)

  • Kristi Toms

    Hi Annie,
    Wondering if you ever do any subs on your recipes…? Specifically to make them healthier/lower in calories/fat. For instance, I was thinking of making this recipe w/ 1/3 less calorie cream cheese & using white-wheat flour for the cupcakes. Any suggestions?

  • Annie

    You could, but I never do. To me, dessert is dessert.

  • Megan

    I am in love with these cupcakes – my best friend and I made a ‘test’ batch last weekend for my daughter’s first birthday this weekend. These are AMAZING. We each had one, and froze the rest unfrosted since I can’t make enough cupcakes for the party same day, now I’m just hoping they defrost well! I’m also going to be attempting a giant cupcake cake in this recipe, putting my baking skills to the test for this adorable babygirl turning one on Friday.

    Oh, and thanks to these, birthday girl is also now a giant fan of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting – so I’m looking forward to making another batch for the party! Now on to learning how to frost them this beautifully…

  • Eunice

    I just made these and OMG they are scrumptious!! They are light, moist and just perfect. Not too sweet and not greasy at all!! MMMMM.
    Thanks for the lovely recipe!

  • Nici

    Just finished making these. I don’t even like carrot cake and these were so yummy!! My friends are really happy I found your site!!

  • THE BEST carrot cake I have ever had! <333

  • Marisol Bonilla

    These are simply fabulous I just made some regular size and mini cup cakes of course i added my twist of spices like almond extract and ginger and a lil hazelnut. omg so yummy i frosted them to the frosting I added some ginger also and i piped a carrot and green leaf on it so cute and yummy cannot wait until hubby sees them our lil guy ate two one way to get him to eat carrots that he says he does not like…

  • Patti

    I’ve done these cupcakes several times (mostly making a cake) and they are THE BEST!!! I took them to the office and guess what – two of my collegues asked me to do them for their birthday and three others wanted the recipe!!! As far as I remember I had to leave the cake in the oven for about 30 – 40 min. – the test with the toothpicks works!

    Give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it!

    Thank you, Annie!

  • Made these today and they are super yum!!!

  • Crystal Power

    I realize this post is two years old, but I am making these for a friend for her upcoming birthday and I noticed that for the cream cheese it reads “not softened”. I wanted to ask why not softened works better.

  • Annie

    It stays firmer, so the frosting holds its shape.

  • Crystal Power

    Aha! Good to know. Thank you!

  • Angel Shadoff

    11:30 at night and these just came out of the oven! Can’t wait to frost them in the morning and toss them in the kids’ lunch box! I do so love carrot cake and I am glad this doesn’t have nuts in it (can’t send it to school with nuts in it!) Thanks for posting!

  • Hey, you know these taste like carrot muffins if you leave out the 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar? Yeah… ’cause I just did that on purpose… yeah… :-)

  • I am so excited to try these cupcakes! Question for you – do you think it will make a difference if i use preshredded carrots from a bag? I don’t have the proper equipment to shred the carrots and doing them by hand sounds like it could take forever!

  • Annie

    I would think that should be okay.

  • Heldy

    Hi Annie, I really need your help. I want to make these for Easter, but I cannot use Nutmeg due to my daughter’s nut allergies. Is there a substitute I can use instead?

  • annieseats

    I would just omit it. Or, see the FAQ page for more info regarding substitutions.

  • Chray75

    Annie, thanks for the great recipes! I made these for Easter this weekend and they tasted great (and here I was thinking I didn’t like carrot cake!). The texture to me seems more muffin than cake – did I do something wrong or did yours turn out this way as well? Just curious since I’ve never made a carrot cake before. I did use my stand mixer and just hand-grate the carrots. Other than that, I followed your recipe exactly. thanks!

  • annieseats

    To me, the only real difference between muffin and cupcake is the frosting on a cupcake. The texture of either can be more dense or light and fluffy, depending on the recipe and what you are going for.

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  • Think I will make these next

  • I’ve been searching all over for a carrot cake recipe … my sister’s request for her birthday this month. I’ve never made one before but I’m thinking this looks better than good enough to start with.

  • Doxiemama1

    Delicious! Made them to try them out. Now i’ve made them for a charity golf tournament tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll be a hit!

  • Anam_m

    -Can i use the same measurement and bake a cake?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks.

  • Becky Millard

    I made these a few days ago and sent some in to work with my husband (carrot cake was a request for his weekly meeting this week), and I got rave reviews! They were delicious! I’m glad I found a go-to recipe for a carrot cake without pineapple in it… that just doesn’t seem right to me. ;)

    I also wanted to add that I had hoped my 7-cup food processor would be big enough, but by the time I was at the oil-adding stage, it just wasn’t going to be able to handle it, so I threw it in a regular bowl and used my immersion blender to emulsify it (while adding in a steady stream). Worked like a dream! Thanks for a fabulous recipe, Annie!

  • Mari

    The recipe says 20-22 cupcakes, but for some reason I managed to get a whopping 36 cupcakes. I am not complaining though, because they are absolutely gorgeous and tasty. I’ve always been a big fan of carrot cake and these cupcakes are going to be my new favourites :)

  • These look fantastic and it must be fall because this is what I am craving!! I like to grate a little lemon zest into the cream cheese frosting for added zing :o)

  • Christina

    Hi Annie,

    I just have a question. Where do you fill the cupcake batter to? I tend to overfill my cupcakes all the time which result in big messy cupcakes. Should I just use a standard ice cream scoop?

  • annieseats

    I don’t know what is defined as a “standard” scoop. I just fill them about two thirds of the way full. Enjoy!

  • daisy goldman

    These cupcakes turned out great. I will definitely make them again! : )

  • Jill H

    These came out with the worst looking tops I’ve ever seen, but they were still delicious! First batch deflated drastically at the end of baking, and ended up with lopsided, crispy, calico-looking tops. Second batch I filled less, still deflated, still weirdly-patterned tops, but less lumpy. Last batch I added some more flour, and lo and behold no deflation! I think my carrots must have been particularly moist or something.

    If anyone has trouble with deflation like I did, add some more flour to the batter!

  • Steph in Lex

    I just made these for my daughter’s first birthday. Everyone LOVED them–the cake itself and not just the cream cheese frosting was a hit with even the littlest attendants! I was hesitant when I saw it was oil and not butter, but these tasted delicious.

  • Shari

    Can I use this recipe for a bundt cake?

  • annieseats

    I haven’t tried it so you would have to experiment. Good luck!

  • Tiana

    Would I need to halve the baking time if I halve the recipe?

  • annieseats

    No, the baking time will be the same.