Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe -

Here’s a first for me, text on a photo. I kind of love it, at least with this particular one. Maybe I’m just having a crazy day. I’ve honestly been avoiding it for ages. I promise it’s not necessarily a new thing, but I am curious: if you have an option of pinning or sharing an image that has text or doesn’t, do you prefer one over the other? Or is it more about the food and the actual shot of the food?

So let’s talk about these cupcakes. I’d been saving carrot cake recipes for a while because the Mr put a request in for it, I don’t even know how long ago but definitely sometime in the last decade handful of months or so. I’d honestly, that I know of or remember, never had carrot cake prior to this week. Spice cake, sure! In fact, spice cake is one of my absolute favorite flavors. Light, fluffy and perfectly spiced. I was truly  surprised at the similarities with these cupcakes and spice cake. Obviously there’s the giant difference of one having carrots and the other doesn’t. But hey, it’s close.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe -

I was kind of turned off by the idea of adding vegetables to something that was suppose to be sweet. Which btw means you’ll likely never see zucchini bread. I know bread isn’t typically sweet but veggies and sweets and bread just seems odd to me. At least in this case, it totally worked and wasn’t even obvious.

In my search over the months, I saw some cake and cupcakes with seriously thick slices of carrot. I’m sure that’s partly my issue with carrot cake. It shouldn’t be noticeable. Blend it, not literally, in there. Finely shred and even chop further if necessary to make those shreds even smaller. No weird stringiness going on with the cupcakes – at all.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe -

So the cupcakes are amazing, super moist and perfectly spiced.

The frosting, while not my cup of tea since it’s cream cheese based (I’m a traditionalist requiring sweet buttercream, piled high. I can’t help it.), it tastes good. This cream cheese frosting is smooth and luscious while ever so slightly flavored with pure maple syrup. Don’t skimp and use pancake syrup, use the real stuff. You can even buy a mini bottle if you don’t plan on using it much.

Since Easter is nearly a week away, you should absolutely save this to make for your family and friends. Or for any Spring party, because it’s officially Spring and we should be celebrating! I made this a more manageable recipe, yielding 6 cupcakes. Who wants a dozen cupcakes sitting on the counter taunting them if you don’t have people over to help you eat them? But if you’re having company, simply double the ingredients to make 12 cupcakes.

BTW have you noticed how late it’s still light out already?! So exciting.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy and moist homemade carrot cake cupcakes topped off with smooth cream cheese frosting, lightly flavored with pure maple syrup.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cupcake
Servings: 6 cupcakes


Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C applesauce
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 C carrots finely shredded (roughly 2 carrots)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup


  • For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 6 cavities of a muffin tin.
  • Finely shred carrots, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together applesauce and vegetable oil, followed by egg and vanilla. Mix in carrots. Mixture will be sloppy. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth. Using a large cookie scoop, divide batter among prepared liners.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, prepare frosting. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, mixing until well incorporated. Finally, add enough maple syrup for desired taste and spreading consistency. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired.


An original recipe from Baked by Rachel

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55 Responses to “Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking — March 22, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Yes! There should be no carrot shreds in carrot cake. Veggies just don’t belong in cake unless you shred / puree them so that you can’t notice them. But you know, I don’t like veggies at all so this could explain my stance on this topic. Everyone who tries my carrot cake thinks it’s spice cake. And I’m okay with that.

    Your cupcakes look great and love the frosting! Maple cream cheese frosting is probably my favorite frosting ever. :)

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

      I’m the same way! I only like a handful of veggies lol So awful of me. I’d rather fruit. But these are SO good.

  2. #
    Megan @ megbakes — March 22, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Hi Rachel! I just found your blog and it’s beautiful.

    In regards to text on photos, I like it, but I’ve found sometimes it takes away from the photo. However, the way you’ve done it is elegant.

    Now- I love carrot cake. It’s super sweet, moist and you feel like you’re having a healthy treat.

    Can’t wait to see what you make next.

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

      So glad you found me! And thanks for the input on the text issue. I think it’ll be a total case by case basis on if I do it or not.

  3. #
    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — March 22, 2013 at 7:49 am

    These look so good! love this maple frosting.

  4. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — March 22, 2013 at 7:55 am

    These cupcakes are *almost* too pretty! Love them.

  5. #
    Tracey — March 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I like the text on the first photo! I don’t always, but I like the way you did it there. I’m curious if it ends up leading to more pins, keep us posted :) Anyway, I love everything about these – cupcakes plus maple plus cream cheese? I’m there!

  6. #
    Jen @ Savory Simple — March 22, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I’ve never been into the whole zucchini in desserts thing but I do love a good carrot cake recipe!

  7. #
    Jamie — March 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful cupcakes. I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake either.

  8. #
    Hplly — March 22, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I was wondering if butter is an ingredient bc it says cream sugar and butter together? Thanks :)

  9. #
    Hplly — March 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

    And should I use sweetened or unsweetened applesauce? Sorry for all the questions!

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 9:51 am

      So sorry for the typo. I guess I was writing a more traditional cupcake recipe in my head. ;) All fixed now. As for the applesauce, use whatever you have on hand. I happened to have cinnamon applesauce, so that’s what I used. I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference either way.

  10. #
    Tieghan — March 22, 2013 at 9:10 am

    To cute for words!!

  11. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — March 22, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I have been craving carrot cake lately and now I want this frosting too. These look incredible!

  12. #
    amy @ fearless homemaker — March 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    These look SO good. I love carrot cake and would love these right now. And I’m torn about text on pictures, too. I tend to prefer no text by a hair, but i actually think it looks awesome in yours. =)

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Thanks! That’s why I’m so torn. I usually prefer without most times but I had way too much fun creating that lol.

  13. #
    natalie@thesweetslife — March 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    text on photos typically annoys me…I feel like bloggers overuse it and it’s a giant flashing PLEASE PIN ME sign…that being said, i think the way you did it up there looks good!!

  14. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — March 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Rachel they’re gorgeous! I love carrot cake and with that cream cheese frosting, so good!

    As an aside, what do you use to make your graphics/banners? Picmonkey or something else? I love that purple ribbon effect!

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you! I did this in picmonkey – pretty easy but In Katrina’s Kitchen has tutorial’s if you get lost.

  15. #
    Caroline — March 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I LOVE this post for so many reasons! First…I just love your photos…they are gorgeous, the cupcakes are beautiful and I love the text you added! Looks great! I need to figure out how to do that too. Also, this recipe really sounds yummy! Carrot cake is one of my family’s favorite and I love the idea of really finely shredding the carrot! Lastly…pure maple syrup is heavenly and sounds so good in the frosting. I”m bookmarking and making these for my Easter brunch! Thanks!

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      I feel like a toddler when it comes to using picmonkey but if I can do it, so can you! And thank you for all of the sweet comments!

  16. #
    Annie @ Annie's Noms — March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I’m totally with you on vegetable and sweets/baking. I don’t think I’d ever try zucchini bread :/ I was apprehensive about trying carrot cake, but once I made one I fell in love! It’s my Dad’s favourite and I’m always making it now, but I am always looking for more versions and I’m loving the maple cream cheese frosting on yours! I usually just do normal cream cheese, but I need to try it with maple syrup next time :D

  17. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — March 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    LOVE these! Such cute cupcakes and the frosting sounds amazing with the maple flavor!

  18. #
    Carla @ Carlas Confections — March 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I was just noticing last night how late it was light out! So awesome :) I tend to steer away from veggies in sweets and breads too (except pumpkin of course) but recently made a carrot cake and loved it too! I bet the maple syrup tastes so good in the frosting too! Love your frosting skills!! :)

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      This just made me question – is pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable by definition? I’m pretty sure most of us consider it more of a vegetable but then again some people think tomatoes are fruit (bleh) ;) I know… random

  19. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — March 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    ewww i never have tried carrot cake for the very reason of the veggie part of a dessert – but yours looks really good and i’d have a huge heaping dollop of frosting on mine so i can forget about the carrot :) haha

    • #
      Rachel — March 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      You’d love em, promise! :)

  20. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — March 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Rachel, these are adorable! I bet they’re incredibly delicious too. They sure look it! Obviously, as a carrot cake lover, I must try these ASAP!

  21. #
    Shannon — March 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    they look amazing! where are the sprinkles from?

    • #
      Rachel — March 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

      I’m pretty sure I picked them up at Target last year around this time.

  22. #
    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — March 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    The maple cream cheese frosting sounds amazing! Can I please have a bowl full?! LOL

  23. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry — March 23, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Finely shredding the carrots is key in a good carrot cake recipe. I don’t want chunks of vegetables in my cake. This recipe looks delicious with all the spices and its really not all that unhealthy for you either!

  24. #
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — March 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Look at you getting all text=y with your photo :) You know my opinion on it- and I think you did an awesome job. For me *personally* text on every photo would be too much but text on one is great. If I want to grab your text pic I will but there are lots of other options too. Also- ummmmmm I want a cupcake.

  25. #
    Meghan — March 23, 2013 at 9:49 am

    These look perfect with those pretty sprinkles & I love maple cream cheese frosting!

  26. #
    Emily @ Life on Food — March 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I am searching for the perfect carrot cake recipe for my father in laws birthday next week. I think I found the winner.

    • #
      Rachel — March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

      I hope you enjoy it! :)

  27. #
    Kiz — March 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Rachel. I can’t seem to find the butter amount for the cupcake ingredient, please help. Also can I use something else other than applesauce? x

    • #
      Rachel — March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am

      The applesauce is in place of the vegetable oil. If you wish to not use applesauce, I would replace with vegetable oil instead but I cannot be sure that your results will be exactly the same as mine. As for the butter, there is only butter in the frosting, not in the cupcake itself.

  28. #
    foodwanderings — March 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Your kids must love you. You know exactly what to bake to entice them I want a do over! :) What I particularly like about cupcakes is the piping and decoration.:)

  29. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — March 25, 2013 at 3:15 am

    I agree with you thick shards of carrots are distracting, I like a smooth texture to my carrot cake as well.

  30. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — March 25, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Rachel, I freakin LOVE carrot cake! And especially in cupcake form. I feel like I could eat this frosting with a spoon. I adore maple – and what a combination with carrot cake cupcakes. gorgeous pictures too :)

  31. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — March 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Oh, these are SO pretty! I, myself, am a fan of cream cheese frosting so this sounds wonderfum :)

  32. #
    Emily — March 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I recently discovered that I love carrot cake. I am excited to try these! I am wondering if the cake part freezes well?

    • #
      Rachel — March 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      I imagine they’d freeze fairly well without the frosting. Just be sure to wrap them well.

  33. #
    LauraRose — March 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I love that you assure us no stringy carrots! I too used to dislike carrot cake for that. Those sound good. I like that it’s written for 6 cupcakes, but I need 18. Can I just triple it? Hope so. About to do it now.

    P.S. look for a chocolate zucchini cupcake recipe, and grind up the zucchini real small. Not vegetably at all! My recipe is from the ReBar cafe cookbook (in Victoria, B.C.)

    • #
      Rachel — March 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Yes, you should easily be able to increase the quantities with this recipe – especially since it’s for cupcakes! :) And thanks for the chocolate zucchini idea. I’ll keep that in mind :)

  34. #
    LauraRose — March 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Ummm.. Still not clear on the butter question!

    Oh, and I like the text on the photos if it is easy to read and doesn’t.t cover the picture, it helps me find the pin

  35. #
    LauraRose — March 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Oh! Read the comments again and got it (no butter in the cake), but FYI the recipe directions still say cream butter, applesauce and oil in the first step. ;)

    • #
      Rachel — March 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Sorry! I updated but it apparently didn’t save well. Hopefully it’s fixed for good this time ;)

  36. #
    Mar — March 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I plan on making these, can you do them as mini cup cakes..assuming that you can, was figuring the cook time to be 7 or 8 mins… what do you think or will this work ty

    • #
      Rachel — March 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      I haven’t personally made this into mini cupcakes but you shouldn’t have a problem. I believe 1 regular cupcake typically equals 2-3 minis. As for bake time, I would start out by cutting it in half as you mentioned. It’s always best to start there and continue cooking longer as needed.

  37. #
    Susan — April 12, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I am a big fan of carrot cake and these look so good! THANK YOU for a recipe yielding only six cupcakes. I pass on so many recipes because my husband and I don’t need two dozen cupcakes tempting us. BTW, I used to be the same way about zucchini until I found a wonderful zucchini quick bread recipe. Love the blog. :)

    • #
      Rachel — April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Thanks so much! And that is the exact reason I love to try to make small batches, especially for things like cupcakes! I don’t need that many lying around taunting me. :)

  38. #
    Rachel — November 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I am not a big carrot cake fan but these were the best cupcakes and frosting ever. My friend and I gobbled them up! I think hubby got one out of the whole batch…So the only complaint I have is the yield should be about four times greater. :) I did make half the amount of icing and there was still plenty.

    • #
      Rachel — November 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Haha there could definitely be worse complaints! So glad you enjoyed them! :)

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