Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These carrot cake cupcakes are topped with delicious, maple syrup-sweetened cream cheese frosting. They make fantastic Easter desserts, but are equally delicious any time of the year! Made with unrefined sugar substitutes, these delicious cupcakes have fewer calories and low carb diet friendly.

frosted carrot cake cupcakes garnished with walnuts

With just two people in the house, I tend to make cupcake recipes more often than full-size cakes. This way, there’s less chance of waste. Plus, cupcakes are easier to eat and to store in the fridge.

We are really just on team cupcakes. 

What’s the difference between cupcakes and muffins?

Yes, friend, there really is a difference between cupcakes and muffins. Allow me to explain.

  • Muffins are eaten for breakfast and cupcakes are for dessert. Okay, this is sort of a cheater’s answer, but it is true!
  • Technically, muffins are quick bread made without yeast. The batter is created using the muffin mixing method. This means, combining the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In comparison, cupcakes are a miniature version of a traditional cake recipe. Most often, the ingredients are combined at high speed, using an electric mixer. This incorporates air into the batter, causing the cupcakes to rise higher than muffins do.
  • Typically, cupcakes are made in a sweet form, whereas muffins can be sweet (ie, blueberry) or savory (ie, cornbread).
  • Cupcakes almost always have frosting on top, while muffins are left plain, or have a crumble or streusel topping.
  • Since cupcakes usually have frosting on top, they’re baked just to the top of the liners. In the case of muffins, their tops are larger in comparison to their body size. Muffin tops are my favorite!
carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

How do you make moist carrot cake cupcakes?

  1. Start with room temperature ingredients. Before you start making the cupcakes, make sure that all of the ingredients are at room temperature. I mean everything, including the refrigerated ingredients (eggs, yogurt, carrots, cream cheese, etc.) As a result, the ingredients will be easier to incorporate, creating cupcakes with a light texture.
  2. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet and add the carrots on top of that, then stir to combine.
  3. Don’t over mix the ingredients. Mix your ingredients together just until they’re combined. If you over mix them, you’ll end up with cupcakes that are dry and dense.

Can I substitute applesauce for oil in carrot cake cupcakes?

Yes! Applesauce makes a fantastic healthy substitute for oil or butter in baked goods. When I want to make healthier carrot cake cupcakes, I use avocado oil and a natural, unrefined sugar substitute. My favorites are monk fruit sugar and organic Erythritol. Both of them are easy to substitute, 1 cup for 1 cup.
When I make them with the substitutes, the cupcakes have fewer calories and sugar than traditional carrot cake cupcakes. However, the fat content is still pretty high.

For low-fat cupcakes, substitute unsweetened applesauce, in an amount equal to the oil called for in the recipe.

How are these cupcakes low carb friendly?

These cupcakes can be made with traditional sugar or sugar-free alternatives. So if you are trying to stay on the lower carb side of things like we are we’ve tested out with sugar-free alternatives and it is fantastic! 

This is a oldie but goodie recipe of ours so it’s been tested out both ways – sugar and sugar alternatives.. I’ve got to say it’s a tie. Both ways these are delicious. 

For the carrot cake cupcakes you’ll want to use a blend of erythritol and brown swerve. We link that into the recipe cards. 

For the cream cheese frosting you’ll want to use powdered sweetener. And then if you’d like a kick of maple syrup flavor you can use a maple extract.

carrot cake cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting, sitting on a wood platter

How to make mini-sized carrot cake cupcakes

To bake smaller cupcakes, use a mini muffin pan instead of a standard-sized pan. Line the pan with paper liners and reduce the baking time to 10-15 minutes total. Afterr 10 minutes, check the cupcakes for doneness.

To do this, insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, or with a few dry crumbs, the cupcakes are ready. If the toothpick comes out wet, continue baking for a few minutes.

More ways to bake with carrots

Here are a few more delicious, sweet carrot recipes of mine. The recipe links are below the images. Enjoy!

frosted carrot cake cupcakes garnished with walnuts

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These carrot cake cupcakes are topped with a delicious, maple syrup-sweetened cream cheese frosting! They’re great to serve as Easter desserts, but equally delicious any time of the year!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes
Calories 242 kcal


  • 2.5 cups (10.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups erythritol ( or granulated sugar)
  • .5 cup brown sugar sweetener like brown swerve ( or light brown sugar)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 ounces avocado oil or vegetable oil
  • 0.5 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups very finely shredded carrots I like to use a box grater or food processor
  • 0.5 cup chopped walnuts or other nut of your choice

For Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • .5 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar substitute (or powdered sweetener)
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or sugar-free syrup (use more as needed, to create desired frosting consistency)


  • Heat oven to 350° F. Line 24 standard-sized muffin pan wells with paper liners; set aside.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer that’s been fitted with a paddle attachment, or using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs for 2 minutes, until light and frothy. Add in sugar, oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Slowly add in flour mixture; stir until combined. Fold in carrots and walnuts.
  • Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 2-3 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and allow them to cool completely before applying the frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Place cream cheese and butter into large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use an electric hand mixer. Beat on high speed until well combined, stopping mixer to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Turn speed to low and slowly mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add in vanilla and mix until combined. Start with 2 Tablespoons of syrup and combine. If frosting appears too stiff, mix in 1 teaspoon of additional syrup at a time until desired consistency is reached.


  • Some of the ingredients for this recipe are low glycemic sugar alternatives. The nutritional information reflects this. If you prefer, feel free to use traditional sugars.


Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 242kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 4gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 162mgPotassium: 136mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2970IUVitamin C: 0.9mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Mention @itsyummi or tag #itsyummirecipe!


  1. Ummm…I love cupcakes. Maybe more than I love cookies. And I have a secret love affair going on with carrot cake (sshhh…don’t tell my wife!). I’m pretty sure these carrot cake cupcakes are my new not-so-secret love affair. Looks delicious!!

    1. I’m all over that love affair with carrot cake, Dude! This cupcake recipe is perfect for people like us.. we slip them in unnoticed. Your secret’s safe with me!

  2. I am trying to get over my shock after reading that “Muffins are for breakfast and cupcakes are for dessert” what if they have carrots – I protest! I am gonna have to eat your carrot and walnut “muffakes” with a huge side of that maple cream cheese frosting while I ponder…

    1. First off… muffakes = best name ever for this dessert! Secondly, because you’re such an incredible friend and amazing blogger, I think you should be allowed to eat whatever you want for breakfast, Shashi. Let’s go on a breakfast cruise! Now serving carrot cake cupcakes on the Lido deck!

  3. I always forget about the sponge method. I am working on a bundt right now and I think that may be the solution. It is too dense, and I am using the muffin method. Totally glad I read this today! Love these cupcakes. Pinned!

    1. Thanks so much, Katie! I think the muffin method is so quick and easy that it’s used more than any other, but spending a couple of extra minutes on your bundt recipe could really help it “rise” to the occasion. 😉 Good luck!

  4. 5 stars
    WOW!! Best carrot cake cupcakes I’ve ever had and I’ve tried dozens. Carrot cake is my favorite too. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    1. Oh goodness, Rachel. Your thoughtful comment just totally made my day. Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment and rate my recipe. <3

  5. Hi, the cupcakes look so good… can the cream cheese frosting be kept overnight? and how long can they stay outside unrefrigerated?

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Chris!
      If you store the cream cheese frosting in a covered container in the fridge, it should keep well for at least 5 days and maybe even up to 7. If the cream cheese is close to the expiration date when you make the frosting, ignore everything I just said. 😉
      As far as leaving the cupcakes at room temperature, I’m going to error on the side of caution here. Taking the dairy products into consideration, I don’t recommend leaving them out of the fridge for more than 4 hours.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and please come back to let me know what you think of the recipe!

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