Vegan Carrot Cupcakes
These vegan carrot cupcakes are perfectly spiced, topped with tangy cream cheese frosting, and everything you love about the traditional recipe—minus the eggs and dairy!
I love my vegan carrot cake recipe, but sometimes you don’t need a whole cake—sometimes you want a perfect individually-portioned treat!
Well, if you want your carrot cake in vegan carrot cupcake form, you’re in luck, because I’ve converted my classic carrot cake recipe into cupcakes! They’re a great addition to any party or celebration, but you can totally make them for yourself and stash some in the freezer for whenever you have a craving. (They freeze beautifully, by the way!)
The cupcakes start with a dense, spiced carrot cake base; because traditional carrot cake is always made with oil and tends to be denser than a vanilla cake or chocolate cake, you can easily make it vegan by swapping the eggs for applesauce. Then, they’re capped off with a swirl of homemade vegan cream cheese frosting, which you may recognize from my red velvet cupcakes. If you’re not concerned about appearances, you can spread the frosting on with an offset spatula instead of piping it, but trust me when I say you’re going to want a generous amount on each cupcake because it’s that good.
Garnish each cupcake with toasted walnuts, or get creative and pipe a carrot onto the top!
Notes on Ingredients
Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.
For the cupcakes:
- All-purpose flour – Sift the flour after measuring it.
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Sea salt
- Solid refined coconut oil – Make sure you measure the oil while it’s solid; if your kitchen is hot and it’s melted in the jar, you can pop it in the fridge for a bit.
- Brown sugar
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Vanilla extract
- Finely grated carrots – You’ll need about 3 large carrots.
- Chopped walnuts – Toast the nuts by placing them in a skillet over medium heat; remove them from the pan when they’re fragrant and darken.
For the vegan cream cheese frosting:
- Vegan cream cheese – This should be chilled.
- Vegan butter – And this should be room temperature!
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar – Sift the powdered sugar to prevent lumps in your frosting.
- Chopped walnuts – These are optional.
Do Raisins Belong in Carrot Cake?
Raisins are one of those love-‘em-or-hate-‘em types of foods, so the answer to this question depends on who you ask! Raisins are one of several add-ins that are used in traditional carrot cake recipes, so if you like them in your cake, you can definitely add them to the batter.
What Can I Substitute for Eggs in Carrot Cake?
In this carrot cupcake recipe, I’ve substituted applesauce for the eggs. This swap works well because unlike other cakes that depend on the protein from eggs for scaffolding, carrot cake is naturally dense and doesn’t rise as much—and it means you don’t have to try to find an egg substitute at your grocery store or make flax eggs!
How to Make Vegan Carrot Cupcakes
You can either make these all in one go, or break things up and make the cupcakes one day and frost them the next.
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350℉/180ºC and place cupcake liners into your muffin/cupcake pan.
Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients. Place the coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and melt it in the microwave by heating in 15-second bursts. Pour the melted oil into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract until combined, about 2-3 minutes.
Finish the cupcake batter. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet mixture, then fold in the shredded carrots and nuts.
Fill the cupcake pan. Working quickly, divide the batter between the 24 cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full.
Bake. Place the pan in the centre of the middle rack in your oven. Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes.
Cool. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract and salt, followed by the powdered sugar, working one cup at a time. Once the first cup is incorporated, add the next, then another. When the frosting reaches your desired sweetness and consistency, stop there; otherwise, add more sugar.
Refrigerate the frosting. Place the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to allow it to thicken a bit.
Frost the cupcakes. Use a piping bag or offset spatula to frost the cupcakes, then garnish with the toasted walnuts, if you’re using them.
Tips for Success
Here are some hints and tips for perfect vegan carrot cupcakes!
- Perfect portioning. You can use an ice cream or cookie dough scoop to help make sure your cupcakes all have equal amounts of batter. This ensures they’ll all be done baking at the same time!
- Removing air bubbles. Gently tap the pan on the counter three times by lifting and tapping down slightly to remove any air bubbles from the batter before baking.
- Getting pipe-able frosting. If you plan on piping the frosting, you’ll need it to be nice and thick. I recommend using all 4 cups of powdered sugar for a stiffness that’s conducive to piping.
How to Store
Store your vegan carrot cupcakes in an airtight storage container the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let the cupcakes come to room temperature before serving.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Freeze carrot cupcakes by putting them on a baking sheet uncovered and placing this in the freezer. As soon as the frosting is frozen solid, transfer the cupcakes to an airtight storage container or freezer bag. Thaw the cupcakes in the refrigerator before serving.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan carrot cupcake recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Carrot Cupcakes
For the cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, 270g
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup solid *refined* coconut oil, 200g
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar, 300g
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, 250g
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups finely grated carrots, about 3 large carrots (288g)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (112g)
For the vegan cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese, cold from the fridge
- ½ cup vegan butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup cornstarch, sifted (32g)
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (480g)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line muffin cups with cupcake liners or foil bake cups.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
- Place the coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the oil in the microwave by heating in 15-second bursts, then stir in the sugar, applesauce and the vanilla extract until thoroughly combined, at least 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture, then fold in the shredded carrots, and nuts.
- Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake liners (about ⅔ ‘s full). You can use an ice cream scoop to help! Tap the cupcake pan on the counter three times (lift and tap down slightly) to remove any excess air bubbles before baking.
- Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and in the center of that rack. Bake for 20-22 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- After cooled, frost with vegan cream cheese frosting and some walnuts. Enjoy!
To make the frosting and assemble:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes, or until fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract and salt, followed by the sifted cornstarch and powdered sugar. Once the first cup is incorporated, add the next, then the next. If the frosting has reached your desired sweetness and consistency, stop there. If not, add the fourth cup of sugar. I usually add all 4 cups to reach a stiffness that I can pipe.
- Refrigerate the bowl of frosting for at least 15 minutes before using.
- Set one of the cake layers on a cake plate or lazy Susan. Frost the top of the first layer and set the second layer on top. Then, frost the sides and top of the cake. Garnish with nuts or decorate any way you like and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving to set the frosting.
- If storing in the fridge, wrap the cake in saran wrap.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.