My Search for the Best Carrot Cupcakes
I’m still on what seems to be a never ending quest for the best carrot cupcakes — a recipe so good I’ll stop looking for others. Those recipes are hard to find for avid recipe collectors, but every so often I do stumble upon the “perfect” recipe and stop looking. Just not often.
My Ideal Carrot Cupcake
For the “best carrot cupcakes” the qualities would be sweet, but not cloying so; dense rather that light, and stuffed with lots of nuts, pineapples and maybe even a golden raisin or two. These cupcakes fit that description, though I have on occasion forgotten the pineapple. I also like carrot cakes that are very brown. This is usually not due to brown sugar, but rather baking soda. Baking soda makes things brown.
The batter starts with one of the most ubiquitous carrot cake recipes out there. You may recognize it as the one that calls for 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 cups of sugar, and the 1 1/2 cups of oil that people just love to cut in half or replace with applesauce. The only place where I could find reviewers who mostly stuck to the recipe was King Arthur’s site. King Arthur’s recipe uses the same proportions as this one, though they use granulated sugar in place of brown and throw in other spices.
Best Carrot Cupcakes Ingredients
So here’s the recipe as I made it. I used a mixture of melted butter and oil for the fat, kept the spice to just one (cinnamon), and added pineapples and finely chopped nuts, which are definitely a prerequisite to my ultimate carrot cupcake. These cupcakes are quite good, and I especially like that they are made with half butter and half oil. The butter adds flavor and makes the texture seem less oily. This recipe is also super easy because you just stir everything together in a bowl.
Carrot Cupcake Updates
So are they the best carrot cupcakes? Well, they are very good! You’ll have to try them and let me know. Some changes I’ve made over the years: I don’t always toast walnuts. Pecans, yes — walnuts, no. These cupcakes have flat tops so I fill the cupcake wrappers a little higher and get a solid two dozen, even when I leave out the pineapple. And finally, I’ve added a cream cheese icing. The old version said pick your favorite. You can do that, but I’ve gone ahead and included my favorite.
Best Carrot Cupcakes (For Now)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt (1/4 if using salted butter)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar (200 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (170 grams)
- 3 cups grated and finely chopped carrots (320 grams)
- 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts finely chopped
- 8 oz can crushed pineapple drained dry, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened (240 grams)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (114 grams)
- 2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (280 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the oil and melted butter and stir until mixed, then add the flour mixture and stir until mixed. Stir in the carrots, nuts and pineapple.
- Line about 32 cupcake cups with liners Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes, or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool on a rack and frost with your favorite cream cheese icing
Cream Cheese Icing
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until blended. Don't overbeat or the cream cheese icing may become droopy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the side of the bowl often. Beat in vanilla.
I love Ina Garten’s Carrot Cupcakes, whenever I make it I lessen the sugar and I use joyofbaking.com Cream Cheese Icing.
Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat
I love carrot cake! One of my favorites. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
The only carrot cake I’ve ever made is the Silver Palate Cookbook cake. We like it a lot. good luck with this quest!
I guiltily raise my hand as one of those people who likes to replace some of the oil with applesauce or Greek yogurt. But I swear, I can’t tell the difference.
My favorite carrot cake was one they used to serve at a cafe near my university that was not very sweet, probably had molasses, was full of raisins, and had cream cheese icing that was super-rich but had almost no sugar in it. I wish I could tell my student self to ask for the recipe!
Caley, thanks for the link! That one looks good. I’ve tried a lot of carrot cakes, but I want to try them all as cupcakes and keep better track of what I like and what I don’t like. I’ll have to put Sally’s on the list. Right now the ones I plan to try are
1. The Silver Palate Cookbook Carrot Cake (3 cups flour, 3 cups sugar, uses cooked carrots)
2. King Arthur’s Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake ( a lot like the one in this post, but with less sugar and some baking powder.
3. Sam’s Carrot Cake (on allrecipes.com and in Southern Living – -the one with buttermilk).
4. Rabbit’s Carrot Cake from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook (Made in food processor, has baking powder, supposed to be crumblier that the others).