Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

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These carrot cake cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting are a dream! They are moist and dense, perfectly spiced, and filled with crunchy pecans and sweet raisins. Topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting, these are the best carrot cake cupcakes!

Carrot cake cupcakes on a plate with frosting.

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Carrot cake has to be one of my top favorite desserts. It was my birthday cake for several years and these carrot cupcakes are super adorable. These moist carrot cake cupcakes are topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting that is made with smooth cream cheese, brown sugar, and rich vanilla flavor. It really makes these delicious cupcakes even better. 

These cupcakes are great for the holidays, to celebrate spring, or whenever you are craving a spiced carrot cake. 

Carrot cupcake topped with frosting with bite taken out.

Need more dessert ideas? Check out these cakes and cupcakes next!

  • Banana Bread Bundt cake

Recipe Ingredients

Freshly grated carrots –  don’t use pre-shredded carrots because the flavor won’t be as good. You can use a box grater or this Kitchen Aid Shredder attachment is very helpful!

Chopped pecans – Add a nutty crunch to the cupcakes. You could use chopped walnuts instead. 

Raisins – Regular or golden raisins add some sweetness and go well with the carrots and pecans.

Flour – Regular all-purpose flour. 

Spices – ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg.

Baking powder –  A leavening agent rises the cupcakes making them fluffy.

Baking soda – Interacts with the sour cream to also provide a lift to the cupcakes. 

Brown sugar – adds moistness and sweetens the cupcakes. 

Pure vanilla extract – adds wonderful flavor to the cupcakes. 

Sour cream – Provides moistness and a slightly tangy flavor. 

Melted butter – Can also use vegetable oil for a lighter texture. 

Eggs – 2 large eggs are used to bind all the ingredients together. Use at room temperature.

Granulated sugar – I use cane sugar but regular white sugar is fine. 

Cream cheese frosting ingredients – cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar.

Cream cheese frosting ingredients on a table.

How to Make The Homemade Carrot Cake Cupcakes

All ingredients, measurements, and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step one. Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lining a muffin pan with paper liners. 

Step two. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground ginger. Set aside.

Brown sugar mixed with butter in a bowl.
Eggs mixed with the brown sugar and butter.

Step three. In a large mixing bowl combine the melted butter or vegetable oil, brown sugar, and cane sugar. Mix until the oil doesn’t look separated anymore. Then add in the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. 

Carrot cupcakes batter in a bowl with a spoon.
Sour cream mixed with the carrot cupcakes batter.

Step four. Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Don’t over-mix, combine just until there aren’t any more flour streaks. The dough will be thick. Then add in the sour cream. 

Carrot cupcakes batter with grated carrots on top.
Carrot muffins with shredded carrots, chopped nuts, and raisins.

Step five. Fold in the grated carrots, chopped pecans, and raisins. 

Mixed carrot cake muffins batter in a bowl.
Muffin batter in a muffin tin.

Step six. Fill each cupcake liner with 2 – 3 tablespoons of batter, and then level out the batter so you’ll have smooth tops. Then bake the carrot cupcakes in a preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until they are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

Baked carrot cupcakes on a wire rack.

How to Make Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

Whipped butter in a stand mixer.
Butter whipped with cream cheese in a stand mixer.
Brown sugar on top of whipped cream cheese in a stand mixer bowl.

Step one. To the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add softened butter. Mix until smooth on medium speed, then add the softened cream cheese, and mix until smooth.

Finally add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Mixing until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed. 

Close up of brown sugar cream cheese frosting in a bowl.
Whipped brown sugar frosting on a stand mixer paddle attachment.

Step two. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl until everything is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Allow the frosting to chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes for piping for best results. 

Step three. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip halfway with the cream cheese frosting. Frost the cooled cupcakes and then top them with chopped pecans. Serve and enjoy!

Overhead image of frosted cupcakes.
Carrot cake cupcakes on a plate with chopped nuts on top.

Variations

Nuts – Use chopped walnuts instead of pecans.

Raisin – You can use golden raisins if you like.

Brown sugar – You can make homemade brown sugar by combining regular cane sugar with 1 – 2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses.

Melted butter – Use vegetable oil instead. 

Recommended Tools

Cupcake liners

Stand mixer or electric hand mixer

2 tablespoon cookie scoop for measuring out the cupcake batter evenly

Piping bag and large star tip

Side view of frosted cupcakes with chopped nuts on top.

Pro Tips

  • The best way to measure the flour is by fluffing the flour then spooning it into a cup measuring the spoon then scraping off the excess. This way you get a more accurate measurement. 
  • Sift the powdered sugar so you don’t end up with chunks of powdered sugar in your frosting. 
  • Make sure the cream cheese and butter are both softened to room temperature before making the frosting. Let them sit on the counter for at least 1 hour before making the frosting to ensure everything mixes well and you don’t end up with any lumps. 
  • Allow frosting to chill and set up in the fridge before frosting cupcakes if the texture is too soft. 
  • Sometimes it can be hard to pipe the frosting if it’s too firm or too soft. If your frosting is too firm allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. If too soft put it into the fridge for 20 minutes or until it has reached the right texture. 
  • The cupcake batter will be thick but if it’s too thick add in an additional 2 – 3 tablespoons of sour cream.

How To Store

Wrap unfrosted cupcakes individually with plastic wrap to keep them fresh.

Store cupcakes in the freezer for several weeks in a freezer-safe plastic bag or freezer-safe container.

Store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days tightly wrapped with plastic wrap or in an air-tight container.

Frequently Asked Questions  —

Why add cream cheese to frosting?

Cream cheese not only tastes amazing but adds richness to the frosting. It also helps the frosting to not be too sweet because of the natural tanginess of the cream cheese. 

Does cream cheese need to be room temperature for frosting?

Yes! This is a step that must not be skipped! If the cream cheese isn’t completely softened at room temperature you can end up with frosting with chunks of pure cream cheese it in it. The texture will the lumpy instead of smooth like we want. 

What thickens cream cheese frosting?

Adding more powdered sugar will help the frosting thicken and set up better, as well as, refrigerating the frosting. If you allow it to chill for 20 – 30 minutes it will become thicker and easier to use to frost cupcakes. 

Should I use vegetable oil or melted butter for carrot cupcakes?

Vegetable oil is usually used to make carrot cake cupcakes because it gives them a moist and light texture. I like to use melted butter sometimes because I like the flavor it gives to the cupcakes, but they can turn out with a denser texture.

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Carrot cake cupcakes on a plate with chopped nuts on top.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

These carrot cake cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting are a dream! They are moist and dense, perfectly spiced, and filled with crunchy pecans and sweet raisins. Topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting, these are the best carrot cake cupcakes!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 22 cupcakes
Calories: 282kcal

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • teaspoon ground ginger
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream room temperature*
  • 1 ½ cups carrots 3 - 4 carrots shredded
  • ¼ cup pecans chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions 

How To Make The Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside. 
  • In another large mix together melted butter and sugar until combined, then add in the eggs, and mix until combined.
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until there aren’t any more flour streaks, then add in the sour cream. Mix until combined
  • Fold in the shredded carrots, chopped pecans, and raisins. 
  • Fill each muffin liner ¾ of the way full. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow resting until completely cool.

Making the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese. Mix on the low setting until creamy, then add in the butter.
  • Next add in the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. 
  • Next, add in the powdered sugar. Beat until well combined. If the frosting is too soft store it in the refrigerator for 20 - 30 minutes before piping it onto each cupcake.
  • Fit a piping bag with a star attachment then pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Top with more chopped nuts or raisins if you like. Enjoy!

Notes

*The cupcake batter will be a little thick but if it's too thick add in an additional 2 - 3 tablespoons of sour cream.
Wrap unfrosted cupcakes individually with plastic wrap to keep them fresh.
Store cupcakes in the freezer for several weeks in a freezer-safe plastic bag or freezer-safe container.
Store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days tightly wrapped with plastic wrap or in an air-tight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 1715IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutrition information is automatically generated and should be only used as a rough estimate. This recipe card may contain affiliate links.

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