Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Jump to Carrot Cupcake Recipe

I can’t believe spring break is almost over and Easter is here on Sunday! I fully intended to have an Easter recipe blogged earlier in the week but I’ve been playing catch-up after having the flu so here it is now. Better late than never I suppose. I’m very happy to be back to normal after feeling like a complete waste of space for an entire week!

These cupcakes are great any time of year but I think they’re especially appropriate for Easter, you know, ’cause of the carrots. Besides, I got a little carried away at Costco and bought a 10 lb bag (I know, I’m appropriately embarrassed) so this probably isn’t the last carrot recipe you’ll be seeing.

I adapted this recipe from the one I used at the restaurant when I’d make the very popular three layer carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. I decided it didn’t need nearly as much sugar or oil as the original so I cut the sugar in half, the oil by two thirds and added one cup of unsweetened applesauce to make up the difference. Worked beautifully. They still are super moist and Bob couldn’t tell there was anything different about them. If you want to skip the frosting and cupcake liners, these make great muffins too. Not sure why you’d want to do that because then you wouldn’t have the lemon cream cheese frosting but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Happy Spring to all and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!


Carrot Cupcakes

(makes 2 dozen cupcakes)

1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup coconut sugar and 1/2 cup cane sugar)
1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or coconut oil (melt the coconut oil first but make sure it’s not warm)
1 cup applesauce, no sugar added
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour, whole wheat or all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
4 cups carrots, grated (about 4 – 6 carrots)
1 cup coconut, sweetened flakes

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Peel carrots and trim ends. Grate in a food processor or with box grater until you have 4 cups.

peeling carrots
shredded carrots

Place sugar, oil, and applesauce in mixing bowl.

organic applesauce
oil, sugar, and applesauce

Mix on medium speed until well combined.

oil, applesauce, and eggs

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Make sure you crack each egg in a separate bowl before adding it to the mixing bowl. Add vanilla extract.

cupcake batter

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg (whole and fresh grated if you have it) in a medium/large work bowl.

dry ingredients for carrot cake
dry ingredients for carrot cake

On low speed, gradually add flour mixture to applesauce mixture and mix until well combined.

carrot cupcake batter

On low/medium speed, mix in carrots and coconut until well combined.

carrot cupcake batter

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full of batter.

carrot cupcakes

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a tester comes clean, also they should bounce back a bit when you press the top with your finger (that’s how I check).

carrot cupcakes

Immediately, remove from pan and allow to cool on a rack or heat-proof countertop. They must cool completely before frosting.

carrot cupcakes

Place softened cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat on medium/high speed until smooth, scraping sides occasionally. It’s really important both the cream cheese and the butter are softened to room temperature. Otherwise, they won’t blend together as well and you might have lumpy frosting.

lemon cream cheese frosting

Gradually, add butter and mix on medium/high speed until well combined, scraping sides occasionally. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract.

lemon cream cheese frosting

On low speed, slowly add powdered sugar.

lemon cream cheese frosting

Increase speed and mix until smooth and fluffy.

lemon cream cheese frosting

If you want to get a little fancy, prepare a disposable pastry bag by cutting off the end and fitting in a large frosting tip then fill it with frosting.

disposable pastry bag
placing tip in frosting bag
filling frosting bag

Pipe frosting on cooled cupcakes or use a small butter knife or offset spatula to frost them.

piping frosting

Instead of the predictable carrot on top, I decided to use some coconut and a jelly bean on top to make it more festive for Easter. Refrigerate the cupcakes and take them out about 15 minutes before serving.

garnishing carrot cupcakes
Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

You will have leftover frosting. It will keep in the fridge for a few days. I suggest making graham cracker sandwiches with it and freezing them. So good…

“Spring is the time of plans and projects”
Leo Tolstoy