These Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Frosting are moist, fluffy and delicious. Instead of wintery spices like carrot cake, these cupcakes are flavored with zesty orange. Perfect for Springtime.
Orange and Carrot Cupcakes are moist, fluffy, zingy and delicious. They're a hidden vegetable dessert and they taste absolutely divine.
Top them with a simple homemade orange frosting for a perfect orange themed treat everyone will love.
Carrot cakes tend to be spicy and autumnal with cinnamon and nuts, but I'm desperate to see the first glimpse of spring so I've made these carrot cupcakes light and bright with a citrus tang.
They taste like orange cupcakes, but with all the goodness from the carrot.
Carrots are probably the least curious of the vegetables to go into desserts so these cupcakes won't surprise anyone quite as much as pea and lemon cupcakes, but they will surely be pleased with the moist texture and unusual, refreshing take on carrot cake.
Grating the carrot finely will ensure that lovely bright colour and smoother texture of the cake.
Making desserts out of vegetables is one of my favorite things to do. Heck, I've even written a vegetable desserts cookbook!
I love how vegetables add to the complexity of the flavors as well as bold colors to my baked goods.
Carrots are a bit of an entry-level vegetable dessert recipe because we're all so used to (and love) carrot cake. You can't taste the carrot, and the flavor fades beneath the spices.
For these carrot cupcakes, I wanted something different than carrot cake cupcakes. Instead, I've let the carrots shine through, making bright orange cupcakes (naturally), and paired it with zesty orange.
Carrots are a great vegetable to add to desserts because they have a natural sweetness and produce a beautiful orange color that looks wonderful when presented and tastes even more delicious.
I hope that you'll love these Orange Carrot Cupcakes as much as we do!
This carrot cupcakes recipe was originally published on February 19 2014, and republished on February 4 2021 with new text and images.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
The flavors of orange and carrot compliment each other beautifully making a rich orange dessert that is refreshing and hearty at the same time.
It’s a great dessert to make for Spring or Easter celebrations. They're also perfect for a Beatrix Potter or bunny themed party.
There are many nutritional benefits eating carrots and oranges including a healthy dose of Vitamin C.
It uses simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
The cupcakes and frosting are made from scratch making them a healthier dessert option.
The natural sweetness of the carrots mean there's a little less sugar in the cupcakes.
You can make a large batch for a crowd or party and freeze some for later!
Carrots - Carrots are the star of these cupcakes giving them a naturally sweet and earthy taste as well as a beautiful orange color.
Butter - Butter helps give these cupcakes a wonderful dense texture and buttery flavor.
Granulated Sugar - Granulated helps give the cupcakes a sweet flavor.
Eggs - Binds the cupcake batter together so they bake up nicely.
Vanilla Extract - Gives the cupcakes a subtle vanilla flavor to bring out the flavor of the oranges and carrots.
Orange Zest - Brightens up the frosting to help give the cupcakes a refreshing zingy flavor.
All Purpose Flour - (aka plain flour) This makes up the dry ingredient base of the cupcakes and provides structure.
Baking Powder - Will help the cupcakes rise and get beautifully fluffy.
Salt - Balances all the flavors in baked goods.
For The Orange Frosting
Butter - Gives the frosting a creamy rich buttercream texture.
Icing Sugar - Powdered icing sugar (aka confectioner's sugar) is the perfect texture to make a smooth icing that is perfect to top a cupcake.
Orange Juice - A splash of orange juice adds a bright citrus flavor that lightens up the entire dessert.
How to make carrot cupcakes
Follow this step by step photo tutorial, then scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and method.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Line or grease a muffin tray.
Peel and finely grate the carrots and zest the orange. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Then beat in the carrot, vanilla and orange zest.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir gently.
Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Frost when the cupcakes are completely cooled.
Orange Frosting Directions
In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until thick. Add enough of the orange juice to make it a frosting consistency.
Do not overfill the muffin tins as the batter may overflow while baking.
Don’t overmix the batter. Mix just enough until all ingredients are incorporated and cupcake batter is smooth.
For best results, use the small side of your grater to grate the carrots so there are not big shreds in the cupcake. You can also do this in a food processor.
The cupcakes must be completely cooled before they are frosted. If the cupcake is still warm, the icing may melt off of the cupcake.
Bring to an Easter gathering along with this Italian Braided Easter Bread.
Serve at brunch with this Vegan Smoked Salmon on bagels.
Looks great alongside this easy Carrot Hummus.
Serve them as dessert after this refreshing Spinach Strawberry Salad.
Add your favorite chopped nuts to the batter such as pecans or walnuts.
Sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg into the batter for warming flavor, more reminiscent of a carrot cake cupcake.
Add in your favorite dried fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries.
Add ½ cup of fresh crushed pineapple into the batter for additional natural sweetness and texture.
To Make Gluten Free: To make this recipe gluten free, use a gluten free flour blend that contains xanthan gum.
To Make It Vegan: Make these cupcakes vegan by using a vegan butter substitute and also an egg replacer in the batter. Try flax eggs: mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water and leave to thicken for 5 mins.
NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. If you have a food allergy or intolerance you should determine whether the ingredients in each recipe are suitable for you.
Storing: Store cooled cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.
Freezing: These cupcakes can be frozen (unfrosted) in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or countertop until the cupcakes come to temperature.
Can I use applesauce instead of oil? Applesauce is a common substitute for oil in baked goods. We have not tested this out, but let us know if it works!
Should I cook the carrots before adding them to the batter? By cooking the carrots you’ll likely end up with a puree that will change the texture of the cupcake. It’s best to grate the carrots thinly and add them raw.
Can I make a carrot loaf with the batter? We have not tested this in a greased or parchment-lined loaf pan but our advice would be to half the amount of baking powder and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
More Vegatable Cupcake Recipes
More Carrot Recipes
Have some more carrots left over after making these Carrot Cupcakes? Why not try these other creative carrot recipes!
Carrot Jam - based on an old recipe from 1893.
Carrot Curry - a simple lentil and carrot curry that's easy and delicious.
Maple Glazed Carrots with Cayenne
Carrot Lox - vegan salmon made with baked and seasoned carrots.
Carrot Pizza - with carrots in the crust and the sauce!
Try this easy Carrot Hummus.
Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Icing
For the cupcakes:
- 2 medium carrots (250g, 2 cups grated)
- ⅔ cup (150g) butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the icing:
- ⅓ cup (75g) butter at room temperature
- 2 ¼ cups (250g) powdered icing sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Line or grease a muffin tray.
- Peel and finely grate the carrots. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the carrot, vanilla and orange zest.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.
- Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with the icing when cold.
For the icing:
- In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until thick. Add enough of the orange juice to make it a frosting consistency.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.