Spiced Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes

originally published 5.2.2019 | updated 3.24.2023

Baked with the rich spices of masala chai and topped with cream cheese frosting, these coconut carrot cake cupcakes are sweet, moist and full of flavor!

I’ve never been a huge fan of cake — traditional wedding cake, birthday cake — it’s just not for me. If I’m going to make a cake or cupcakes, I prefer them to have a bit more flavor and texture, which is probably why I love carrot cake!

For Easter, I decided to make mini carrot cakes with a few twists! I flavored the batter with more spices than your average carrot cake by adding warming chai spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom. Then I added coconut flakes to up the sweetness. And finally, because these coconut carrot cake cupcakes still aren’t overly sweet, I paired them with an easy cream cheese frosting for the perfect finish!

Overhead view of cupcakes showing texture of one cupcake

The Spices

So let’s talk about the spices. To get the warmth of masala chai, we use a blend of the following:

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom

Do you need to use all of them? Nope — if you’re missing one or two of the spices you could definitely just add a bit more cinnamon or ginger.

Ingredients to make carrot cake cupcakes with coconut

Shredding Carrots for Carrot Cake

Now onto the carrots. For the perfect texture, we recommend first peeling the carrots and then shredding them on the small holes of a box grater. You’ll need about four medium carrots to get 1.5 cups (180 g) of shredded carrots.

Make sure to stay away from pre-shredded carrots as they can be quite dry. Freshly shredded carrots add a ton of moisture to the batter and are definitely the way to go for this recipe.

Making the Cupcakes

Once you’ve rounded up your spices and shredded the carrots, the cupcake batter comes together quickly!

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients: vegetable oil, eggs, brown sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract. Then combine with the dry ingredients.
  3. Fold in the shredded coconut and shredded carrots.

Then just divide the batter among a cupcake tin and bake! You’ll need about 20-25 minutes at 350°F (180°C). The cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean (a few dry crumbs are okay).

Cream Cheese Frosting

And the perfect sidekick for your carrot cake cupcakes? Cream cheese frosting of course! It’s made with just five ingredients: cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, salt and powdered sugar. We recommend starting with about 3 cups (360 g) of powdered sugar and adding more until you reach your desired consistency.

One quick note: You could probably get by on half a batch depending on how much you like frosting. Half a batch should be just enough to lightly frost the cupcakes.

Making Flat Top Frosted Cupcakes

While you can definitely just use a spoon or knife to frost your cupcakes, we decided to top our desserts with mini carrots. And to get the perfect blank canvas we made flat top cupcakes. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pipe a generous amount of cream cheese frosting onto the center of each cupcake.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the frosted cupcakes upside down on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press the cupcake down to spread the frosting.
  3. Place in the freezer for one hour. Then peel off the parchment paper and decorate!

And a quick tip for success: For this to work well, you’ll most likely need to use the full amount of powdered sugar so that the frosting is quite thick.

Decorating the Carrot Cupcakes

And here’s how we made the mini carrot decorations:

Carrot Decorations

  • Step 1: Mix a small bowl of cream cheese frosting with a bit of orange gel food coloring.
  • Step 2: Fit a piping bag with a small round decorating tip (I used Wilton Tip 5) and fill with the orange frosting.
  • Step 3: Pipe the carrots, starting with the top and tapering off pressure as you make the points.

Leaf Decorations

  • Step 1: Mix a small bowl of cream cheese frosting with a bit of green gel food coloring.
  • Step 2: Fit a piping bag with a round decorating tip smaller than what you used for the carrots (I used Wilton Tip 2) and fill with the green frosting.
  • Step 3: Pipe the green tops by making three short lines.
Close up of cupcake top with mini carrot decorations

Carrot Cake Cupcakes: FAQs

How do I shred the carrots?

Shred fresh carrots on the small holes of a box grater. Stay away from pre-shredded carrots, which tend to be hard and dry.

How do I store carrot cake cupcakes?

You can store these cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Do these cupcakes freeze well?

You can freeze the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Although if freezing with the frosting, I recommend not decorating until thawed.

Close up of cupcake texture

Loving these coconut carrot cake cupcakes? Here are a few more dishes to round out your Spring dinner!

Print
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Overhead view of cupcakes showing texture of one cupcake

spiced coconut carrot cake cupcakes


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  • Author: Brittney
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12
    • Prep Time: 20 minutes
    • Cook Time: 20 minutes
    • Category: dessert
    • Method: baking
    • Cuisine: european

Ingredients

coconut carrot cake cupcakes

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups (180 grams) shredded carrots, peeled and shredded on the small holes of a box grater
  • 1 cup (80 grams) sweetened coconut flakes

cream cheese frosting

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 34 cups (360480 grams) powdered sugar

Instructions

coconut carrot cake cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a standard muffin tin with 12 liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: vegetable oil, eggs, brown sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Fold in the shredded carrots and coconut flakes and mix until evenly distributed.
  5. Fill each cupcake liner ¾ full of batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely.

cream cheese frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and continue beating until smooth. Continue adding powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency and sweetness.
  4. Use a knife to spread frosting onto the cupcakes or use a piping bag to decorate. For more detailed instructions on how we decorated our cupcakes, check out the post sections: Making Flat Top Frosted Cupcakes and Decorating the Carrot Cupcakes.

Notes

Storing: These cupcakes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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