Carrot cake cupcakes recipe

(547 ratings)

These carrot cake cupcakes are a Primrose Bakery classic and they are so easy to make.

carrot cake cupcakes
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Preparation Time25 mins
Cooking Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories384 Kcal19%
Sugar46.1 g51%
Fat18.3 g26%
Saturated Fat6.9 g35%
Protein2.7 g5%
Carbohydrates52.1 g20%

Make these carrot cake cupcakes in just 50 minutes and enjoy them as an afternoon treat or pack on your next picnic. 

This cupcake recipe is easy to follow and makes 15 cupcakes. The sponge is moist and lightly spiced but if you don’t like cinnamon feel free to leave it out. The cakes can be enjoyed on their own but if you have time, the orange cream cheese frosting is delicious. 


  • 225g grated carrots
  • 130g raisins
  • 2 large eggs
  • 130g caster sugar, preferably golden
  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the orange cream cheese icing:

  • 175g cream cheese
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • Edible carrot cake toppers (optional)




  1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan, Gas 4). Line two 12 hole muffin tins with cupcake cases.
  2. Combine the grated carrots and raisins in a large bowl using a wooden spoon and put to one side. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together for several minutes and then carefully add the oil, vanilla extract and orange zest.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and cinnamon into a separate bowl and then slowly add these ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  4. Pour this mixture into the bowl containing the carrots and raisins and mix by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula until they are well incorporated.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling each case about two-thirds of the way.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. When cooked the cupcakes will be quite dark brown in colour and feel ‘spongy’ to the touch. Allow them to cool in their tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. For the orange cream cheese icing: Put the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter and orange zest in a large bowl and beat well until thoroughly combined and the icing is smooth and pale.
  8. Pipe or spoon the icing onto the cupcakes and top with an edible carrot cake topper and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, if liked.

Top tips for making carrot cake cupcakes

You can enjoy these cupcakes warm but if you plan to ice them it’s important to let them cool completely. The cupcakes will keep well in an airtight container for a few days if you are not icing them. The icing must be stored in the fridge as it contains cream cheese but will keep well. Before reusing, let it come to room temperature and then beat again.

For more carrot cake cupcake tips, continue reading below. 

Why does carrot cake use oil instead of butter?

Carrot cake was popular during times of rationing, when sugar and butter were hard to come by. Carrots and oil were good substitutes. The oil makes the sponge moist, and makes a longer lasting cake than a butter based cake.

Why is my carrot cake so dense?

Carrot cake can be dense because it uses oil in place of butter, which affects the raising. Don't add more raising agent though, as it is bitter. Instead, make sure to really beat the eggs and sugar together well, to add in air. Then add the oil in a slow stream as you beat. It's also important to make sure grate your carrots finely enough, as larger pieces make a heavier texture. And don't add in extra carrot (even though it's tempting when you're using up veggies). 

Does carrot cake have nuts?

This recipe doesn’t include nuts in the carrot cake cupcake batter but it would be a tasty addition. Walnuts and pecans are particularly good. Finely chop around 50g and mix in when you add to the carrot and raisins. You could also decorate the top of the cakes with some whole pecans or walnut halves.

How do you decorate the top of a carrot cake?

Lots of carrot cake recipes include a cream cheese frosting. You can use a traditional buttercream if you prefer. It’s nice to add a dash of cinnamon and orange zest but this is optional. You can also decorate the top with carrot shaped sugar or marzipan decorations. Alternatively, you can leave the cake plain on top and enjoy some salted butter with your slice.

Cupcakes from the Primrose BakeryView at Amazon 

Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas (Kyle Cathie, £16.99) - View at Amazon 

If you’d like to bake some more of the Primrose Bakery’s cupcake recipes their cookbook is full of wonderful options. The book also includes tips on how to ice and decorate the cakes to look professional, fun and stylish. 

If you like this classic, you should try our vanilla cupcake recipe next. If you’d prefer something more colourful and fun, our rainbow cupcakes are the best choice. Alternatively these mini cupcakes are delicious and almost too cute to eat. 

The founders of Primrose Bakery, Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas originally started off baking their unique cakes for children’s parties, before realising it wasn’t just the kids who loved their deliciously sweet treats. Primrose Bakery was founded in 2004 and started off with just one shop on the famous north London road, Primrose Hill. Fourteen years later, the now sole owner of the brand, Martha, has two other stores - one in Covent Garden and another in Kensington. If you fancy having a go at baking one of their famous cakes yourself, check out the recipe pages for their famous carrot cake or the delicious chocolate cupcakes. You’re sure to find the sweet treat you’re looking for with one of these recipes. As well as the successful Primrose Bakery stores, Martha (and Lisa) have released five best-selling recipe books that are full of simple, foolproof recipes. Once you’ve got the baking down to a tee, why not try one of their signature decorating classes? It’s here that you can learn the Primrose Bakery signature swirl, palette knife techniques and how to create a masterpiece with piping. All of the classes are taught at one of their famous shops by their head chefs. It’s a great day out for the family or a lovely gift for someone special. And the best thing about it…you can take everything home with you to eat!
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