I’ve always been a carrot cake kind of girl. An unsung cake flavor hero in my humble opinion to be honest. Full of spring yum, shredded carrots, a hint of cinnamon, and a healthy slathering of cream cheese frosting make for a wonderful cupcake win. And these gluten-free and dairy-free carrot cake cupcakes will win your vote too!


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A golden orange carrot cake cupcake topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting and chopped nuts. The cupcake wrapper is pulled down and a silver fork in laying on the wrapper in front of the cupcake.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Tender carrot cake cupcakes should be fluffy, yet still moist, and lightly sweet. A subtle spice of cinnamon pairs beautifully with the tang of whipped cream cheese frosting. Warm toasted nuts, while optional, add a wonderful flavor depth and crunch element to these incredibly easy and incredibly delicious carrot cake cupcakes.

How To Make A Moist Carrot Cake Cupcake?

Gluten-free baking gets a bad rap for being dry, almost dust-like. And I get it. Flour alternatives such as rice, coconut, or potato can often absorb moisture versus retain it. The key to baking up the most fabulously moist, yet still fluffy, carrot cake cupcakes, is using oil instead of butter.

An overhead picture of carrot cake cupcakes topped with swirled white cream cheese frosting and chopped nuts.

What Kind Of Oil Should I Bake With?

Okay, we’ve settled that oil is going to produce the most amazing cupcakes. Now we gotta figure out what kind of oil to use in these gluten-free and dairy-free carrot cake cupcakes. I personally bake with all-vegetable oil. While I know it can get a bad rap, it’s affordable, accessible, and honestly, it’s not like I’m chugging it.

That said, a few other oil alternatives to use would be avocado oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or even liquid coconut oil. Be aware though that these other oil substitutes can leave a bit of a stronger taste and might be detected in the cupcakes.

Should There Be Nuts In Carrot Cake?

Oh boy! Is there anything more dividing than the age-old question of whether or not nuts belong in carrot cake cupcakes? I feel like you either love it or you hate it. There’s no middle ground to this debate.

Here goes nothing, I like nuts in my carrot cake. They add a warm flavor note and a fun crunch texture element. But if you are not a nut fan, please feel free to simply leave them out. To each their own!

An orange gluten-free carrot cake cupcake topped with white cream cheese frosting and chopped nuts. The cupcake liner is pulled down and there is a large bite taken out of the cupcake.

How To Make Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting, while so darn tasty, is notorious for being quite soft. It’s a fine balance between making a tangy cream cheese frosting that has pipeable consistency but isn’t too sweet. Dairy-free cream cheese alternatives are even softer in nature. Here are a few tricks to ensure cream cheese frosting success:

  • Make sure the cream cheese and butter are cold – not room temperature.
  • Don’t add any additional liquid – that means we aren’t even adding vanilla extract.
  • Refrigerate before piping – pop the whipped frosting into the fridge for a quick 15-20 minute chill before decorating the cupcakes.

These tips will help you create not just a delicious dairy-free cream cheese frosting, but one that will pipe a glorious frosting swirl on each and every cupcake.

A golden orange gluten-free carrot cake cupcake topped with white cream cheese frosting and chopped nuts. There is a hand with a silver fork in the photo taking a forkful out of the cupcake.

Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes

One bowl, shredded carrots, and a few pantry staples are all you need to create the most scrumptious gluten-free and dairy-free carrot cake cupcakes. Topped with a swirl of whipped cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes are fluffy, moist, and a total crowd-pleaser. The perfect spring dessert or afternoon sweet treat.

Delicious Cupcake Ideas

Cupcakes are truly the best snack. Here are a few of my favorite cupcake recipes that you should try next.

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An orange gluten-free carrot cake cupcake topped with white cream cheese frosting and chopped nuts. The cupcake liner is pulled down and there is a large bite taken out of the cupcake.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)


  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
  • Yield: 18 Cupcakes 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Fluffy and wonderfully moist, these gluten-free and dairy-free carrot cake cupcakes are made from scratch and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. An easy one-bowl recipe for the most amazing cupcakes you’ll ever eat!


Ingredients

Scale

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups (295 ml) all-vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (320g) gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if the gluten-free blend contains it)
  • 2 cups (230g) shredded carrots
  • ½ cup (60g) chopped pecans, walnuts, or peanuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (227g) salted dairy-free butter, cold
  • ½ cup (120g) dairy-free cream cheese, cold
  • 4 ½ cups (540g) icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • optional: additional chopped nuts for topping

Instructions

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a cupcake pan with 18 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk together until fully combined and smooth.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and xanthan gum (if using) and mix until just combined.
  4. With a spatula stir in the shredded carrots and nuts (if using) and mix until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter equally into 18 cupcake liners and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the cupcake pan and then remove to a cooling rack to fully cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the cold butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add in the icing sugar and salt and combine at low speed.
  3. Turn the mixer up to high and allow to beat for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Place the frosting into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill and firm up a bit before decorating the cupcakes.

Cupcake Decorating

  1. I used a Wilton 1M piping tip for both cupcake designs. The first design is a classic swirl. Starting in the middle of the cupcake pipe in a circular motion to the edge of the cupcake and then moving that swirl up and in back to the center. Top with finely chopped nuts if desired.
  2. The second cupcake design is again with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Start with a simple drop rosette in the middle of the cupcake. Pipe a circle swirl around that drop rosette two layers high. Release pressure off the piping bag and pull off to finish the swirl. Place chopped nuts, if desired, at the tail end of the frosting swirl. Enjoy!
  3. Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Notes

* If you notice the frosting getting a bit soft while decorating the cupcakes simply stop decorating and place the frosting back into the fridge to chill for 15-20 minutes.

** This recipe can easily be made with regular gluten and dairy products. 

  • Prep Time: 45 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
  • Calories: 391
  • Sugar: 32 Grams
  • Sodium: 285 Miligrams
  • Fat: 22 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 7 Grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12 Grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 46 Grams
  • Fiber: 1 Gram
  • Protein: 4 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 59 Miligrams

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