Carrot Cake Muffins
Published Apr 03, 2023•Updated Jun 30, 2023
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Carrot cake muffins are filled with naturally sweet shredded carrots, and topped with a brown sugar crumb topping and cream cheese glaze. Perfect for breakfast or brunch, and an especially great addition to Easter brunch!
This muffin recipe is perfect for Easter brunch, but there really is no wrong time to enjoy a sweet, tender, carrot-filled muffin. But because I wanted these to be special enough for spring gatherings, I added crumbly brown sugar streusel topping that’s drizzled with a little cream cheese glaze. You can choose just one or the other, but both toppings together make these muffins a total brunch stand-out.
With their warm cinnamon flavor, these muffins taste just like your favorite carrot cake recipe, but in a compact muffin size. They’re easy to grab on-the-go or great to pack in school lunches (though skip the cream cheese glaze in that case!).
This muffin recipe can be made in under an hour, and like most of my favorite baking recipes – Muffin Pan Strawberry Shortcake, Vanilla Cake, and Peanut Butter Cake just to name a few – it doesn’t require a mixer. You can make a batch of these muffins before spring activities are in full swing, and they’ll be ready to go when a craving hits or as delicious Easter muffins to serve guests!
Here’s How to Make Them
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.
- Make the streusel topping. Stir together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Pour melted butter over top, then stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the muffin batter. Whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and oil. Add the cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder and then whisk until completely mixed. Add flour and stir just until everything is even.
- Add the carrots and mix-ins. Gently mix in the shredded carrots. You can add walnuts and raisins if you’d like (or skip them).
- Fill the muffin tins. Line a muffin tin with liners and fill them to 2/3 of the way full. Crumble the streusel over the top.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Insert a tester to check for doneness.
- Make the cream cheese glaze. Beat the cream cheese, then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla, and continue to beat until smooth and glossy.
- Serve and enjoy! Let the muffins cool for about 5 minutes and then drizzle with glaze.
Everything You Need to Make Carrot Cake Muffins
- Streusel Topping – A real stand-out of this recipe is the sweet streusel topping that adds crunchy flavor and texture to the top of the muffins. Make it with just a handful of pantry staples and unsalted butter.
- Large Eggs – To bind the muffin mixture together, and add moisture.
- Light Brown Sugar – Using brown sugar gives the muffins a rich caramel flavor, without being too sweet.
- Cooking Oil – Any cooking oil will work in this recipe. Try vegetable, avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil.
- Ground Cinnamon – Warming cinnamon works so well with the carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
- Baking Soda, Baking Powder, All-Purpose Flour – Basic baking ingredients.
- Shredded Carrots – The key ingredient.
- Raisins (optional) – Raisins add a touch more sweetness, and more texture. These are a controversial addition to carrot cake and to these muffins, so use them if you like. Skip them if you don’t.
- Walnuts (optional) – Walnuts add a fun crunch to carrot cake muffins. You can skip these as well if you prefer.
- Cream Cheese Glaze – For an extra special finish, drizzle the muffins with cream cheese glaze – just softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Be sure to use block cream cheese, rather than the whipped kind for the muffin glaze.
How to Shred Carrots for Cake or Muffins
Finely shredded carrots work best because they become perfectly tender, compared to larger pieces of grated carrots that take longer to cook. An easy kitchen hack is to use the fine side of a box grater to shred the carrots. If you don’t have a box grater, you can also use a food processor.
Tips for the Best Carrot Cake Muffins
- Use very finely grated carrots, as noted above, so the carrots cook right into the cake.
- Do not overmix the muffins once you’ve added the dry ingredients. Overmixing leads to tough, rather than tender, baked goods.
- Be sure to use softened cream cheese for the glaze. If it is still cold, it won’t whip into a smooth, creamy glaze.
- If you make this recipe ahead, wait to add the glaze, especially if you plan to store them in the freezer. Freezing the muffins with the cream cheese glaze will cause them to stick together.
- Have fun with mix-ins – Try shredded coconut or pecans in place of raisins and walnuts.
- Add spices – Nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice give carrot cake muffins an extra cozy touch.
How to store carrot cake muffins
These will stay moist and flavorful for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store these muffins in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you plan on freezing the muffins, freeze them right in the muffin tin so that the streusel stays intact. Once they are frozen solid (4 to 5 hours), transfer them to a well-sealed freezer-safe bag. Wait to add the cream cheese glaze until right before serving. Thaw these tasty carrot cake muffins at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.
Yes! These work well using a 1:1 gluten-free substitute for the all-purpose flour.
Most cake and muffin recipes, including carrot cakes, are made using a combination of flour, butter or oil, sugar, eggs, spices, and a few other pantry staples. But because they include shredded carrots, some people do consider these tasty treats a healthier option than other baked goods. But keep in mind that the other ingredients are the same as most other muffins.
Carrot cake is an oil-based cake, rather than a butter-based cake. In fact, it’s the oil that helps these carrot cake muffins stay extra moist, and extends how long you can store the muffins.
More Easy Muffin Recipes
- Strawberry Banana Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Apple Cider Donut Mini Muffins
- Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
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Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe
- Muffin Pan
- Muffin Pan Liners
- Mixing Bowls
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cooking oil (like vegetable, avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (see note)
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream Cheese Glaze:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (use block cream cheese, not the whipped variety that comes in a tub)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray it lightly with nonstick spray.
- Start by making the streusel topping. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup flour, 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pour the melted butter over top and use a fork to mash everything together until even. Refrigerate the streusel until you’re ready to use it.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, 1 cup light brown sugar, and oil until smooth and frothy. Sprinkle the cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder over the top and then whisk well until no dry spots remain. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and stir gently just until the flour is evenly incorporated (don’t over mix).
- Gently mix in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
- Fill the muffin tin with batter, about 2/3 of the way to the top. Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and crumble it over the muffins.
- Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
- While the muffins bake, use a hand mixer or standing mixer to beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat everything together, starting on low and increasing the speed, until the glaze is very smooth and glossy.
- When the muffins are done baking, let them cool for about 5 minutes and then drizzle with glaze. If not serving right away, wait to add the glaze until right before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.