That Spicy Chick

Carrot Cake Muffins

These Carrot Cake Muffins are incredibly soft and moist, full of toasted pecans, and topped with a lightened-up maple cream cheese frosting! They’re easy to make, and perfect as a dessert, snack, or a sweet breakfast treat!

Top view of carrot cake muffins with maple cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans on plate.

Calling all my carrot cake lovers!

I’ve got a ridiculously good treat for you today – these carrot cake muffins! 💛

These muffins are packed with plenty of grated carrots, and are full of all the warming spices and cinnamon-y notes that you love in a carrot cake. They take a shorter time to make and enjoy since muffins cool quicker than a whole carrot cake. They’re also incredibly soft, fluffy, and moist thanks to using my favorite secret ingredient for baked goods – Greek yogurt!

Bonus? They’re topped with an irresistible lightened-up maple cream cheese frosting that you’ll love!
Double Bonus? They’re freezer-friendly, so perfect if you want to make a double batch and save them for later. 👌

Front view of a carrot cake muffin on a plate. Muffins on a plate behind.

Why This Recipe Works

  • These muffins are quick and easy to whip up on any given day a carrot cake craving strikes.
  • Using Greek yogurt in the batter makes them incredibly moist and soft!
  • They’re ultra-soft and fluffy thanks to using oil instead of butter.
  • The maple cream cheese frosting is lightened up by using a combination of maple syrup and icing sugar, and it’s perfectly sweet without being overly sweet.
  • They’re freezer-friendly and you can easily double the recipe to freeze and enjoy at a later date.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Carrot Cake Muffins on a wooden board.
  • All-Purpose Flour: I use unbleached white all-purpose flour. But you’re welcome to use white whole wheat flour if you prefer.
  • Cake Flour: Using cake flour makes these muffins extra soft! (See ‘Cook’s Tips’ for how to make your own cake flour if you don’t have it on hand.)
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder: To help the muffins stay moist and make them rise.
  • Spices: I used a combination of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cardamom. But feel free to add other warming spices such as ground cloves or allspice if you like.
  • Sugars: A combination of granulated white sugar and light brown sugar to sweeten these muffins.
  • Oil: The oil makes these muffins light and fluffy unlike butter, which would make them dense. I used extra light tasting olive oil, but vegetable oil is fine too.
  • Eggs: To help the ingredients bind together. Make sure they’re at room temperature.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: This makes these muffins super moist and soft! I like to use Koukakis 10% fat Authentic Greek Yogurt, but any full-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt will work. I don’t recommend using a non-fat Greek yogurt though. It will make the batter less thick and the muffins will crumble easily and be too soft.
  • Vanilla Extract: For some warm vanilla tones.
  • Grated Carrots: You can either grate the carrots by hand with a box grater, or in a food processor using the shredder disc attachment.
  • Pecans: Toast the unsalted raw pecans for 2-4 minutes in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop over medium heat until they smell nutty and lovely. Or use store-bought unsalted toasted pecans.
  • Maple cream cheese frosting: Making the frosting is optional, but highly recommended because it makes these muffins even more delicious! It’s lightened-up and calls for a combination of maple syrup and icing sugar to sweeten it, as well as cream cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese), unsalted butter, and vanilla extract. If you’d like the frosting to have a stronger maple flavor, you can add a splash of maple extract.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

Close-up of front view of carrot cake muffins on a plate.

How to Make Carrot Cake Muffins

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients. Mix the sugars and wet ingredients with a rubber spatula in a large bowl until evenly combined. (Don’t worry if there are still a few small Greek yogurt lumps – they’ll disappear in the next steps.)
  3. Sift in the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients using a fine mesh strainer. Mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in add-ins. The grated carrots and chopped pecans.
  5. Scoop and bake. Divide the batter evenly into a 12-count muffin pan lined with muffin liners. (Using a 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop will make this MUCH easier!).
Process steps to make batter for Carrot Cake Muffins.

6. Bake. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back up when gently touched.

7. Cool. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to rest for a few minutes. Then unmold and place on a wire rack to cool completely. While the muffins are cooling, you can whip up the easy maple cream cheese frosting (recipe in the recipe card below).

Baked muffins in muffin pan, and muffins on a wire cooling rack.

8. Serve! Once the muffins have cooled, pipe the frosting on the muffins using a piping bag (or a Ziplock bag with the tip snipped off) and top with more toasted chopped pecans if desired. Then serve and enjoy!

Or you can place them in a sealed airtight container in the fridge and consume within 3 days.

Top view of carrot cake muffins with frosting on a plate.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Do not overmix. Overmixing causes more gluten to build and air to pack into the batter, and that makes the muffins dryer and less moist. Mix until everything is just combined, then move on to the next step.
  • Sift the icing sugar. It’ll help make the consistency of the frosting smoother.
  • Make your own cake flour. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make some using corn starch and all-purpose flour. Measure out 1 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour. Then remove 1 tablespoon of the flour and replace it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use this mixture instead.
Close-up front view of carrot cake muffins on a plate.

FAQs

Can you freeze carrot cake muffins?

You can freeze the muffins (without the frosting) for up to 3 months. Just place them in a sealed airtight container with a layer of parchment paper between each layer of muffins before placing them in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature on the counter before frosting. While you can freeze the muffins with the frosting piped on already, it’s better to freeze the muffins separate from the frosting for best flavor, texture, and appearance.

How to store carrot cake muffins?

These carrot cake muffins need to be stored in the fridge in sealed airtight containers because of the cream cheese frosting. If you decide to skip the frosting, you can keep them in sealed airtight containers on the counter for up to 3 days.

Can cream cheese frosting be frozen?

Transfer the frosting to a freezer-friendly bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Hand holding up a muffin with a bite out to show the inside.

Variations

  • Use other nuts. Walnuts or pistachios would taste great in these muffins.
  • Leave out the nuts. They’ll taste just as delicious without them.
  • Make it gluten-free. Use a gluten-free flour such a 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour to replace both the all-purpose flour and cake flour. Or to achieve the same soft and moist texture, measure out 1 and ½ cups of the gluten-free flour, then remove 1 tablespoon of the flour and replace it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use this mixture in place of the all-purpose and cake flour.
  • Leave out the frosting. Even though the maple cream cheese frosting is lightened-up, you can totally skip making it and frosting these carrot cake muffins. It’ll make eating them for breakfast slightly healthier. 😉
  • Use white whole wheat flour. Replace the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour to make these muffins healthier.
  • Add raisins or dried cranberries. Replace half of the toasted pecans with raisins or dried sweetened cranberries.
  • Add coconut. Either unsweetened or sweetened shredded or desiccated coconut would taste fabulous.
Front and top view of muffins on a plate. Text overlay "Carrot Cake Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting!" and "thatspicychick.com".

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Top view of carrot cake muffins with frosting on a plate.

Carrot Cake Muffins

5 from 2 reviews

These easy to make Carrot Cake Muffins are incredibly soft and moist, full of toasted pecans, and topped with a lightened-up maple cream cheese frosting

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 27
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake Muffins:

  • 120 grams / 1 cup Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
  • 66 grams / ½ cup Cake Flour
  • ½ TSP Baking Soda
  • 1 TSP Baking Powder
  • 1.5 TSP ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ TSP ground Ginger
  • ¼ TSP ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ TSP ground Cardamom
  • ¼ TSP Fine Sea Salt
    100 grams / ½ cup Granulated White Sugar
  • 100 grams / ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 78ml / 1/3 cup Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 Large Eggs (5660 grams each), at room temperature
  • 214 grams / ¾ cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I used one with 10% fat content)
  • 2 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 cups peeled and grated Carrots (either grated by hand with a box grater or in a food processor using the shredder disc attachment)
  • 50 grams / ½ cup unsalted toasted Pecans, plus 2-3 TBLS more for topping if desired – chopped

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 113 grams / 4 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature and softened, cut into smaller cubes
  • 29 grams / 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 30ml / 1/8 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 60 grams / ½ cup Icing Sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • ½ TSP Vanilla Extract
  • ½ TSP Maple Extract (optional)

Instructions

For the Carrot Cake Muffins:

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 12-count muffin pan with muffin liners (or lightly grease with cooking spray) and set aside.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the unbleached white all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, and fine sea salt. Whisk together until evenly combined and set aside.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, extra light tasting olive oil, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Mix with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. (Note: It’s okay if there are still a few small Greek yogurt lumps – they’ll get fully incorporated in the next steps.)
  4. Sift in the dry ingredients: Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients using a fine mesh strainer. Mix until evenly incorporated. Do not overmix.
  5. Stir in add-ins: Stir in the grated carrots and chopped pecans until just combined.
  6. Scoop: Divide the batter using a 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop (or spoon) evenly into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake: Bake for 26-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top of the muffins spring back up when gently touched.
  8. Cool: Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. Then unmold the muffins and place on a wire rack to cool completely. While the muffins are cooling, make the maple cream cheese frosting (recipe below). Once the muffins reach room temperature, pipe the frosting on them and top with more chopped toasted pecans if desired. Then serve and enjoy! (Or store in sealed airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Beat: Add the cream cheese and unsalted butter to a medium mixing bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer (or stand mixer), beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and maple extract (if using) and mix until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and continue mixing until smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to piping bag: Transfer the frosting to a piping bag (or to a Ziplock bag). Snip off the corner when ready to apply the frosting on the muffins.

Notes

  1. Storing: These carrot cake muffins need to be stored in the fridge in sealed airtight containers because of the cream cheese frosting. If you decide to skip the frosting, you can keep them in sealed airtight containers on the counter for up to 3 days.
  2. To freeze muffins: Place the (unfrosted) muffins in a sealed airtight container with a layer of parchment paper between each layer of muffins. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature on the counter before frosting.
  3. To make your own cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make some using corn starch and all-purpose flour. Measure out 1 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour. Then remove 1 tablespoon of the flour and replace it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use this mixture instead.
  4. Plain Greek Yogurt. I like to use Koukakis 10% fat Authentic Greek Yogurt, but any full-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt will work. I don’t recommend using a non-fat Greek yogurt though. It will make the batter less thick, and the muffins will crumble easily and be too soft.
  5. Maple cream cheese frosting: By using half maple syrup and half icing sugar, you’ll get a sweet enough frosting that’s not overly sweet. If you would like a more maple flavor in the frosting, add the optional maple extract. Using full-fat cream cheese will make the frosting firmer and thicker. But if you don’t mind a slightly runnier frosting, reduced fat cream cheese can also be used. The frosting can be made a day in advance and stored in a sealed Ziplock bag in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
  6. See post for more tips and the ‘Variations’ section if you’d like to customize these muffins.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 muffin
  • Calories: 321
  • Sugar: 25.5g
  • Sodium: 148.1mg
  • Fat: 16.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.9g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.9g
  • Fiber: 1.4g
  • Protein: 5.3g
  • Cholesterol: 47.9mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.