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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
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Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes


These gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes are properly named. They’re not cake, but they’re the same thing except they’re in cupcake form. And there’s good reason for that. Am I the only one who always has a stash of gluten-free cupcakes in her freezer at all times? Don’t answer that (do answer that).

Something I’ve found is that I often have a need to make gluten-free cupcakes. Well, strike that. Not so much a need to make them as a need to have them. They’re better than cake in so many, many ways (not that I don’t love gluten-free cake). But cupcakes are easier to store, easier to force just a few on friends and neighbors (and my husband’s coworkers), easier to have on hand at a moment’s notice (birthday in school tomorrow!), easier to pare down a recipe, and way easier to make cute without spending a ton of time on them.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake CupcakesAnd anyway, Easter is only days away and there’s the Easter Bunny and bunnies love carrots so carrot cake is traditional for Easter, and then there are always kids since they’re the ones who care about the Bunny and kids love cupcakes. Anything you can hold in your hand seems kid-friendly.
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

About these cupcakes: the cream cheese frosting is mostly cream cheese, and very little butter. I usually make a cream cheese frosting with less cream cheese and more butter, but who wants to use less than a whole 8-ounce package of cream cheese for a recipe? Not me. It makes for a softer frosting, one that isn’t as stable at room temperature, but the cream cheese flavor is a bit more obvious and frankly it makes for a prettier presentation.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The other secret to making these truly stand-out little carrot cakes? You beat the oil with the eggs and milk until very well-combined and frothy before adding them to the dry ingredients. This way, the cupcakes are light and fluffy, and never ever oily. Cakes made with oil instead of butter can be very moist, but easily cross-over into being oily. Not this time.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

And they’re very heavy on carrots, which means that you get 24 cupcakes out of just 2 cups of gluten-free flour, instead of some odd number like 15.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake CupcakesGluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Don’t forget to sprinkle them with a wee bit of ground cinnamon at the end. Such a dramatic presentation! I know you’ve been looking for the ultimate gluten-free carrot cake recipe. The search is over:

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 24 cupcakes


For the Cupcakes
2 cups (280 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar

3 cups (270 g) peeled and grated carrots

1 cup (110 g) chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup (112 g) vegetable oil

4 eggs (240 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) milk, at room temperature

For the Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 cups (288 g) confectioners’ sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line two standard 12-cup muffin tins, and set them aside.

  • Make the cupcake batter. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and granulated sugar. Whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar, and whisk again to combine, working to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, place the grated carrots and chopped nuts. Add a tablespoon of the dry ingredients to the bowl of carrots and nuts, and toss to combine. Set both bowls aside.

  • In a separate, medium-sized bowl, place the oil, eggs, vinegar and milk, and whisk to combine very well. The mixture should be become pale and frothy. Working quickly, create a well in the center of the bowl of dry ingredients, and pour in the oil and eggs mixture. Mix to combine well. Add the carrot and nuts mixture to the batter, and mix until just combined. The batter will be thick, but not stiff.

  • Bake the cupcakes. Fill the wells of the prepared muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full with batter, and shake the pan back and forth to distribute the batter evenly in each well. One at a time, place the muffin tins in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the tin from the oven from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining muffin tin.

  • Make the frosting. While the muffins are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer), place the cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed until soft and fluffy. Add the salt, and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mix on low speed until the sugar is absorbed. Then, turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the frosting is thickened and fluffy. Add more confectioners’ sugar as necessary to achieve the desired thickness. Cover the bowl and place the frosting in the refrigerator to chill until stiffened slightly, about 15 minutes. Either spoon or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. If not serving the cupcakes right away, keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy! I’ll help you make everything quick & easy & gluten-free!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.erez Melody White Erez

    On behalf of my dairy intolerant, gluten free husband who loves carrot cake, I thank you! I was going to pin this as soon as I saw it, and then realized that the category “great art” which it defaulted to first, might actually be appropriate! : ) Thanks! I love your humor and your great ideas on this site.

    • gfshoestring

      You are very welcome, Melody! The cream cheese frosting can definitely be made with a dairy-free cream cheese substitute, I’m sure, but the cupcake itself is in fact all ready for your husband indeed!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennifer S

    Yes. I am compelled to have GF cupcakes in the freezer at all times. You never know when there is going to be a class treat or a birthday party pop up. I need to make some tomorrow to replenish our stash.
    I do have a question for you as I’m having some issues with the cupcakes and cakes. I’ve noticed that they puff up really nicely in the oven and then I take them out and they fall. What is happening here? Any advice you have will be greatly appreciated!

    • gfshoestring

      Hey, Jennifer, that is usually caused by a too-hot oven. It happens with bread, too. It activates the leavening agents quickly, and creates a baked-looking outside, but there isn’t enough structure inside to support the cupcake as it cools. You are better off with a low and slow approach to baking cupcakes, and make sure you are using your oven thermometer. Most ovens run quite hot (mine is 50°F over temp).

      • Jennifer S.

        I do have an oven thermometer but keep it on the rack under the rack I bake on. Maybe that is the problem. But then I find if I put on the rack I’m baking on it always gets pushed around and sometimes falls when I put the pan/pans in. Oh the problems we have!! :) Thanks for the advice!

        • gfshoestring

          Every oven has “hot spots,” Jennifer. If you place your oven thermometer in one spot and bake in another, the reading isn’t accurate. I’d check that. If all else fails, try just lowering the oven temp and bake low and slow.

  • Amber

    What would you recommend to make this tree-nut free?

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Amber,
      If you want to leave out the nuts, you’ll need something else to take its place. Raisins or another small, dried fruit would work if substituted in equal amount by weight.

  • http://www.debistangeland.com/ Debi Stangeland

    I’m totally making these for our family dinner tonight! Thank you!!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Pleasure, Debi. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Susan

    Nicole, do you think these would work using the same amount of butter instead of oil?

    • gfshoestring

      I haven’t tested the recipe with any substitutions, Susan. Butter contains water, and oil is only fat, so they are not generally 1:1 substitutions. Feel free to experiment!

  • Jenny

    These look wonderful! Can I leave out the macadamias? I am allergic to nuts!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Jenny,
      If you want to leave out the nuts, you’ll need something else to take its place. Raisins or another small, dried fruit would work if substituted in equal amount by weight.


  • Hannah

    Do you have advice on storing cupcakes in the freezer? I have not had great luck with retaining good flavor after they thaw.

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Hannah, It is all about sealing them in an airtight container. If you leave any air in the container, they will get freezer-burn. And only freeze and defrost once!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Carrie

    Do they freeze well with the icing or best to make the icing as you need? Thanks!! Btw what’s the release date for your new cookbook?? Can’t wait to get my hands on it!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Carrie,
      I would definitely recommend freezing them before frosting them, then making the frosting soon before you serve them.
      I just found out that the new book should have a release date right before Thanksgiving! That is a really nice surprise for me, since the original estimate was into December! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Leticia

    Does anyone know how this recipe compares to the Aug. 31 cupcake recipe post ?

    • gfshoestring

      Leticia, there is a recipe for pumpkin carrot cupcakes on the blog, but these are simply carrot cupcakes. No pumpkin. The recipes are substantially different, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.

  • Julie Simmons

    I made these today — yummy! Even the non-GF folks enjoyed these.

  • Norma Dowd

    These turned out so good! Thank you

  • wanda

    The cupcakes were excellent. Great flavor, great texture. Everyone, even the gluten consumers loved them.

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