Gluten-free Carrot Cake Cupcakes are surprisingly easy to make with the help of yellow cake mix. Take them to the next level with homemade cream cheese frosting.
I love everything about carrot cake. Warm and spicy cake paired perfectly with tangy cream cheese frosting. I don't know why but I tend to associate carrot cake with Easter. Maybe it's the whole carrot/bunny situation? Either way, there is never a bad excuse for making a delicious carrot cake, especially these easy Gluten-free Carrot Cake Cupcakes!
Ingredients for Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes
I'm all about an easy and reliable recipe. Sometimes there's just no need to reinvent the wheel. That's why I love boxed cake mix! I find that the combination of a good boxed cake mix with homemade frosting often gets the best reviews. I remember reading this story and it just proves the point... people love cake from a box, whether they know it or not! That's why we're starting with a box mix for these super delicious carrot cake cupcakes! I used Krusteaz brand gluten-free yellow cake mix for this recipe.
- The box mix and the ingredients listed on the back of the box. For me, that was butter, milk, and eggs.
- Freshly grated carrots. Please grate them yourself, they have much more moisture than the pre-shredded carrots! I use my beloved Cuisinart food processor to shred them, but a box grater would work just as well, arguably with a bit more elbow grease.
- Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
Making the Cupcakes
To make the cupcakes, just follow the directions on the box for the cake. Blend the wet ingredients together.
Then blend in the spices along with the cake mix.
Stir in the shredded carrots at the end.
Scoop the batter into lined muffin tins. I really liked these parchment cupcake liners and these brown parchment cupcake liners. They have a natural look and feel that goes perfectly with the carrot cake! Bake according to the cake mix directions.
See? Perfect cupcakes without any stress or hassle.
Making cream cheese frosting
Now that I've professed my love for a good boxed cake mix, I'm going to change my tune. You must make homemade frosting. Making a good cream cheese frosting is what takes these cupcakes to the next level. It's just so much better than the canned stuff!
Cream cheese frosting is one of the easiest frostings you can make! You only need four ingredients: softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer comes in really handy for making frosting. First mix together the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Then mix in the vanilla.
After that, gradually mix in the powdered sugar until well combined. Lastly, just shove your face in the bowl because that's it. You just made some darn good frosting!
Frosting the Cupcakes
So now it's up to you, how fancy do you want to get? Are you cool with just spreading the frosting on top? If so, have at it. Me? I like to pipe the frosting on because I'm fancy and I like swirls like this:
To make swirls you need a piping bag and a 1M or 2D tip. Put the tip in the bottom of the piping bag and cut the corner off of the bag so that the tip can fit through without coming all the way out. Fill the bag with frosting and twist the top closed. Pipe a circle around the cupcake, starting at the outer edge and working inward to make the swirls.
Aren't those swirls so pretty? I just love them. Sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped walnuts if desired. I love the crunchy walnuts but not everyone does.
The cupcakes can be refrigerated for a few hours to help the frosting stiffen up. After that, they are best eaten within a couple of days. You can keep them at room temp or refrigerated in an airtight container. Freeze them frosted, if needed. Just wrap them tightly. Thaw at room temp for at least 15 minutes.
Easy Gluten-free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- ½ cup butter* (1 stick), melted, see notes
- 1 ¼ cups milk*, see notes
- 3 eggs*, see notes
- 1 box favorite yellow cake mix, I used Krusteaz Gluten-free
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups grated carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F* (see notes). Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Blend together the butter, milk, and eggs with hand mixer.
- Mix in the cake mix, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- Stir in the grated carrots.
- Scoop into cupcake liners and bake 23 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- With a hand mixer, blend the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together until well combined.
- Gradually mix in the powdered sugar until well combined.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with chopped walnuts, if desired.
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