My son is absolutely crazy about anything carrot cake, so you know these gluten free carrot cake cupcakes are good if he gives his seal of approval. While you can make my regular carrot cake recipe into cupcakes, sometimes you don't want dozens of cupcakes in the house. This small batch recipe is perfect for when you just want a little something sweet!
Why you'll love this recipe
- It is easy to make in just one bowl.
- It's gluten free and dairy free.
- Its a small batch that only makes 6 cupcakes.
- Gluten Free 1-to-1 Flour Blend - I use Bob's Red Mill flour in my recipes. You can use the flour blend of your choice, but ensure it contains xanthan gum or a similar binder. I haven't tested this recipe with any other flour blends, so your results may vary.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda - Because carrot cake can be very dense, we are using two types of leavening agents to help with rise.
- Brown Sugar - I've used light brown sugar but you could substitute dark brown sugar if you prefer. Don't replace this with white sugar because the molasses in brown sugar is needed to react with the baking soda.
- Oil - I use olive oil in my recipes but any light flavored cooking oil will work fine.
- Unsweetened Applesauce - Applesauce is providing a little bit of moisture, natural sweetness, and reducing the amount of oil needed for the recipe.
- Carrots - Make sure to freshly grate your carrots for this recipe. The pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store tend to be dry and tougher which could affect the texture of the cake.
See recipe card for full ingredient list and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Not Dairy Free - There are no dairy ingredients in the cupcake portion of the recipe, so you can make that the same as instructed. For the frosting, use regular cream cheese and butter in place of the vegan version. The measurements will be the same.
- Make it Vegan / Egg Free - I have not tested an egg free version of this recipe, but since it just calls for one egg I would suggest replacing that with a few more tablespoons of applesauce. The cupcakes will come out a little denser than the egg version but should still be delicious.
- Nut Free - The only nuts in the recipe are in the decoration, so those can easily be omitted for a nut free version.
These cupcakes mix up all in one bowl. I do recommend using an electric mixer to whip some air into the eggs since there is no butter to cream.
STEP 2: Add the brown sugar and egg to a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes until the egg has added some volume and the mixture has lightened in color.
STEP 3: With the mixer turned to low speed, slowly pour the oil in at the edge of the bowl. Mix until it is evenly combined.
STEP 4: Add the vanilla, followed by the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
STEP 5: Add the applesauce and shredded carrots to the cake batter. Fold them in with a spatula.
STEP 6: Once the carrots are evenly mixed in, portion the batter into 6 cupcake liners and bake.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, top them with dairy free cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of walnuts.
Store any leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 4 days. Because of the cream cheese in the frosting, these cupcakes must be refrigerated.
These cupcakes can also be frozen for later. Place the cupcakes on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 1 hour or until the frosting has hardened. Then remove the cupcakes and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped cupcakes inside of a freezer bag or container and put back in the freezer.
Bring to room temperature before serving.
Oil helps a cake hold more moisture because of the emulsion created with the eggs. Also, because carrot cake has to be stored in the refrigerator it provides a better mouth feel when eating cold cake.
In this recipe it is the beating of the egg with the sugar that creates air bubbles that can expand thanks to the leavening agents.
Carrot cake every day! 🙂
If you try this recipe, please leave a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the comments below.
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- Combine the gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.9 Tablespoons Gluten Free 1-to-1 Flour Blend, ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, ⅛ teaspoon Baking Soda, ½ teaspoon Cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon Ginger, pinch Nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- Add the brown sugar and egg to a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat them on medium speed for 3 minutes until the egg has increased in volume and the color is lighter.¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar, 1 Egg
- With the mixer on, slowly pour the oil in at the edge of the bowl. Mix until combined.2 Tablespoons Oil
- Add the vanilla followed by the flour mixture. Mix on the lowest speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl.½ teaspoon Vanilla
- Add the applesauce and grated carrots. Stir together with a spatula until the carrots are evenly mixed in.2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Applesauce, ½ Cup Carrots
- Portion the cake batter into 6 cups. The cups should be around ½-2/3 full.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 21-23 minutes or until the tops spring back when gently poked.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
For the frosting
- Combine the vegan cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.2 ounces Vegan Cream Cheese, 3 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
- Add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Start the mixer on the lowest speed and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. It will resemble a thick paste.½ teaspoon Vanilla, 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
- Turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 3-5 minutes until fluffy.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and decorate the cupcakes. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts, if using.¼ Cup Walnuts
Tiffany is the recipe developer, stylist and food photographer behind Well Fed Baker. As a lifelong baker who had to go gluten free and dairy free in 2016, Tiffany strives to share allergen friendly recipes that never feel like they are free from anything.