I’m always down for carrot cake, especially when it comes in a better-for-you, perfectly portioned muffin form! These easy carrot muffins are light, tender and deliciously moist. They are great for breakfast or a quick grab and go snack, and kids love them!
Made these for Easter brunch and let’s just say, I’m handing out this recipe to just about everyone who was present. SO moist and while I did use a classic cream cheese frosting recipe, I will be trying to glaze on muffins for the office this weekend/next week. YUM! I can’t stop craving this this week.— Tracy
Muffins are probably my favorite thing to bake! They’re the perfect portable breakfast or snack option. My family requests banana muffins, zucchini muffins and these irresistible carrot muffins often.
These seriously might be my favorite muffin recipe ever! They are ridiculously flavorful, deeply spiced, and have a wonderfully moist texture. We ate the entire batch in one day the first time I made them and my kids begged for more. I’ve been baking these muffins like they’re going out of style. Actually, this carrot muffin recipe will never go out of style! I’m such a fan of carrot cake and these muffins hit the spot! They are OUTSTANDING, vibrant and so perfect for springtime. Let’s get to all of the details!
These homemade carrot cake muffins are made with simple baking ingredients to give them the perfect soft, tender crumb. Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need:
- Flour. For this recipe, use all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour or a combination of the three.
- Brown sugar. I love dark brown sugar for major moistness and an added depth of flavor. Light brown sugar works too!
- Poppy seeds. You can also sub chia seeds if you’d like.
- Baking powder & baking soda. To ensure these muffins have the perfect rise and texture.
- Salt. This will help pull the flavors together.
- Eggs. We’re using two eggs to help with binding and ensure the muffins bake properly.
- Oil. A bit of oil makes these muffins super moist. I used olive oil, but feel free to sub with vegetable oil, canola oil, melted butter or melted and cooled coconut oil.
- Orange zest. For a bright, light taste.
- Carrots. The star of the show! You’ll 2 cups of grated carrots, which is about 3 to 4 large carrots.
- Buttermilk. Please don’t skip! The acidic buttermilk breaks down the gluten in the flour, which leads to light, tender muffins.
- Cream cheese icing. This simple glaze is made with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a bit of milk to thin. This is completely optional – the muffins are amazing without it too!
How to make this recipe
Like most muffin recipes, these are very easy to whip up! Get out a muffin pan and spray it with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper liners. Now, let’s bake some yummy muffins!
- Mix the dry ingredients. Start the batter by whisking together flour, brown sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients. Stir in the eggs, olive oil, and orange zest without over-mixing. Fold in shredded carrots and buttermilk.
- Fill muffin tins. Evenly, spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.
- Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake muffins for 5 minutes at 425ºF, then with the muffins still in the oven, reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue to bake for 13-15 minutes more and until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
- Cool muffins. Allow muffins to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy with a generous smear of butter or drizzle with icing!
- Cream cheese frosting. If you’re adding the frosting, stir together all of the frosting ingredients in a small bowl. You can drizzle it over the tops with a spoon or scoop it into a small ziplock bag and seal. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag. Once the muffins have cooled, pipe the icing over the tops. Serve & enjoy!
Tips for recipe success
Carrot muffins are really very easy to make, but here are a few tips to make sure they bake up perfect every time!
- Measure the flour correctly. Too much flour can cause muffins to be dry, but too little flour can cause them to be overly moist. To make this recipe with the perfect amount of flour, whisk it first, then spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the top (without shaking the measuring cup).
- Do NOT over-mix batter. Combine the wet and dry ingredients by gently mixing them together just until moistened. Over-mixing can produce tough muffins.
- Oven temperature. To give these muffins a little rise, they are baked at a high temperature of 425ºF for 5 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 350ºF and cook the center of the muffin. Such a simple trick that makes such a difference to the appearance of any muffins.
- Do not over bake the muffins. Ovens can vary so be sure to check muffins a few minutes before they should be done. The muffins are done baking when you insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
- Grating the carrots. Avoid packaged pre-shredded carrots; they are hard, dry, and far less flavorful. When you grate your own carrots you’ll notice how much more moisture the carrots have, which is a must for the recipe to properly work (we’re relying on that moisture!).
These carrot cake muffins are fabulous as-is, but feel free to customize them to your liking by adding other ingredients to the mix.
- Chocolate. You can add about a cup of chocolate chips to the batter for a little extra decadence.
- Fruit. Dried fruit such as dried cranberries, raisins, chopped dates or apricots would be delicious in these muffins. I would add 1/2 to 1 cup.
- Other mix-ins. Try stirring in other ingredients such as chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted coconut, or crystallized ginger. Yum!
- Streusel topping. Instead of the icing, try a sweet streusel topping by mixing together 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup melted butter. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of your muffins, then bake as directed.
These carrot muffins are wonderful warm, straight out of the oven, but they also can be made ahead and will store very well!
Be sure to allow the muffins to cool completely before storing. I recommend you move them to a wire rack for the quickest cooling time.
These muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the refrigerator for about 5 days. If you choose to refrigerate your muffins, I recommend heating them in the microwave for about 15 seconds before serving.
These muffins, like most, freeze beautifully! Once completely cooled, place them in a resealable bag then freeze for up to 3 months. You can either thaw your muffins at room temperature, or warm them up in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy.
Helpful tools for making muffins
- Mixing Bowl – Any mixing bowl will do the trick. I love this stainless steel, nonslip mixing bowl set from Target.
- Nonstick Muffin Pan – This is where quality matters! I was given this muffin pan from Williams Sonoma and LOVE it. I don’t have to use paper liners and my muffins always come out so easily. As an added plus, there’s never cooked muffin left stuck to the pan, so it’s super easy to clean.
- Cooling Rack – I wouldn’t say a cooling rack is completely necessary, but it’s definitely nice to have one available. These allow for airflow and even cooling of your baked goods.
You guys are going to LOVE these carrot muffins! They have all of the amazing flavors and textures of a classic carrot cake into one yummy handheld bite!
If you try these carrot muffins, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves them as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re baking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (light works too)
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds*
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 5 tablespoons olive oil (can also use melted coconut oil or butter)
- 1 tablespoon firmly packed orange zest
- 2 cups shredded carrots**, (about 3 to 4 large carrots)
- 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
Cream cheese icing
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons milk, to thin
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir in eggs, olive oil, and orange zest without over-mixing. Fold in shredded carrots and buttermilk.
- Evenly, spoon batter into the muffin pan cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F. and then without opening the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue baking muffins for about 12 to 14 more minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the cream cheese icing: in a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Drizzle over the oatmeal muffins.