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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Applesauce

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Applesauce
A carrot cake cupcake cut in half to show the inside.

When is the last time you had carrot cake? What about carrot cake cupcakes with applesauce?

Maybe a long time, maybe even never!

Of all the cupcake flavors in the world, chocolate, vanilla, cookies n’ cream, strawberry, etc., carrot cake is overlooked. I’m speaking from experience here because 2 years ago, I would’ve passed right on over the carrot cake cupcake in the stand.

Like if I wanted to eat vegetables, I would eat a salad right?

I get the apprehension, but I’m here to tell you, give carrot cake a second chance. Give these carrot cake cupcakes with applesauce a first chance, and I promise you won’t regret it!

Pumpkin Pie Spice in Spring…?

Okay, I know that pumpkin pie spice is typically a very fall-winter ingredient. Well, in my household, it’s all year long. My love for pumpkin spice can not, and will not, be sequestered into just four lowly months.

Pumpkin pie spice is actually pretty incredible. It’s loaded with every possible warm spice, which makes it a flavor bomb in the best way.

There’s cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. That’s five spices in one tiny little jar.

Now, my local grocery store puts a small 0.7-ounce jar of just one of those spices at $2.89. So, if you needed all five you’re looking at spending around $15, plus the ingredients of the actual cake! Or you could just buy a jar of pumpkin pie spice for less than $3 and be good to go. $15 or $3?

I know what I would choose!

I added extra cinnamon to this recipe because I think the charm of this cake is how warm and flavorful it is. With the warm spices playing so nicely with the apple, carrot, and orange in here, every bite sings with flavor!

A close up shot of the caramel falling from the carrot cake cupcakes.

You Get a Star Tip, You Get a Star Tip, Everyone Gets a Star Tip!

I am all about the star tip when it comes to piping!

The star tip is appropriately named because when you look directly at the tip, it looks like a star, or a flower, depending on your personality. There are two different types: a closed star or an open star. The open star has its little prongs sticking out, while the closed star as then curved in so the top is more smooth.

The star tip is also a pretty common tip to find. You could probably find these in the baking aisle of your grocery store, compared to the more fancy, intricate piping tips that can only be found at a specialty craft store.

If I could only pick one tip to use for the rest of my life (what a cruel world that would be), I would definitely go with the star tip!

If you’re still a little unsure on how to get the perfect swirl on top, here’s a video showing you how I do it!

Watch how I get the perfect swirl on top of the cupcakes!

Why Applesauce in My Carrot Cake Cupcakes? What Happened to Pineapple?

Sorry Pineapple, you may always be necessary for my Pina Colada but Carrot Cake no longer needs you!

The first time I decided carrot cake was a no-go, the carrot cake had pineapple chunks in it. While I know that’s a common ingredient, the pineapple turned into this mushy ingredient that I couldn’t identify, which made the whole cupcake experience not fun.

I know that doesn’t happen to every carrot cake with pineapple in it! But the cupcake I tried did, which left a bad taste in my mouth (literally and figuratively) when it came to carrot cake.

So when I was setting out to create my own version of this, I knew that pineapple would not be invited to the party. The applesauce adds a lot of flavor without being so overwhelming to the spices. There’s just a subtle apple flavor that I believe enhances the cinnamon. Plus, the applesauce adds more moisture to the cupcakes.

Sorry Pineapple Lovers! Here’s a recipe for my Pina Colada Cupcakes that you might like! They’re loaded up with pineapple goodness!

A drizzle shot of the caramel onto the carrot cake cupcakes with applesauce.
Carrot cake with applesauce and a caramel drizzle

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Applesauce

A moist, spiced Carrot Cake in cupcake form. With applesauce, shredded carrots, pumpkin pie spice, and extra cinnamon, these cupcakes will be your new favorite spring dessert!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 17 mins
Cooling 10 mins
Total Time 32 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes


  • Medium Cookie Scoop this is crucial for getting perfectly even cupcakes! One of my most used kitchen tools!


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 3/4 cup White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup Flavorless Oil
  • 1/2 cup Applesauce unsweetened
  • 1 Orange zested
  • 3 cups Shredded Carrots chopped into smaller pieces


  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese room temperature
  • 2 sticks Butter room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Milk


  • 1/4 cup Caramel sauce drizzled over top


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prep ingredients by chopping shredded carrots into 1/4 inch pieces, and zesting the entire orange. Line the cupcake tins with liners.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together both sugars, eggs, oil, applesauce, and the orange zest.
  • Slowly, add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  • When the mixture is almost all mixed together, stir in the shredded carrots.
  • Using a medium cookie scoop, fill the cupcake liners a 2/3's of the way full.
  • Bake in the oven for about 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean!
  • While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting
  • Combine cream cheese and butter into the bowl of stand mixer and mix on high until light and fluffy.
  • Turn the mixer on low and add in the powdered sugar and salt.
  • After all the sugar has been mixed in, add heavy cream and vanilla to the bowl.
  • Once the frosting is finished, add to a piping bag with a large star tip attached.
  • Start by piping a star in the middle of the cupcake and then slowly work your way around the edge of the cupcake. Start to gradually pipe on top of the frosting to create a tall swirl. Release pressure and pull the bag away to create a peak at the top.
  • Drizzle the caramel over the top.
  • These Carrot Cake Cupcakes are ready to serve!



If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you can use a large spoon or a quarter cup measuring cup! The goal is to make sure the cupcakes are 2/3’s of the way full so they don’t overflow in the oven.
If you don’t have a piping bag, just use a plastic sandwich bag! Those work great!
Don’t have the time to pipe the frosting? Just use a knife and smear it on the top! Trust me, a pretty cupcake tastes just as delicious as a rustic cupcake! 
Keyword carrot cake, carrot cake cupcake recipe, Carrot cake cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes recipes, carrot cake recipes, carrot cake recipes easy, carrot cake recipes without pineapple, carrot cake with applesauce, carrot cake with cinnamon

In my eyes, carrot cake is the unofficial official cake flavor of the spring. I mean, hello Easter dessert!

The cream cheese frosting with the spiced carrot cake cupcake are truly a match made in heaven.

If you were on the fence with carrot cake before, I promise this recipe can convert even the most stubborn of carrot cake haters!

I know this, because I used to be one!

-Holly Michelle

A bite shot of the carrot cake to show the texture and the chopped carrots inside.

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