These vegan carrot cake cupcakes are healthier than regular cupcakes, but also ultra moist, flavorful and decadent! Made completely dairy-free and egg-free too. Perfect treat for the spring, Easter, Mother's day or any celebration!
You guys, these vegan carrot cake cupcakes are SO delicious! We are absolutely in love with them. I'm not craving sugar treats very often, but these bad boys, I can have 5 in a row easily.
And they are stunning too. I mean, look at them. How cute are they?
The idea was to make a healthier cupcake recipe (also completely dairy-free and without eggs): cakey carrot muffins with the frosting and all. But dang, I'm so happy how they came up because they don't really taste that healthy after all.
They are ultra moist and tender, packed with flavor and they feel so rich and decadent. I love the texture from the muffins combined with the sweet creamy light frosting.
And what's the secret for moist and sweet cupcakes without all the processed fat and added white sugar? Pineapple! Either fresh or canned, the tiny chunks of pineapple keep the muffins super moist and tender, plus add extra flavor and sweetness. Also, the recipe includes almond butter for a softer and richer consistency. They are truly delicious and healthy at the same time. And, they don't dry out easily over time.
Ok, let's talk about the dairy-free frosting now. I know usually carrot cake usually includes a cream cheese based frosting, but since I wanted to limit using processed ingredients, I made this recipe completely free of vegan butter, without processed vegan cream cheese and refined white sugar-free. Fear not though, the frosting is the best part! Made using only 3 ingredients - dates, coconut oil, aquafaba - it comes together easily and goes perfectly well with the carrot cake muffins. And please, don't be scared away of the aquafaba!
As a side note, I have other oil-free frosting on the blog you can use instead if you were looking for a 100% whole food plant-based recipe.
They are perfect for Easter celebration, Mother's day treat, birthday parties or any celebrations, really.
I hope you give them a try!
What is aquafaba
Ok, I know it sounds like a weird-vegan-hippie thing to use, but aquafaba simply is the water from a can of chickpeas. Yes, yes, the water you normally pour into your drain.
Aquafaba if filled with starch and once whipped up, it turns into a mousse consistency that's actually pretty stable over time, similar to egg whites. It creates an amazing fat-free, taste-free and colorless base for mousses, puddings, creams and frosting recipes. I use aquafaba when making my vegan trifle, but can also be used in all sort of vegan baking to improve overall texture.
Ingredients you'll need
For the carrot cupcakes
- All-purpose flour: regular wheat flour is what you'll need to make them. I haven't tried using a gluten-free or whole wheat flour yet.
- Baking soda and baking powder: leveling agents.
- Ground flaxseeds: you can buy already ground flaxseeds at any grocery store, but I like to grind them myself using my high-speed blender. Store in the fridge once ground. The flax replaces the eggs and on top of adding valuable nutrients, helps create cupcakes with a great texture.
- Cinnamon: just a little for a subtle flavor, but can be omitted.
- Almond butter: essential for texture by providing healthy fats to the recipe. You will need a natural, unsweetened and POURABLE almond butter.
- Pineapple: use either fresh or from a can, both work well.
- Shredded carrots: finely grated works best, so ideally try to shred them yourself as opposed to the thick store bought type. You can use the shredder on your food processor if that's easier.
- Plant-based milk: any kind will work.
- Maple syrup: do not swap for granulated sugar!
For the frosting
- Aquafaba: water from a can of chickpeas. Using water from homemade cooked chickpeas DOES NOT work, you need the can!
- Coconut oil: Refined or not, depending if you want a coconut flavor.
- Fresh Medjool dates: you will need the plump, creamy and large dates. You can find them in the produce section at the grocery store.
How to make them
Pre-heat the oven to 350º and line a muffin pan with 12 muffin paper tins.
Make the cupcakes
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and ground flax).
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients (almond butter, plant-based milk and maple syrup). Use a whisk to ensure the almond butter is well incorporated. You do not want any clumps! Then, add the shredded carrots and pineapple and stir well.
Pour the wet over the dry and stir to combine.
Divide the batter in between the 12 muffins tins and bake for 22 minutes. You can check to make sure the cupcakes are all done by poking with a tooth pick: it should come out clean.
Let the cupcakes completely cool down in the muffin pan. Make the frosting during that time.
Make the frosting
You will have to blend the mixture using an immersion blender. So, I recommend to use a tall jar/glass to make the frosting (see short video). You can also use a regular blender, although the volume is little so you would need to use a small blender container...
Transfer the aquafaba into your jar and warm up in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes. It needs to be pretty hot.
Then, add the pitted dates and coconut oil (no need to melt it first). Then, use your immersion blender to blend everything to smooth. You do not want to have any clumps or chunks left, so blend as long as it takes!
Once blended, transfer the creamy mixture in a medium-large bowl and put it in the freezer. Let it chill for 30 minutes, then whip for about 5 minutes on high speed (I used a hand held mixer). It will become all creamy, more pale and lighter. Then, transfer back to the freezer for another 20 minutes or so before whipping for a second time for 5 minutes.
Frost the cupcakes
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled down, then you can frost them as you wish.
Watch how to make them
- It is important to use a smooth and pourable almond butter to make this recipe. So before measuring it, be sure to stir in the almond butter container to ensure it is uniform and very creamy. The dry almond butter you get at the end of the container is not going to work well here.
- If using canned pineapple, simply drain well, but you don't need to pat dry the pieces of fruit. You want the pineapple to be moist without dripping juice, if that makes sense.
- Also, chop the pineapple very well. I found that tiny chunks of fruit worked out better. You can do the same for the shredded carrot: once shredded, if the threads are long, you can chop them more using your knife so the pieces are smaller.
- As always in baking, be sure to measure the flour properly. To help you avoid over packing the measuring cups, which would end up with dry cupcakes, measure using the spoon and level method (watch at 0:30)!
- Whisk well the liquids first before adding to the dry ingredients (incorporate all the almond butter, don't leave any clumps behind!), so you don't have to over mix once all the ingredients are together.
- DO NOT frost the vegan carrot cupcakes until they are completely cooled down or the frosting might soften and melt.
Variations to the recipe
Here are a few ingredients you can incorporate into the batter to add either more flavor or texture:
- Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans.
- More spices like nutmeg, chai spices or pumpkin spice mix.
- Shredded coconut
- Lemon zest for a zesty flavor
Also, other frosting recipes you can use for these cupcakes include: healthy peanut butter frosting, vegan cashew vanilla frosting or date caramel. The vanilla-maple frosting used to make these vegan sandwich cookies would work amazing here too.
I like to serve my cupcakes without much extra, just the cupcakes and frosting. But once frosted, you can top the vegan carrot cake cupcakes with shredded coconut, chopped nuts, a little shredded carrots, chopped dates, etc.
If you have it, also drizzle this tahini caramel over for a beautiful final touch!
Also, the cupcakes are so good they don't even need any frosting. The frosting-free muffins can make for a delicious breakfast idea too.
Keep the cupcakes at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, transfer to an air-tight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. The frosting hold VERY well over time.
Take them out of the fridge for about 30-60 minutes before eating them so they aren’t that cold and soften a bit.
I haven't tried it, but I would think that the cupcakes would freeze well, as long as they are not frosted. I do not think that the frosting would hold well once thawed.
Recipe ideas to use the chickpeas from the can
- Vegan Mediterranean tray bake
- Chickpea dill creamy salad
- Chickpea and spinach curry
- Falafel buddha bowls
- Vegan chickpea blondies
- BBQ chickpeas
- Vegan chickpea burgers
- Broccoli hummus
More cake and muffin recipes you might like
- Vegan upside down pineapple cake
- Vegan orange chocolate cake
- Vegan banana mug cake
- Vegan mug brownie
- Lemon blueberry mug cake
- Vegan blueberry cheesecake
- Vegan plum cake
I hope you like these vegan carrot cake cupcakes as much as we do! If you try them, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how they were. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes (Healthy Recipe)
- Electric mixer
- Immersion blender regular blender works too
For the cupcakes
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup almond butter - pourable
- 1½ cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup pineapple - fresh or canned, chopped finely
For the frosting
- ¾ cup aquafaba - liquid from a can of chickpeas
- 1½ cup Medjool dates
- ½ cup coconut oil - refined or unrefined
Make the cupcakes
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º and line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter, plant-based milk and maple syrup. Whisk well to remove all the almond butter clumps. Then, add the shredded carrots and pineapple and stir to combine.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine.
- Divide the batter in between the 12 prepared muffin tins and bake for 22 minutes. Check for doneness by poking with a toothpick, it should come out clean. Let them completely cool down in the muffin pan.
Make the frosting
- Warm up the aquafaba until very hot either in the microwave for about 1 min or using the stove. Then, transfer the aquafaba, pitted dates and coconut oil in a tall jar/glass. Blend the mixture using an immersion blender until very smooth, this might take a few minutes. You can also use a regular blender.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Then, whip for about 5 minutes. It should become lighter, paler and fluffier. Transfer back in the freezer for another 20 minutes or so and whip once more for 5 minutes.
- Once the cupcakes are COMPLETELY cooled down, you can frost them.
- Store the cupcakes at room temperature for 24 hours. For longer storage, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. You can freeze the cupcakes without the frosting.
- For best results, measure the flour following the spoon and level method.
- Be sure not to leave any clumps of almond butter while whisking.
- You can use canned pineapple. In that case, drain well but no need to pat dry. You want the fruit to be moist without dripping juice.