Soft and fluffy gluten free carrot cake cupcakes frosted with the most delicious orange cream cheese frosting. Perfect for dessert or brunch, you’ll want to eat more than one!
Carrot cake has always been my cake of choice. Every year for my birthday, my mom would either make a carrot cake or buy one from our local bakery… but it’s one of those cake flavors you just don’t have too often, so I guess that makes it even more special.
If you love carrot cake as much as I do, or if you’re craving a taste of Spring, you have to try these Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting!
This recipe was modified from my Gluten Free Carrot Cake recipe and my Apple Spice Cupcakes. These cupcakes have a wonderfully moist crumb, yet are still light and fluffy. They have that slight spice cake flavor and are packed with grated carrots, but don’t have all the extra mix-ins other carrot cakes have. We like our carrot cakes plain in this family, due to quite a few different allergies, but you could definitely add ½ cup of chopped walnuts or raisins if you wish!
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Let’s talk about this frosting. This orange cream cheese frosting pairs perfectly with carrot cake. It’s not too sweet, so you can really taste the tang from the cream cheese and the citrus flavor from the orange zest.
Cream cheese frosting is one of those frostings that doesn’t always turn out perfectly. It’s easy to get a frosting that’s too runny, too thin, or that ends up slightly gummy/sticky.
If this sounds like something you struggle with too (I’ve had several failed cream cheese frostings), here are a few tips to help:
- Use room temperature butter, and COLD cream cheese. Start by beating the butter for a few minutes with a stand mixer until it’s light, fluffy, and paler in color. Then beat in your cold cream cheese until they combine. I’ve found that if your cream cheese is too soft, you’re more likely to end up with a runny frosting once you add the powdered sugar.
- Once you add the vanilla, salt, and orange zest, make sure to beat everything together really well before adding in the sugar. Once you add the sugar, just beat on low to medium-low speed until combined.
- When all the sugar has been incorporated, beat the frosting on medium-low speed for a good 30 seconds or more until everything is smooth and fluffy. This is where the cold cream cheese comes in handy. If your ingredients are too warm, the cream cheese starts to liquify as it absorbs the powdered sugar.
- You should be able to frost with this cream cheese frosting right away! If for some reason yours ends up slightly loose, just refrigerate it for about 15-20 minutes before piping.
How to Store Carrot Cake Cupcakes
These cupcakes are best eaten within a few days of baking and frosting. Once frosted, store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. You can let them sit out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before eating, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Any leftover cream cheese frosting can be stored in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months.
These cupcakes are the perfect addition to your Spring celebrations and holidays. I hope you love them as much as we do!
Try These Other Spring Desserts!
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Carrot Cake Cupcakes:
- 1 ¼ cup (~187g) Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ cup oil
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups grated carrots
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 8 oz plain cream cheese, block style (keep cold)
- ¾ tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- Zest of half an orange
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a standard 12-cup cupcake or muffin tin with liners, then set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla until smooth and combined. Stir in the grated carrots.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is combined. Fill each of the cupcake liners about ⅔ the way full, then bake on the center rack for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until it’s fluffy and much paler in color.
- Beat in the cold cream cheese for another minutes until combined with the butter, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add in the vanilla, zest, and salt and beat just until combined and smooth.
- Add in the confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed after each addition.
- Once the sugar has completely mixed in, turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat for about 30 seconds - 1 minute until it’s fluffy and smooth. The frosting should still be very thick. If it’s slightly loose, just place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before piping.
- Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake and serve immediately. There’s enough frosting to generously pipe onto all 12 cupcakes.
- If not serving right away, place frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve
- These cupcakes are best eaten within a few days of baking and frosting. Once frosted, store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. You can let them sit out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before eating, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Make sure to use room temperature butter and COLD cream cheese for the frosting. This helps the frosting stay thick when beating, giving you a thicker and pipeable cream cheese frosting. I only use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour, which already contains xanthan gum, so I cannot guarantee that your cupcakes will turn out the same if using a different flour mixture. Not all gluten free flour mixes absorb moisture the same way, and they all have different proportions of ingredients used. If using a gluten free all purpose flour mix, I recommend using a 1:1 mix that contains xanthan gum and measure by weight.
- Always spoon and level your flour into your measuring cups! Scooping out your flour with the measuring cup can lead to using too much.
- Author: Zest and Lemons
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Paula R. Martin
These sound delicious and I’m looking forward to trying them. Could you possibly supply nutrition information (calories, fat, carbs, etc.)? Thanks!
Lauren @ Zest and Lemons
Hi Paula, I don’t have the nutrition information for my recipes. You can try using a nutrition calculator online such as myfitnesspal to calculate everything with the ingredients you use. Hope that helps!
I made these for my sister who is gluten free. However, everyone loved them so they were gone quickly! I didn’t change a thing and they are perfect! Thank you for the wonderful recipe and now I shall try others! Happy New Year!
Lauren @ Zest and Lemons
Hi Esther! I’m so happy to hear that everyone loved the cupcakes – this made my day! Thank you!