Add a delicious treat to your brunch menu with these carrot cake muffins with cream cheese glaze! These ultra moist, cakey muffins feature a fluffy, tender crumb with the perfect touch of warm spices. Paired with the sweet and tangy cream cheese glaze, you won't find a more decadent muffin.
Talk about upping your brunch game.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
Need a brunch recipe that's sure to impress? Look no further than this carrot cake muffin. Whether you're hosting Easter or Mother's Day brunch, these carrot muffins belong on your table.
Not only are these muffins perfect for a crowd but they always disappear quickly. And how could they not? With that cream cheese glaze, they’re basically little breakfast cakes, and who doesn’t enjoy an excuse to eat cake for breakfast? When you put a tray of these muffins out, you’ll be everyone’s brunch hero.
Best of all, these muffins are super simple to make. With just a little stirring, whisking and folding, you have all the skills necessary to bake a batch of homemade muffins. So let's walk through the process and show you how truly easy this recipe is.
For our dry ingredients, we use all-purpose flour, dark brown sugar, baking soda and powder, salt and spices. While I specifically like dark brown sugar in carrot cake treats, you can substitute light brown sugar. The dark variety has more molasses, which gives it a richer taste and a touch of additional moisture, but light brown still yields a tasty muffin.
If this is your first time making a carrot cake baked good, the pineapple and coconut may seem like odd additions. But rest assured, both are common carrot cake mix-ins and add wonderful flavor and texture. I don't recommend skipping them.
You may have also noticed I specified buttermilk rather than whole milk. I love the flavor buttermilk adds, but if you don't have any on hand, you can make your own buttermilk.
Simply add ½ tablespoon lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to ½ cup whole milk. We let the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes, and just like that, we have a buttermilk substitute.
And now we're ready to bake, so let's get started. Step 1: We begin by mixing together our dry ingredients. This includes our flour, dark brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices (photo 1).
Step 2: In a separate bowl, we add our wet ingredients and mix-ins (photo 2) and then gently whisk together just until combined (photo 3).
Step 3: From here, we pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients. For the best texture, we want to be gentle as we combine the two, so we fold the two just until combined like so (photo 4).
If some lumps remain, that's fine. The batter won't be perfectly smooth, especially with the mix-ins.
Step 4: Now we fill our muffin pan with batter so that each cup is about three-fourths full (photo 5). We pop the pan into a 425-degree oven and then immediately turn down the heat to 350 degrees. By giving the muffin batter that initial burst of high heat, we get that lift everyone loves in a good muffin.
Step 5: After about 20 minutes, our muffins should be baked to perfection and ready to cool (photo 6).
While our muffins bake, this is a good time to make our cream cheese glaze. Our first step is beat our cream cheese until it's fluffy. Then, we scrape it up and add some of our powdered sugar and beat again. We continue to do this until we use all our powdered sugar.
The final step is to beat in some milk, which gives us that perfect drizzling consistency. And just like that, our cream cheese glaze is ready.
Well, call me biased, but I truly believe that tangy, creamy goodness gives these muffins a little touch of extra special decadence. That said, the first time I made these, I didn't use the cream cheese glaze. These muffins still taste divine even without the glaze.
You bet. With the buttermilk, oil, carrots and pineapple, these muffins sure are moist. Plus, the spice becomes even more prominent when it has a chance to meld.
As long as you store these carrot muffins in an airtight container, these should stay fresh for a good four or five days. This makes them great for any brunch parties when you need to make some recipes ahead of time.
- To grate the carrots, simply run the carrots along the small-hole side of a box grater.
- Do not scoop your flour to measure. Instead, you need to spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then level with a knife. Scooping packs in too much flour.
- Before adding the crushed pineapple, make sure you drain it completely in a fine-mesh sieve.
- Let the eggs come to room temperature before using them. Room-temperature eggs incorporate into the batter better than cold eggs. Simply set the eggs in room temperature for 30 minutes, but if you forget, you can set them in warm -- not hot -- water for 10 minutes.
- The cream cheese should also be at room temperature. Cold cream cheese will give you a lumpy glaze.
You will love these carrot muffins with a nice barley wine. The dark brown sugar and spices meld nicely with the barley wine's caramel-forward and dried fruit flavors.
Love a wine with brunch? Try a Madeira. This wine comes with a complex, sweet nuttiness and kick of acidity that balances the tangy buttermilk and cream cheese while adding some brightness.
Or maybe you want a brunch cocktail. My pineapple mimosa is perfect. We already have the crushed pineapple and coconut, which makes this mimosa a delicious option. You might also want to check out my guide on Easter cocktails for more options.
A nice coffee drink, like this Starbucks matcha latte, is also lovely on the side.
For a wonderful brunch treat that's sure to please, I hope you try these carrot cake muffins with cream cheese glaze. Everyone will love these sweet little bites.
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Carrot Cake Muffins With Cream Cheese Glaze
- Mixing bowls
- Muffin pans
- Muffin liners
Carrot Cake Muffins
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg preferably freshly grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup freshly grated carrots about 3 whole carrots (see note)
- ½ cup buttermilk shaken before measuring
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup crushed pineapple well drained
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
Cream Cheese Glaze
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons milk
Carrot Cake Muffins
- Heat oven to 425 degrees and place baking liners in a muffin tray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, salt, baking soda and baking powder until well combined. Some lumps will be unavoidable, but try to break up any big brown sugar lumps.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, carrots, buttermilk, vegetable oil, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut and vanilla extract until combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and fold just until combined. Do not overmix. Leaving some lumps is OK. The batter won't be perfectly smooth.
- Spoon the batter into baking liners so that it's three-fourths full. Place in the 425-degree oven. Keeping the oven closed, immediately turn oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
- As soon as they're cool enough to handle, remove from the muffin pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, drizzle with cream cheese glaze. See below for the cream cheese glaze recipe. Enjoy!
Cream Cheese Glaze
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add about ½ cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Repeat until you use all the powdered sugar, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk and beat until combined. If you need to thin it out, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk. Either pour in a squeeze bottle to drizzle on the cake or do so directly.
- Do not use those pre-shredded carrots from the store. They're too dry. Instead, use the small holes on a box grater to grate the carrots.
- Do not scoop your flour when measuring. You need to spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then level with a knife. Scooping packs in too much flour, and it will throw off the recipe.
- I recommend completely draining the pineapple in a fine-mesh sieve.
- If you forget to allow your eggs to come to room temperature, you can speed up the process by setting them in warm -- not hot -- water for 10 minutes.
- If you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own substitute by adding ½ tablespoon lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to whole milk. Let the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes, and it's then ready to use.
- For baking at 5,280 feet altitude, I used ⅞ teaspoon baking soda and ⅞ teaspoon baking powder. I made no other changes.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.