Gluten free carrot cake cupcakes

Gluten free carrot cake cupcakes

Updated 7th May 2022

I’d been fancying making (and eating!) gluten free carrot cake cupcakes for ages and had been on the hunt for a recipe which I could use to rustle some up. After a bit of searching, I spotted this ‘standard’ carrot cake recipe by Mary Cadogan on the BBC Good Food website. The recipe turned out to be just what I’d been looking for, and rewarded me well with some very delicious, soft, fragrant, cream cheese frosted cupcakes.

These gluten free carrot cake cupcakes have proved to be a huge hit for all who try them. And, along with my butterfly cakes, are the things that my friends and family request me to make the most. I have to say, I love them too! They’re also really easy to make; thanks to the marvellously simple all in one method.  


Ingredients (makes 12)

For the cupcakes
175g light muscovado sugar 
175ml vegetable or sunflower oil
3 large eggs
140g grated carrot
100g *raisins or sultanas (optional)
Grated zest of 1 large orange
175g gluten free self-raising flour (add ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum if the flour doesn’t already contain this or guar gum) 
1 teaspoon *bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon *cinnamon
½ teaspoon *nutmeg

For the cream cheese frosting
165g unsalted butter (leave out to soften for about 1hr before you need it)
165g Philadelphia full fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon *vanilla extract
330g icing sugar, sifted

To finish (optional)
*Sugar carrots (available in most large supermarkets in the UK), grated orange zest, *chopped nuts or *halved walnuts


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/Fan 160C.

Line a muffin tray with large muffin cases.

To make the cupcakes: Put all the ‘cupcakes’ ingredients, except for the raisins, into a large mixing bowl. Whisk for a minute or so until everything is nicely blended and any larger lumps of sugar have dispersed and then stir in the raisins.

Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases. You will find the mixture is quite runny, so it’s best to carefully pour it into the muffin cases, rather than spooning it in. I find using a spoon to catch any drips after each pour, helps prevent things getting too messy. 

Gluten free carrot cake cupcakes ready to bake

Pop the cupcakes into the oven and bake for about 22 minutes until they have risen and are firm but springy when gently pressed.

Gluten free carrot cake cupcakes

Remove them from the oven and leave to cool completely. 

To make the cream cheese frosting: Place the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and beat well before adding the cream cheese and vanilla extract (if the butter is very soft, it will be fine to mix with the cream cheese straight away). Whisk until blended. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, stir each lot in before adding more. Once all the sugar has been added, give the frosting a really good whisk with an electric mixer until it’s light and creamy.

Cream cheese frosting

Fill a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, with the cream cheese frosting and pipe a generous swirl onto each cupcake. If you prefer, you can spread the frosting over each cupcake.

Top the cupcakes with either sugar carrots (if you are able to get them), grated orange zest, chopped nuts or halved walnuts. Or leave plain if you prefer. 
Gluten free carrot cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting

Recipe notes and suggestions:

The cupcakes need to be stored in the fridge, where they will keep fine for 2-3 days. However, to enjoy them at their very best, take them out about ½ hr before you plan to tuck in.

You can freeze the cupcakes, providing they haven’t been decorated with cream cheese frosting. Allow them to fully defrost before topping with frosting. 

For added depth and richness of flavour, try using half light and half dark muscovado sugar to make the cupcakes. I discovered how well this works purely by accident, when I was short of light muscovado.   

Mary Cadogon’s original recipe was for a 18cm square carrot cake. Should you choose to make a cake instead of cupcakes, it will need to be baked for 40-45 minutes. Also, the recipe suggested an orange icing frosting; this is just 2 tablespoons of orange juice (squeezed from the grated orange), mixed well with 175g of sifted icing sugar. The icing can then be drizzled randomly over the baked cake. You may even prefer to use the orange frosting suggested in the original recipe for the cupcakes instead of a cream cheese frosting.


Full credit and thanks for the original carrot cake recipe I’ve slightly tweaked to make gluten free, must of course go to Mary Cadogon.

Thanks so much for checking this recipe out. Hope you like it. There is also a video of me popping together a batch of these carrot cake cupcakes together over on YouTube. Here’s the link if you fancy taking a peep!

For now,
Liz x

*Check this product out to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.

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