Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I sang Disney’s Pocahontas “Colors of the Wind” the entire time I baked these carrot cake cupcakes.


Pocahontas came out when I was 9, and my expert critical opinion was that—even if Pocahontas can canoe down rivers, talk to trees, and be besties with a raccoon—she would never be as cool as Belle, the obviously superior Disney princess. Flash forward 18 years: I still believe Belle is the superior Disney princess, still know all the words to “Colors of the Wind” (why?), and for reasons only the universe can fathom, felt unstoppably compelled to sing it aloud whist baking Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes.

Perhaps my song sprang from a deep-connection with nature. Perhaps Pocahontas was begging my subconscious to give her a second chance. Perhaps “Colors of the Wind” perfectly encapsulated my bright array of ingredients.


Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes // Well-Plated

Whatever the reason, I nearly named these “Colors of the Wind Carrot Cake Cupcakes.” Then, I read that name out loud. Plus, I couldn’t betray my homegirl Belle. Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes it is!

Folks, these are not your mother’s carrot cake cupcakes (and if they are, your mother and I should hang out). I promised “loaded,” and these babies deliver.

I set out to make a healthier carrot cake cupcake, so I knew I’d need plenty of shredded carrots for moisture and natural sweetness, but carrots alone were not enough for the tender, flavor-packed cupcake of my dreams.


Enter crushed pineapple: a winner for extra moisture, natural sweetness, and all around deliciousness. And what’s pineapple without shredded coconut, my latest-greatest obsession ever since baking this whiz-bang banana coconut cake? Yep, we’re adding it.

Next, since this is a carrot cake cupcake after all, we definitely need toasted walnuts and some cinnamon. I omitted raisins (just wasn’t feeling it), but if those plump nuggets are gospel to your carrot cake religion, by all means follow your faith and toss them in too.

To bring these baked beauties to carrot cake perfection, I’m keeping it classic with my favorite tangy cream cheese frosting, then adding even more shredded coconut on top. If you’re craving some extra crunch, feel free to toast the coconut first, though the fantastic texture of the cake will stand on its own without this extra step.


Though Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes include some less-traditional ingredients, they stay true to everything you crave about carrot cake that prompts you to bake it first place: natural carrot sweetness, warm spice, and outrageous melt-in-your-mouth moisture. The pineapple enhances the cupcakes’ sweetness and moisture without taking over, and the coconut adds subtle texture.

Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes might not be your mother’s carrot cake, but I bet you your mother would love every tender, carrot-pineapple-coconut-lovin’-bite. A raccoon told me so. Now, go bake yourself a big batch of Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Singing is encouraged, and I hope their flavor inspires a little free spirited kitchen boogie.

Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Loaded with natural sweetness from carrots, crushed pineapple, and shredded coconut, these ultra-moist, “skinny” carrot cake cupcakes offer everything you love about carrot cake—tender texture, lovely carrot flavor, and subtle, warm spice—without the guilt. Top with tangy cream cheese frosting and extra shredded coconut for the full Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcake experience.

Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes



  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups shredded carrots (about 2 large or 3 small-medium)
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut (you will need 1 and 1/2 cups total if preparing coconut cream cheese frosting below)

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin(s) with paper liners or lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer or a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg, egg whites, brown sugar, and canola oil. Add the carrots and beat for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and 3/4 shredded coconut and beat until incorporated. With a wooden spoon, stir in half of the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Stir in buttermilk. Add the remaining flour mixture, continuing to stir in by hand, just until combined. Gently fold in walnuts.
  4. Fill prepared tins 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Gently remove cupcakes from tin and let cool on a wire rack.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, leaving the coconut untoasted (if desired). Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes, then top with remaining 3/4 shredded coconut. Serve and enjoy!

Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2 months, first wrapping each individual cupcake tightly with plastic wrap.

31 Responses to “Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes”

  1. Tieghan — May 20, 2013 @ 9:01 am (#)

    Your story is so cute! I could totally see myself doing something like this. I love thinking of old memories as I bake/cook!

    Loving these cupcakes, especially all that coconut on top!

    • Erin Clarke — May 20th, 2013 @ 9:38 am

      Coconut on top is where it is at! And yes for cooking bringing up memories. It’s one of my favorite things about baking! Who knows what I’ll be singing next :) (Let’s hope for Ben’s sake I take a break from Disney though, haha)

  2. Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking — May 20, 2013 @ 10:15 am (#)

    These cupcakes are totally calling to me, Erin! Carrot cake is my favorite ever, ever, ever. Love your coconut cream cheese frosting, too!

    • Erin Clarke — May 20th, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

      Carrot cake is just the bees knees! Thanks Georgia!

  3. Danae @thereciperunner — May 20, 2013 @ 11:20 am (#)

    These look and sound delicious! I love carrot cake and appreciate how much healthier you have made these. Beautiful pictures of them as well!

    • Erin Clarke — May 20th, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

      Thanks so much Danae! I’m glad you appreciate my healthy swaps too..though I promise you can’t taste them :)

  4. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies — May 20, 2013 @ 2:09 pm (#)

    Kind of funny, this IS prety similar to my family’s carrot cake! Your version is definitely healthier, but I never knew that all carrot cakes didn’t have pineapple (and was always sad when I discovered no coconut tucked away in others). In my opinion, these are musts and make the cake perfection — so your cupcakes look amazing!

    P.S., totally played “Colors of the wind” at a piano recital when I was young, so if you need back up music then I’ve got you covered!

    • Erin Clarke — May 20th, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

      YES. I’m sure if we combined forces, someone would pay us to stop. (This is a reflection purely of my lack of singing ability.) Afterwards, we can go for a slice of carrot cake as it should be: with coconut! Thanks Kelly :)

  5. ashley - baker by nature — May 20, 2013 @ 9:19 pm (#)

    Love that song! And these cupcakes are loaded and luscious!!! Love them.

    • Erin Clarke — May 20th, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

      Loaded and luscious! I lovvvve that description. Thanks Ashely!

  6. Luv What You Do — May 21, 2013 @ 7:50 am (#)

    Oh I was singing all of the songs from the little mermaid the other day. Where does those brain cells go? I am all for a healthier carrot cupcake…we could call that a muffin, which is automatically healthy right? I love the addition of the coconut on top.

    • Erin Clarke — May 21st, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

      You can call these whatever you like and eat them for breakfast too! They do have all those fruits and veggies afterall ;-) Thanks for your comment!

  7. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — May 21, 2013 @ 7:53 am (#)

    Belle is my FAVORITE. Though I do have a soft spot for Pocahontas and her love of the nature (and the fact that she has a cute raccoon as a best friend, which is awesome). Going to have to bust out my old school Disney soundtrack while I make these yummy cupcakes!

    • Erin Clarke — May 21st, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

      Belle is seriously the best. Love the idea of dusting off hte Disney soundtrack, but I’m pretty sure mine are all on cassette tapes! haha. Thanks Steph!

  8. crazyforcrust — May 22, 2013 @ 8:26 am (#)

    I love the coconut! Carrot cake rocks, it’s the only treat my husband can’t resist!

    • Erin Clarke — May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:16 am

      Husband with a limited sweet tooth?! While I applaud his love of carrot cake, I know what it’s like to be the only one gobbling down every other dessert that you bake (mine will only go for chocolate chip cookies. Again, not a bad choice, but it does leave me with a lot of cupcakes on my hands. Oh food blog “problems.”)

      • PapaChef — May 22nd, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

        It’s the opposite over here. I’m the one that could eat dessert after a huge dinner and can go for pretty much anything. I have to fight the wife to try something or to let me make it. She’ll love it once it’s made of course, but getting there is the journey.

        • Erin Clarke — May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

          I am still blow away by people who can resist dessert! At least you can count on your lady to help you polish it off once it’s there. Sounds like you’ve got the tactics down :)

  9. PapaChef — May 22, 2013 @ 12:37 pm (#)

    Haha, I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t know all the words to Colors of the Wind. I tried to read through this quick so I wouldn’t accidentally get the song stuck in my head. It always makes me tear up (I know, dude.. food blogger.. tearing up for Disney songs.. my man card has been gone a long, long time).

    Anyway, the cupcakes sound amazing with the pineapple and coconut. Sound perfect for a bbq or outdoor party. I love them but I’ve never made a carrot cake. Pretty sure yours might be the first!

    Also, what makes Belle better than Ariel? She is/was a freaking mermaid. Not only that, she’s King Triton daughter! C’mon, stop lying to yourself. Haha

    • Erin Clarke — May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

      lol. This cracked me up. Belle is an odd ball (I can relate), smart (I hope to relate), and she falls for the Beast because of who he is on the inside vs. love at first site (the romantic skeptic in me can relate). How can that not MY food-blogging heart? And no judgement for crying during Colors of the Wind–I honestly bawled when I saw Pocahontas in theater. Did I mention I’m a sap?

  10. sally @ sallys baking addiction — May 23, 2013 @ 8:59 am (#)

    buttermilk, coconut, oil – ahh! I bet these cupcakes are so soft and tender. I used to lvoe that song. It was my favorite disney movie growing up. :)

    • Erin Clarke — May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:45 am

      Sally, you know the formula for a moist cake :) Cheers for Pocahontus. Can’t lie–I kind of want to rewatch it now!

  11. Megan {Country Cleaver} — May 24, 2013 @ 9:17 am (#)

    I was full on Pocahontus mode after leaving Disney last week. I basically am going to sit and watch every Disney movie ever now. And make these, because sitting on my butt for a week straight for Disney movies means I need some thing healthy right? And they’re healthy cause they have carrots. I love logic. :)

    • Erin Clarke — May 24th, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

      Your logic is GENIUS! Yay for Disney and hope you had a great trip!

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  14. Susan — June 11, 2013 @ 10:28 pm (#)

    These cupcakes are amazing! Thanks for a great recipe. I will definitely make these again!

    • Erin Clarke — June 11th, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

      YAY! I am so so happy you liked them Susan. Thanks for taking time to share your review, and enjoy every crumb :-)

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  16. Florence — February 25, 2014 @ 12:26 pm (#)

    Hi Erin, I am the law student’s mother!!! Always looking for something nice to make for my son while he’s in the library and I don’t have to convince you that’s all the time. Can’t wait to try your loaded carrot cupcakes and check out other recipes in your blog. Thank you.

    • Erin Clarke — February 25th, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

      Hi Florence! It is so wonderful to hear from you. Your son sounds like a lucky guy to have a mom who is looking out for him. These carrot cake cupcakes are one of our all-time favorite treats, and I hope that you and your son love them too! I’m so happy you found my blog and said hello! Have a wonderful day. It’s great to have you here :-)

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