Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

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Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect small batch dessert for Easter and spring time! This cake is super flavorful: studded with chopped walnuts, shredded carrot and the perfect balance of spices. This carrot cake is topped with a brown butter cream cheese frosting that is to die for! SO GOOD! This cake is adapted from my Carrot Sheet Cake recipe.

Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting on a cutting board.

Carrot cake is up there with my favorite of all cakes. Yes, it’s true. I am a lover of this smaller cake format (the 8×8-inch cake). I have my Mini Strawberry Sheet Cake, Mini Lemon Cake, Mini Banana Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, Mini Chocolate Sheet Cake and of course, my autumnal favorite, Mini Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Brown Butter Frosting.

I guess you could say these are my absolute favorite type of cakes to make.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make this Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredient shot of flour, spices, sugars, carrots.
  • All-purpose flour. And of course you’ll need baking soda for leavening and some salt.
  • Ground spices. I like to add cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. Not too many spices…just the right amount.
  • Neutral oil. I don’t love carrot cakes that are super oily. This one isn’t—it’s just right. But oil, undoubtedly, gives cake a lightness to them that is unbeatable. I like to bake with avocado oil as my neutral oil but grape seed and vegetable oil work too.
  • Unsalted butter. While I love oil for texture and moisture, I love butter for flavor. I like to add a bit of butter for some balance.
  • Granulated sugar and brown sugar. Half and half. It’s needed.
    Eggs. Well, we need eggs for leavening and to bind everything together.
  • Buttermilk. I like to use buttermilk because it adds a really lovely tang and crumb to baked goods.
  • Freshly grated carrots. The sweeter the better. I had some carrots in the fridge from my CSA box and they were delicious!
  • Walnuts. You can use walnuts OR pecans. You choose what you like best!
Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting on a round board with a knife.

What Is so Magical About Carrot Cake?

I’ve been thinking about it for a few days. And I think it’s a delicious balance of savory and sweet. Freshly grated carrot add so much moisture to this cake, along with brown sugar, warm spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. And then you have the crunchy walnuts (or pecans). There’s so much going on…but luckily, not too much.

How to Make Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. We have all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, salt and ginger.
  1. Cream together the room temperature butter, oil with the sugars (brown and white sugar). You want to cream it until it’s light and fluffy.
  2. Then crack in the eggs. And beat them until they’re all nice and combined.
  3. Add in the flour and then the buttermilk. Mix until smooth and combined.
  4. Fold in the grated carrot and chopped walnuts. 
  5. I like to manually stir the bottom of the bowl just to make sure there aren’t any pockets of flour stuck at the bottom.
  6. Add the batter to an 8×8-inch cake pan (see other baking pan alternatives below) that’s lined and greased.
  7. Transfer to the oven to bake until it’s set in the center and a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Let it cool!

How to Make Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Brown the butter. This the most important and delicious step. This is how we know we’re getting somewhere.
  • Transfer the browned butter to a freezer-safe container. And place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. It’ll harden to the point of about room temperature texture.
  • Scoop it out and place it in a bowl (or you could do this in a stand-up mixer), along with the cream cheese. Beat until smooth.
  • And then add the vanilla, pinch of salt and powdered sugar. Beat until combined.
  • Next, add the heavy cream and beat it for a full 2 minutes. This really does make frosting super fluffy and delicious.

Recipe Tip

How to Make this Cake Ahead: Carrot cake is a great cake to make ahead because it stays moist for SO LONG. You can make it up to 2 days before serving. Allow it to cool completely and then wrap it in plastic wrap. When you’re ready to serve, unwrap it, decorate and serve.

You can also freeze carrot cake by allowing it to cool to room temperature. Wrap it in plastic wrap and then freeze for up to 3 months.

Buttermilk Substitutions

Here are some options in case you don’t have buttermilk:

  1. Milk + acid – You could use 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cow’s milk and mix it with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar OR lemon juice. Let it stand for 5 minutes, mix it up and use.
  2. Powdered Buttermilk – Most kitchens don’t have this but if you do, use it! Follow the directions on the back of the package that will give you 1/3 a cup of buttermilk.
  3. Greek yogurt – You could use 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and mix in enough water so it measures to a total of 1/3 of a cup.
Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting on a round board with a knife.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this in a 9×9-inch square cake pan?

Can I bake this in a loaf pan?

Yes, use a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Obviously it’ll now be a carrot loaf cake vs. looking like a cake! Bake time will likely be longer. I would check it at the 30 minute mark.

Can I bake these into cupcakes?

Sure. You can bake these as cupcakes. It’ll yield 6 cupcakes. Bake time will likely be shorter. I would check it at the 20 minute mark. Or you can simply make my Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting on a round board with a knife.

If you tried this Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!

4.97 from 77 votes

Mini Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 22 minutes
Decorating Time: 20 minutes
Total: 57 minutes
Servings: 4
Mini Carrot Cake is the perfect small batch dessert for Easter and spring time! This cake is super flavorful: studded with chopped walnuts, shredded carrot and the perfect balance of spices. This carrot cake is topped with a brown butter cream cheese frosting that is to die for! SO GOOD! 

Ingredients 

Carrot Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, (such as avocado, grape seed oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 1/4 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups + 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream

Instructions 

To Make the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8-inch baking pan. I also like to line my baking pan with a parchment just to make sure nothing sticks.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger. Set the dry mixture aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand-up mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the butter, neutral oil, white sugar and brown sugar; beat until nice and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Crack in the eggs; beat until combined.
  • Alternating between the buttermilk and the dry mix, add them to the butter mixture, until just combined. Lastly, add the carrots and walnuts and mix until thoroughly distributed throughout the batter. Grab a spatula and scrape the bottom of the bowl just to make sure there aren’t any flour pockets.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and transfer to the oven to bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool before adding the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  • Cube up butter. In a small saucepan, set over medium heat, add the cubed butter. Once it’s melted, it will begin to foam up and bubble a bit. Allow it to cook until you begin to see lightly browned specks beginning to form. Give it a stir and cook until it’s browned. You should also start to smell its nutty aroma. Pour it in a freezer-safe bowl and stir to cool it down.
  • Transfer it to the freezer to chill, for about 10 minutes. We want it to be around room temperature butter. After it gets to that room temperature butter-firmness (it can be a bit softer—that’s ok), transfer it to the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or bowl using an electric mixer). Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
  • Sift in the 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and add the vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream. Beat the frosting for about 3 minutes. The fluffiness from the heavy cream really lightens up this frosting so be sure to beat it for the full 2 minutes. If the frosting is too loose, feel free to transfer it to the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes. Then beat it one last time.

To Make Mini Frostings for Decoration (Very Optional)

  • Scoop out two tablespoons of frosting and add it to a small bowl. Repeat this with another two tablespoons of frosting. You'll have two bowls of frosting.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar to each bowl (for a total of 6 tablespoons). And mix in it in. This will thicken up the frosting a bit so it's easier to pipe.
  • Add two drops of orange food coloring gel to the first bowl. Mix. And then add two drops of green food coloring gel to the second bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Divide the frostings amongst two piping bags fitted with #2 piping tip (a small round tip). Now, I did this on a small flower nail but it proved difficult to move. SO, I'm suggesting that you pipe the carrots directly onto the cake.

To Assemble the Cake:

  • Pour all of the frosting on the cooled sheet cake and spread it around, creating cute swoops as you go.
  • Using the orange color, add a squiggly line, attempting to make it resemble a carrot. (For more visual representation, look at my IG Highlights "Carrot Cake") And then add the "carrot top" by taking the green colored frosting and piping on little lines.
  • Add as many or little carrots on top, as you like!
  • Cake will stay moist for about 3 to 4 days when wrapped properly.

Notes

Buttermilk Substitutions: 
  • Milk + acid – You could use 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cow’s milk and mix it with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar OR lemon juice. Let it stand for 5 minutes, mix it up and use.
  • Kefir – In theory this should work. You can use the full 1/3 of a cup
  • Powdered Buttermilk – Most kitchens don’t have this but if you do, use it! Follow the directions on the back of the package that will give you 1/3 a cup of buttermilk. 
  • Greek yogurt – You could use 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and mix in enough water so it measures to a total of 1/3 of a cup.
8×8-inch Cake Pan Alternatives:
  • Option #1: You can use a single 9-inch round cake pan that’s 2-inches in height. Bake time will be about 5 minutes less. I would check it at the 25 minute mark. 
  • Option #2: 9×5-inch loaf pan. Obviously it’ll now be a carrot loaf cake vs. looking like a cake! Bake time will likely be longer. I would check it at the 30 minute mark. 
  • Option #3: Cupcakes! You can bake these as cupcakes. It’ll yield 6 cupcakes. Bake time will likely be shorter. I would check it at the 20 minute mark. 
Equipment: 
8×8-inch cake pan | KitchenAid Stand-Up Mixer | Silicon Spatulas | Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls | Parchment Paper Sheets | Measuring Cups | Measuring Spoons

Nutrition

Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 23IU | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Like this Recipe? Please Rate & comment below!

*This post was originally published on April 8th, 2020. It has since been edited with new copy and republished.

Cozy Latin-Inspired Comfort Food Recipes

Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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99 Comments

  1. I have made this cake before and its delicious! Do you think I would be able to double the recipe, make two 8×8 inch cakes and stack? Or do you think the cake/frosting is too delicate?

    1. I think that should work. I think the cake might be too delicate.

      You could always make this full size sheet cake in a 9×13-inch

      https://www.acozykitchen.com/carrot-sheet-cake

  2. Hi Adrianna,

    I cannot wait to make this cake for our Easter celebration. I do have a couple questions for you:
    1) will the frosting hold if I make it a day early, then ice the cake? I will be traveling and don’t want to ice the cake until I get to my destination.
    2) To ensure the freshness of the cake (I will be making this ahead as well) will wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and keeping in the fridge be good enough? Also, would it be appropriate to drizzle with a simple syrup before icing to make sure the cake has the proper moisture level?

    Thank you

  3. 5 stars
    This was so delicious and a big hit – especially the frosting! Subbed in gluten-free flour for one of my friends and it was no biggie. I’ll definitely be making this again.

  4. 5 stars
    Truly the best carrot cake recipe I’ve come across. The cake was fluffy and moist and the combination of spices with the contrast of the brown butter cream cheese frosting was perfect!

  5. This little cake is absolutely delicious! It is a perfect size for my husband and I to enjoy for a couple of days. I used the powdered buttermilk and chopped pecans because that is what I had on hand. The cake is friggin’ yummy but, OMG, the brown butter cream cheese frosting is simply the bomb! I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the bowl. I plan to use this recipe and method of browning the butter from now on whenever I make cream cheese frosting for anything. It adds the most delicious rich flavor imaginable to the frosting. And thank you for all the other mini cake recipes. They are perfect size for two people and make up so nice in a square 8 x 8 inch pan. I plan to try all of them! Been looking for mini cake recipes for years!

  6. 5 stars
    I made the mini carrot cake for my husband’s birthday it came out delicious. The cake is very moist and the buttercream frosting is so so delicious. The size of the cake is also perfect!
    Thank you for this amazing recipe.

      1. Wonderful, can’t wait to make it! Your strawberry cake & tiramisu were divine. I love that you adapt for an 8×8 pan, It’s the perfect size. I wish all recipes could be this size 😉

  7. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious recipe and perfect size for just a couple! The cake was incredibly moist and the frosting so yum. Thank you for taking the time to create and explain this recipe (all the details helped). Mine took 40 minutes in the oven and was just perfect.