This Mini Carrot Cakes Recipe is a wonderful way to create springtime treats that are the perfect size for your guests (although they are large enough to share if they’d like!) Carrot cake is one of the most quintessential Easter-time desserts. I used my mom's recipe for inspiration for these individual carrot cakes, which is the best carrot cake ever! It happens to be my all-time favorite dessert, but I digress.
No need to stock your pantry with flour, sugar, or baking powder for this recipe! With all of the egg-dyeing and basket-filling to be done around the Easter holiday, this recipe provides an “easy button” of sorts. It starts with box spice cake mix as a shortcut! By adding just a few ingredients, it’s transformed into mini carrot cakes that will make an impressive presentation on your Easter table. I'm hopeful that this will be your favorite among mini cake recipes! And you want to know something else? You can make this recipe even after Easter has come and gone!
What's With the Carrots?
As I mentioned, carrot cake is a sweet treat that people tend to serve around the Easter holiday. Curiously, carrot cake doesn’t taste like carrots. So why is shredded carrot included in the recipe you may ask? In general, their flavor is pretty neutral. But as a result, when added to baked goods, they release moisture without interfering or competing with the other ingredients. In this recipe, they can be baked without getting mushy and, because of this, they add structure to the cake.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It starts with a box of cake mix! By adding a package of instant vanilla pudding, you will be able to create mini layer cakes that are dense and have moist crumbs. The addition of a few other simple ingredients and finely shredded carrot transforms this boxed cake mix into a holiday favorite! Be sure to follow the ingredients listed below and not the ingredients and instructions listed on the back of the box.
- This cake is made in an 11"x17" pan like a sheet cake. Typically a layered cake recipe includes multiple round cake pans. But not this one! Using one pan and baking the cake in a single layer, means only one to wash and quick clean up.
- Your guests will never be able to tell that it’s not completely “made-from-scratch.” This is accomplished by the addition of ground nutmeg and cloves. And when you fold in those bits of finely shredded carrots, the result will be a crowd-pleaser!
- Unlike many carrot cake recipes, there is no addition of pineapple or nuts in the cake batter. The pecans listed are totally optional as a topping.
- It has homemade cream cheese frosting. I could seriously eat it straight out of the bowl!
- Boxed Spice Cake Mix
- Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- Ground Nutmeg
- Ground Cloves
- Vegetable Oil
- Large Eggs
- Finely Grated Carrots
- Cream Cheese
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Powdered Sugar
(please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements)
- 11”x17” rimmed baking sheet
- Large bowl
- Liquid measuring cup
- Electric mixer
- Box or hand grater
- 2 ½” round cookie cutter
- Piping bag
- Decorative piping tip
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325℉. Spray an 11”x17” rimmed baking sheet with baking spray. Set aside.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, add cake mix, pudding mix, nutmeg, cloves, and whisk to combine.
Step 3: To the dry ingredients, add oil, water, and eggs and mix on low with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.
IMPORTANT TIP: The best way to mix this cake is on LOW speed. Mixing with an electric mixer at a greater speed can result in a light and fluffy cake texture which will not cut the same. This recipe creates more of a pound cake texture than one with a light and airy crumb.
Step 4: Fold in carrots.
Step 5: Bake for 25-28 minutes until the cake is nicely browned, is pulling away from the sides of the baking sheet, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before moving on to the next step.
Step 6: Using a 2-½ inch round cookie cutter, cut out the circles of cake. Transfer them to a large piece of parchment paper or a wire rack.
Step 7: To make the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
Step 8: Add in vanilla and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed until all the powdered sugar has been added. Increase the speed to medium and mix until light and fluffy.
Step 9: Add frosting to a piping bag and decorate the cakes.
Keep the decorated cakes in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.
Pro Tip: You can make both the frosting and the cake a day before you plan to serve the assembled cakes. For the cake, wait until it is completely cool, cover with foil, and store at room temperature until ready to cut and decorate. For the frosting, store it in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, or in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap. You may need to take the frosting out and let it sit at room temperature to be able to pipe it.
Tips for the Cutting the Mini Cake Layers
- Use a cookie cutter with a thin sharp edge as opposed to a biscuit cutter.
- After completely cooling, you can chill or put the cake in the freezer for up to 1 hour to help make the cake more firm.
- Spray cookie cutter with nonstick cooking spray.
- Tops of the circles may crack slightly. However, they get covered with frosting, so nobody will be able to tell!
- While cutting, some of the circles may stay in the cookie cutter and can be popped out. Some will stay on the pan. After cutting all the circles, remove the excess cake and gently transfer the circles to a piece of parchment.
- Because the cake domes ever so slightly in the middle, the little cakes may vary slightly in thickness. When cutting, put them in pairs of similar thicknesses. Once they’re frosted, it is hard to tell the difference.
- There will be leftover cake and a little leftover frosting (depending on how the cakes are decorated). You could certainly use those leftovers for cake pops.
Tips for the Decorating the Cakes
- Pipe a swirl of frosting on half of the cakes. This will be the “bottom” cake layer.
- If the frosting is going to be spread with an offset spatula or knife, frost the top layer cake BEFORE placing it on top of the bottom layer. Otherwise, the pressure needed to spread the frosting will squish the filling between the layers.
- If the frosting is going to be piped, the top layer can be placed, and then the top of the cake can be decorated.
- Top with finely chopped pecans, a few pieces of shredded carrots, or a piped swirl.
Mini Carrot Cakes Recipe
- 1 15.25-ounce box spice cake mix
- 1 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 2-3 large carrots)
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans (optional for topping cakes)
- additional finely grated/shredded carrots (optional for topping cakes)
- Preheat the oven to 325℉. Spray an 11”x17” rimmed baking sheet with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cake mix, pudding mix, nutmeg, cloves, and whisk to combine.
- To the dry ingredients, add oil, water, and eggs and mix on low with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Fold in carrots.
- Bake for 25-28 minutes until the cake is nicely browned, is pulling away from the sides of the baking sheet, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool the cake completely before moving on to the next step.
- Using a 2-½ inch round cookie cutter, cut out the circles of cake. Transfer them to a large piece of parchment paper or a wire rack.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add in vanilla and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed until all the powdered sugar has been added. Increase the speed to medium and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add frosting to a piping bag and decorate the cakes.