This easy recipe for carrot muffins is made with sour cream so they are very moist. They are flavoured with warm spices so they are perfect for breakfast or a snack. You can add chopped nuts like walnuts to this recipe, top them with cinnamon sugar or even a crumble topping if you prefer!
These moist carrot muffins are an easy snack that you can freeze so you always have muffins on hand. Combining shredded carrots and sour cream in the batter ensures these muffins stay moist, as in this eggless carrot cake!
These muffins are a great casual Easter baking recipe, but also great year-round in lunchboxes and for after-school snacks.
What you need to make these
Carrot muffins are simple to make, as simple as the ingredients. Here's what you need to make these:
- Flour—all-purpose is ideal, or you can try a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose, but this will affect the texture a little.
- Sugar—granulated sugar or light brown sugar will work!
- Leavening agents—specifically both chemical leaveners (baking powder and baking soda)
- Salt—fine kosher salt like Diamond Crystal is what I use. If you use a different salt that has more or less sodium per gram, you will likely have to adjust the quantities so the muffins aren't overly salty or under-salted
- Spices—otherwise your carrot muffins may taste bland
- Butter—either salted or unsalted will work, though if your salted butter has a lot of salt in it, you may have to adjust the salt in the recipe
- Eggs—use large eggs preferably because smaller eggs may lead to dryer muffins
- Sour cream, preferably full-fat (14 % fat) otherwise the muffins may be dry.
- Vanilla extract to enhance the sweetness and the flavour of the muffins
- Shredded carrot (I grate carrots on the finer side of a box grater)
Spices to add to this recipe
Carrots are sweet and pair nicely with warm, fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
Another option that would work well here is ground cardamom (from the seeds of green cardamom pods).
You can keep the muffins plain, or you can jazz them up with some inclusions:
- chopped nuts, like chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
- dried fruit, like golden raisins, chopped dried apricots, or even chopped pitted dates
- chocolate, specifically white chocolate chips would be great in carrot muffins
When making carrot muffins, you may want to add ingredients like canned pineapple to the mix, just beware that this will throw off the baking ratio in the recipe, which may lead to prolonged bake times or a gummy or wet crumb.
If you decide to go that route, make sure to drain the chopped pineapple well and even dry it on a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible before stirring it into the muffin batter.
Tip: if you'd prefer to top these muffins with streusel topping, use the streusel topping recipe from this pumpkin muffins recipe!
Easy method for muffins
Lately, I've been using the reverse creaming mixing method to make muffins. I find it easier and you don't need a mixer for it. For this method, you:
- put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, so the flour, spices, chemical leaveners, salt, and even the sugar, then whisk them together.
- The butter is cubed and softened, worked into the dry mixer by hand until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- add in the wet ingredients and stir everything together to form a thick batter.
For carrot muffins, you fold in the shredded carrot and nuts (if using) at the end of this process.
Pans, muffin liners, and special tools
I baked these muffins in two 6-cup muffin pans. You can also use one 12-cup pan if you have it! Makes it faster and easier to get all the muffins in and out of the oven at once.
For this recipe, regular paper liners work great (same as for cupcakes), or you can also opt to use silicone liners. I don't recommend parchment liners because the muffins won't stick to the parchment liners, which will fall right off.
If you would prefer to bake without any liners, I recommend using cooking spray to grease the wells of your muffin pans.
For scooping the muffin batter, I recommend using two spoons or a large disher.
You can store these moist carrot muffins for 3–4 days in an airtight container, but I prefer to freeze them.
Remember to fully cool the muffins to room temperature (for 3–4 hours) before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer bag for long-term storage (1–2 months).
How to defrost muffins
If you want to defrost frozen muffins, you have a few options depending on how much time you have:
- longest method—in the fridge overnight, unwrapped to avoid moisture buildup on the surface of the muffin tops
- at room temperature, unwrapped to avoid moisture buildup on the surface of the muffin tops—this will take a few hours
- fastest method—in the microwave oven: place the unwrapped muffin on a napkin or a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH for about 30 seconds for each muffin. The time and results will vary according to the power of your microwave.
Frequently asked questions
Full-fat sour cream ensures your muffins are moist, but so do shredded carrots or zucchini and fruit purées also help (like banana, pumpkin, or sweet potato).
Use a box grater to shred your carrots, using the side with the finer grates, though the coarse side will also work! If you have a food processor, you can attach the shredding disk to it and use it to shred the carrots!
Other muffins to try
Muffins are a quick and easy treat that you can bake. They freeze well and they are easy to grab for a snack when you are on the go. Here are a few other muffin recipes to try:
For the muffin batter
- 250 grams bleached all-purpose flour
- 200 grams granulated sugar
- 5 mL baking powder
- 2.5 mL baking soda
- 2.5 mL Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 5 mL ground cinnamon
- 2.5 mL ground ginger
- 1.25 mL ground nutmeg
- 115 grams unsalted butter room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 125 mL sour cream (14% fat)
- 2 large egg(s)
- 5 mL pure vanilla extract
- 250 mL shredded carrot 100 grams
- 50 grams chopped toasted walnuts
For the cinnamon sugar topping
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 5 mL ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 375 ºF (190 °C). Line two muffin pans with 12 muffin paper liners.
Make the muffin batter
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- Add the cubes of softened butter and work it in with your hands, rubbing it in until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.
- Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir it in (takes about 20 stirs to get the batter mixed).
- Fold in the shredded carrot and the walnuts into the batter gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to evenly distribute them.
- Divide the batter between 12 paper-lined wells of two muffin pans.
Make the cinnamon sugar
- Whisk the granulated sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over each muffin before baking. If you have extra, sprinkle it on buttered toast!
- Bake at 375°F until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean to check if the muffins are baked. This takes about 25–30 minutes and the edges start to turn golden.
- Let cool slightly in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.