If you’re a fan of carrot cake, you’re in for a treat with these carrot cake cookies with a homemade cream cheese icing. They’re a fun way to welcome the spring season and sneak some veggies into your desserts. They’re chewy, soft, loaded with chopped pecans, and full of all the flavors you love from a classic carrot cake.
Freshly grated carrots are what make these carrot cake cookies. Not only does the carrot add moistness to the cookie, but a sweet yet subtle earthy flavor. The cookie dough comes together quickly and bakes in just 10 minutes! Long story short: If you’re crazy about carrot cake like my family, you’ll want to double the batch. These will disappear as soon as the cream cheese icing is drizzled on top.
They’re that good!
Why you’ll love these homemade carrot cake cookies
- A new spring favorite! This treat is a great way to start the season and is sure to give traditional carrot cake a run for its bunny (excuse the joke)!
- Easy to make. Just combine the ingredients, scoop them into mounds, and bake and glaze.
- The best ever carrot cake cookie! These carrot cake cookies have a tender crumb with an incredible mouthfeel, like a muffin-cookie fusion. It’s everything you love in a carrot cake jammed into a handheld dessert!
Ingredients to make carrot cake cookies with icing
- Flour and baking soda: You’ll need all-purpose flour and baking soda. Swap out the flour for whole wheat or white whole wheat flour.
- Carrots: Skip using pre-shredded carrots, as they are dry and won’t mix into the batter as well as freshly grated carrots.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- Butter: Make sure your butter is at room temperature to cream together easily with the sugar.
- Eggs: To bind the dry ingredients together. You can make this recipe vegan by using flax eggs..
- Applesauce: Applesauce will keep cookies soft and moist.
- Brown sugar: I like using light brown sugar, but you could use dark brown to add a deeper molasses flavor.
- Vanilla and salt: For balancing the flavors and adding a subtle sweetness from the vanilla.
- Pecans: These add a tasty nutty flavor and crunchy bite to the cookies, but you can skip them if you’re not a fan of nuts in cookies.
Cream cheese drizzle
- Cream cheese and butter: The cream cheese should be softened to room temperature for easy creaming with the butter and sugar.
- Powdered sugar: If your sugar seems a little lumpy, run it through a sifter for the smoothest cream cheese icing.
- Milk: Adjust the amount of milk as needed. You want the drizzle to be firm enough to pipe but soft enough to flow across the cookies easily.
- Vanilla extract: Adds aromatic flavoring.
How to make carrot cake cookies
Making homemade carrot cake cookies is a breeze with these easy steps. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer instead.
How to make carrot cake cookie dough
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, and brown sugar until combined before mixing in the applesauce.
- Add egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat together until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until only a few streaks of flour remain, scraping down the side halfway through.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and the carrots and pecans.
- Fold the batter using a rubber spatula until evenly combined.
- Scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet leaving enough room for spreading while baking.
- Bake until golden brown and puffy. Allow the cookies to cool before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Cream cheese drizzle
- While the cookies cool, add cream cheese and butter to the stand mixer and mix until creamy before adding the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.
- Mix until combined. You want the icing to be slightly runny but firm enough to pipe. Transfer to a piping bag or zip-close bag and trim the corner off. Pipe a drizzle of frosting on the cooled cookies and serve.
Tips for making this carrot cookie recipe
- Measure the grated carrots correctly. When measuring the grated carrots, make sure you pack the measuring cup tightly. The carrots add a lot of flavor, sweetness, and moisture to the cookies, so you don’t want to skimp on them!
- Sift the powdered sugar for a smoother frosting. Sifting the powdered sugar helps to remove clumps so you can whisk the mixture easily and pipe it through. This is not necessary, but only if you want to go the extra step!
- Use a cookie scoop. I use a 1.7 tablespoon cookie scoop. Once I scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet, leave it rounded for a tall puffed cookie like the top of a muffin. You could also press the cookie a bit after scooping for a flatter top after baking.
- Don’t overbake the cookies. Golden brown edges and a set middle means your cookies are ready to be removed from the oven. Cookies will continue to cook for a few after being removed, especially when sitting on a hot baking sheet. Tall, soft, and chewy is what we’re aiming for.
- Don’t store the cookies on top of each other. This type of cream cheese frosting does not harden as it cools. Store the cookies in a single layer to avoid smudging the frosting all over.
Popular substitutions and additions
- Add raisins. If you love the addition of raisins in your carrot cake, you can’t go wrong with adding them to cookies! Fold in a half-cup with the grated carrots and pecans.
- Top with frosting. The cream cheese icing drizzled over these cookies is so good, but you can also frost them like cupcakes. Try my cream cheese frosting and pipe on a thicker layer of sweet creamy frosting.
- Swap the nuts. I love the classic combination of carrots and pecans fro,m a carrot cake recipe, but you could use walnuts or another soft nut.
- Add chocolate chips. Chocolate makes everything better, so you can’t go wrong with a handful thrown into the cookie mix!
How to store carrot cake cookies
The frosted cookies should be kept in the fridge, but they are good without the drizzle and if left plain will keep in an airtight container at room temperature.
How long will carrot pecan cookies last in the fridge?
If stored at room temperature without frosting, carrot cake cookies will keep for up to four days, or up to six days in the fridge.
Can I freeze homemade carrot cake cookies?
Yes! After baking, freeze the cookies on a baking sheet until solid. Transfer the frozen cookies to a bag and thaw at room temperature when ready to eat. Add the cream cheese frosting after thawing instead of freezing on the cookies.
Frequently asked questions
Can I make these cookies flatter and thinner?
Yes! After scooping, simply press the cookie dough ball with the back of a spoon or the palm of your hand. They don’t spread as much as other cookie varieties and will puff up like cake batter, so they need a little extra help to reshape them.
Can I use something other than applesauce for these carrot cake cookies?
I haven’t tested this recipe with an alternative, but you can try an equal amount of crushed pineapples!
Can I use salted butter if I don’t have any unsalted butter?
It’s best to use unsalted butter, but if you need a quick substitute and have salted butter available, you can use it — but I would suggest removing the additional salt in the carrot cake cookie.
Carrot cake cookies are what you’re looking for when trying new ways of enjoying a classic such as carrot cake. Kids will go crazy for them, and the cream cheese frosting will have you coming back for more. You may also like my Carrot Cake Muffins, Carrot Cake Pancakes, or even my Carrot Banana Bread.
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Featured Image Credit: Feel Good Foodie.