Soft and spiced carrot cake cookies have all the flavors of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting over top!
I feel like the creation of this recipe was inevitable, in the very best way.
By now, my carrot cake obsession is well-documented on this blog. Not only do we have a super easy single layer carrot cake, but I’ve incorporated its flavors into carrot cake scones and carrot cake cinnamon rolls. I just can’t help myself.
Some may disagree, but I love the way the natural sweetness of the carrots is balanced by the warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and the tang of cream cheese (always cream cheese) that sets it all off. Carrot cake will be a forever favorite of mine, in any form.
Which is why when Imperfect Produce asked me to create a recipe using up items that might be lingering in the fridge, a new carrot cake iteration was born. Carrot cake COOKIES. Oh yes. It’s a thing.
I’m not going to lie, they were delicious and in college we bought them at Meijer as snacks more often than I’d care to admit. In my defense, I lived in a dorm and didn’t have a kitchen in those days!
Often they just had the vanilla flavor, but sometimes there were seasonal varieties like red velvet or carrot cake, and those were the ones I always went for. The sweet soft cookie and cream cheese frosting were irresistible for me.
These carrot cake cookies are like that, but approximately 1000 times better.
Let me describe why!
Elements of the best carrot cake cookies:
- Soft cookie base. This is definitely a cookie that leans more towards cakey texture than chewy, but it’s key to use the right amount of fat and not overload the dough with add-ins for the softest texture. This is why the only add-in ingredient I added to the dough was…
- Hand-grated carrots. I know, I’m sorry. But the recipe doesn’t call for a huge amount of grated carrot (1 cup grated carrot was about 1 medium-large carrot for me), so it won’t take you that long. It’s really necessary to hand-grate so you get the smallest size pieces and they cook properly in the short baking time.
- The right spices. I combined cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a pinch of ginger here, but if there are other spices you like in carrot cake like cardamom, you can add them instead of ginger.
- Don’t over-crowd the cookies on the sheet. They spread, so leave at least 2 inches in between for optimal rise and crisp edges.
- Cream cheese frosting. This almost goes without saying. You don’t need much, and it doesn’t need to be tooth-achingly sweet – in fact, I prefer it not to be.
I love these soft carrot cake cookies. The edges are just slightly crispy, and the centers have that soft and addictive chew that I remember from those grocery store cookies (but now we know exactly what is in them).
They’re sweet, but not overly so. There’s carrot in every bite. And the cream cheese frosting is tangy and exactly creamy enough to offset the texture of the cookie base.
I like to decorate them with additional grated carrot and some chopped walnuts to give that classic carrot cake look. You can totally leave them plain or just dusted with some cinnamon, if that’s your thing.
And the verdict from the peanut gallery?
Let’s just say that not only did they disappear extremely fast once I told Brian I was done photographing them…but they were gone in approximately one hour at work the next day as well.
I think these carrot cake cookies would fit in perfectly at an Easter brunch or dinner, but really they are appropriate any time of year, at any gathering, including a Game of Thrones watch party you may or may not be hosting this weekend.
And if I’m wrong, don’t tell me. Because a world without carrot cake is one I just don’t want to contemplate.
Carrot Cake Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (measured via spoon and level method)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Generous pinch of ground ginger
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature preferable
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup finely grated carrots from about 1 large carrot*
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese cold
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Extra grated carrots and chopped walnuts, for decoration (optional)
For the Cookies:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending on size) with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until fully combined and smooth.
- Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and beat on low speed just until well-combined and no lumps remain.
- Fold in the grated carrots with a spatula until evenly distributed.
- Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches in between cookies as they will spread. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until outer edges are browned.
- Let cookies cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove to a plate to cool completely while you prepare the frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In a large bowl using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat at medium to high speed until fully combined and light.
- Spread cooled cookies with cream cheese frosting. There should be enough frosting for a thick layer on each cookie.
- Decorate the tops of cookies with additional grated carrots and chopped walnuts if desired. Serve!
Thank you to Imperfect Produce for sending me the carrots I used in this recipe. All opinions are my own! If you want to sign up for your own Imperfect Produce deliveries, you can get 50% off your first box with code “katiebird”!