Carrot Cake Cookies

8 Min Read

5 Reasons to Try These Carrot Cake Cookies

  • Easier than making and decorating a whole cake. Carrot cake cupcakes certainly have their place as a handheld alternative to the classic cake, but these are even less hassle and fulfill the craving with half the work!
  • Distinct carrot cake flavor. I aimed to perfectly encapsulate true carrot cake flavor with this recipe. Between the carrots, carefully balanced spices, and perfect texture, I’d say I nailed it. Add that to the cream cheese frosting on top and you have
  • No chilling the dough! Though you can certainly make it in advance or even freeze it–I talk more about this in the FAQ section below.
  • Built on an oatmeal cookie base, these have a hearty, yet moist, soft, and chewy texture (similar to my zucchini cookies).
  • Tried and true. I first shared this recipe back in 2015 and it’s truly stood the test of time. They’ve received plenty of 5 star ratings and despite trying to improve on it this year, I found no changes were actually needed. Like the coconut cake I just reshared, this one is a proven winner!

Carrot cake cookies are one of my kids’ favorite cookies, even if they are made with vegetables. I’ll admit though, I think a lot of their love for them has to do with the cream cheese frosting piled on top!

A lot of thought and care went into developing this recipe all those years ago. I wanted cookies that were soft and moist, but still sturdy enough to hold copious amounts of frosting. They also needed to have enough flavor to be delicious even on their own, without a frosting crown.

It took a few tries to get them just right, but here we are!


I’ll highlight a few of the main ingredients in the cookies, and then we’ll briefly go over the frosting.

  • Carrots. Just like when making carrot cake cupcakes, I recommend peeling your carrots before grating them. This will prevent them from imparting a greenish hue on your cookie dough. And yes, I recommend buying whole carrots and grating/shredding them yourself; I elaborate on this in the FAQ section below.
  • Sugar. A combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar gives these cookies a chewy texture and rich flavor. Light brown sugar would work fine, but I actually like to use a combination of dark and light brown sugar.
  • Nuts. I like using walnuts, but you could also use pecans (or skip the nuts entirely!). Whatever you use, make sure they are chopped small enough to fold into the cookie dough nicely. Also, if you’d like to toast your nuts beforehand, check out my post on how to toast pecans. If you want to leave out the nuts that’s totally fine, just know that the cookies to tend to spread a bit more.
  • Spices. Including cinnamon and nutmeg. These warm spices largely make up the flavor profile of these cookies (and they pair so well with the brown sugar and nuts!). A pinch of ginger would also be lovely here too!
  • Oats. Quick-cooking oats could work in a pinch, but I recommend old-fashioned rolled oats for best results and texture (just like when making my oatmeal raisin cookies!).

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese. Just like when making my cheesecake, I recommend using full-fat, brick style cream cheese for this cream cheese frosting. Using the low-fat or spreadable kind sold in tubs would make for a runny frosting, and we really don’t want that with a handheld dessert like these carrot cake cookies!
  • Cornstarch. To make our frosting even more sturdy and thick, we’ll add just a little bit of cornstarch. There’s already cornstarch in the powdered sugar, but adding this amount ups the ratio and helps keep the frosting stable on the cookie.
  • Butter. I use salted butter in the frosting; this helps balance the sweetness and round out the flavor. If you only have unsalted butter on hand, add a heaping ¼ teaspoon of salt to your frosting.
  • Sugar. Yes, that is a lot of sugar, but we are frosting nearly three dozen cookies, after all! Note that reducing the sugar will affect how sturdy your frosting is, so stick with the recipe on this one.
  • Vanilla. Just a splash of vanilla gives the frosting a subtle depth of flavor. If you have some homemade vanilla extract left over from the holidays, feel free to use it here!

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Carrot Cake Cookies

  1. Grate your carrots. You can do this with a grater, but I like to use my food processor. I start with the shred blade, then switch to the normal blade and chop my carrots until they are in fine pieces. Just don’t go too far or you’ll have carrot puree!
  1. Make the dough and add your add-ins until everything is evenly incorporated. I find it’s easier to switch to a spatula for this step (preferably an orange one, since it matches the carrots! 😉).
  1. Roll 2-tablespoon sized scoops of dough between your palms, then bake on parchment lined sheets. Note that the dough is very sticky, so it may stick to your palms when rolling. You can always skip the rolling and just drop the dough directly on the sheets if this bothers you, the cookies won’t be as uniform but will taste just as good.
  1. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. They may seem a bit underdone in the centers and this is totally fine. Letting them to stay on the warm baking sheet will will allow them to finish baking outside the oven and maintain their chewy texture. Once cool, you can move them to a cooling rack while you prepare your frosting.
  1. Add frosting to your cooled cookies. You can either spread this on with a knife or offset spatula, or pipe it on (my preference). I used an Ateco 846 for these photos.
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