For all the flavors of carrot cake without baking an actual cake, make carrot cake sandwich cookies! These soft carrot cookie sandwiches with cream cheese frosting are a delicious, not-too-sweet, treat.
This carrot cake cookie recipe is everything, especially if you’re a carrot cake lover like me. With freshly grated carrots, golden raisins, crunchy pecans, and a spiced soft cookie base, these are a must-bake! I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe on the blog today, and all the tips and tricks you need to make these cookies your own.
In fact, I recommend you do! Let’s talk (carrot cake) cookies!
Carrot cake sandwich cookies texture and cookie flavor customizations
The texture isn’t exactly like carrot cake, it’s soft enough to be satisfying while still retaining a bit of cookie “chew”. In fact, I went through several batches of cookies trying to get to this texture. Many of the carrot cake cookie recipes you find online are heavy on the cake, but not quite “cookie” enough for me.
I think these carrot cookies, while still definitely on the softer side, have enough chew to feel cookie-satisfying.
The reason the cookies turn out softer is because of the ratio of wet to dry ingredients. If we added enough dry ingredients to offset the wet, we won’t end up with a crispy cookie, just a dry and dense one. Sorry if crispy cookies are your thing. These will hopefully be an exception. 😉
Customizing your mix-ins to adjust the texture…
If you’re wondering why flavor adjustments are grouped with texture, it’s because you can adjust the texture of the cookies a bit by the mix-ins you add! This won’t really change the base dough texture, but it does impact the overall mouthfeel.
For example, I use chopped pecans in this recipe. You can swap chopped walnuts or almonds if you prefer, or just leave the nuts out altogether! If nuts stay, you have some subtle crunch in your cookie.
Need to remove the nuts to keep this recipe nut-free? Omit them and add something else! One of my favorite substitutions would be white chocolate chips. Chocolate chips aren’t crunchy like nuts, but they do add texture.
If you omit the nuts and add more raisins and/or carrots, your cookies will be softer because these ingredients are high in moisture content.
My carrot cake from scratch recipe includes pineapple. I adore that recipe and its over-the-top richness, but the pineapple didn’t work here for the texture I wanted. As far as added ingredients, these cookies are somewhere between that cake and my more minimal carrot spice cake.
A few recipe tips for delicious carrot cake cookies…
Before I leave you with the recipe, I want to share a couple of tips and things I learned while researching/baking. Usually, I take time to test recipes, working off notes with each test. This time though, it was 2 days of rapid-fire back-to-back batches, which allowed for some excellent comparison!
Add wet to dry ingredients for a better texture in this cookie recipe!
To make this cookie recipe, you’ll want to use either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer. It makes it much easier to get the butter worked into the dry ingredients.
That’s right! Like with my lime cake recipe, we reverse cream these cookies! Of course, since we are making cookies and not cake, we aren’t really doing much creaming, but there’s no beating of butter and sugar to start.
The reason is we aren’t trying to whip a lot of air into this batter. The cookies will be tender, but we don’t want them to be too puffy and airy or they’ll be too big once sandwiched! Keep the cookie to frosting ratio in mind here.
This made me really happy because I didn’t have to use another bowl for sifting dry ingredients. It’s not that I always do that – I usually don’t. It was just nice not to think of it at all here!
Remember when I mentioned the baking bonanza that was tweaking this recipe to suit my liking? This is where the most interesting comparison happened.
In the cookies made using the usual cream butter and sugar, add the other ingredients method, the cookies were a bit crumblier after a few days. Still soft and delicious, but starting to dry a bit.
On the other hand, the cookies made using the reverse method stayed nice and soft a little longer! The difference wasn’t much, but it was noticeable in a side-by-side comparison.
Raisins in cookies can be your friend
Everybody jokes about the disappointment of grabbing a cookie and realizing it has raisins and not chocolate chips. Not here though! I don’t care if you swap nuts for chocolate chips, toss in a little shredded coconut, etc, just don’t skip the raisins.
In this recipe, I’m going to go as far as to say that the raisins are almost as important as the carrots for flavor, texture, and a little added sweetness. We know the Goodie Godmother loves dessert but doesn’t love overly sweet treats – balance is key!
The sugar content for the cookies in this recipe is on the lower end, and the raisins add a little natural sweetness that shines!
I recommend golden raisins if you can find them. They have a slightly different flavor profile than regular raisins and are generally softer in texture.
Do I have to chill my cookie dough?
Nope! If you want to, you can. I’ve refrigerated this dough loosely covered overnight when it was too late to bake. But you don’t need to chill the dough.
It is on the more moist side, so a short chill time might make it easier to work with. If you use a cookie scoop like I did though, this won’t be an issue.
Carrot cake cooke sandwich filling options…
Cream cheese is the only option.
Kidding! Kind of. Cream cheese frosting and carrot cake are one of the top 5 food matches of all time, so let’s respect that.
The thing is, cream cheese frosting is perishable and so your cookies must be refrigerated and cannot be left out long. Food safety is a good reason to break with tradition. So if you don’t have room in your fridge, or you’re planning a fabulous get together and want to set these out for more than 2 hours, use an alternative.
The alternative is buttercream. You can replace the cream cheese with salted butter. Salted is preferred over unsalted because you’ll have to replace the salt and tang in the cream cheese.
Is butter a direct substitute for cream cheese in terms of flavor? No. But the more direct substitutes are also perishable, so not helpful in this situation.
My advice? Make the room in the fridge and use the cream cheese frosting!
What if I don’t want sandwich cookies and I just want to eat the carrot cake cookies?
Thanks for reading this far, that’s dedication and I appreciate you! Second, this actually happened in the testing. At some point I just didn’t want to make sandwich cookies.
I discovered that these cookies are so good, you can eat them on their own, so skipping a step is okay if you need it.
I would recommend drizzling the cookies with some melted white chocolate chips or compound white chocolate if you go this route. It makes them look so fancy, and adds a little something to the flavor. The white chocolate gives a creamy roundnes reminiscent of frosting, without actually having to break out the powdered sugar.
Finally… the recipe! As you can see, we’re a little enamored with these cookies over here, so I had a lot to say, but I know once you try them, you’ll have a lot to say too. Happy baking, darlings!
p.s. – Don’t forget to save this recipe for carrot cake sandwich cookies. Text it to your fave baker friend, pin it, share it… you don’t want to miss this!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 carrots)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 - 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 375 F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- Cut the softened butter into tablespoons and drop them into the mixing bowl while mixing at low speed. Mix for 1-2 minutes until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand.
- While the mixer is running, add the egg, and vanilla. Stir until just combined and no more. If the mixture looks a bit dry at this point, don't worry. It will come together. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed.
- Add the grated carrots, chopped pecans, and raisins. Stir the mixture at low speed or use a wooden spoon to stir by hand to incorporate the ingredients into the dough.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to portion out the dough. You will need to bake in batches and leave at least 2 inches of room between each cookie for baking.
- Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just golden brown. If baking 2 pans at once, rotate the pans halfway through the cooking time.
- Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the oven and allow them to rest on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes to set. If you try to move them too soon, they'll fall apart! Bake additional sheets as needed until all the cookies are baked.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool while you make the frosting.
- In a clean bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract. Stir to combine. If you're happy with the texture of the frosting, and your cookies are completely cool, you're ready to pipe! If you'd prefer a more firm frosting, add additional sugar, a tablespoon at a time until you've reached your desired consistency.
- Group the cookies into pairs. Pipe or spread the cream cheese frosting onto one of the cookies in each pair then top with the other cookie. Enjoy!
- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.
- Peel the carrots before grating them. You'll get the best results using freshly grated carrots.
- You can't beat cold cream cheese. To quickly soften cream cheese, remove it from the foil wrapper, place it onto a microwave-safe plate, and heat for 15 seconds on high power.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g
These nutrition values are estimates. Exact values will vary depending on the ingredients, brands, and quantities used.