Healthy muffins! That taste like carrot cake! Oh, I think this might just be a dream come true.
Truth be told, carrot cake gets me every single time. I fell in love with it a few years ago and my craving for cake has quadrupled since then. I can’t get over the spices, flavor, and that thick-n-creamy cream cheese frosting that pairs so wonderfully with the cake. I’m not sure it gets better.
But wait, it does. Because now you can officially have carrot cake for breakfast in muffin form. I know, it’s probably not quite the same, but my goodness does it crush a carrot cake craving like no other.
Ingredients in carrot cake muffins
Not only are these carrot cake muffins delicious, but they’re also made with healthy ingredients compared to a regular slice of carrot cake. Naturally sweetened, whole grains and includes both fruits and veggies, making them the perfect brunch treat or snack for both kids & adults. Here’s what you need:
- White whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour: white whole wheat flour has the same nutritional benefits as whole wheat flour, but much lighter in flavor and texture. You can usually find it at your local grocer. If you can’t, try looking for whole wheat pastry flour. To make them gluten free you can try using chickpea flour or an all purpose gluten free flour. I have not tested it, but think it should work well!
- Pure maple syrup: I prefer maple syrup to honey after reading this interesting article comparing the two.
- Unsweetened applesauce: I love baking with applesauce because it naturally sweetens the recipes and provides moisture to give these muffins a nice texture without having to use as much oil. Even though I use a few tablespoons of healthy oil in this recipe, most of the healthy fats come from walnuts or pecans.
- Unsweetened almond milk: feel free to use any milk you’d like! I love using vanilla almond milk or coconut milk for a little extra flavor in the muffins.
- Eggs: you’ll just need one to help these carrot cake muffins stay together. I haven’t tried using a flax egg, but I suspect it will work well. Let me know if you try it in the comments!
- Shredded carrots: you’ll need to shred about 2-3 medium carrots, but make sure to measure 1 cup full total. If you’re feeling like you want more, you can use 1 1/2 cups.
- Cozy spices: cinnamon & nutmeg add a cozy flavor to these healthy carrot cake muffins and gives them that carrot cake flavor goodness.
- Optional add-ins: Try adding shredded coconut, raisins or pineapple to these muffins. Everyone prefers their carrot cake differently, so feel free to add them or enjoy the muffins as-is.
- For the glaze: cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and a splash of almond milk.
What makes these carrot cake muffins healthy?
Traditional muffin recipes can be packed with oil or butter and lots of refined sugars. To make these carrot cake muffins healthier I used applesauce and just a bit of olive oil for moisture plus pure maple syrup for a natural sweetness. That’s right, these muffins aren’t baked with any refined sugars!
Obviously I didn’t include the cream cheese glaze as ‘healthy’, but it’s really quite delicious on top of the muffins. Plus it’s only a tiny amount. If you want though, you could leave off and enjoy them as is. You can also use my paleo powdered sugar recipe to keep these completely refined sugar-free!
How to store carrot cake muffins
- In the fridge: store these carrot cake muffins on the counter in an airtight container for a day, then transfer them to the fridge for up to 4-5 days. The muffins really do get better after sitting in an airtight container for a day; they sweeten up a bit and get super soft. Served with a big glass of almond milk!
- Freezer-friendly carrot cake muffins: Feel free to freeze these babies for later! Allow them to cool completely after baking, then place them in an airtight container or reusable bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, you can microwave them for 45 seconds-1 minute or until warm. I suggest freezing them without the the glaze and simply adding the glaze when you’re ready to enjoy them.
More carrot cake recipes you’ll love
See how to make the carrot cake muffins:
I hope you love these healthy carrot cake muffins! If you make them I’d love for you to leave a comment and a rating letting me know how you liked them. I greatly appreciate it – xoxo!
Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze
Healthy carrot cake muffins packed with carrots, coconut, raisins and nuts. These deliciously moist carrot cake muffins are naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup and applesauce. Top them with a light cream cheese glaze for a delicious snack or healthy treat!
- Dry ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Wet ingredients
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 carrots)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- Optional add-ins
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (optional and not included in nutrition info)
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional and not included in nutrition info)
- For the glaze
- 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons almond milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with liners and spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray to prevent batter from sticking to the liners. You can also omit the liners and generously spray the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Next add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to a medium bowl; stir to combine and then set aside.
In a separate large bowl, add carrots, maple syrup, olive oil, applesauce, egg and vanilla. Whisk to combine wet ingredients then slowly stir in almond milk and flour mixture until just combined.
Fold in coconut flakes and raisins if you'd like. Divide batter evenly between muffins cups or liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan then transfer muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once muffins are completely cool, you can make the cream cheese glaze: Place cream cheese in medium microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds or until cream cheese is somewhat warm and a little runny. Stir gently and add in powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of milk; stir again until glaze reaches desired consistency; not too runny and not overly thick.
Dip each muffin top into cream cheese glaze then place back on wire rack. Sprinkle with coconut flakes if desired. Makes 12 muffins. Store these carrot cake muffins on the counter in an airtight container for a day, then transfer them to the fridge for up to 4-5 days. The muffins really do get better after sitting in an airtight container for a day; they sweeten up a bit and get super soft.
To make vegan: replace the egg with a flax egg by combining 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal and 3 tablespoons of water. Leave off cream cheese frosting and instead sprinkle tops with cinnamon and coarse sugar.
To make gluten free: try using chickpea flour or an all purpose gluten free flour. I have not tried this option, but am quite certain it would work.
Notes about nutrition: The nutrition information provided includes everything except raisins and shredded coconut. If you add both, your muffins will be around 200 calories of good nutrition.
Freezer-friendly carrot cake muffins: Feel free to freeze these babies for later! Allow them to cool completely after baking, then place them in an airtight container or reusable bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, you can microwave them for 30-45 seconds or until warm. I suggest freezing them without the the glaze and simply adding the glaze when you're ready to enjoy them.
Originally published on Feb 12, 2015, republished on April 4th, 202018