Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins (SO Easy, Low Sugar, All Yum)


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Packed with carrots, whole grains, and protein, these Carrot Cake Muffins are a delicious way to start the day. They mix up in one bowl, can be made ahead, and are a nutritious snack or breakfast. Plus: You can be eating them in about 25 minutes from when you start the process!

carrot-cake-muffins-in-white-bowl

Carrot Cake Muffins

When I’m looking for a fun way to serve up vegetables to kids, I tend to think of muffins. And these carrot muffins are a delicious—and super easy—snack, side dish, or breakfast option to share with the kids. I actually love this recipe so much that I make them regularly for myself.

These muffins are low in added sugars and contain whole grains from rolled oats and whole wheat flour. They also have a nice amount of carrots for fiber, vitamin A, and flavor. And unlike many traditional muffin recipes, these don’t rely on oil alone for moisture; applesauce adds moisture and nutrients, too.

These store really well in the fridge or freezer, so they’re a nice recipe to make and serve for days (or weeks) to come.

(Find more of my favorite muffins for kids here.)

ingredients in carrot cake muffins

Ingredients You Need

You don’t need anything fancy to make these muffins. Here’s a look at the ingredients.

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Rolled oats: These are sometimes called “old-fashioned” oats.
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda: Make sure your baking soda is fresh before you start baking as it’s key to these baking through properly.
  • Cinnamon: Adds that classic carrot cake flavor.
  • Eggs
  • Applesauce: I use smooth, unsweetened applesauce here.
  • Brown sugar
  • Canola or melted coconut oil
  • Grated carrots: I prefer the texture of carrots grated on a box grater as they tend to be a little finer and bake softer than grated carrots from the store.
  • Raisins: I prefer golden raisins for their pretty color and delicate sweetness, but any kind will work.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you want to make these without refined sugar, you can omit the brown sugar and use 2 tablespoons maple syrup.

Gluten-free: Use a cup-for-cup style of gluten-free flour blend and gluten-free rolled oats.

Egg-free: Use a store-bought egg replacer like the one from Bob’s Red Mill.

how to make carrot cake muffins step by step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in making these carrot muffins so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

  1. Stir together the dry ingredients.
  2. Grate the carrot and add with the remaining wet ingredients to the bowl.
  3. Mix gently, but thoroughly.
  4. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tin. I use a measuring spoon, which helps divide the batter evenly.
  5. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out cleanly.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.

TIP: You can use store-bought grated carrots, but you’ll need ones that are finely grated and not in super long pieces. If the pieces of your carrots are longer than an inch, cut them up smaller with kitchen shears.

lunchbox with roasted carrots, muffins, cottage cheese, and grapes

Can I turn these muffins into cupcakes?

Yes! You can do a lightly sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting made from cream cheese, vanilla, and maple syrup or honey. Use a hand-held mixer to beat all ingredients together and top the cooled muffins.

What should I serve with these mini muffins?

We like them with milk and a side of fruit for breakfast or a snack, or you can serve them with a favorite soup as dinner or as part of a toddler lunch. (They’re shown above in a lunchbox with Roasted Carrot Fries, cottage cheese, and grapes.)

I personally love them with coffee or tea as an afternoon snack.

mini carrot cake muffins in bowl with toddler hands

Can I make these vegan?

To make these without eggs or dairy, omit the eggs and add ground flaxseed meal. You may need to bake them for about 2 minutes longer, but use a cake tester to be sure. See the note at the end of the recipe for specifics. (Or you can use a store bought egg replacer like the one from Bob’s Red Mill.)

diced-carrot-cake-muffin

How to Store

To store, place in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat slightly to serve if desired. Or, place cooled muffins into a zip top freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and seal. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or in the microwave in 10-15 second increments.

Best Tips for Success

  • I like to use golden raisins because the flavor and color is nice here, but regular ones work just fine.
  • For best results, grate the carrots yourself. OR use kitchen shears to roughly chop store-bought grated carrots into slightly smaller pieces. (Right out of the bag, the grated carrots are often in long pieces that will be hard to fit in mini muffin cups.)
  • Dice into smaller pieces for babies or 1-year-olds.
  • Be sure to grease the pan well and use a paring knife around the edges as needed to prevent the muffins from sticking to the pan.
  • These work best as mini muffins. (They take forever to bake through as full-size.)
  • When checking for doneness, look for the edges to be golden brown, the tops of the muffins to be firm to the touch, and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin to come out clean—not with wet batter stuck to it.
  • You can omit the brown sugar and use 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey instead.
  • You may also like Zucchini Carrot Muffins, ABC Muffins, Yogurt Muffins, Carrot Cake Cupcakes, and Strawberry Muffins.

I’d love to hear what your family thinks of this recipe so please chime in below with feedback in the comments!

This post was originally published spring 2017.

carrot-cake-muffins-in-white-bowl

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins (Low Sugar, SO Good)

Amy Palanjian

These are delicious served warm soon after baking, at room temperature or even chilled, so see what your family prefers. They are naturally dairy-free and can be made gluten-free and egg-free as well. See the Notes section for details.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 16 mins

Total Time 26 mins

Course Breakfast

Cuisine American

Servings 12 (Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 servings)

Calories 119 kcal

Ingredients 

 

  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • ¼ cup raisins (I prefer golden raisins, but any kind will work)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 24-cup mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir together to combine thoroughly but gently.

  • Add a heaping 1 tablespoon of the batter to each prepared muffin cup and bake 18-22 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out cleanly.

  • Remove from oven, cool in the pan for 2 minutes, and use a paring knife to loosen the edges as needed. Tilt in the pan to allow air to circulate underneath or transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  • Serve warm, at room temp, or chilled.

Notes

  • To store, place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 3-5 days. Reheat slightly to serve if desired. Or, place cooled muffins into a zip-top freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and seal. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or in the microwave in 10- to 15-second increments.
  • I like to use golden raisins because the flavor and color is nice here, but regular ones work just fine.
  • Add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon ground ginger to add even more flavor.
  • Egg-free: Omit the eggs and add 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal and use ½ teaspoon baking soda (up from ¼ teaspoon in the recipe). Let mixed batter sit for 5 minutes before adding to the pan. Bake for about 2 additional minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out cleanly. (Or you can use a store bought egg replacer like the one from Bob’s Red Mill.)
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free cup-for-cup flour and certified gluten-free rolled oats.
  • For best results with the texture, grate the carrots yourself. OR use kitchen shears to roughly chop store-bought grated carrots into slightly smaller pieces. (Right out of the bag, the grated carrots are often in long pieces that will be hard to fit in mini muffin cups.)
  • These work best as mini muffins. (They take forever to bake through as full-size.)
  • Be sure to grease the pan well and use a paring knife around the edges as needed to prevent the muffins from sticking to the pan.
  • When checking for doneness, look for the edges to be golden brown, the tops of the muffins to be firm to the touch, and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin to come out clean—not with wet batter stuck to it.

Nutrition

Serving: 2mini muffinsCalories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 79mgPotassium: 130mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1828IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg

Keyword carrot cake muffins, carrot muffins



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