Super Moist and Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins
These Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins are made with less sugar than your average muffin recipe and more tender than any you’ve ever had before! These are also loaded with tons of shredded carrots, coconut, and juicy raisins. So easy, healthy, and delicious!
HEALTHY carrot cake muffins!?
Muffins like these healthy carrot cake muffins have a special place in my heart. Especially for breakfast. Am I the only one that rolls out of bed and wants something desserty as part of my breakfast to wake up my tastebuds? My husband is completely the opposite. He won’t even think about anything sweet until he’s had his savory breakfast + coffee. And then he’ll proceed to ‘breakfast dessert’ as he calls it.
I absolutely love the smell of something warm and cinnamon-y wafting from the kitchen in the morning. The sweet scent of bread, muffins, or pancakes just puts a spring in my step. The way the heat radiates out of the muffin liners from a warm banana nut or carrot muffin just makes my whole day better.
The carrots are the star of the show but we also have a ton of supporting actors – enter raisins, crunchy walnuts, and shredded coconut to add lots of flavor and texture (!!!) One thing I love doing is sprinkling a handful of rolled oats on the bottom of my muffin pan before pouring in the batter and then topping them with another pinch of oats. This provides a nice added crunch to the muffin tops plus it makes them look so much prettier. And let’s face it, this is practically carrot cake in muffin form, minus the cream cheese frosting.
What I love most about these muffins is that you don’t have to use any special equipment to make them. Sometimes you just want to grab a whisk and do it the old-fashioned way while you’re standing there lost in thought or in my case, binge-listening to podcasts.
Is that a thing, binge listening?
Ingredients for homemade carrot cake muffins
- Flour: You’ll need all-purpose flour for this recipe and you can replace some of it with whole wheat flour as well. I haven’t tested the recipe with all whole wheat but I do think the muffins may be too dense if you made them with all whole wheat.
- Baking Soda: It may seem like a whole lot of baking soda! 2 Tsp!
- Spices: You’ll need kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to add warmth. You’ll also need two heaping teaspoons of cinnamon.
- Oil: I love using melted coconut oil for these muffins because it enhances the shredded coconut flavor and makes the muffins much lighter than if you were to use butter. You can also use canola oil or vegetable oil if this is typically what you have on hand at home.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is partially responsible for adding sweetness to the recipe as well as moisture.
- Unsweetened Apple Sauce: Apple sauce provides a deeper flavor and cuts out some of the added sugar.
- Greek yogurt: adds protein and reacts with the baking soda to help the muffins rise a bit. To make these dairy-free I suggest using coconut yogurt or something similar.
- Eggs: Adds structure and stability to baked goods.
- Vanilla: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract is the perfect amount of vanilla. It shines beautifully in the recipe.
- Shredded carrots: You’ll need two whole cups of shredded carrots for this recipe. The carrots and moisture to the muffins and they’ll shrink into teeny tiny bits in the muffins so you won’t even know they’re there.
- Add-ins: I use shredded sweetened coconut, raisins, and walnuts. These add, color, and texture to the muffins. They pair beautifully with the cinnamon and ginger in the recipe. The other ingredient that you won’t find in other carrot cake muffin recipes – oats! The rolled oats – not oat flour. I sprinkle them in the muffin tin and on top of the muffins to add a nutty taste and some texture.
How to make the best carrot cake muffins
- Prep things. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. You’ll want to line a cupcake pan with paper liners or just spray it with cooking spray. I sprinkle the bottom of the liners or the muffin tins with half the oats. Save the other half for the topping!
- Sift the dry ingredients. In a bowl sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Add the brown sugar and oil and mix them together with a whisk, a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer until they’re combined. Add the yogurt and apple sauce until they’re fully mixed. Don’t worry if the mixture is a bit gritty, it’ll all work out! Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each one is incorporated. Then stir in the vanilla.
- Make batter. Manually stir or fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Taking care to make sure you work out all the flour pockets but don’t over-mix. Add your add-ins and then divide the batter into the prepared pans. Don’t forget to sprinkle the remaining oats over top and shaved coconut too if you’d like.
- Bake the muffins. Until they’re golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out mostly clean. Moist crumbs are fine, you just don’t want wet batter! The serving size is a muffin, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself going back for more!
FAQs about this recipe
I know a lot of recipes call for honey or maple syrup. The truth is, I’ve never tested this recipe with a liquid sweetener to I’m unsure if that will work.
Some people like using ground cloves or a little grating of nutmeg, feel free to spruce these as you’d like!
I keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. If it’s particularly warm where you live, I’d store them in the refrigerator and then reheat a muffin for a few seconds in the microwave or just bring it to room temperature on the counter before enjoying!
If you like this recipe, you might also like these muffins:
- Outrageous Blueberry Muffins (Gluten-Free or Not!)
- Warm Lemon Zucchini Muffins
- Spiced Chai Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
- Lighter Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
- French Toast Cups with Coconut Almond Streusel
Original recipe posted Jan 2014, updated March 2023.
- 2 cups flour (I use 50% whole wheat and 50% AP)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH salt and ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ⅔ cup melted coconut oil (see notes)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups carrots, finely shredded
- 1/2 cup EACH shredded sweetened coconut, raisins, AND walnuts
- 1/4 cup oats, divided
- PREP: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. If you want, you can line your cupcake pan with paper liners. Or spray the insides with cooking spray. Sprinkle half the oats on the liners, set aside.
- DRY INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour(s), baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, set aside.
- WET INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl with a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer, on medium speed, combine the brown sugar and oil. Beat in the yogurt and apple sauce until fully combined - about 1 minute. Mixture will be gritty and thin. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
- BATTER: With a spatula, manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and all flour pockets are gone - do not overmix. Fold in the finely shredded carrots, shredded coconut, raisins, and walnuts. The muffin mixture will be thick. Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Sprinkle the remaining oats on top and shaved coconut too if you'd like.
- BAKE: Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Let cool for several minutes before devouring!
- After making these muffins more than a dozen times after originally posting the recipe back in 2014, i've found that I prefer them with ⅔ cup of oil rather than the originally stated amount of '¾ cup'. However either amount will work.
Serving Size:1/16th of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 236Total Fat: 11gCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gProtein: 4g
The nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is just an estimate. To get the most accurate information, please input the ingredients you've used into a nutrition calculator.