Healthy Carrot Cake

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5 from 171 votes
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This healthy carrot cake is a fluffy and moist cake made with wholesome ingredients! No eggs or refined sugar is needed, it makes a fabulous healthier dessert.

healthy carrot cake recipe.

Who said desserts can’t be healthy?

When done correctly, they taste just as good as their traditional counterparts. Some of our favorite desserts we’ve given a healthy makeover include chocolate cake, brownies, and this glorious carrot cake.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe highlights
  2. How to make a healthy carrot cake
  3. Tips to make the best recipe
  4. Storage instructions
  5. More healthy desserts to try
  6. Frequently asked questions
  7. Healthy Carrot Cake (Recipe Card)

Recipe highlights

Because I feel it necessary to eat carrot cake every day, I wanted to come up with a healthier version of it, but without sacrificing taste. That is a common issue with ‘healthy’ cake recipes- They turn out dry and lack any sweetness.

This carrot cake is the exception. Don’t let the ‘healthy’ in front of it deter you.

  • It uses simple ingredients. No hard-to-find flours, sugars, or baking agents are needed.
  • Perfect with or without frosting. Let’s be honest, the best part of any cake is the frosting, but this one is different. It’s so delicious on its own.
  • The best texture. It is just as fluffy and moist as any good carrot cake out there, loaded with shredded carrots and perfectly sweet.
healthy carrot cake.

How to make a healthy carrot cake

You won’t need any fancy mixers or kitchen gadgets to make them- Just one bowl. The hard part is waiting for the cake to cool!

Ingredients needed

  • All Purpose Flour– I used white whole wheat flour, which is essentially wholewheat flour, but bleached white. It is higher in fiber than traditional white flour.

Dietary swap

Following a gluten free diet? Swap out the flour for a cup-for-cup gluten free flour blend.

  • Baking powder and baking soda– Leavens the cake, and gives it some rise and fluffiness. 
  • Cinnamon– A must for any good carrot cake! 
  • Sugar of choice– Choose coconut sugar to keep the cake refined sugar free or opt for something like allulose to cut the sugar completely. White or brown sugar also work.
  • Milk of choice– Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. 
  • Coconut Oil– A fantastic substitute for butter. Use refined coconut oil to ensure there is no coconut flavor. If you can’t tolerate coconut oil, any other neutral-tasting oil will work (e.g. sunflower oil or vegetable oil). 
  • Grated Carrots– The carrots must be grated, not chopped. This ensures they mix into the batter well. 
  • Almonds and Walnuts– For some added texture to the cake! I used chopped almonds, but walnuts would be a great addition too. 
  • Raisins– Optional, but I believe every good carrot cake has some raisins in them!

The instructions

In a mixing bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together your sweeteners, milk, and coconut oil, until combined and glossy.

Combine your wet and dry ingredients together, until just combined. Fold through your shredded carrots, nuts, and raisins.

Transfer the batter between two cake pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out just clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan completely. 

How to make healthy carrot cake.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • This makes a layer carrot cake. If you’d like this to be a single cake, simply halve the ingredients. 
  • Do not overmix the batter. We want the ingredients to be mixed, but just until they are combined. Overmixing can potentially lead to a less fluffy cake.
  • Do not make any substitutions unless one of the ones recommended in the ingredient list. Using another flour or adding something else into the batter can affect the taste, texture, and cooking time. 

Storage instructions

To store: Leftover cake should be stored in the refrigerator, in a sealable container. It will keep well for up to 2 weeks. 

To freeze: You can either freeze the cake as a whole cake or in individual portions. Keep the cake in a freezer friendly container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

carrot cake healthy.

More healthy desserts to try

Frequently asked questions

Is this cake vegan?

Yes! This cake doesn’t have any eggs or dairy in it, making it suitable for those following a vegan diet.

Can I make these into muffins?

While this batter can be used to make muffins, you may prefer making carrot muffins instead. The ingredients are quite similar but are designed to be made into muffins.

Is carrot cake the healthiest cake?

Not necessarily! People often assume that just because there are carrots in carrot cake that is the healthiest option. However, most cakes use butter, oil, and plenty of sugar in it! Let’s not forget the cream cheese frosting that comes with it.

healthier carrot cake.

Healthy Carrot Cake

5 from 171 votes
This healthy carrot cake is super moist and fluffy, and uses wholesome ingredients! It makes a simple and delicious dessert.
Servings: 12 Slices
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Ingredients  

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour Gluten free, if needed
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar * See notes
  • 1 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk I used unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup coconut oil melted (can use any neutral tasting oil)
  • 3 1/2 cups carrots grated
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins Optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together your granulated sweeter, coconut sugar, milk of choice, and melted coconut oil, until glossy and smooth.
  • Combine your wet and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold through your shredded carrots, nuts, and raisins.
  • Distribute your cake batter evenly amongst the two cake pans. Bake for around 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pan completely. Once cooled, you can frost them, if desired.

Notes

* I used white wholewheat flour, for added nutrition. You can use any white or all-purpose flour. 
** I used allulose, but white or brown sugar works. 
TO STORE: Leftover cake should be stored in the refrigerator, in a sealable container. It will keep well for up to 2 weeks. 
TO FREEZE: You can either freeze the cake as a whole cake or in individual portions. Keep the cake in a freezer friendly container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1SliceCalories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 4gFat: 14gSodium: 332mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gCalcium: 90mgIron: 2mgNET CARBS: 23g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. My carrot cake just cooled, tasted it. Very soft, fluffy and moist. Lessened the granulated sugar from 1 c to 3/4 c, just right, not sweet, delicious and healthy vegan carrot cake. Thank you for sharing this recipe, Arman! It’s a 5!

  2. 5 stars
    Truly appreciate the way you made this wonderful and delicious carrot cake. With having fresh carrots this season, I think there nothing best to make your lovely cake. Everything is so nicely described that would help to make this carrot cake at home.

  3. In your muffin and cake recipes can I swap a couple of whipped egg whites for baking powder? I can’t eat it, or baking soda. Thanks. LOVE your recipes!

  4. Oh lord, please help me. I am so sorry for the dumb question, but when you say “¾ cup gluten free flour;
    ½ cup certified gluten free oat flour (can sub for standard gluten free flour)”, do you mean I can use just another 1/2 cup of gf flour instead of the oat flour? Or is it saying use the 1/2 cup of oat flour instead of the gf?? (If that makes no sense, my main question is, how much would it be I only have gf flour??)

  5. Super yummy! Can’t believe how moist given how little oil is in this recipe. I made muffins because they’re just so fun and easy, especially when I use parchment muffin liners, so no greasing is necessary! The recipe made 8 regular-sized muffins. I used 1 c. oat flour and 1/4 c. tiger nut flour. I used an egg, but want to try the vegan version, too. I used Garden of Life Raw Vanilla Chai Protein Powder and Kite Hill plain almond yogurt. I used 365 unsweetened almond milk, but didn’t have to add very much, maybe a scant 1/4 c. I used 1/8 c. coconut sugar, a scant 1/8 c. xylitol and a packet of Truvia. I think they will be lovely spread with almond butter or applesauce. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. I’ll try adding 1 or 2 more eggs and some more milk if needed. Want to try it out for Mother’s Day. Thank you

    1. Ashy! So sorry, my comment got cut off- Try out my flourless blueberry breakfast cake- There is a paleo option, switch out the blueberries for 1 cup of shredded carrots 🙂

  7. Can I use coconut flour for the gluten free flour, usually you have subs for all types of lifestyle paleo, vegan, GF, DF… Maybe I missed it because i was drooling at carrot cake & healthy.
    Thank you for all that you do for the flow cooks out there!!

  8. Do you think this recipe would work substituting the Greek yogurt with coconut yogurt? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Gaby! You can try it with oat flour- I’m not sure how good it will be- You can try my flourless carrot breakfast cake if you’d like all oat flour 🙂

      1. Hey, I have to tel you this is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! I substituted the egg for 2 egg whites, I used olive oil and left all the flour to be oats flour, it tastes really good! 😀
        Thanks a lot for uploading this kind of recipes! Saludos desde México

  9. Normally I go for carrot cake BECAUSE of the frosting, but this recipe looks and sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try it!!

  10. You know its a winner when frosting isn’t needed..because daaaaang that cream cheese frosting can make ANYTHING GOOD #bestfrostingever

    xo
    Sarah Grace

  11. Just this week I was craving carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and this healthy version of yours looks absolutely delicious! And I love that it’s clean enough to have for breakfast! I’m #teamcake and though I love icing, I find it can be a little rich and sickly sometimes. Just wondering if there was another flour I could use instead of a gf blend? I’m on a super restricted diet atm for health reasons and I could actually eat this, so TIA!

  12. Cream cheese Is the only time the frosting does actually win that one! Cream cheese frosting all the way..on everything…in everything. Muffins, french toast. Cue cravings.
    Can you bake this in a sheet cake pan instead of a loaf pan or do you not think it would cook correctly that way?

    1. Hi Dalayna! 🙂

      Making it in a sheet cake pan is exactly how my mum makes it 🙂 Just cut down on the cooking time slightly 🙂

  13. Cream cheese is the ONLY time that the frosting actually wins that battle. But cream cheese hands down. Now I’m hardcore craving cream cheese stuffed french toast. Nummm
    Anyways, could you make this in a pan as a sheet cake instead of a loaf? Or will it not bake correctly that way?

  14. This looks so yummy. Great idea. Just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it 🙂 Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  15. Hey Arman, Brilliant recipe!!! I’m so gonna try this with my Protein powder, which I need to finish quick 😀 Love the sound of the recipe and the description……Wanna have a go for it. Will post the feedback once I’ll try this 🙂 Saumya

  16. Love that this carrot cake can be made for any dietary restriction! Looks delicious!!

  17. Arman, this cake needs no frosting, icing, or anything else to cover it up. It looks like a moist, beautiful loaf. I love those big slices! This would be perfect in the morning with my coffee. Take care my friend, Catherine

  18. This carrot cake sounds delicious, with or without cream cheese frosting! (the difference between breakfast or dessert?) I do have a question though, as am new to cooking with coconut oil. Do you melt the oil first and than measure, or vice versa?

    1. Thanks so much Deanna! I do melt the coconut oil first if it’s Winter and firmed up- Otherwise you can use any oil 🙂 Maybe not olive oil though 😛

  19. Sad to say that when I tried this it did not turn out looking oike the pics at all. It was way too dry to even mix the ingredients together without adding some more liquid, so I added some water and an extra T. of oil thinking maybe my yogurt was just too thick. But now that I think about it again, I think I really ought to have added another egg and even more oil instead. It is still cooling, so I am hoping it at least tastes good, but it certainly looks dry and flat compared to the moist carrot cakey deliciousness I was looking forward to!

    1. Hey there! I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you- Did you follow the instructions as per listed including the flours and yogurt? This is one of the most made and most tagged recipes (even those who adapt it to make it Vegan) so I’m sorry yours didn’t turn out so well! Please let me know how the second batch turned out!

    1. Hi Heather! To be honest, I haven’t tried coconut flour with this. If you do use it, you’ll need to adjust all the liquid ratios because of how much coconut flour absorbs liquids! I have tried it with standard wholewheat before and another reader used spelt 🙂

  20. ooooh, I’d have definitely made a second trip for frosting. because, frosting! but this looks fantastic enough as is – wish I had a slice right now!

    1. Haha, not going to lie, when I made truffles with the excess, I had a tonne of frosting left which was perfect for toast. :p

    1. Hey Mia 🙂 You can use any mild tasting oil- alternatively you could try applesauce but I’m assuming that it would be more dry!

  21. Just made this and it’s amazing. I used white whole wheat and oat flour, olive oil for the coconut oil (I was lazy to melt it lol) and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar for the sweetener. I found the walnuts made the cake over the top amazing. Thanks for the recipe. I hope to share it with friends and get some great feedback.

    1. Regina- It’s comments like this which absolutely MAKE my day! thank you so much for this. I’m going to share this on the Facebook page! Thank YOU for making it! (PS- I would have been lazy too :))

  22. Hey Arman, I’m very new to the whole baking concept and was just wondering, when you say 1T coconut oil, is that 1 teaspoon?

  23. AAAHHH…carrot cake is my most favorite, and you’ve just made it healthier? What’s not to love? ;-} Thanks a million for sharing your deliciousness with us at Weekend Potluck. Please come back again very soon. Pinning!

    1. Thank YOU for hosting such a fantastic link up- You’ve really inspired me to make more of an effort in the kitchen to participate each week!

  24. Never in my life have a had a carrot cake before. I guess you cannot call me a bunny. The Playboy mansion would not accept me. Wait, even before they knew this tid bit, they wouldn’t accept me because of something else, LOL!

  25. I cannot get my bread game together. It’s always just a giant fail. Your bread game, however, is on point… I have some carrots and random things I really need to start using up, I’m going to have to make this… well, anytime, since I have an open schedule.

  26. I used to love cream cheese frosting – I used to eat the frosting and leave the cake – but that was then – now lactose does not love me! So I will gladly take this carrot cake without frosting – love the lightened up version – but you wouldn’t think it from the looks of it!

  27. Definitely team cake! I don’t like frosting at all. I even removed the frosting from my wedding cake ;-P
    Carrot has always been my favorite. My mum used to make me carrot cake for my birthday. Best damn cake ever!
    Your mum should be proud of her talented son and give you access to all her recipes 😉

  28. I’m the biggest glutton when it comes to frosting. I want it all over my face. I need a 5 to 1 frosting to cake ratio at all times. OK, but really…I’m still obsessing over your photos lately. They have gotten SO GOOD.

  29. Carrot cake is in my top 3 for desserts! So so so yummy. And people think it’s healthy when it’s on a restaurant menu LAWLZ. Don’t hate me for saying this but this recipe looks so…..moist haha. And yeah you’re right who needs carrot cake to be an excuse for that frosting when you can just use a spoon

  30. I’m team 50% frosting, 50% cake 🙂 And now I’m craving some kind of breakfast bread – banana, zucchini…ahhh!

  31. Arman this looks really good and super healthy too – boom.
    I had a massive craving for salty, buttery toast the other day. That craving got nailed 🙂

  32. Oh my gosh, I love me some carrot cake! This would be good even with plain cream cheese slathered on top.

  33. Wowww that must be amazing cake! I LOVE carrot cake, but i always thought it was partially bc i LOVE cream cheese frosting. Coming from another cream cheese frosting appreciator i will take your word on that this cake doesnt need it- and i tip my hat to you sir- thats a job well done!

  34. While I am slightly disturbed and upset that you forgot the frosting, I suppose I can forgive you because this stuff sounds BOMB. Im a carrot cake lover as well, and I thought it was because of the frosting, but then I realized that I don’t really care for red velvet cake [which also has cream cheese frosting] so I suppose Im just a carrot cake lover! Which means that I will love this cake with or without the frosting.
    Of course, frostings always better. 😉
    I’ll forgive you of your slip up….this time….

  35. HOLLA!

    Mmmk sooo I am not a huge fan of cakes. Like, I’ll eat cake…BUT it’s not my first choice when it comes to desserts. With that being said, carrot cake is the one and only exception. If I had to choose only one dessert to eat for the rest of my life…that would be it. There’s actually a restaurant here (called Fresh) that has a killer carrot cake. It’s vegan but you wouldn’t even know. Should we add that to our list…? 😉 I hope you’re bringing stretchy pants.

  36. Where’s you mums bloody spoon? I need to whack you with it. Just kidding, although frosting is my favorite part of carrot cake, and I just so happened to eat a ton of cream cheese frosting this weekend on top of some apple cake. Yes, I took one for the team and loved every single minute.

    I do like this recipe: Carrot Cake Bread topped with some lovely butter. I could get down with that.

  37. Team cream cheese frosting all the way! It’s the best part of carrot cake. And hey, who says you can’t have cream cheese frosting on breakfast cake… it’s basically just like putting cream cheese on a bagel, right? 😛

  38. Sometimes I test a recipe to make sure it’s “ok” and accidentally eat the entire thing. It happens. Glad this didn’t need the icing! Not that I’m against cream cheese icing (never) but carrot cake minus the icing=perfect breakfast.

  39. BRO. This is perfect. Carrot cake is my favorite kind of cake, and if the cake itself is good enough, there is no need for frosting. That being said, no need for frosting does not mean no lingering desire… Just as long as it doesn’t overpower the cake!
    Your mom should be mad at you for many other reasons besides you bastardizing her carrot cake. One reason being the fact that you’ve eaten kangaroo sausage.

  40. Oh wow yum- love carrot cake! We’d make a good team, as I’m on team cake…unless it’s exceptional frosting, I tend to scrape it off. I bet this would taste excellent with some coconut butter slathered on top…or even just as is sounds pretty perfect to me. Nice work, Arman…I’m sure your momma would be proud ;)!

      1. Just a question (I’m french..) : what does the T means? from 1 T coconut oil, melted
        Thank you and thanks for the great recipes!

  41. Cake with a bit of frosting though more of a glaze or thin coat. Wow, I think I can smell that through my computer (:

  42. First of all, I haven’t seen the word “besotted” since I studied for my SATs over 10 years ago! You’re bringing me back! Second, totally going to find any context to use “Fail. Bloody. Whale.”

    By any chance, is it the same whale that George saved?

  43. Carrot cake is my all-time absolute favorite and I love this healthier version! Sometimes I make a double batch of cream cheese frosting just so I can eat the extra. 🙂

  44. Cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite foods EVER!!! Especially when carrot cake or a cinnamon bun is the vehicle for it.

    I’m so excited to make my new roomie make this for me. 🙂

  45. I love carrot cake! This looks delicious, and I’m sure I wouldn’t miss the frosting at all! What a perfect breakfast option!

  46. YES! Team Cake all the way! I like cream cheese frosting well enough because of the tangy sweetness, but I’m not crazy about most buttercream frostings… I’d rather have something chocolatey and doughy. That being said, the cake has to be freaking AMAZING if I’m going the frosting-less route, because who likes dry, lifeless dough?

  47. Team Cream Cheese Frosting all the way over here! We make my dad a carrot cake for his birthday every single year… with a double batch of frosting because that’s how things roll in our house.

    I have a bunch of shredded carrots in the fridge I was going to use for mug muffins this week, before our microwave broke, I may just have to make carrot bread instead. Though the cream cheese will not be optional 😉

  48. This looks delicious! If I try it I think I might add some crushed pineapple and raisins! Love those two in carrots cake….and maybe then I can skip the coconut sugar since i don’t have any! Also, I am not a frosting fan so this cake is right up my alley. 🙂

  49. I would do this with a greek yogurt frosting. Then I would want both equally. Because right now, I needs this.

  50. This IS FABULOUS!!! and i just bought pumpkin cream cheese from Trader Joe’s along with my cinnamon cream cheese that I already have, so basically i need to smear the two together on top of this delicious bread.

    I just made pumpkin chocolate bread this weekend, so now I’m gonna gobble that up AFAP (as fast as possible) so i can make this this weekend :):)

  51. Don’t make me chose between frosting or cake?!?!!? i am ALWAYS craving frosting….and I mean it. I woke up about 20 mins ago, and honestly I could easily eat a cup full of frosting RIGHT NOW. My running career would take a nose dive if I did that though, once my sweet tooth awakens……it can’t be stopped, thats why I usually hold out till the evening haha!

    I have done that so many times….forgotten the most important-cannot be substituted ingredient! So annoying! This turned out lovely though, carrot cake is the boss…..and now I want some!

    1. Tina- that is genius. Save the sweets for night. I always find that with sweet foods too in the morning..hence a since of cheese 😉

  52. Sometimes I order fudge cake just to eat the fudge frosting and leave the cake over for someone else. Frosting, especially chocolate fudge or a ganache is just my favorite thing in the world lol.

  53. Nice recipe rework! Believe it or not, I have never had carrot cake. I usually crave the salty stuffs but I was craving chocolate these last few days.

    1. I crave salty with sweet stuff so I just add salt….oops. Ask my sister when I eat oatmeal…with the salt shaker next to me.

  54. Very very tasty looking! And I love your recipe with the fact its got Greek yogurt in it. I’ll probably try it with 0% fat Greek yogurt myself (just cause I’m always looking of ways to reduce calories) that’s just personal choice, no offence! 🙂 Your photography is inspiring. 😀