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Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

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These Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins are easy to make with oatmeal, lots of fresh carrots, and a handful of other simple and healthy ingredients. Feel free to top them with a lightened-up cream cheese drizzle too!

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Drizzle

Meet my new favorite healthier way to satisfy those carrot cake cravings…

…these delightful carrot cake muffins! 

Many of you long-time readers may recognize this recipe as a riff on my favorite base recipe for healthy banana, pumpkin or apple muffins. Turns out, it works perfectly with freshly-shredded carrots too. And when made with some of my favorite carrot cake warming spices and topped with an optional (yet highly recommended) light cream cheese drizzle, these muffins taste like an absolute treat!

This carrot cake muffins recipe is also super quick and easy to whip up with just 20 minutes or so of prep time. It’s made with healthier ingredients, including lots of fresh carrots, a simple oatmeal base (which makes these muffins naturally gluten-free), and a minimal amount of maple syrup as the primary sweetener. Plus, these muffins also keep really well in the freezer, so I highly recommend making a double batch if you would like to meal prep for easy grab and go breakfasts or snacks.

More than anything, though, they are just ridiculously good. So if you love carrot cake as much as I do, grab some fresh carrots and let’s bake up a quick batch together!

Carrot Muffins Batter

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffin Ingredients:

Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients you will need to make these healthy carrot muffins:

  • Old-fashioned oats: We’ll use a blender or food processor to purée old-fashioned (rolled) oats to make oat flour for these muffins. Or alternately, you’re welcome to use store-bought oat flour instead! As always, be sure to double-check that your oats are certified gluten-free if you need this recipe to be GF.
  • Spices: I used a classic mix of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and sea salt as carrot cake spices for these muffins. But feel free to add in any other warming spices that you love too.
  • Baking soda: To will help the muffins to rise properly.
  • Eggs: To bind the ingredients together and add moisture.
  • Milk: I used unsweetened plain almond milk in my muffins, but you can use any kind of plant-based milk or cow’s milk that you prefer.
  • Shredded carrots: You can either finely-shred fresh carrots by hand (or with the help of a grating disk on a food processor) for this recipe. Or you can save a step and use store-bought shredded carrots.
  • Maple syrup: I like to use about 1/2 cup maple syrup as the primary sweetener for the muffin batter, which yields muffins that aren’t too sweet. But if you would like yours to be sweeter, you can increase this amount to 3/4 cup maple syrup. (Or you can also sprinkle more turbinado sugar on top of the muffins before baking.)
  • Coconut oil: Or any other mild-flavored oil you prefer, to add a bit of moisture to these muffins.
  • Vanilla extract: A must with any sort of carrot cake recipes, in my opinion!
  • Optional add-ins: Feel free to mix up to 2/3 cup total of add-ins to your muffin batter if you’d like, such as chopped nuts, raisins, shredded coconut or chocolate chips.
  • Coarse turbinado sugar: To add a bit of extra sweetness and crunch to the top of each muffin. (Or feel free to use any other kind of granulated sugar that you prefer.)
  • Cream cheese drizzle: Finally, feel free to whip up a simple topping made with low-fat cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk (any kind) and vanilla extract.

Healthy Carrot Muffins in Pan

How To Make Carrot Muffins:

Full instructions for how to make these carrot cake muffins are included in the recipe below, but here is a brief overview of the process with a few helpful tips:

  1. Purée oats. First, we will purée the oats into a flour-like consistency along with the other dry ingredients, using either a blender or food processor. (Or if you happen to have store-bought oat flour on hand, you can use that instead!)
  2. Mix the ingredients. Next, we’ll mix together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and then mix those together with the dry ingredients and any optional add-ins you would like to include until combined. Try to avoid over-mixing this batter or letting it sit in the mixing bowl too long before baking it, in order to achieve the best muffin consistency!
  3. Prep the baking cups. Portion the batter evenly into prepared baking cups. (I like to do this with the help of a large scoop.) Then sprinkle each batter cup with a generous pinch of turbinado sugar for extra sweetness and crunch.
  4. Bake. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Then let the muffins cool to room temp on a wire baking rack while you make the cream cheese drizzle.
  5. Make the cream cheese drizzle. Whisk together all of the drizzle ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. (For a super-smooth drizzle, it really helps to sift your powdered sugar using a fine-mesh strainer.)
  6. Serve. Then once the muffins have cooled, use either a fork or a piping bag to add the drizzle (or you can just spread some on with a knife), serve and enjoy!

Closeup Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze

Carrot Cake Muffin Variations:

Want to customize this carrot cake muffin recipe more to your liking? Feel free to…

  • Add extra toppings: You’re also more than welcome to sprinkle some chopped nuts or toasted shredded coconut on top of the cream cheese drizzle if you would like a more substantial topping. (Feel free to also spread the cream cheese drizzle on with a knife, more like frosting, if you prefer.)
  • Use a different sweetener: If you do not happen to have maple syrup on hand, you are welcome to swap in 1/2 cup of honey or (packed) light brown sugar instead.
  • Use different warming spices: Ground cardamom, ground cloves, or ground allspice would also be delicious additions to the carrot cake spices called for in this recipe.
  • Make these muffins vegan: Use flax eggs (instead of regular eggs) and vegan cream cheese (instead of regular cream cheese) if you would like to make these muffins vegan.
  • Make the muffins sweeter: If you would like the muffins to be a bit sweeter, you can increase the amount of maple syrup up to 3/4 cup total or you can sprinkle more turbinado sugar on top of each muffin cup before baking. Of course, you are also welcome to increase the amount of cream cheese drizzle too.

Single Carrot Muffin with Cream Cheese Drizzle

More Healthy Muffin Recipes:

Looking for more healthy muffin recipes to try? Check out these delicious recipes for:

Tray of Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

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Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x

Description

These Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins are easy to make with oatmeal, lots of fresh carrots, and a handful of other simple and healthy ingredients. Feel free to top them with a lightened-up cream cheese drizzle too!


Ingredients

Scale

Healthy Carrot Muffin Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Drizzle Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons almond milk (or your preferred kind of milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prep oven and muffin pan. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners, or lightly grease with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Purée oats. Purée the oats in a blender or food processor until they reach a flour-like consistency. Add in the baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, ginger, nutmeg, and pulse a few more times until the mixture is evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. Mix the ingredients. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, shredded carrots, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract until evenly combined.  Fold the oatmeal mixture in with the wet ingredient mixture, along with any optional add-ins, and stir until the mixture is just combined.  (Try to avoid over-mixing.)
  4. Prep the baking cups. Portion the batter evenly into prepared baking cups.  Then sprinkle a generous pinch of turbinado sugar on top of each cup of muffin batter, if you would like.
  5. Bake. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire cooling rack until the muffins cool to room temperature.
  6. Make the cream cheese drizzle. While the muffins bake, whisk together the cream cheese drizzle ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. If the drizzle seems too thin, add in a few extra tablespoons of powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add in a tiny extra splash of milk.
  7. Serve. Once the muffins have cooled to room temperature, use a fork or a piping bag to top each muffin with your desired amount of cream cheese drizzle. Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate the muffins for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


Notes

Oat flour: Alternately, you can sub in in 220 grams (7.75 ounces) oat flour.  And as always, be sure to use certified gluten-free ingredients if making this recipe gluten-free.

Optional add-ins: Feel free to add 2/3 of extra add-ins total to this recipe, such as chopped nuts (I’d recommend chopped pecans or walnuts), raisins (or dried cranberries or cherries), shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), chocolate chips (semisweet or white) — or a combination of any of these.

Prep time: The prep time listed above does not include the amount of time needed to let these muffins cool, which can vary between about 30-60 minutes. That said, if you’re in a hurry, you can always eat the muffins right away without the cream cheese drizzle, or spread the cream cheese frosting on with a knife as a spread.

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffin with Bite Taken Out

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Recipe rating

30 comments on “Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins”

  1. These look PERFECT! Can’t wait to try them for my husband, who loves carrot cake. Thank you!

  2. Can you make this into a cake?

  3. These look delicious, but as an editor and writer myself, I’m going to (gently, kindly!) call you out on your word choice: puree, by definition, results in a liquid and usually refers to fruit or vegetable matter. So it doesn’t make sense to talk about pureeing oats. I think you’d be better off with using “grind” or even “pulverize.”

    Best wishes!

    • I think we can give her a pass on word choice since (a) it doesn’t seem to affect our understanding of the recipe, and (b) pregnancy brain is a real thing and sometimes the *right* word evades you! I’m just grateful for a delicious new recipe to try. :)

    • For the life of me, I don’t understand why someone would feel the need to call anyone out. This is Ali’s blog, and she is generous enough to share — free of charge! — her recipes and her creativity. Clearly, you knew what she meant, so you could simply grind or pulverize your oats and move along. No calling out needed.

  4. Can you mix these up and put into tins the night before and store in the fridge to bake the next morning? Or do they need to be baked right after mixing up?

    • Not the best idea – your leavening agent will have lost its “oomph” by then. See Ali’s note #2 under “How to Make…” above. You could prep the wet and dry ingredients (separately) ahead of time and mix them at the last minute, though. I’m not sure if having your wet ingredients cold from the fridge will cause a need to increase the baking time. Good luck!

  5. What are the calorie/nutritional details for the carrot muffins?
    Thanks!

  6. Ooh yum!! These look like a delicious healthy snack to have in the morning. Will be making this for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.

  7. What do you mean by melt oil..
    Can you use regular cooking oil?

    • She’s saying to melt the oil because it’s coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature. You can just melt it to a liquid in the microwave in about 30 seconds. I’m sure you could also substitute an equal amount of a liquid oil like vegetable oil (in which case, no melting needed).

    • coconut oil is sometimes solidified at room temperature, so if you are using coconut oil you would want to make sure it is in its liquid form (may require melting). Other types of oil are consistently liquid and would not require being melted!

  8. You had me at carrot cake. And now that you have me, I need to go make all your other oat muffins! Easy, moist, and delicious; these are my new go-to breakfast. I added 50g of ground flax as my extra, and it added a really lovely nutty flavor. Love these so much!

  9. I made these muffins today. I really like them. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Could you use almond flour or something of that nature? Also could you make this in an 8×8 pan then cut like brownies for a single serving/muffin? I don’t have a muffin pan! Haha

  11. Do you really have to grind up the oats? Can you just leave them as is for a more hearty/chewy texture? Thanks!

    • Given that the pulverized oats are the only flour in this, I think that if you didn’t grind them up, you’d end up with something more like a baked oatmeal.

    • I think they are acting as flour once they are ground up. I don’t think it would work to use them whole. Maybe you could add additional oats as one of your “add-ins” that she mentions?

  12. This was outstanding. I was nervous when I was putting them into the muffin tin because the batter seemed thin, but I have realized those oats needed to soak up all that liquid. Thank you for this recipe!

  13. Hi, how many calories in each muffin.

  14. Delicious! Had to make some of the substitutions suggested and they still worked out perfectly!

  15. I loved these! I’m a huge carrot cake fan and this healthy version was very satisfying and a perfect indulgent snack. Made them for a family brunch and they were a big hit.

  16. Love Ali’s recipes!! Definitely has a healthy hearty taste, less sweet …perfect as a breakfast muffin. I added a bit of flax meal and spoonful of almond flour to the Oat flour as my batter seemed too loose, but it was fine! Added shredded sweetened coconut as I couldn’t find unsweetened and handful of walnuts. Didn’t have the turbinado sugar so sprinkled a little brown sugar on top. Definitely needs the cream cheese drizzle so don’t leave that off! Thanks Ali for the tutorial on making folded parchment muffin/cupcake tin liners…they look way cooler than conventional skimpy liners! Sending you a BIG CONGRATS on your sweet Bebe Teo!!!!

  17. Absolutely delicious!!! They were easy to make, and oh so moist. Another winning recipe!

  18. I made these muffins for a “girls lunch” which included Cate D. to serve with chicken salad. I omitted the drizzle & used dried cranberries as the add-in. I used brown sugar as a less expensive sweetener. They were delicious. Next time I’ll bake a few minutes more – they tested as done, but sunk a little when they cooled. Thanks for another great recipe. Your baby boy is precious.

  19. Nothing gentle nor kind about Editor Jenn’s comment. Her OCD is better served on a news site. I was excited about your recipe and thought it rude to see that comment first. Keep baking my friend! We appreciate the beauty and generosity of your talent! ❤️

  20. What is the calorie count per muffin?

  21. What kind of muffin cups are those? Can I put the batter in paper cups, or grease a nonstick muffin pan so I don’t have to use any cups at all? Thanks!

  22. These are great! I used 1/2 cup of date syrup instead of maple syrup, oat milk for the almond milk, canola for coconut oil, and instead of shredded carrots, I used my food processor to finely dice the carrots. I’m going to give these to my toddler for a snack — healthy and delicious!

  23. I just made these for my baby’s first birthday. I skipped the sugar and drizzle on top and went for full-on cream cheese frosting. They were delicious! I was impressed with how much the flavor and texture was really like carrot cake. Thanks!