Kitchen Tested: Lightened Up Carrot Cakes

best healthy carrot cake recipe

Happy EASTER, foodie friends! I just love this carrot cake recipe. Shredded carrots, pumpkin puree, a little whole wheat flour, and tons of sweet and nutty mix-ins….these carrot cake cupcakes are the lightened-up version of a classic fave. (Confession: the frost/not-to-frost debate wasn’t easily won. You know me and frosting! But, then I decided no frosting meant I could eat two. 🙂 )

Why it works:

When substituted for all-purpose flour, whole wheat can sometimes add unwanted density to baking recipes. The blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flours in this recipe helps bring the nutritional benefit from whole wheat while maintaining a reasonably tender crumb. And here, any extra density from the whole wheat helps suspend and support all those yummy mixins! The pumpkin puree imparts that pretty orange color and keeps the cake moist (sorry “moist” phobes…it’s the best descriptor), without the extra fat. The big reason I love this recipe (besides the fact that I’m hiding veggies in a cupcake) is because it can be easily so easily customized. The “base” batter recipe is great. Don’t like coconut or nuts? Leave them out. Prefer raisins over cranberries? Make the swap. Plus…two cups of carrots and an ice cream cone? That’s not a combo you see every day.

Lightened Up Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  • Servings: about 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

lightened up carrot cake recipe


  • 24 small, pointed ice cream cones (sugar cones work better than the waffle style)
  • 3/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 c grated raw carrots
  • 8 oz can shredded pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c chopped nuts
  • 24 sprigs fresh mint


  1. Prepare cones. To help cones stand upright while baking, fashion a stand out of empty coffee cups covered with aluminum foil. Poke a hole into each foil-covered coffee cup and stick the cone in (point first). Place all coffee cups (with empty cones) on a baking sheet.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine pumpkin, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  4. Sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add sifted dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture in #3 and mix to combine.
  5. Add carrots, pineapple, coconut, dried cranberries and nuts. Mix to combine.
  6. Fill cones (and/or lined cupcake pan) with batter. For cones: fill each, leaving about 1/4 inch of space to the top edge – cupcakes will rise!
  7. Bake cones (and/or cupcakes) for 20-25 minutes, or until tops spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

healthy carrot cake recipe

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