Healthy Carrot Cake
This delicious healthy carrot cake is only 254 calories per serving, and it is so sweet and moist and loaded with carrots, raisins, walnuts and pineapple. It is refined-sugar free. It has a simple maple cream cheese and coconut frosting that you can make without a mixer.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe
The best part about this maple-sweetened carrot cake recipe is that it is so incredibly moist!! It keeps in the refrigerator for days and it is even better on day two so it is a great make-ahead dessert for a large group.
This maple carrot sheet cake is top shelf, my healthy recipe loving people. I’m putting it on the Best of List, and mark my words, if you are/were one of the people who was fanatical about my Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting or this pumpkin chocolate chip bread, you will also become fanatical about this homemade carrot cake.
You may just end up calling it “my carrot cake.” As in, “I can bring my famous carrot cake.” Like, the one you’re known for that is so good people ask you for the recipe. Just sayin’, it’s going to happen. 😉
Okay. So let’s talk recipe notes, shall we?
- Carrots: You’ll need 2 cups shredded carrots, from about 3 medium peeled carrots
- Maple Syrup: 1 ½ cup pure maple syrup, dark or amber. For a less expensive option, you can use white sugar- but the cake will not be as moist. Or try half white sugar and half maple syrup!
- Liquor: 2 tablespoons maple liquor or dark rum. This is optional- so you can omit it.
- Neutral Cooking Oil: I tested this recipe several times, and I tried to make it with butter, coconut oil and avocado oil. I ended up going with avocado oil because it was the best texture on day one. And it was also good when the cake was refrigerated on subsequent days. The saturated fat in the butter and coconut oil made the cake dry when cold. I also ended up increasing the amount of oil to one full cup which is a lot for one of my recipes, but this serves 24 people, so you end up getting less than a tablespoon of oil per serving.
- Canned crushed pineapple: You’ll want to drain it through a fine mesh sieve. Make sure all of the excess liquid drains away. Otherwise, the cake will have too much water in it and it won’t rise correctly.
- Raisins and Nuts: You’ll need ½ cup raisins, plus ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Cream Cheese: For the frosting I use whipped cream cheese
- Granulated maple sugar: This is to sweeten the frosting. If you cannot find it, you can use dark brown sugar instead.
- Coconut oil: I love the way this tastes with the frosting. If you do not have it you can use unsalted melted butter instead.
- Baking Staples: You’ll need eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla. I use a blend of whole wheat flour with some all-purpose flour to help lighten the cake texture. I use white whole-wheat flour because it is just as nutritious as regular whole-wheat flour but has a less pronounced flavor, which works well in baking.
- Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- Coconut: for garnish, optional
To Measure Your Flour: For best results measure your flour the way I do. When I worked in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we measured our flour in the following manner: Stir the flour with a spoon to fluff it up. Then spoon it into a dry measuring cup. Next, level it off with a knife. This helps get consistent results every time.
How to Make This Healthy Carrot Cake
Step 1: Prep Pan and Preheat Oven
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients
Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.
Step 3: Mix Batter Together
Beat eggs, maple, avocado (or canola oil) and liquor in a large bowl until completely combined. Add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir until completely moistened. Spread batter in the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven.
Step 4: Bake Carrot Cake
Bake until the cake is deep brown and set in the center when lightly touched with finger tips, 48 to 54 minutes. Test to make sure cake is done with a toothpick. Moist crumbs will be attached when cake is fully cooked. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack, 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 5: Make Frosting and Frost the Cake
This frosting is amazingly easy and delicious. By using whipped cream cheese, you don’t even need to soften the cream cheese or use an electric mixer. You can mix it by hand with a silicone spatula! I’ll admit that there is not a ton of frosting, but I was trying to shave calories off of the cake. I asked my tasters if they wanted more frosting and they said no. The good news is that means each serving is only 254 calories! If this is a special occasion, you’re interested in more frosting and you are not super concerned about the calories you can double the frosting and you’ll have a very generous amount.
Stir cream cheese, maple sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl with silicone spatula until the maple is completely dissolved. Vigorously beat in coconut oil until it comes together into a smooth thick frosting.
Immediately spread the frosting over the cake. Top with toasted coconut if using.
Expert Tips and FAQs
It keeps in the refrigerator for three days and it is even better on day two so it is a great make-ahead dessert for a large group. To prevent the frosting from getting mushed by the plastic wrap, press four to six wooden skewers or brochettes into the cake and then wrap with plastic wrap. The skewers will hold the plastic off the surface. Refrigerate up to three days. For the best flavor and texture, bring to room temperature for 90 minutes before serving.
Yes, you do not need to add the nuts. It will come out great without them!
Yes! You can use white sugar (or a blend of maple syrup and white sugar) instead of maple syrup in the cake batter. In the frosting, you can use dark brown sugar or powdered sugar.
Yes you can. Spray your cake rounds with cooking spray and then line them with a parchment circle to help the turn out easily. Bake until set up and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Run a knife along the edges and then carefully turn out. The cake will be fragile because it is so loaded with goodies! You’ll need two to three times more frosting to cover the layer cake. I recommend using regular light cream cheese (Neuchatel) and beating it with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you are doing a big batch of frosting.
You can make or buy marzipan carrots or bunnies to decorate the top. If you are handy with a piping bag you can pipe frosting carrots on top. Or you can decorate with toasted walnut halves along the edges.
More Maple Baking Recipes You’ll Love:
- Greek Yogurt and Banana Maple Bread Pudding this is surprisingly easy and so tasty!
- Try this recipe for Cranberry Cake this season too! It’s amazing and so festive.
- This recipe for Maple Cookies is one of my favorites from my cookbook.
- Don’t miss this apple cake or these Apple Streusel Muffins.
- This delicious Apple Cinnamon Bread is amazing for snack or breakfast.
- Carrot Cake Waffles are a fun breakfast
- These Healthy Morning Glory Muffins are wonderful for snack or breakfast and are bursting with some of the same ingredients as this cake recipe!
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
This healthy carrot cake is only 254 calories per serving, and it is so sweet and moist. Loaded with carrots, raisins, walnuts, and pineapple.
For the cake
- 1 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, dark or amber
- 1 cup avocado oil or organic canola oil
- 2 tablespoons maple liquor or dark rum, optional
- 2 cups shredded carrots, from about 3 medium peeled carrots
- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained through a fine mesh sieve
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the Frosting
- 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons (granulated) maple sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons toasted unsweetened coconut for garnish, optional
- Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.
- Beat eggs, maple, avocado (or canola oil) and liquor in a large bowl until completely combined. Add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir until completely moistened. Spread batter in the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven.
- Bake until the cake is deep brown and set in the center when lightly touched with finger tips, 48 to 54 minutes. Test to make sure cake is done with a toothpick. Moist crumbs will be attached when cake is fully cooked. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack, 45 minutes to an hour.
- Make Frosting: Stir cream cheese, maple sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl with silicone spatula until the maple is completely dissolved. Vigorously beat in coconut oil until it comes together into a smooth thick frosting.
- Immediately spread the frosting over the cake. Top with toasted coconut if using.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 54 minutes
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Calories: 254
- Sugar: 17 g
- Sodium: 177 mg
- Fat: 17 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 26 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
Keywords: healthy carrot cake, easy carrot cake