The Best Healthy Carrot Cake (Low Calorie + Vegan-Friendly!)
This healthy carrot cake recipe is moist, fluffy, and has the perfect amount of cinnamon and spice. It’s a famous secretly healthy dessert because it does not taste healthy! Completely nut free and easily made dairy-free, vegan & gluten-free!
It’s no secret, I LOVE baking all kinds of easy, delicious, healthy desserts and cakes for special occasions: Secretly Healthy Chocolate Mousse Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Skillet, Vegan Sugar Cookies, Vegan Raspberry Brownies are just a few of my favorites. This Healthy Carrot Cake though, is the best way to welcome Spring!
How to Make Healthy Carrot Cake
You just need one bowl to make this easy carrot cake! Here’s a list of the simple ingredients you’ll need too. If you’re looking for a paleo or grain-free carrot cake recipe, try out my Paleo Carrot Cake Muffins! Equally delicious and nutritious!
Healthy Carrot Cake Ingredients:
- Pureed Sweet Potato: I know it may sound strange, but trust me, it’s what makes this carrot cake moist without having to add a ton of oil! More on that later.
- Eggs: this recipe uses 4 eggs for texture and fluffiness. And no, they don’t have to be room temperature! (I never follow that step in recipes anyways) I’ve added a note below if you’re interested in making this cake vegan.
- Coconut Sugar: sweetens this cake perfectly while adding hints of nutty caramel undertones. You can read all about the benefits of coconut sugar here.
- Vanilla: gives it that extra kick of flavor.
- Refined Coconut Oil: only a couple tablespoons of coconut oil is needed for this recipe! Unlike most recipes that call for ½ – 1 cup. Read below how this reduction makes this healthy carrot cake lower in calories and fat than your typical cake.
- Plant Based Milk: any milk works.
- Spices: we use cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pink Himalayan salt for the absolute perfect spice combination.
- White Whole Wheat Flour: higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients than all purpose flour (health benefits of whole wheat flour). If you want to make this cake gluten-free, I’ve added some notes below.
- Carrots: this recipe uses 3 cups of shredded carrots.
- Baking Soda: we fold this ingredient in last to ensure a fluffy and risen cake.
Why This Carrot Cake is THE BEST
Now that you have the ingredients in check, I’ll give you a run down of what exactly makes this secretly healthy carrot cake the best.
Spices for Carrot Cake
As listed above, we use a combination of cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg in this carrot cake. The flavor combination is out of this world!
What oil for carrot cake?
Most carrot cake recipes call for ½ cup to 1 full cup of oil. Typically these oils are vegetable oil or canola oil which are highly processed and have little nutritional value. This recipe calls for only 2 Tbs of coconut oil. Coconut oil is a much healthier oil and we use waaaaay less of it (benefits of coconut oil).
To put it in perspective, 1 cup of vegetable oil is 1,920 calories and 224 grams of fat! Yikes. 2 tablespoons of coconut oil is only 260 calories and 28 grams of fat. Reducing the amount of oil makes each serving of this cake only 162 calories with 3.5 grams of fat. As opposed to 319 calories and 15.6 grams of fat!
A lot of people ask me what’s different about my carrot cake recipe. Well, I’m a visual learner, along with most of you! So I created a little picture to compare this healthy carrot cake recipe to a typical unhealthy carrot cake recipe. It’s very eye opening! I did a similar chart for my Secretly Healthy Chocolate Mousse Cake too!
How to Make Carrot Cake Moist
The answer to this question is simple. Use a moistening ingredient. In my Healthy Banana Chip Muffin recipe, I give my top tricks to making moist muffins. Well, the same thing goes for cake! This recipe calls for pureed sweet potato, carrots and almond milk to make this cake extra moist.
How to Make Carrot Cake Icing
This carrot cake icing is a delicious cream cheese flavor! You can easily make it dairy-free by using vegan cream cheese. We use the exact same icing that my Healthy Sugar Cookies call for. You just need three ingredients to make it! (3 ingredient cream cheese icing)
Commonly asked questions:
How to decorate carrot cake?
Here are some simple ways you can decorate carrot cake:
- Sprinkle cinnamon on top
- Top with chopped walnuts or pecans
- Put some whole carrots/shredded carrots on top
- Pipe on carrots with colored cream cheese icing
Where to store carrot cake and how long does carrot cake last?
Carrot cake is usually best on the day of or the day after baking. However, here are a few ways you can store this healthy carrot cake:
Store carrot cake at room temperature in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap for up to 4 days.
Store carrot cake in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to one week (it may dry out a little in the fridge).
Freeze carrot cake by wrapping it in plastic wrap and placing it in an airtight container or plastic resealable bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place on counter to thaw a few hours before serving.
Can you make carrot cake cupcakes with this batter?
Yes! This carrot cake batter is perfect for cupcakes too! Just use silicone cupcake liners for easy cake removal. Bake the cupcakes for a shorter period of time, around 10-15 minutes. Pull them from the oven when a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Carrot Cake Success Tips:
- Line your cake pans with parchment. Place your cake pans on a sheet of parchment paper and trace around them. Place the circle of parchment on the bottom of the cake pans to ensure the cake will not stick. Greasing with coconut oil helps as well.
- Make it ahead. You can make this cake way in advance and place it in the freezer. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap to ensure it doesn’t get freezer burn. (See storage notes above)
- Fold in the baking soda last. This step can often be overlooked, but folding in the baking soda last will ensure this cake rises well and is extra fluffy.
Happy Carrot Cake Bakin’!
More Desserts With Hidden Veggies:
Secretly Healthy Fudge Brownies
PIN FOR LATER
Healthy Carrot Cake (Low Calorie + Vegan-Friendly!)
The BEST healthy carrot cake recipe! Extremely moist, soft, and fluffy! Sweetened with coconut sugar and made with all whole wheat flour. One bowl, EASY recipe that everyone will love.
- 4 Eggs (See Note 2 For Flax Egg/Vegan Option)
- ½ Cup Sweet Potato Puree
- 1 Cup + 1 Tbs Coconut Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tbs Refined Coconut Oil (can sub olive oil or avocado oil)
- ¼ Cup + 1 Tbs Plant Based Milk (I use unsweetened almond) (See Note 2 if using flax eggs)
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- ½ tsp Ginger
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- 2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour (or Gluten-Free Flour with xanthan gum) (See Note 1)
- 3 Cups Shredded Carrots
- 2 tsp Baking Soda
Cream Cheese Icing
- 1½ Blocks (16 oz) Cream Cheese (you can use low fat or vegan) *softened
- 1 Cup Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener or Powdered Sugar (may add more to taste)
- 1½ Tbs Plant Based Milk (or milk of choice or water)
1. Preheat oven 350 F. Place 2, round, 9 inch cake pans on parchment paper and trace around them. Line the bottoms of pans with parchment and grease with coconut oil. (See Note 3)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
3. Next, shift in spices and flour. Add in pink salt. Mix gently until well incorporated
4. Lastly, fold in shredded carrots and baking soda.
5. Bake at 350 F. on middle rack for 19-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
6. Let cool completely. Make the icing by combining all icing ingredients in a medium bowl or stand mixer and beating until smooth.
7. Frost cake, adding a layer of icing in between cakes. Decorate with chopped walnut, pecans, or ground cinnamon!
- To make this cake gluten-free: you can use 1:1 gluten-free flour. I've had someone use the Target brand and had an excellent outcome.
- Egg replacement: use 2 flax eggs and 1/2 cup more unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice) to replace the 4 regular eggs. Make 2 flax eggs by combining 2 Tbs ground flax + 4 Tbs water. Let sit and thicken for at least 5 minutes.
- Don’t have parchment paper? I’ve baked this cake without using parchment paper so you can too! You just need to really grease the pans well and be patient when getting the cake out after baking. I ran a thin plastic spatula around the edges of the cakes and then wedged my fingers gently into the sides of the cake to remove it from the pans.
Be sure to tag @secretlyhealthyhome on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest with a picture of your healthy cake!
I love seeing your kitchen creations so please leave a comment and rate the recipe if you make it! It really helps support me and encourages me to keep making recipes for you!
There are affiliate links on this site. I do earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you the buyer. Thank you for supporting Secretly Healthy Home!
Serving Size:1 slice with icing
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 6.6gCarbohydrates: 34gNet Carbohydrates: 31.1gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 21.9gProtein: 4.8g
Nutrition info will differ depending on what ingredients you use. Nutrition information is based on 1 piece of cake with low fat cream cheese icing.
This recipe is so, so good and easy! My kids LOVED it and didn’t believe it included so many healthy ingredients! Will be making again for sure!
AMAZING Holly! I’m so glad your kiddos approved! It’s the best knowing your giving your kiddos something secretly healthy. Love it! Thank you so much for trying it and rating the recipe 🙂
So beautiful and moist! Everyone loves this cake.
This made my day! Thank you so much for making it! I’m so glad everyone loved it! 🙂
This is something really very unique and I am very excited to try this carrot cake recipe for my kids. They really love eating cake and I am sure it will turn out to be the obe shown in the picture.
Would love to hear your thoughts once you try it! It’s one of my favorite secretly healthy recipes 🙂 perfect for spring!!!
This recipe looks amazing, but is there any chance you could put the ingredients as grams and litres, as, being English, I dont really understand the cup method. 🙁
Awh I’m so sorry you don’t do cup measurements. If you go to google and type in cups to grams converter it will show up with all the conversions 🙂 Hope that helps!
Can you at least tell me how much a block of crean cheese is please?
I realise you are not aiming for the British market, but I’d like to try
1 block (8 oz) 🙂
Thank you for the recipe, it looks amazingly delicious and i cant wait to try making it !!
Would it work if i switched the sweet potatoes for pumpkin ?
Hi Laura! So excited for you to make it. Yes, pumpkin should work perfectly! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
Hi – I haven’t made this recipe (yet) but I LOVE carrot cake and I’ve been looking for a healthier recipe for a while. Do you think oat flour or coconut flour would work as a substitute?
Hi! I can’t wait for you to make this carrot cake! It’s soooo good. I would not recommend coconut flour because it differs from other gluten-free flour. Oat flour I have not tested. It would definitely be my next choice if you had to substitute flour. Or you can use gluten-free flour 🙂 Let me know what you decide to do and how it turns out!