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!
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.
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, add spices and mix until well incorporated.
4. Fold in flour and then the shredded carrots.
5. Lastly, gently fold in baking soda.
6. Bake at 350 F. on middle rack for 19-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
7. Let cool completely and make the icing.
8. Frost cake, then decorate with chopped walnut, pecans, or ground cinnamon!
For the Icing:
Combine softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and plant based milk in a medium bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or standing mixer until smooth.
To make this cake gluten-free: you can use 1-1 gluten free flour.
To make this cake vegan: you can use four flax eggs to make this cake vegan! I have not tried this yet, but if you do, definitely leave me a comment. I’d love to see how it turns out. Check out my raspberry brownie recipe for details on how to make a flax or chia egg.
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.