Healthier Carrot Cupcakes

Recipe By Tessa Arias
August 6th, 2009

Healthier carrot cupcakes are moist, flavorful, and healthy, with a fresh frosting!

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

This week’s pick for Craving Ellie in My Belly was Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, chosen by Leanne over at Enjoying my Favorite Things. I’m very glad she picked this recipe because I don’t think I would have ever made it otherwise. These cupcakes were awesome! Moist, flavorful, and healthy! They perfumed the entire house with the warm scents of nutmeg and cinnamon while they were baking in the oven. The frosting contrasted the cupcakes perfectly: smooth, sweet, tangy, and fresh.

Sara from CEiMB and several Food Network reviewers mentioned that when you exclude the frosting from this recipe, these cupcakes are really more like muffins. They’re not as sweet and cake-like as regular cupcakes. I frosted half and left the other half as muffins and either way they still turned out delicious. I happen to have a sweet tooth so the frosted ones won me over, but the un-frosted ones make a yummy and quick breakfast!

I’m very much looking forward to every single one of this month’s CEiMB picks: Stuffed Turkey Burgers, Grilled Thai Beef Salad, and Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut dipping sauce. Yum and yay!

Side note: I used regular whole wheat flour and these were still soft and moist.

How to make
Carrot Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Healthier carrot cupcakes are moist, flavorful, and healthy, with a fresh frosting!


  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cupnatural applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the first 6 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.
  3. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Recipe Notes

The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    sara — August 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    These were so good. I really need to try some with the frosting, everyone really seems to love them. They look beautiful.

  2. #
    Justin — August 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    forget healthy… these just look so yummy!

  3. #
    applecrumbles — August 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    The look really good. My favorite dessert is carrot cake so I had to frost them. One however didn't make it to frosting because Ted resist the wonderful aroma fresh from the oven.

  4. #
    Pamela — August 7, 2009 at 1:21 am

    What a stunning photo of the cupcakes!! Wonderful job.

  5. #
    Marthe — August 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Wow Tessa, your cupcakes look absolutely perfect!!

  6. #
    Tessa — August 11, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Sara- The frosting was absolutely delicious.

    Justin- Seriously! They didn't seem like healthy at all.

    Joanne- Didn't they smell just amazing??

    Pamela- Thank you!!

    Marthe- Wow thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. #
    Bake Like Martha — May 26, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Mmmm thanks for posting this recipe. I'm about to make a billion cupcakes this evening/tomorrow morning (three birthdays and an anniversary….yikes), so it will be nice to balance out the sheer number of cupcakes by making them a little healthier ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. #
    jennifernpatrick — September 2, 2011 at 3:21 am

    I asked my picky eater,he's 4 year old, what he wanted for his snack at school, he hells me he wants carrot cupcakes = ) I've made this one several times and everyone just loves it, with or with out the frosting! Thank you

  9. #
    Tan — March 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Sounds delicious. Is there anyway to find out the nutritional value.


  1. Pingback: Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting | Sensual Appeal

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