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Healthy Maple Carrot Cupcakes (Less Sugar and Oil)

I love to bake. When the sweet tooth strikes, these maple carrot cupcakes are one of my top choices.

These maple carrot cupcakes are healthier than most!

These maple carrot cupcakes are healthier than most!

The Truth About Carrot Cake

Most of us know that just because something is called a “salad” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. Things like strawberry-pretzel salad or Waldorf salad aren’t exact diet-friendly, but they do contain (some) healthy ingredients. Unfortunately, the healthy ingredients are overpowered by the not-so-healthy, making these notorious salads an enemy to your six-pack.

The same logic applies to carrot cake. Just because it contains a vegetable as one of the main ingredients, carrot cake actually isn’t healthy. I apologize for sharing this fact with anyone who thought otherwise.

But there’s hope. You’ve seen countless dessert recipes that seem to be a healthier version of the full-fat, full-sugar treat (aka the real thing), but many slimmed-down versions really just aren’t the same. Why? Because a lot of recipes call for too many uber-healthy ingredients as if they are an exact replica of the real stuff. Instead, the best slimmed-down dessert recipes are those that have a good mix of the healthy stuff while keeping some of the not-so-healthy ingredients in play. For example, some recipes really need butter instead of coconut oil to taste right. And no one wants a cookie that tastes like cardboard.

What Makes These Cupcakes Healthier?

For the record, these cupcakes will not provide you with a serving of vegetables. So be sure to get your fill of vegetables and nutrients from other sources, like a healthy balance of fruit, vegetables and protein in breakfast, lunch and dinner. But these carrot cakes are:

  • Built-in portion control: Forget the hefty slice of carrot cake as one cupcake is the perfect amount to curb any sugar craving
  • Made without powdered sugar frosting: Frosting has the biggest amount of sugar, but these aren’t made with any powdered sugar. How is that so? Stay tuned.
  • Requires less sugar and oil: Most cupcake or cake recipes in general call for a hefty amount of sugar, oil, flour and eggs. But not these.


  • 1 1/3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1//3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a standing mixer, whisk the carrots, egg and egg white, applesauce, sugar and honey. Then add the coconut oil.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt and baking soda.
  4. Pour half of the flour mixture in the standing mixer. Once incorporated, add the second half of the flour mixture but don't overmix.
  5. Stir in raisins and walnuts.
  6. Spoon the batter into each cupcake liner and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla extract until combined.
  8. Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Baking Tips

The perfect carrot cake is moist with the right mix of spice and sweetness. And above all, the frosting isn’t overpowering—after all, it’s a healthy balance of cake and frosting.

  • You don’t actually have to use cupcake liners with foil. Simply add your favorite colored paper cupcake liners in your muffin pan and spray with cooking spray.
  • If you aren’t a fan of nuts or raisins, you aren’t missing out; these cupcakes are just fine without them.
  • I typically don’t sift the flour in any baking recipe. Instead, I’ll lightly scoop the flour with a spoon into the measuring cup and level it off. But definitely don’t stick a measuring cup in the flour bag, pack in the flour and then level it off—you’ll have way more flour than you need.

Mary Rebecca Says

Since receiving my KitchenAid mixer as a Christmas gift in 2014, I’ve found that baking dessert is always my dish of choice to bring to a potluck or as a hostess gift. These cupcakes are simple, quick to make and are freezer-friendly. Whether your guests like carrots or not, these carrot cupcakes will be the crowd-pleaser at your next get-together.