Carrot Quinoa Muffins

As someone who fumbles her words in delicate situations, I deeply admire those who possess an innate ability to say just the right thing at just the right time. I, on the contrary, tend to dig myself into an incoherent verbal hole. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a different love language more adept at communicating my sympathies—muffins. Today’s expression: Carrot Quinoa Muffins.

Carrot and Quinoa Muffins. These muffins are heavenly! And good for you!

Whenever someone I love is faced with an emotional situation, happy or sad, my immediate inclination is to bake, and my go-to good is muffins. I might not have the right words to communicate my shared joy or sorrow, but where English fails, I hope that a basket of warm, homemade muffins will succeed.

But why muffins?

Healthy Carrot Quinoa Muffins. These taste exactly like carrot cake and are good for you too! @wellplated

In truth, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it is muffins’ homey simplicity and wholesome comfort that makes them a fitting means to convey my caring. Muffins are also fairly quick and easy to stir together, meaning that I can more rapidly bake a batch to speak love on my behalf.

Recent examples of muffins handling my sweet talk:

  • After my sister had her baby, I stocked her freezer with a triple batch of Healthy Blueberry Muffins.
  • My in-laws spent an entire day helping us with yardwork. I thanked them via Maple Oatmeal Muffins.
  • My friend Laura is visiting this weekend, and I plan to welcome her by way of Healthy Banana Muffins, with an affection addition of chocolate chips.

Today’s Carrot Quinoa Muffins were a declaration of love/sympathy/you-should-probably-eat-something-healthy-ASAP for Ben when he was having a particularly toilsome week at work. His nights involved a lot of takeout and peanut M&Ms at his desk, and I reasoned that a batch of healthy Carrot Quinoa Muffins would be a welcome, bright addition to his day.

Carrot Quinoa Muffins. These muffins are heavenly! And good for you! @wellplated

I wasn’t sure how Ben would react to the quinoa muffins, but he loved them. When I asked him if he could guess what the muffins were called, his immediate response was, “Darn Good Muffins.”

Except he didn’t say darn. His wording was a bit more…emphatic.

Carrot Cake Quinoa Muffins. Moist, heavenly, and good for you too! @wellplated

Made with toasty walnuts, cinnamon, and ginger, these quinoa muffins taste reminiscent of carrot cake but are filling and good for you. Greek yogurt and buttermilk make them ultra moist, the shredded carrot adds natural sweetness, and cooked quinoa stirred into the batter provides protein to power your morning breakfasts and afternoon snacks.

Moist, healthy quinoa muffins that taste just like carrot cake! @wellplated.

Since it is a muffin recipe day, let me tell you something I don’t express often or adequately enough: I’m so happy and grateful you are here. Thank you for being a reader! This is me, virtually dropping a warm batch of Carrot Quinoa Muffins on your doorstep. I hope that they become a (non-virtual) reality in your kitchen soon!

Tools I used to bake this recipe:

Carrot Quinoa Muffins

Packed with protein, cinnamon and natural sweetness, these ultra moist Carrot Quinoa Muffins will blow you away! Perfect for healthy breakfasts and snacks.

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted, cooled coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly grated carrots, lightly pressed dry
  • 1/2 cup mix-ins: toasted chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, or other chopped dried fruit (I love a mix of walnuts and golden raisins)


  1. If needed, cook the quinoa. Be careful not to overcook or use more than the necessary amount of water. The quinoa grains should be tender but still separate, rather than mushy and clumped together. When ready to bake, preheat your oven oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners or lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cooked quinoa, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the quinoa mixture and stir by hand, just until combined. Gently fold in the carrots and any desired mix-ins. Divide among the muffin cups.
  4. Bake 25 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Gently remove the muffins from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy plain or with a smear of peanut butter, apple butter, or a bit of softened, salted butter.
*These muffins are very lightly sweet. For a sweeter muffin, increase the brown sugar to 3/4 cup.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 muffin (with walnuts)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 202
  • Total Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg
  • Sodium: 105mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Protein: 5g

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...


  1. i have so much to say about your post so bare with me as i blab… Girl& The Goat restaurant…hubby and I ate their for our anniversary weekend. LOVED! we were so stuffed… like beyond stuffed…we didn’t even have desert which is crazy for us. i loved the different food choices she had..and the atmosphere there is so fun too.

    and that is SO funny about the “m” word…my dear cousin hates the word as well so when I use it in my blog posts i always start laughing…and so agree with you.. what other word could be used? I checked with thesaurus
    Synonyms: clammy, damp, dampish, dank, dewy, dripping, drippy, drizzly, humid, irriguous, muggy, not dry, oozy, rainy, soggy, teary, watery

    HA HA
    none of those will do any good for these yoga peace keeping muffins – which I WILL be making!
    the end

    • Angela, this comment totally made my day!
      Girl and the Goat is next on my Chicago eats list. Excited to hear that you liked it so much, and now I’m even more intrigued!
      Also, I burst out laughing when I read all of the synonyms. I mean, seriously: a dripping, clammy, humid muffin? lol. I might just have to stick with the “M” word for now…

    • This rcp makes hocky pucks!  Awful muffins

  2. Fabulous post my dear! Thanks for the lovely shout out. And I am right on board with the M word. Let’s just use delightful.

  3. That meal sounds amazing! I love fried pickles. I have never been to Girl in the Goat but really want to try her new place. Funny story, my BF once bumped into Stephanie Izard…she lives in her building! These muffins look perfect for starting out on the right foot and waving peace signs in traffic! Happy Monday!

    • AH, if I were your friend, I’d probably have accidentally invited myself over for dinner, lol. So jealous!
      The meal was incredible indeed. If you ever have a chance to visit any of Stephanie’s restaurants, do it. You should probably order everything too :-)

  4. What a fun weekend you had!! I’ve been telling myself since Christmas that my “indulgence” time is over. I have days where I’m exceptionally good… but that Mac N Cheese lunch with wine with my girlfriend last week didn’t make me think twice.
    These muffins sound wonderful! I’ve baked with quinoa flour once, and I have to admit that even a small amount of the flour made the muffins not a favorite with everyone I served them too. I’ve not, however, tried baking with the whole quinoa seed. I think I’m inspired! Hopefully it will counteract that mac n cheese…

    • Mac ‘n’ cheese + wine nights are too special to miss any time of year! All about balance, right? Let me know if you try the recipe. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks Kim.

  5. Sounds like an awesome weekend! Bacon spaghetti? Cupcake platter? That might just be my weekend too! I love trying different quinoa recipes so I’m happy to find another delicious-sounding one!

  6. Pork belly pancakes???!! If I’m ever in Chicago I’m gonna need to track those down…

    These muffins look great! So many muffins are just unfrosted cupcakes, but these actually seem like an acceptable breakfast!

    • Maggie, this restaurant proved that anything with bacon (or derivatives thereof) is better. If you ever have the opportunity, I HIGHLY recommend the entire menu. Goodness knows I sampled enough to be able to say that!

  7. These look great, Erin! I have yet to bake with quinoa, and now I’m feeling like the leftover quinoa in my fridge might be destined for these…

  8. I’m dying to get to little goat! We ate at the girl and the goat twice and both meals were to-die-for! Your muffins sounds super healthy and perfect for a mid-day treat :-)

  9. Her restaurant sounds delish!
    Chicago is fun, huh? We just went for the first time a few months ago.

    I bring muffins about once a month to work for a sneaky breakfast. See, there’s only a few people in the office who like healthy food. Everyone else eats McDonalds for breakfast. So, once a month I bring healthy breakfasts for the 4 of us. I’ll be making these for sure! :)

    • Everytime I visit Chicago, I ask myself why I don’t go more! We are spoiled living only a 2.5 hour drive away.
      Good for you for sneaking in those healthy breakfasts! I run into that same issue at the office too, and I’d bet my boots that anything you whip up would put an Egg McMuffin to shame. Keep it up girl.

  10. It’s all about balance anyway, right? These muffins look fantastic! I’ve never thought to add quinoa to batter before.

    • Thanks so much for your comment–I could not have said it better! This was my first time testing out a baking recipe with quinoa. I’m a believer!

  11. So, I also kind of don’t enjoy the “M” word, like so many of this.
    This dude I know (that I may or may not have agreed to marry…) finds everyones hatred for the word so hilarious that he created a custom tshirt on Spreadshirt that is just the word “Moist”, THIRTEEN TIMES, in various fonts down the front.
    I kind of hate him and kind of find it hilarious. It’s all very confusing.
    These sound delicious and I am all for:
    1. Baking with carrots and
    2. Putting quinoa in my belly
    Can’t wait to try!!

    • Allie, this is hysterical! I started giggling the moment I read your comment. Thanks so much for sharing that story, and I hope you enjoy the muffins!

  12. I would die to eat at Chef Stephanie’s place. I suppose as a Chicago native, it’s necessary that I make that happen. Well, not the dying part.

    Also – I’m loving these muffins. I have yet to try baking with quinoa, but this recipe may have to be my first attempt. Thanks :)

    • Morgan, you’ve got to head over there ASAP! Consider it an appetite emergency :) So glad you like the look of the muffins. Hope you enjoy them–if you try them, please let me know what you think!

  13. Made these this morning to go along with my scrambled kale and egg whites! The muffins are delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

    • Dawn, this just made my morning :) I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the muffins. Thanks for taking time to share your comment and enjoy every bite!

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  15. Hi there Erin, we are having an Iron chef at work and the special ingredient is quinoa so I googled, found your recipe, tried it and now I can’t get enough! It has become my breakfast staple. Thank you for sharing :-)

  16. I’m not much for following directions, but I will use your recipe today as the basis of another experiment in the kitchen. Thank you for posting it and for being such a good– and fun–writer.

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  18. Well, how about succulent? You probably couldn’t apply it to cake, but still worth consideration…

    • Hi Hannah! I agree that putting quinoa in cake batter would be tough, as it would make the cake too heavy (I’d probably just add chocolate chips to these muffins if I needed a little something to satisfy my sweet tooth.) If you are looking for healthy cake recipes, I have quite a few on my site–check out this week’s banana cake, my blackberry buttermilk cake, or my chocolate beet cake. All of them are lightened up (but I promise you’ll never be able to tell!)

  19. Is there an orange juice substitute? More applesauce? These look amazing, thanks!

    • Hi Kate! I would probably go with something a bit more liquid, such as milk. You will be missing some of the natural sweetness and flavor that the orange juice provides though. For this reason, I would up the amount of orange zest. Subbing another fruit juice you may have on hand-such as apple juice-would be a great idea too. Hope that helps!

  20. I just made these muffins yesterday and they were amazing! Thank you SO much for the recipe. Not only were they great for breakfast this morning, but they were coach-approved for pre-game snack for the athlete in the family.

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  22. Leanne Rondeau Reply

    Love the muffins but I had to bake them much longer than 20 minutes – actually 45 …. and they stick to the muffin liner paper.

    • Hi Leanne! I’m not sure why these would have taken longer to bake for you (perhaps your muffin tins are a bit larger than mine or there was a bit more moisture in your batter), but I am so happy to hear that you liked the taste in the end. Thanks for trying the recipe and letting me know!

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  24. Erin they look amazing! I love carrot anything, and carrot muffins are high up there!
    Haha I love how your response to anything seems to be the gift of muffins. I think it’s perfect, really, I wish more people made muffins for me =)

  25. Yum!! These look incredible, perfect for breakfast and dessert! thanks for sharing :)

  26. I seriously need to make these as soon as Matt and I have leftover quinoa! I have tons of gf flour that I need to use before it spoils. I adore cooking but don’t always gravitate towards baking, although I go through “spells.” ;-) Thanks, Erin! As for the “m” word, that’s a real tough one to avoid! Those synonyms, though. Hahaha

  27. These sound fantastic! I am checking frequently to find out if you got your new stove…ha ha. Hope it is great and you love it for years! Well, only good things can come from checking your blog. Good things like banana bread oatmeal, teriyaki chicken and broccoli cheese soup. :)

  28. shawnna griffin Reply

    yummy! This look so good!

  29. This looks delicious! I’ve tried some recently that a friend made, but I’m happy to have the recipe for myself. Thanks !

  30. I’ve been circling around this recipe for weeks now…finally made them tonight as a special Easter treat for the family. Both my son and my husband loved them — here’s their feedback — Delicious. Not too sweet. A winner.” Great way to end the day and now we will have a guaranteed yummy breakfast tomorrow! Thanks for another well-tested, delectable recipe. I baked them for 25 minutes — they were absolutely perfect AND looked just like yours!

  31. I can’t wait to try these muffins.  I’m so glad I found you on Pinterest and now I’ve signed up for the newsletter.  I’m having some terrible digestive issues lately which I am sure are related to my diet.  Although I’m seeing my doctor about them, I also feel I need to take some matters into my own hands and start eating more like I should!  So, after church today I am going to the grocery store armed with this recipe and the Blender Banana Oatmeal muffins recipe.  I LOVE muffins and I really need a healthy alternative to the ones I usually make.  I’m starting with those recipes, because I love to bake and the Carrot Quinoa Muffins sound like just the thing to eat on my way to the gym in the morning since I’ve been looking for something portable.  I get up so early to get there as it is and don’t like wasting time on breakfast.  I’ll be trying out lots of your recipes as I go along because everything needs making over in my diet – lunch and dinner along with breakfast and snacks.  Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!! God bless you! :)

    • Donna, this is just the kindest note! I’m so happy to hear that my recipes have been helpful for you as you strive to make these positive changes. I hope you love these muffins just as much as the banana ones!

  32. Sorry but I do not like them. They are a globby mess unless you bake them 40 minutes and the batter makes 20 muffins not 12. Not for me. 

    • Hi Krista! I am sorry to hear that these did not come out for you. Others have enjoyed them very much, so I fear that something must’ve gone wrong. Was your quinoa especially damp when you added it? That can make a big difference. Regardless, I’m sorry they didn’t come out perfectly for you!

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