There’s a formidable gap between a) the frequency with which I enjoy eating carrot cake (anytime you care to set a slice in front of me), b) how often I feel motivated to bake carrot cake (once a year, twice if I owe you), and c) the number of times it would be a healthy decision to eat carrot cake for breakfast (somewhere between a and b). Here to bridge the divide: Carrot Cookies! These chewy oatmeal Carrot Cookies have the signature ingredients and flavors of your favorite carrot cake but only take minutes to make and are made of healthy ingredients too.
Every spring, I come down with a fierce craving for carrot cake. It’s the way of Mother Nature.
The frost melts. The tulips bloom. The baby animals are born.
I am seized by an emergency need for carrot cake.
At the same time, however, I can’t in good conscience say that keeping an entire carrot cake around for a household of three, even this Healthy Carrot Cake recipe, is a particularly prudent idea.
It becomes even less prudent when you consider that one member of said household is a crazy man who doesn’t like carrot cake (I KNOW!) and the other is a 25-pound beagle.
And the third household member? Well, she wants carrot cake, but she doesn’t want to wait the 4+ hours she’d need to bake, cool, and frost the cake, plus wash the dishes.
As it turns out, the best way to have your carrot cake and eat it too isn’t a cake at all. It’s Carrot Cookies!
Carrot Cookies—Wholesome AND Delicious!
These quick and easy Carrot Cookies are made entirely of wholesome ingredients. The base is oat flour, so they are gluten free (you can find oat flour in many grocery stores, online here, or simply make your own in the food processor—directions below).
Instead of butter, these oatmeal Carrot Cookies use coconut oil, which gives them a soft yet satisfying texture. They’re naturally sweetened with applesauce and honey, and if you’d like to make them vegan carrot cookies, you can use maple syrup instead.
I crave my carrot cake fully loaded with yummy mix-ins, and you’ll find that preference reflected in this carrot cookie recipe.
In addition to a whopping 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated carrots (Carrot Cookies healthy enough for breakfast? I say yes!), I added chopped walnuts, raisins, and warm, signature carrot cake spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
I know some of these mix-ins (and by “some” I mean “raisins”) are cause for division in the carrot dessert kingdom, so if they aren’t your thing, you can simply omit them.
In an effort to further our Carrot-Cookies-for-Breakfast cause, I also added a few tablespoons of flaxseed for an extra nutritional boost.
If you’d like to keep this recipe as virtuous as possible, these chewy Carrot Cookies are wonderful just as they are, completely unadorned.
That said…I couldn’t resist the urge to drizzle my Carrot Cookies with orange icing, because that’s how my grandma topped her carrot cookies when I was growing up (you can find her recipe called Orange Cookies on my site).
For the carrot cake traditionalists, you can also top these Carrot Cookies with cream cheese frosting. (Need a recipe? Check out the cream cheese frosting on top of this Pumpkin Sheet Cake.)
How to Store and Freeze
- To Store. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container lined with a paper towel at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Freeze. If freezing the cookies, I recommend waiting to frost them or freezing the frosting separately. If your cookies are already frosted, to freeze, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies harden, then transfer the cookies to an airtight container or ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Recommended Tools to Make Carrot Cookies
Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing
FOR THE CARROT COOKIES:
- 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats - I recommend quick oats over rolled oats, as the rolled oats will have a much firmer texture that is harder to chew
- 1 cup oat flour - see notes to make your own
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups peeled - grated carrots (about 8 ounces or 2 large carrots)
- 3/4 cup chopped raw walnuts - or pecans
- 1/4 cup raisins - or additional walnuts or pecans
- 1/3 cup honey - or pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce - at room temperature
- 1/4 cup melted - cooled coconut oil or unsalted butter (I used coconut oil)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE ORANGE ICING (optional):
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar - sifted if lumpy
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice - plus additional as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, oat flour, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add the carrots, walnuts, and raisins. With a rubber spatula, stir to combine.
- In a separate medium bowl, briskly whisk together the honey, applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. If your coconut oil resolidifies, pop the mixture in the microwave for a few seconds, then stir until smooth. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and fold in by hand, just until combined. The dough will be thick, wet, and sticky.
- With a large cookie scoop or 1/4 cup measure, portion the dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each. Carefully flatten each cookie to be about 3/4 inch thick. If the dough is sticking to your hands, wet your palms slightly to make the process easier.
- Bake until the cookies are lightly golden and firm at the edges and on the top, 12 to 14 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack (do not keep it on top of your hot oven) and let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies from the sheet to the wire rack to finish cooling completely.
- For the orange icing: Whisk the powdered sugar, orange juice, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the cooled cookies. Wait a few minutes to allow the icing to set. Enjoy!
- Store leftover cookies in an airtight container lined with a paper towel at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- If freezing the cookies, I recommend waiting to frost them or freezing the frosting separately. If your cookies are already frosted, to freeze, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies harden, then transfer the cookies to an airtight container or ziptop bag.
- TO MAKE YOUR OWN OAT FLOUR: To make your own oat flour, pulse 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon rolled or quick oats in a food processor until they are well ground. Measure out 1 cup for the recipe, then use as directed.
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