I’m a chronic suitcase over-packer. I like to have options (especially shoe options), and I inevitably have to sit on my suitcase to persuade it to zip for almost every trip. While this “be prepared” travel tendency makes me terrible at producing a bag of reasonable weight, it’s also how I created an excellent Healthy Carrot Cake.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake. A healthy carrot cake recipe that's so moist. Our favorite!

When the question is, “should I?” healthy carrot cake responds with a resounding “YES!” Nuts? Of course. Pineapple? Absolutely. Spices? Mandatory. Coconut? Not even a question. Raisins? Let’s go there. This healthy carrot cake recipe took one look at the kitchen sink and said, “Of course we are including that.” It also supported my decision to pack a second pair of boots.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake. SO moist. This is the best healthy carrot cake recipe

Healthy Carrot Cake with Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting. So moist and delicious!

Carrot cake will forever be one of my favorite desserts—it’s homey, signals that spring is near, and is an excellent excuse to eat irresponsible levels of cream cheese frosting. It’s also one of the easiest cakes to make healthy, without sacrificing a speck of texture or flavor.

Healthy Carrot Cake with Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

About This Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe with Pineapple

Creating stealthy-healthy desserts (treats that are lightened up but are so yummy, they leave you and your family none the wiser) is one of my passions on this site, and today’s healthy carrot cake is one of my most successful recipe makeovers to date. Most lighter cakes commit the inexcusable dessert crime of being too dry, but thanks to buttermilk, lots of crushed pineapple (which sweetens the cake naturally), and as many finely grated carrots as I could responsibly stuff into the batter (2 ½ cups!), this cake is marvelously moist and tender.

A moist and healthy carrot cake recipe

This healthy carrot cake is also whole grain. I replaced a good portion of the all purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Its lightly nutty flavor blends subtly with the walnuts and warm spices, and if I hadn’t baked this cake myself, I would never have noticed the swap. Stealthy healthy strikes again.

Because a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting is but a carrot loaf—still enjoyable but not at all the same thing—I smeared it generously with a lightened-up Greek yogurt cream cheese frosting. The tangy Greek yogurt cuts some of the fat and adds a bit of protein, but it’s still the cream cheese flavor that stars.

The finale: a shower of chopped nuts, toasted coconut, and whatever else makes your heart happy. Slice generously.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake. A healthy carrot cake recipe with pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and golden raisins

How to Store and Freeze Healthy Carrot Cake

  • To Store. Cover the cake and place it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let come to almost room temperature before serving.
  • To Freeze. Wrap and freeze individual slices in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Remove and thaw in the refrigerator as desired. You can also freeze the entire cake.

Everything Carrot Cake. The most moist carrot cake loaded with nuts, coconut, pineapple, and spices. This is the best healthy carrot cake recipe!

More Delicious Cake Recipes

The most moist healthy carrot cake recipe with skinny cream cheese frosting

Surely if I’m holding a plate of this healthy carrot cake, I can get someone else to lug my suitcase, yes? The extra boots were totally necessary.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake. A healthy carrot cake recipe that's so moist. Our favorite!

Healthy Carrot Cake with Light Cream Cheese Frosting

4.6 from 5 votes
An ultra-moist healthy carrot cake that's so delicious, you'll never miss the extra calories.

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins

Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Cake:

  • 1 2/3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large or 4 small/medium)
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins, golden raisins, or dried cranberries (optional)

For the Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Toasted chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg, egg whites, brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined. Add the grated carrots and beat for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and shredded coconut and beat just until incorporated. With a wooden spoon, stir in half of the flour mixture, just until the flour almost disappears. Stir in the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour mixture, continuing to stir in by hand, just until combined. Gently fold in the walnuts and raisins.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Check at the 30-minute mark—if the edges of the cake are browning too quickly, tent with foil, then return to the oven to finish baking.) Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. Run a dull knife, such as a butter knife, along the edge of the cake to loosen, then unmold it. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, butter, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), and salt at medium speed for 2 minutes, until fluffy and well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, increasing the speed to medium as you go. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes until well combined. Spread the frosting evenly over top of cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted nuts and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 10)Calories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 9gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 428mgFiber: 4gSugar: 45g

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I’m sharing this post in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies I value. For more tasty recipes and a coupon for $1.00 off any product, please visit BobsRedMill.com!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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87 Comments

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  1. Love the ingredients you’ve incorporated…I always love to,load up the flavors in my baked goods!  Recently discovered my daughter in gluten intolerant, so I am trying to convert some recipes to gluten free. Have found a large difference in taste and texture switching to gluten free flours, so I’m wondering if you have had any experience or suggestions on converting your recipe to gluten free?
    Thx for any help you can give!

    1. Hi Rebecca! That is a great question, and I’m going to be 100% honest that I am not a very experienced gluten free baker. One product I have had success with is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free BakingFlour, which can be swapped for the same amount of regular all purpose or whole wheat flour. You can find it on the Bob’s Red Mill website or on Amazon here—> http://amzn.to/1LapXm0. That might not be ideal, but I hope it at least gives you an option! 

    1. Hi Maggie, I’ve never tried this recipe as cupcakes, but I know most cupcake recipes bake in 20 to 30 minutes, but this is a very moist cake, so it might turn out differently. I’d start checking at the 18-minute mark, then just keep a close eye.

  2. Not a big fan of coconut. Have you ever made this without it? If not, do you think it would still be good? Any substitutes for it?

  3. This looks absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to try it!!! Does it matter if I just use only regular flour?Thanks a lot

        1. Hi MJ! Whole wheat pastry flour is much finer than regular whole wheat flour, so I actually wouldn’t recommend that substitution, as the cake will probably be too dense. If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, I would suggest using all purpose flour instead. I hope you love the cake!

  4. My sister is a die-hard carrot cake fan so when I told her I could make her a healthier version for her 26th birthday, she was all for it! Not only did this cake look beautiful (I was sad to cut into it!) but it had such great flavor! No one could tell that it was a lighter version than the typical carrot cake. It was a HUGE hit among my family and I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to eat an amazing desert and not feel guilty about it! Oh, and for giving all of us home bakers a chance to show off to our families! This will surely become my go-to carrot cake!

    P.S. Do you know how the cooking time/temperature would vary if made into cupcakes?

    Thanks!!!5 stars

    1. Julia, I am thrilled to bits to hear this!!! It’s exactly the kind of comment that lights up  my day :) THANK YOU!
      I’ve never tried these as cupcakes, but I think it would work just fine! To play it safest, you can keep the oven temp at 350 degrees, though they will have a flatter top, or for a more domed top try 375 (the higher temp will help them rise faster, though I’m a tiny bit worried they *might* over cook on top before the middle is done—it’s just hard to say without having tried it myself). Either way, start checking at 15 minutes and go from there. If you try the cupcake route, I’d love to hear what temp/time you choose and how they turn out!

    1. YAY! Happy birthday to your grandson! I’m so honored that this is his favorite cake! I hope he leaves a slice for you too, Rita. :)

    1. Hi Gina, yes, you can use another mild-flavored oil! (Don’t use your finest extra-virgin olive oil, for example.)

  5. Hi Erin,  I’m glad I made this and would do so again b/c the healthiness of the whole wheat pastry flour didn’t diminish the tenderness of the carrot cake and the frosting has that classic cream cheese frosting we all associate w/ carrot cake.  However, for my palate, next time I make it without the cinnamon as it had a presence I don’t associate w/ carrot cake that was a bit strong for me.  Also when almost done making the frosting I thought it tasted pretty sweet – & though I’m a I-love-a-brownie-sundae kind of a gal – I’m also one who’s trying to decrease my overall sugar intake and ratchet down my palate to be happier w/ less sugar.  Given that and wanting more frosting on my carrot cake than shown in your photos, I opted to use @ 5+ oz. of cream cheese and almost an entire 4 oz. yogurt serving to increase the volume of frosting produced while simultaneously cutting the sweetness.  It worked great.  The texture still smooth and still plenty sweet.  I look forward to trying other recipes of yours.  :)  Thanks, Susan Chapin Musicant4 stars

    1. Susan, thank you for sharing this wonderful review and your tweaks to the recipe. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the cake!

    1. Hi Cynthia! I would be hesitant to recommend this, as applesauce is more liquidy and not sweet enough. The pineapple is both naturally more sweet and gives the cake the right texture. I hope you love the recipe if you decide to give it a try!

  6. Hello – is this recipe low cholesterol? My father needs a LC one and I wanted to check before making it.

    1. Hi Roz! Since I don’t have a medical background, I’d check with your father’s doctor. I’d hate to give you advice that isn’t correct and want to be safe!

    1. Hi April! I’ve already cut as much fat out of this as I can, so I wouldn’t recommend applesauce, as I worry the cake would end up dry/gummy. If you wanted to experiment, you could try swapping half of the oil with the same amount of unsweetened applesauce, but it may impact the results negatively. If you decide to play around, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      1. With just a few ingredient changes(INTENTIONALLY AND NOT;) ) the cake I made was really good….moist AND full of flavour…really tasted like MORE!
        THANX FOR THE INPUT4 stars

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