This healthy carrot cake recipe is made using almond and quinoa flours, and is naturally sweetened and uses applesauce to reduce the amount of sugar and oil!
When I was a little girl, I always used to have carrot cake on my birthday.
I'm not sure if it was because my parents thought it was healthier (there are veggies inside of course), or if it was just what my dad enjoyed baking (he's the baker in our family), but either way, my birthday cake was usually a carrot cake topped with homemade cream cheese frosting.
At the time, I wasn't the biggest fan. It was the name that got me; I didn't want to be that girl that always had healthy food. I just wished my parents would make me a vanilla cake out of a box like all the other kids. It was so much more normal.
How Do You Finely Grate Carrots?
When I went to search online to see what questions people had about making carrot cake, I was surprised to find that not everyone knows how to finely grate carrots. Well, if that's you, I'm here for you!
There are two main ways to grate carrots: with a box grater or in a food processor.
Box Grater Method
This is the more time intensive, but a cheaper way to do it. If you don't already own a food processor, you can pick up a box grater for less than $20 on Amazon. It just requires a bit more elbow grease! To grate your carrots using a box grater, just use your hand to move the carrot up and down along the largest blade. Since this recipe uses just about 1 medium carrot, it won't be too difficult!
Food Processor Method
This method is an absolute breeze but also more of a pain to clean up (especially since the amount is so small). Most new food processors come with a grating blade, so you'll just swap out the standard S-blade, turn the machine on and run your carrot through the top hole. It's super fast, but again, it means cleaning your food processor which to me is a deterrent!
How do you like to grate your carrots? Let me know in the comments!
Is Carrot Cake Healthy?
But here's the thing: now that I'm familiar with healthy baking and cooking, I've realized that traditional carrot cake recipes really aren't healthy. And that just because something contains a vegetable in its name does not make it good for you.
In fact, I'd venture to say that carrot cake is almost worse than many other cakes. Loaded with vegetable oil, sugar, and white flour, and then topped with a mixture of cream cheese, butter, and sugar…yikes.
Definitely, something that I'm excited to lighten up and make give you a healthier alternative.
Can I Substitute Applesauce For Oil in Carrot Cake?
An easy way to make your carrot cake instantly healthy is to reduce the amount of oil. The reason for using oil in baked goods is to help provide moisture and crumb. So we can't just leave it out, we have to swap it for something else.
My favorite solution? Using applesauce!
You can substitute applesauce for oil in your carrot in almost exact proportions. However, when I'm baking I don't like to do all the oil in cakes because it does help give it a really nice, classic texture.
You'll see below that we're using applesauce and yogurt in the wet ingredients. Those two things are there to replace 1/2 cup of oil. So in total, this recipe would have called for 3/4 cup of oil, but we're using 1/4 cup of applesauce and 1/4 cup of yogurt. You could also do just applesauce if that works better for you.
So the long answer to that question is…YES. You can totally substitute applesauce for oil in carrot cake which will still keep it moist, but reduce the fat content by a ton!
How to Make Healthy Carrot Cake
The flavors that go into this uber healthy carrot cake are what I love the most. I'm a sucker for anything with cinnamon in it, and I can't resist tossing in a sprinkle of nutmeg and ginger to spice things up a little more. Plus, a baked good with chopped nuts? I love the crunch!
To make this healthy carrot cake actually healthy, I started with nutritious flours. The cake is a blend of almond flour, which is low in carbs and packed with healthy fats and protein, and quinoa flour, which is also high in protein and vitamins. Unlike other gluten-free cakes, there are no starches or rice flours.
And finally, for my sugars, I went with something less refined – a simple blend of maple syrup and the natural sweetness from the applesauce. I love the flavors of both, and really enjoyed the level of sweetness they brought to the cake.
What is most special about this cake is the texture. It's perfectly moist, has a soft texture, a slight crunch from the walnuts and a warm, comforting flavor that you come to expect from a decadent cake such as this.
Other Healthy Carrot Cake Inspired Recipes
- Vegan Carrot Cake Quinoa Breakfast Bars
- Healthy Carrot Cake Smoothie
- Raw & Vegan Carrot Cake Bites
- Carrot Cake Quinoa Breakfast Cookies
- Healthy Carrot Cake Blender Muffins
- Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes
- High Protein Carrot Cake Chia Pudding
Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 cup quinoa flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup coconut yogurt or yogurt of choice
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 cup almonds chopped (or nuts of choice)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a bundt pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until fully combined. Fold in grated carrots and nuts.
- Transfer the cake batter to the prepared baking tin. Bake on the center rack for 40 - 45 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to rest for at least 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
- For serving, we love it with some drizzled coconut butter on top!
74 comments on “Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake”
I recently discovered your site and I am in love ! It is so -o-o user friendly and easy to navigate. Love the presentations of your recipe ideas…
And needless to say… I also adore quinoa.
It’s so to easy to print off the recipes …Can’t wait to try them out.
Somthing’s wrong with your “frosting”. First of all it says 1-2 water. I assume that’s tablespoons. Second of all there is nothing but liquid, oil and cinnamon. Are we perhaps missing powdered sugar?
Thanks for the note, Shari. I fixed the issue with the water ingredients, but the rest of the recipe is correct – no powdered sugar needed! The only sweetener used in the frosting is honey. Once you start to work with coconut butter you’ll see that you don’t need any dry ingredients.
Just wondering if there is anything that can be used in place of the almond flour – for those with nut problems?
Hi Helen, unfortunately without some testing I can’t say what would work to replace the almond flour. Blanched almond flour is very particular and I’m afraid your ratios would be off if you substituted it for another flour. You could try creating a seed flour (pumpkin perhaps?), you’d just have to make sure it’s ground up really, really, fine.
Thank you 🙂
What would you recommend using in place of a bundt pan?
I think you could really use any type of pan, your baking times just might be a tad bit different. If you’re using a sheet pan, I’d go with about 25 minutes and check every five minutes after that. Same goes for small round pans (if you wanted to make a layer cake). Hope that helps and hope you enjoy it 🙂
Looks yummy (as expected!) but can I use an egg replacement like flax or chia eggs?
Thank you thank you thank you. Son is celebrating his 21 on Saturday. Carrot cake is his all time favorite but he hates to eat it because it is a “fat bomb”. He will be so thrilled and surprised!!!
Coconut oil upsets my stomach. Any suggestions for a replacement? I really want to give this recipe a try!
Any other light flavored oil should work – light olive oil, grapeseed, melted vegan butter, etc. Enjoy!
Can I substitute brown rice flour? Maybe add some nutritional yeast?
Yes, those eggs, flax or chia or egg replacer (have any Americans tried the one from Ireland at any one time, things change!) but the replacements are always American and we cannot get them!
I think because of the international sharing that recipes should now have one or two notes at the bottom so those with other challenges can meet them and not miss out pleasures like carrot cake.
It seems early BUT xmas cakes are made months ahead and a recipe with different additions would be really appreciated!
Wow, this looks delicious. Kudos to you for coming up with a way to re-make such a traditionally sweet cake. I wonder how low you could reduce the honey (even skip the syrup?) as an experiment. Just an idea: you could add pure pumpkin puree and cut back on the sugar. Not that it’s bad… just the creativity of your recipe has got me thinking!
Would love to hear if you ended up trying a lower sugar option. I think you could get away with reducing it slightly, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of cake with little sweetness 😉 Still, most certainly am interested in hearing your take if you give it a try!
do you think this would work with ALL almond flour?
thanks…and Happy belated Birthday!!!!!!!
Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I think it should with the support of the eggs, but you might want to up the proportions. Quinoa flour absorbs more liquid, so you might want to start with an additional 1/4 cup of almond flour, see what the batter looks like and add more if needed (1 tablespoon at a time). Hope that helps! Let me know if you end up trying it 🙂 xo
Hi! What a cool and informative blog!! All of your food looks delicious. I love carrot cake and your recipe sounds awesome! I will have to try it 🙂
Thank you!! And welcome, Anna 🙂 Glad you found me and am thrilled you’re liking the looks of the recipes. Would love to hear if you try the cake – it’s one of my favorites!
I think I will love it, have to do egg substitute so here is hoping it works!
There is so much controversially around coconut oil. Some swear it is really good for us and others it is murder in a plate type of thing.
As a result I have. An untouched jar in the fridge door and. Just have not got there so any information is marvellous. Thank you allyson!
Let me know how it works out sans egg. I’m afraid it won’t be the same texture, but either way, I think you should give it a try 🙂
I am not a fan of using any oil, let alone coconut oil (follower of Dr.Esselstyn). So, I am also wondering if there is a substitute for the oil in this recipe? I would not mind eating it without frosting . . . But what about that 1/2 cup in the cake??
I haven’t ever made this without the oil, so honestly I can’t say what a good replacement would be. Sorry about that! xo
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This recipe looks so good. How can you go wrong with quinoa and carrot cake?
That looks so very good!
I’ve never made a quinoa cake!!! Love the idea paired with carrots
I’m the same way about birthdays, but I don’t even really like cake – with the exception of carrot cake 🙂 Something about it is very nostalgic for me, but I have no idea why! I love your version and the fact that you used a blend of quinoa and almond – I find all almond flour baked goods don’t sit well.
My sister always had (has!) a carrot cake for her birthday, too! This looks like a fantastic alternative to have our cake and not feel bad about eating it, too! :o)
I generally make my own birthday cake too, but I LIKE to! Jason will always surprise me with cupcakes from my favorite bakery too…
pinned to try this one soon, yum!
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This looks SO good!
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Can I sub chickpea flour for the almond flour?
You could try, but I haven’t tried! I don’t think it will work due to the difference in texture and fat content, but you could certainly give it a shot!
Hi! Is the recipe for Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake removed? I can not find it
All set now, thank you!!
I’ll do it here in Brazil and put it on my blog with credits due to you. Congratulations on the recipe. My blog here in Brazil: https://receitas-que-emagrecem.com.br
Lots of carrot cake lovers in my family, especially my mom-in-law. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I use a box grater for my carrots and I use avocado oil.
Hi, is it possible to half the recipe and make cupcakes instead? The only thing I am worried about is trying to half 3 eggs – any advice? What would be the baking time for cupcakes?
I think you could bake the cake into 12 cupcakes instead! And I’d say start around 18 minutes 🙂
Will an egg substitute work in this recipe?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so as the eggs are pretty critical in the rise. I think the only way it might work is if you bake this as a sheet cake instead!
Can you share the Icing recipe as well o,ease?
It’s actually just melted coconut butter! I’ll udpate that though 🙂
HHi AhHi Alyson,, I can’t see any mention of how to make the frosting in the carrot cake recipe. Is there other ingredients other then the mention cocoanut butter? thanks. Elizabethlyson, I don’t see a anything in the recipe for the frosting. I know it is cocoanut butter but there isn’t any other ingredients listed that I can see. Thanks
It’s just melted coconut butter actually!
Love this ❤️
Hi there! Just made this carrot cake last night for my breakfast this morning. I did make a couple of changes…added more quinoa flour than almond, and used leftover pureed pumpkin instead of yogurt & applesauce–just what i had around. It was a tasty breakfast : ) Next time I will add raisins or some chopped up candied ginger. I am really trying to eat less gluten, so this was a perfect start to my quest to deal with IBS. thanks for the inspirtation…eva
Hooray! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂 oxox
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Hi there, wanting to make this for my fiance’s birthday next week. Just curious if I make it the day before, will it still taste fresh the following day? And how long does it keep for?
It should if you don’t cut it! I would say maybe even leave it in the tin?
I hate asking, because I know you’ve made the recipe with the listed ingredients, but can you sub the quinoa flour? I have every other flour on hand and don’t want to buy another flour…lol. maybe coconut or chickpea flour? Thanks
Chickpea flour would be best. Or maybe sorghum/millet!
Recipe looks amazing. I don’t do dairy, wondering what I can use in place of the yogurt?
The yogurt is non-dairy 🙂 So just pick up a vegan one and you’ll be good!
I followed you recipe to a tee , used all things you listed and the amounts , but t did not RISE ? The cake tasted good but why didn’t it rise ?
Hmmm… are you baking at altitude perhaps? I’m not really sure! Maybe your leavening agents were out of date?
Can you do 3 flax eggs instead? Most recipes save with two but not sure with 3.
I don’t think so with this recipe since the cake really relies on the eggs to create the right texture. I’ll work on creating a vegan version that is more of a sheet cake style that doesn’t rely on rise as much!
I have a question about quinoa flour..can I just grind quinoa and use it as flour or is that too bitter?
You can, but it isn’t quite as fine, so it’s not my preference. I usually find that I end up having to adjust the flour quantities because of it 🙂
I don’t have almond flour ? What can I use instead? More quinoa flour? Whole wheat flour ??
I haven’t tested without almond flour, sorry!
Hi Alyssa, can you please tell me what size of bundt pan you use to bake to carrot cake? I’m really enjoying your recipes. Thanks for sharing!
I used a 10 inch (standard size) pan! 🙂
The most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever made!! Thanks for sharing your recipe!!
Yay!! That is so good to hear–thank you!
Any substitution for almond flour? I’m allergic to almonds.
You could use any other milk–oat, whole, coconut, etc.!
Hi Alyssa – thanks for this lovely recipe for an all-time favourite! I can’t do apples, so wonder if you could please suggest a substitute for the applesauce.
Could I sub dates for the maple syrup and flax eggs instead of chicken eggs?