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April 11, 2019

by Alyssa

Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake

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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!

Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake Recipe

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 to make Healthy Carrot Cake

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!

How to make Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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.

Quinoa Flour Cake with Carrots

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!

Homemade Healthy Carrot Cake

Easy Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe

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.

Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe with Quinoa

Other Healthy Carrot Cake Inspired Recipes

Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake

This healthy quinoa carrot cake recipe uses a blend of almond flour and quinoa flour for a light, yet tender cake that's high in protein and absolutely scrumptious!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 14 slices
Calories 290kcal
Print Pin
Easy Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe
4.08 from 42 votes


dry ingredients:

wet ingredients:


  • 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!



* for the ICING: melt 1/4 cup of coconut butter. If it's not quite pourable, whisk in some melted coconut oil.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1580IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 1.5mg


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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. 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.

  2. 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 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. 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

  7. 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

    • 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!

  8. 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?


  9. 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.

    • 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!

  10. […] Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake – Simply Quinoa – A luscious cake worthy of any occasion, this healthy carrot cake is made using almond and quinoa flours for a nutrient and protein-packed treat. […]

  11. 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!

  12. 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)

  13. 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.

  14. […] Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake – Simply Quinoa – A luscious cake worthy of any occasion, this healthy carrot cake is made using almond and quinoa flours for a nutrient and protein-packed treat. […]

  15. 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!

    • 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

    • 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 🙂

  16. 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!

    • 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


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