These Carrot Cake Muffins are easy, healthy whole-grain muffins that are perfect for breakfast or snacks. Made with spelt flour, oat bran, and crushed pineapple, these healthy carrot muffins are a freezer-friendly treat you'll love to have on hand. Slap a little cream cheese frosting on them if you like!
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Hands up if you love delicious, healthy muffins 🙋🏻♀️
I for one am a healthy muffin lover. I've pretty much always got a batch of my world famous No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins in the freezer. Sometimes I make some Healthy Pumpkin Muffins or Whole Wheat Muffins, or if I'm not in the mood for a sweet breakfast I'll mix it up with these Savory Cottage Cheese Muffins.
But these muffins are for sure some of my favourites. Are you ready for this?
I started with my mom's carrot cake recipe, and riffed on it HNL style until I'd created the ultimate healthy Carrot Cake Muffins! These babies taste great, are perfectly moist (I know, I know) thanks to a can of crushed pineapple mixed in. And, I daresay you could slap a little cream cheese frosting on the top if you like.
I'll even teach you my favourite lazy (and healthy!) cream cheese frosting hack below.
Ingredients for Carrot Cake Muffins
Time to gather up your ingredients my friends. Nothing weird here, just your usual pantry staples. You'll find specific amounts in the printable recipe card at the end of the post, but for now here's what you'll need:
- Carrots! Wait, did you see that one coming?
- Pineapple --> We're using a whole tin of crushed pineapple and *some* of the juices.
- Spelt flour --> A healthy wholegrain member of the wheat family.
- All purpose flour --> To balance things out.
- Oat bran --> Bumping up that fiber content.
- Olive oil --> Here's where your healthy fat's at.
- Sugar --> Light brown muscovado sugar is how we roll.
- Eggs --> Two big ones, please and thank you.
- Walnuts --> But you can leave them out if you don't like nuts.
- Cinnamon and ginger --> To spice up your life!
- Baking powder and baking soda --> Leavening squad reporting for duty!
To make these Carrot Cake Muffins, you're going to need a set of muffin tins (I have these).
I usually just grease my muffin tins with butter, but if you prefer to use muffin liners, I really love these parchment muffin liners.
Lastly, you'll need to grate the carrots. I usually just use my box grater for this job, but you can also buy pre-grated carrots or use your food processor if you have one.
How to make Carrot Cake Muffins
First things first: Whenever you're making ANY muffin recipe, start by turning on your oven (350°F / 180°C is your magic number today) and greasing your muffin tins. You don't want to be scrambling to do those things once your muffin batter is already mixed, since the baking powder starts doing its magic as soon as it hits the liquid.
Step 2: Grate your carrots! I just use the coarse side of my box grater and it takes approx 30 seconds to get the job done.
Step 3: Crack your tin of crushed pineapple and drain *some* of the liquid off of it. I measured the last couple of times I did this and it was a scant ¼ cup, but perhaps a bit less. Some!
Step 4: Let's get ready to mix! In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, eggs, crushed pineapple, and brown sugar.
Step 5: In the same bowl (who wants to dirty up another bowl?!) add the spelt flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Lightly whisk the dry ingredients together to combine them, and then stir them into the wet ingredients until just combined.
Step 6: Add the shredded carrot and walnuts, and mix into the muffin batter. Now you can spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin tins (or 9 if you prefer larger muffins).
Step 7: Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes. Note! These are very moist (I know I know) muffins so when you test them by inserting a sharp knife into the middle, you may find that some of the batter still clings to the knife. A tiny bit is ok, but a lot is not and needs to be baked for longer.
Note! Because of the high moisture content I recommend letting the muffins cool in the tins for a full 10 minutes before you twist them out to remove them - the carry-over cooking will help ensure they're moist, not gooey.
Tips for the best muffins:
Don't over-mix the batter
All those muffin recipes that come with dire warnings about not over-mixing the batter say so for a reason! Over-mixed muffins are tough muffins, and tough muffins are sad muffins. You'll want to bring the batter just barely together, so you still see a few streaks of flour in the mixture.
Fully cool the muffins
Because these Carrot Cake Muffins are super moist thanks to the addition of crushed pineapple, you need to let them cool in the muffin tins for a full 10 minutes when you take them out of the oven. This will allow carry-over cooking to do it's magic and you'll have a perfect muffin. After 10 minutes just give them a little twist and then pop them into their sides to continue cooling.
Finely grate your carrots
If you're using a box grater, your carrots will be fine. However, if you're buying pre-grated carrots or grating them using a food processor, make sure that you're getting finely grated carrots. If the carrots are too thick they'll be ropey and the muffins won't be as tender.
Make sure your baking soda is fresh
If you don't bake a whole lot and have no idea how old your baking soda and baking powder are, treat yourself to a fresh container. They lose their leavening ability over time as they are exposed to moisture in the air, so for the best muffins, use fresh baking soda.
While I recommend following the recipe as written for the best results, you can of course make some ingredient swaps to suit your preferences.
- Oil - I like using olive oil in these muffins because I think the grassy flavour pairs nicely with the carrots. But you can switch it up and use a neutral flavoured oil like canola or avocado oil, or even coconut oil instead.
- Flour - I have tested this recipe both with all-purpose flour, and with the blend of all-purpose and spelt flours as written. You could also use a portion of whole wheat or white whole wheat flour with similar results. I have not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour.
- Oat bran - If you don't have oat bran on hand you can use an equivalent amount of rolled oats.
- Nuts - I love walnuts in my carrot cake, but if you don't like them or can't eat them, just leave them out!
- Mix-ins - I know some folks love shredded coconut and / or raisins in their carrot cake. By all means, mix them in! That'll turn these carrot cake muffins into more like morning glory muffins.
- Cream cheese - You can add a tablespoon of cream cheese to the center of each muffin before baking (scoop half the batter in, add cream cheese, add remaining batter) if you want to have a surprise cream cheese center.
- Frosting - I love these muffins as is, but if you want to make them more like carrot cake, by all means go ahead and add some cream cheese frosting. Or try my healthier hack for cream cheese frosting - just blend 10 ounces of cream cheese with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup until smooth.
I'd be mad if you didn't! Once your Carrot Pineapple Muffins are completely cool, simply pop them into a freezer bag and toss into your freezer. They'll be good for up to three months once frozen.
These carrot cake muffins can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days. Otherwise, please store them in the freezer.
Sure thing. To make vegan carrot cake muffins you will need to replace the eggs with flax eggs or your favourite vegan egg replacer.
Super quick grain anatomy lesson: all whole grains have three parts, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. If you took a whole grain and ground it up you'd have whole grain flour. If you stripped away the bran and the germ and ground up only the endosperm you'd have white flour.
Wheat bran or oat bran is simply the bran part of the grain. It's the toughest part of the grain, the outer layer which protects the germ and the endosperm. It's hella high in dietary fiber, which makes your colon a happy camper.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins
Healthy Cherry Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Whole Wheat Muffins with Cinnamon Roasted Apples
Orange Earl Grey Muffins
Savory Cottage Cheese Muffins
Spelt Flour Pancakes
Carrot Cake Muffins - Easy Healthy Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil or a neutral flavoured oil
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 14 oz crushed pineapple slightly drained
- 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup oat bran
- ½ cup light brown muscovado sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups grated carrot about 2 medium carrots
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Grease your muffin tins and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together crushed pineapple, eggs, olive oil, and brown sugar. Add the oat bran, and whisk again.¼ cup olive oil, 2 large eggs, 14 oz crushed pineapple, ½ cup light brown muscovado sugar, ½ cup oat bran
- To the same bowl add spelt flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground ginger over the top.1 cup whole grain spelt flour, ½ cup all purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Lightly whisk the dry ingredients together, then switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Add carrot and chopped walnuts, stirring to distribute evenly through the batter. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.2 cups grated carrot, ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Bake for 30 min, rotating the tins half way through. The muffins are done when a sharp knife inserted into the center has only a tiny bit of batter clinging to the sides.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tins, then gently release the muffins from the tins, and turn onto their sides in the tins to fully cool.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- Drain a scant ¼ cup of liquid from the pineapple before mixing it in
- Muffins can be frozen once fully cooled and will last up to three months in the freezer
This recipe was originally published February 17, 2011. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated April 17, 2019. Last updated March 28, 2023.
I can’t find the muscovado sugar in any stores near where I live. Will regular light brown sugar taste the same?
Hi Marge, yes, should be fine!
I absolutely love this recipe, covers my need for muffins while still being on the healthier side. I will mention that the oat bran is in the ingredients list but not mentioned in the beginning steps or recipe instructions??? Or am I just not seeing it! So glad that I had everything all measured out on the counter first or I might have missed it...either way, they would have been delicious!
Thanks for pointing that out, Joan! Have updated the instructions with when to add the oat bran in as well.
Delicious! I had a can of pineapple chunks which I mashed with a potato masher. The bits may have turned out a bit bigger than they would have with crushed pineapple, but I liked the textural contrast.
I used oats and whole wheat flour (didn't have spelt) and added some craisins too. Moist and delicious!! We'll definitely be making these again.
These are delicious ???? I used whole grain flour instead of spelt. I used my nina to chop up the carrots. Man! These muffins taste awesome.
Have you made these using a sugar alternative like apple sauce or date paste? I’ve been trying out your recipes for my 2yr old and she loves the banana bran date muffins.
I haven't. I think with all of the extra moisture from the crushed pineapple they'd get super gummy if you swapped out the sugar.
Love how healthy these are! Gotta try!
These are the perfect muffins for the Easter weekend. I might have to make a teensy but if cream cheese icing.as well. Thanks!
I've baked these muffins, which taste good (they also had the right sweetness for me, even though 2 tablespoons of grated ginger is too much for me) but they are too moist, they are more like a pudding than like a muffin... I have used natural pineapple, but I didn't know how much weights a 398 ml tin, so maybe I've put too much pineapple and that's why the muffins do not seem muffins... Could you tell me how many grams of drained pineapple and how many grams or ml of pineapple juice do the tins have? Thank you!
Hi Clara, I'm not sure exactly how many grams of pineapple vs juice the cans have. I've never tried this recipe using fresh pineapple, but the consistency is quite different from canned, plus the uncertainty of the exact quantity, this could be why your muffins were like pudding!
i loved your recipe!! specially the way you wrote it! which is the most important part to me since i have pretty much no experience at the kitchen. sometimes i try to make something really easy with a recipe from the internet, but the way most of the people write, it's hard for me to understand a few details. so thank you :] i have just set the muffins in the oven. the only thing a substituted was the walnuts, for brazilian nuts because i had them at home instead. i'm from brazil. i haven't found great muffins to buy here so far... so i decided to made them myself. let's see!
I hope they turned out! Thanks for your kind words about my writing, it is important to me that my instructions are clear and easy to understand 🙂
Nathan from Guard School Update Training
Oh my gosh Katie these are so good!!! I LOVE carrot muffins!!
Glad you like them!
the perfect sweetness for me too. Another goodie, thanks KT!
I warmed up some cream cheese, added a big glug of maple syrup to it and then whipped it up real good and spread it on top, they were utterly delish. And minus the icing they're a lovely wholesome little breakfast muffin. Another home run Katie!
Made these this morning! Yummy! First batch wasn't as sweet as I wanted so I plopped some lemon icing on top. Second bactch with a bit of extra sugar was awesome - definitely a new favorite! Thanks!
Like I said, they're teetering on the edge of sweetness. I don't like my muffins very sweet, but if you like yours sweeter then adding a bit more sugar is a good thing. Lemon icing sounds like they would make these muffins into very tasty cupcakes!
Sorry for the late reply. No. In fact they were great. (In my old Braun, I could shred them very fine for cooking, and so that was my standard.)
I put my carrots in the Cuisinart, with a medium shred, and really felt they were too course. I could work my fingers to the bone with a hand shredder... if I had to...I suppose.
I shredded mine on the large setting with a box grater. Did you still feel that your carrots were shredded too coarse after they were baked?
I have a freezer if either of you need a place to "store" some!!
I'm going to be leaving these in your son's freezer, I'm sure you understand 🙂
Will be making these this weekend. The fresh grated ginger in them sounds appealing!
such an amazing combo. I love that you sneak some Oat bran in there... my mom is the queen at sneaking in healthy grains (oat bran, flax, wheat germ, etc...)! Thanks!
It's amazing how light these still are with the oat bran. There isn't any whole grain flour or grains in the cake recipe I used as inspiration, but for sure these muffins are mom approved!
Pineapple -such a great idea. This will be the first baking in the new house for sure!
Awesome! I'm sure your new kitchen will smell great with these baking.