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:
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.