Healthy Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

There are a million (maybe more!) carrot cake and carrot cupcake recipes on the Internet.  You will have no trouble finding one if you look.  What there aren’t so many of are healthy carrot cupcake recipes .  I know what you’re thinking, but having carrots in it doesn’t automatically qualify it as healthy.  You know who you are.  Most of the recipes for carrot cupcakes have the two main ingredients I usually avoid when baking:  white flour and refined sugar.

So I set out to make a healthier version of an old favorite.  I used white whole wheat flour instead of regular old white and sweetened it with just a tinge of maple syrup.  These carrot cupcakes are definitely not overly sweet, but it works.  Traditional cupcakes can be a bit much, so for me the sweetness level is perfect.  While I don’t usually shy away from fats, I decided not to use oil in these.  My purpose was to keep the calorie count in check as I knew I was going to top my cupcake with cream cheese frosting.  So unsweetened apple sauce stands in where the oil would be, which makes a moist, almost muffin-like cupcake.  (Not to be confused with a muffcake!)

Speaking of frosting, the maple-cinnamon cream cheese frosting I created for these cupcakes is amazing.  Again I used maple syrup as my sweetener of choice and the result was fantastic.  Trust me, I love traditional cream cheese frosting with the 2+ cups of powdered sugar.  I think that’s why I fell in love with carrot cake in the first place.  But this maple syrup sweetened cream cheese frosting does the trick.

This is a cupcake that I can feel good about Meghan eating and would be perfect for a 1st birthday cake.  I might even call this a legit breakfast.  Go ahead; when your cupcake is healthy, you can eat it for breakfast.

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

For the Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2/3 cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups shredded carrots

For the Frosting

8 ounces organic cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Stir in the pineapple and carrots.

Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir until mixture is smooth.

Spoon approximately 1/3 cup of the batter into each muffin liner.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a rack before frosting.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting:

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth and whipped.

Happy Healthy Mama Tip:  to frost your cupcakes, you can make them pretty by creating a make-shift pastry bag.  Just snip the end of a plastic sandwich bag, put the frosting inside, and squeeze it out onto the cupcake.  Easy!

And yes, I know that I could use a manicure.  Who has time for that with cupcakes to bake?These healthy Carrot Cake Cupcakes are so delicious!  Definitely one of the BEST healthy dessert recipes I've tried.


  1. Lisa says

    Thanks for this recipe. The boys and I might have to make these today as we are stuck home with 5 inches of snow last night and no school today. They look delicious and carrot cake is my absolute favorite.

    • Maryea says

      My little one loves to help out in the kitchen. It’s tough though because she wants to eat everything before it’s ready! She’ll even eat flour. Kids are so weird!

    • Maryea says

      I guess we can still be friends. :-) Meghan ate all the frosting off of the top and then said, “More cupcake.” I told her she only ate the frosting so far, not the cupcake. She said, “Oh, more frosting!” She is definitely my daughter on this one. I love cream cheese frosting!

  2. says

    Mmm, carrot cake–my favorite! Where was this post *before* my birthday this weekend? :) Those sure look a lot better than the terrible vegan cupcake I got from Whole Foods!

  3. says

    Most of us moms could use a manicure. And pedicure. And, what the heck, a whole spa day…. :)

    My little girl LOVES carrot cake. We actually had it for Christmas morning breakfast (per her request). I’ll have to give these muffins a go. I bet she’d love them.

  4. Crystal says

    These are perfect for Owen’s 1st birthday party in 2 weeks! Another great recipe that I’m sure we all will enjoy.

  5. ilse says


    I’m about to make your cupcakes! TFS such a nice looking recipe, M! :)

    I’m probably missing it right on my face, but can you tell me how many cupcakes your recipe makes??

    Thanks so much!


  6. Dawn says

    Hey Maryea: What is your suggestion for when to make these for a 10 am birthday party? Should I make muffins night before & then just add icing in the morning or can I mix batter & refrigerate & then make in the morning or what?


    • Maryea says

      I think making them the night before and then icing them in the morning is a good idea. The frosting is simple, so that won’t take too much time. I’ve never tried making the batter ahead of time, so I am not sure how it would work.

  7. Cayla Rodgers says

    I am going to make these for my daughters 1st birthday party! I am going to do cupcakes and cake. What size pan should I use for making cake?

    • Maryea says

      Happy 1st birthday to your daughter! :-) This recipe will probably fill one 8 or 9 inch round pan. If you want a double layer (2 cakes), you’d probably have to make a double batch. I haven’t tried it as a cake, though. Let me know how it works out!

    • Maryea says

      Each cupcake, with frosting, has approximately 188 calories, 6 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 4.5 grams protein, and 12 grams sugar. Enjoy! :-)

  8. says

    Sounds yummy! Thanks so much for sharing.
    I have 2 questions.
    1. When you say maple syrup do you mean the real kind, or maple flavored breakfast syrup…like Aunt Jemima?

    2. Have you ever doubled the recipe or do you suggest making in 2 batches to get 24?

    • Maryea says

      I use real maple syrup. I have never doubled the recipe, but I think it would work fine. Let me know if you try it!

  9. Angela T. says


    I really want to make this today but do you think it will work ok as a cake rather than cupcakes?

    • Maryea says

      Sorry for the late reply. I do think it will work as a cake, but you’ll have to double it if you want a double layer cake. Let me know if you try it!

  10. Amy says

    I made these last night and I was absolutely shocked with how sweet they were (in a good way)! I just made the muffins and no frosting and they are lovely- frosted one with almond butter for breakfast :) I added walnuts, raisins, chopped apple and coconut to them as well as a little molasses and sprinkled the tops with oats since I wasn’t going to frost them- super yummy!

  11. Whitney says

    This is just what I have been looking for! I will be making these for my 2yo to take to school for her birthday. And you are right..there are TONS of recipes for carrot cake but most of them are very far from being healthy. Thank you!

  12. Margaret says

    Haven’t tried the cupcake part of the recipe but made the frosting. Simply Divine!!! I will use this as my main frosting recipe from now on. I even used it as a dip for apples….cant stop eating it.

  13. Rilie Stewart says

    Last Week was St. Patricks day, so my family decided they wanted carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I was going to use a classic carrot cake recipe that my family thinks is the best recipe ever, but…. Its made with one and a half cups oil, white flour, and TONS of sugar! The frosting has full fat cream cheese, tons of powdered sugar, and a bunch of butter.. I was annoyed because I was going to have to make these really unhealthy cupcakes that I would have to eat too. So I decided to do a sneak attack and find a healthier recipe for the cupcakes without telling anyone! I found this one and made them, and oh my gosh they thought I used the same recipe that I always use!!! I was so happy!! These were so moist and sweet, and I almost forgot they were healthy when I was eating my cupcake. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    • Maryea says

      I love that you didn’t tell them! This comment really made my night–thanks for letting me know you and your family enjoyed these. :-)

  14. Katie says

    These look and sound amazing!!

    We are celebrating my little sister’s 16th birthday this weekend, and she has been trying really hard to lose weight so when she requested carrot cupcakes, I thought these would be the perfect fit for her to still have her birthday cake and eat it too.

    I am thinking about using the same amount of flour, but changing it to 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of white all purpose flour, since we have a few “beef-eating men” in the family that won’t want it to taste TOO healthy. So I’ll try to be a little sneaky here and still have that “healthyish” factor.

    I also want to use 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese for the frosting, since that is what I have on hand. Hopefully the texture of the frosting doesn’t change too much.

    I used on online calorie calculator, and these still came out to 179 calories each – frosting and all. That’s amazing! I’ll let you know how these turn out. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Katie says


    These turned out great! They were not super sweet, as you said they wouldn’t be. So I made sure not to leave any sweetness out of the frosting – which was delicious.

    I made the few changes to the recipe as I said I would, and they still turned out very good. (Used 1 cup of white AP flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, and used reduced fat cream cheese for the frosting.)

    I made the cupcakes and the frosting the morning of, stored the cupcakes in airtight containers after they cooled down, and stuck the frosting separately in the fridge all afternoon to make sure it would stay firmer.

    Everyone loved them! Even those “beef-eating men.” :) Thanks for the recipe!

  16. says

    I just made the frosting and it is really good for my grandsons birthday party and the frosting is to runny to put in the cupcakes what am I to do any suggestions.

    • Maryea says

      You could either add more cream cheese or try adding a little starch (either corn starch or arrowroot powder). I hope it works out for you! Happy birthday to your grandson!

  17. Megan says

    You don’t happen to know the calorie information on one of these delicious little suckers? Not including the frosting…just a standard cupcake size? These are amazing and my husband and kids even love them!!!

  18. Jeannine Cromwell says

    I made these yesterday and they are already gone! They are amazing and we all love the frosting!

  19. Jo says

    I found this receipe on Pinterest and was so excited to try it for our guests who are watching their diet. I like the fact it has some great healthly swaps! However, the frosting tasted very tart and the cupcakes did not have much flavor. I followed the receipe perfectly too. My husband and I are probably going to be the only ones eating them because we don’t want to throw them out.

  20. Alexis says

    I made these as written. I had to cook them a lot longer and they were still soggy. I would definitely skip the pineapple next time. These tasted like pineapple cupcakes, not carrot cake.

    I have them in a warm oven right now to try and dry them out a little bit. I’m hoping the frosting will redeem them.

    A good idea, but some changes need to be made to the recipe. Maybe adding nuts and skipping the pineapple would bring them closer to carrot cake.

    • Maryea says

      Interesting. I’ve never had that problem nor have I ever felt the pineapple dominated. You didn’t add the pineapple juice with the pineapples, did you? I’m sorry these didn’t meet your expectations.


  1. […] Because carrot cake isn’t carrot cake without a cream cheese frosting, I used real cream cheese for these. I wanted to ensure the frosting stayed nice and thick and I didn’t want to add anymore sugar, so I used liquid stevia drops  to sweeten the frosting. It worked perfectly, but if you don’t have liquid stevia, you can use this recipe for cream cheese frosting sweetened with maple syrup. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge