The summer after my first year of college, my grandparents flew to Northern California to visit us, as well as some friends they met on a vacation in China multiple years before. Since that couple lived a bit farther south, all six of us loaded our suitcases and ourselves into my parents’ minivan, and we drove down to Carmel for the weekend.
My grandparents picked out a little hotel for the two of them farther inland, away from Carmel-by-the-Sea’s fog and overcast weather, and after helping them check in and find their room, we headed over to their friends’ home for afternoon tea. While sitting on the back porch overlooking the valley, their friends suggested that we joined them for breakfast the following morning.
So on Sunday, we met them at a little brunch restaurant tucked away within the valley, and the hostess pushed together a few tables on the outdoor patio to make enough space for the eight of us. We scanned the menu, and a few minutes later, a waiter stopped by to take our order.
Although most of the adults requested egg dishes like scrambles and omelettes, my brother and I both opted for sweeter dishes. I asked for the Belgian waffle, which came with a side of real maple syrup and topped with fresh fruit, and when it arrived at the table, everyone’s eyes widened.
It was huge! That waffle covered an entire dinner plate, and the pile of fresh melon slices and juicy berries towered over it. With how much sweet fruit sat in front of me, I completely skipped the syrup and just ate a forkful of fruit with every bite.
In hindsight, that waffle ended up as one of the very best I’ve ever ordered from a restaurant. Incredibly fluffy on the inside and deliciously crisp on the outside, not too sweet (that’s what drizzles of maple syrup are for, in my opinion!), and perfectly rich on its own… Yet somehow even more magical when served with all of those fun toppings.
And that waffle’s texture and toppings actually served as the inspiration for these Healthy Carrot Cake Waffles! These healthy homemade waffles have the same incredible texture, supremely fluffy on the inside and wonderfully crisp on the outside, and although I skipped the sweet fruit toppings… I still made sure these waffles tasted like carrot cake, one of my favorite sweet treats!
So there are lots of rich and cozy spices on the inside, along with plenty of bright carrots, and they’re topped with a cream cheese drizzle. No maple syrup necessary, in my opinion! These healthy carrot cake waffles also contain no refined flour or sugar, and they’re simple to whip up!
I’d happily eat these any day of the week… And especially for Easter brunch!
HOW TO MAKE CARROT CAKE WAFFLES
So let’s go over how to make these healthy carrot cake waffles!
You’ll start with white whole wheat flour and a trio of spices: cinnamon (this kind is my favorite—it tastes stronger and sweeter!), allspice, and nutmeg. Although carrot cake is mainly known for cinnamon, I found that the allspice and nutmeg created a deeper and even richer flavor, which made these healthy carrot cake waffles taste even more irresistible!
And yes, white whole wheat flour actually exists! Contrary to what it sounds like, it’s not actually a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and whole wheat flour. Instead, it’s made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. They both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture. That lets the fluffy texture of your waffles truly shine!
Tip: If you’d like to make your healthy carrot cake waffles gluten-free, then check the Notes section of the recipe. I’ve included my top recommendations for you there!
Whereas traditional waffle recipes often call for ½ cup (or more!) of butter to make them fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, you only need 2 teaspoons for this recipe. That really helps keep your healthy carrot cake waffles low calorie and low fat!
Then the rest of their fluffy texture comes from one of my favorite ingredients in healthy baking: Greek yogurt! Greek yogurt adds the same moisture to your waffle batter as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories. It also gives your healthy carrot cake waffles a protein boost!
Because I know how much pure maple syrup my family drizzles on their pancakes and waffles, I only add a teensy tiny amount to the batter. It seems like sweetness overkill to add much more than that! Just remember to use the real kind, like this! The only ingredient on the label should be “maple syrup,” and it’s generally sold in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs.
Tip: If you want your waffles to taste sweeter, then check the Notes section of the recipe. I’ve included a modification for you there!
There’s actually a secret ingredient in these healthy carrot cake waffles that helps with their supremely fluffy texture… Can you guess what it is? If you’ve browsed through some of my other healthy waffle recipes before, you probably have an idea…
It’s distilled white vinegar! The vinegar (an acid) reacts with the baking soda (a base) to create air bubbles. Those air bubbles make your waffles rise, and they also give your healthy carrot cake waffles a more soft and fluffy texture on the inside.
Pretty neat, right??
And I promise you can’t taste the vinegar in your fully cooked waffles! Although it makes the batter smell a little funky, its flavor completely disappears after you’ve cooked the batter.
Of course, there’s another really important ingredient in this recipe… Freshly grated carrots! You can’t make healthy carrot cake waffles without the carrots, right? 😉
And yes, the carrots must be freshly grated! Store-bought pre-shredded carrots (also called “matchstick” carrots) are thicker and drier than freshly grated carrots, and they don’t soften properly while baking. I promise it’s worth the extra effort of grating your own!
Tip: If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, that makes the grating process go much faster!
When my mom used to make waffles for breakfast while I was in middle and high school, her waffle iron only had space to cook four small waffle squares at a time. As a result, our family always ate in shifts in order to enjoy all of the waffles hot off the griddle. She served my brother and me first, and she always ate the final ones after using up the last of the batter.
I never really liked how we couldn’t sit down to eat a hot waffle breakfast together… Which is why I absolutely LOVE this recipe.
You bake the waffles in the oven instead of cooking them on a waffle iron, which means all of your waffles finish cooking at exactly the same time! Even better? You don’t need to baby-sit the waffle iron either!
These are the waffle baking pans that I use. I normally avoid buying “one use” pans like this, but these are worth every penny (and inch of shelf space!). They’re much easier to use and clean than regular waffle irons!
There’s just one teensy tiny downside to these healthy waffles…
Because they don’t have lots and lots of butter in the batter, like with traditional recipes, they don’t turn crisp on the outsides during the cooking process. Once they finish baking in your oven, they’re just moist and fluffy all the way through.
However! I have a secret trick that makes these healthy carrot cake waffles just as crisp on the outside as traditional waffle recipes…
Pop them in your toaster oven!
Yes, just like with the frozen waffles I grew up eating! If you toast your healthy carrot cake waffles for a minute or so, then the outsides turn beautiful golden and crisp, but the insides still stay moist and fluffy. It’s the best trick!
Bonus: If you freeze these waffles, the toaster oven trick still works! Simply pop them in your toaster oven, just like you would with store-bought frozen waffles. They’ll take a bit more time to toast and cook through, compared to your room temperature or refrigerated healthy carrot cake waffles, but they’ll still have the same taste and texture!
Double Bonus: Since they freeze well and toast well straight from the freezer, these healthy carrot cake waffles are perfect for meal prepping!
Although I should probably make a double batch if I plan on saving any for meal prepping… With how incredible these taste, we never seem to end up with any leftovers!
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy carrot cake waffles!
Healthy Carrot Cake Waffles
FOR THE WAFFLES
- 2 ¼ cups (270g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tbsp (15mL) vanilla extract
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup (see Notes!)
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp (30mL) distilled white vinegar
- ¾ cup (180mL) nonfat milk
- 6 tbsp (90mL) water
- 2 cups (210g) freshly grated carrots (about 3-4 medium, peeled first – and see Notes!)
FOR THE DRIZZLE (optional)
- 2 tbsp (28g) well softened light cream cheese (see Notes!)
- 3 tsp nonfat milk
- ¼ tsp liquid stevia (or adjusted to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and generously coat 2 waffle pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Stir in the vinegar and milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 4 equal parts.) Gently fold in the carrots.
- Divide the batter between the prepared waffle pans, and spread the batter out with a spatula. (It doesn’t spread on its own!) Bake at 350°F for 14-17 minutes or until the centers feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
- FOR WAFFLES WITH CRISP OUTSIDES: Let the waffles cool completely to room temperature. Toast individual waffles in a toaster oven until deep golden brown on the outside.
- OPTIONAL DRIZZLE: To prepare the drizzle, mix together the cream cheese, milk, and stevia in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a zip-topped bag, cut off a piece of one corner, and drizzle on top of the toasted waffles.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Buttermilk Waffles
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Waffles
♡ Healthy Blueberry Waffles
♡ Healthy Banana Waffles
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Waffles
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Waffles
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Scones
♡ …and all of Amy’s healthy carrot cake flavored recipes!