A few years ago, my brother and I both happened to visit our parents on Valentine’s Day weekend. As a family that loves spending time together and typically avoids crowds, we decided to celebrate at the house with a low-key (yet nice!) homemade dinner instead of attempting to make restaurant reservations at one of the packed places in town.
Just like usual, Dad offered to cook for all of us, and he prepared perfectly seasoned grilled chicken, fresh salads with seasonal greens, and sides of roasted vegetables. To round out the meal, he also cut thick slices of our favorite sourdough bread. Simple yet incredibly delicious!
To finish our Valentine’s Day dinner, Mom bought two different desserts at the store: dark chocolate covered strawberries, especially for my brother (he’s allergic to eggs!), and a two-layer carrot cake covered in sweet cream cheese frosting. My mom knows me so well…
I’m really picky about chocolate cake, and most store-bought chocolate cakes taste much too sweet with an almost bland and watered-down chocolate flavor for me. Yet I always love carrot cakes, even ones prepared by grocery store bakeries, with their supremely moist, somewhat dense texture and extra cozy spices!
So at the end of the evening, once the pots and pans sat soaking in the sink and our dinner plates were tucked away in the dishwasher, we cut into the cake and served the sweet treats onto clean dessert plates. I eagerly slid my fork into my slice of cake…
But when I swallowed, surprise flashed across my face. This particular bakery prepared their carrot cake much differently than any other… It almost tasted as light and airy as angel food cake — with only a few visible specks of orange carrots. Definitely not the extremely moist, borderline dense, generously spiced, and completely vegetable-laden carrot cake I was expecting!
When I spotted chocolate covered strawberries in the grocery store’s refrigerated dessert section sitting right next to slices of chocolate, red velvet, and carrot cake just before Valentine’s Day this year, the memories from that particular holiday spent at my parents’ house cake floating back… Which definitely left me craving carrot cake. So back at home, I baked a batch of these Healthy Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes to satisfy my sweet tooth!
Unlike that particular slightly disappointing carrot cake, these cupcakes are incredibly moist, completely packed with carrots, and positively bursting with rich spice flavor. They’re also topped with swirls of sweet cream cheese frosting (that’s secretly made from Greek yogurt!).
Although I may be slightly biased, I think these healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes taste a thousand times better than that store-bought cake, even with no refined flour or sugar… And each one is 43 calories!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY MINI CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES
Let’s go over how to make the best healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes! You’ll start with white whole wheat flour and a trio of spices: cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Although some people just stick with cinnamon, I always add both cinnamon and nutmeg to my carrot cake recipes because I love the deep, rich, ever-so-slightly earthiness that nutmeg adds. Then on a whim, I added in allspice, which rounded out the spice flavor so well… And made these healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes taste even more irresistible!
Tip: I buy my favorite kind of cinnamon online here! It’s extremely affordable, and it has a much stronger, richer, and sweeter flavor than regular cinnamon. It’s the only kind I use in my baking recipes now!
In case you haven’t heard of it before… White whole wheat flour actually exists, and it’s not a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular 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… Which lets the moist texture and sweet flavor of your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes shine!
Tip: I’ve also included my two favorite gluten-free options in the Notes section of the recipe, if you’d like to make these healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes gluten-free!
Regardless of whether you use white whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour… Please oh please make sure you measure it correctly, using this method or a kitchen scale! (← That’s the one I own!) Too much flour will dry out the batter and make your cupcakes crumbly, rather than supremely moist and tender. I promise it’s worth taking the few extra moments to properly measure!
Whereas many traditional recipes call for ¼ to ½ cup of butter or oil (yikes!), you only need ½ tablespoon in my version. That really helps keep your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes low calorie and low fat! Yet they’re still just as moist and tender as their “traditional” counterparts because of…
Greek yogurt! If you’ve browsed through my recipes before, then you already know how much I love it. I’ve used Greek yogurt to make everything from cakes and cupcakes to muffins and scones to brownies and cheesecake. Here, it adds the same moisture to the batter as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories. It also gives your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes a protein boost!
Also unlike traditional recipes that call for lots and lots of refined granulated sugar, you’ll skip that and sweeten your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes with two other sweeteners instead: liquid stevia and confectioners’ style erythritol.
Yes, two… Yes, you need both… And here’s why!
I found that when I only used liquid stevia, these cupcakes just didn’t quite taste sweet enough… Even when I kept adding more. But by stirring just a small amount of erythritol, their sweetness immediately became much stronger, and these healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes tasted just as sweet as traditional sugar-laden versions. Hooray!
And just in case you aren’t familiar with these two ingredients… They’re both plant-based, no-calorie sweeteners that contain nothing refined or artificial (aka they’re clean eating friendly!). Erythritol typically sweetens cup-for-cup like granulated sugar, but liquid stevia is highly concentrated. With the kind I use, 2 teaspoons is the equivalent of nearly 1 cup of granulated sugar!
Tip: I actually buy both of these sweeteners online! Here for the liquid stevia and here for the erythritol. (You’ll use liquid stevia in all of these recipes of mine and erythritol in all of these recipes of mine, too!)
There’s one more key ingredient that we’re currently missing… The freshly grated carrots! Yes, freshly grated. They must be freshly grated! Store-bought pre-shredded carrots (also called “matchstick” carrots) are thicker and drier, and they don’t soften properly while baking… So please don’t substitute them. Always use freshly grated carrots for the best healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes imaginable!
Tip: If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, that makes grating your carrots so much quicker and easier!
Oh, and because someone always asks… I typically peel my carrots before grating them, but you don’t have to! I’ve just found that the outer peel looks somewhat dingy and brown, rather than bright and orange, when it’s baked in carrot cake… But it doesn’t affect the flavor whatsoever — just that orange color!
Before baking your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes, you must coat your cupcake liners with cooking spray! Low fat batters (like this one!) stick to cupcake liners like superglue, but generously misting them with cooking spray first allows the liners to peel away from your cupcakes much more easily.
Then once you’ve baked your mini cupcakes and let them cool…
It’s time to top them with cream cheese frosting! And, surprisingly enough…
You’ll actually use Greek yogurt to make it! That’s right. Healthy Greek yogurt cream cheese frosting — with NO butter or powdered sugar. Miracles do exist! 😉
The frosting is really simple to make. Just beat together Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and more liquid stevia until your mixture is smooth and creamy. This type of frosting is perfect for spreading on top of your healthy mini carrot cake cupcakes!
But… If you’d like stiffer cream cheese frosting so you can pipe it on top in gorgeous swirls like I did for these photos… Then check the Notes section of the recipe for how to do that. 😉
I just have one question left for you… Would you stop at just one mini cupcake? Or would you reach for a second?? 😉 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 mini carrot cake cupcakes!
Healthy Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tbsp (15mL) vanilla extract
- 2 tsp liquid stevia
- 2 tbsp (18g) confectioners’ style erythritol
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp (210mL) nonfat milk
- 2 cups (180g) freshly grated carrots (peeled first – and see Notes!)
- cream cheese frosting, for serving (see Notes!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line line 36 mini muffin cups with cupcake liners. Generously coat the liners with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil and egg whites. Stir in the vanilla extract, liquid stevia, and erythritol. Add the Greek yogurt, stirring until no lumps remain. Stir in 2 tablespoons of milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and remaining milk, 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 muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 13-16 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack. Once completely cool (and not before!), top the mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting just before serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Carrot Cake
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Carrot Bundt Cake
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
♡ Healthy Carrot Pound Cake
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Snack Cake
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Muffins
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy carrot cake recipes!