Healthy Carrot Cake with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, toasted coconut and walnuts. This carrot cake recipe is moist, tall, has texture, and thick creamy frosting.
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Just to prove you that you are staring at the best healthy carrot cake, let me just say this – I was willing to make Instant Pot yogurt 3 weeks in a row for the sole purpose of carrot cake recipe testing.
Perfect carrot cake stands tall, is moist and has texture. Its icing is thick and you can taste the creaminess with every bite. People ask you if they can have your recipe. That’s this healthy carrot cake!
Make it for dessert, eat it for healthy snacks, and come back and tell me how it went. I would love to hear from you!
Ingredients for Healthy Carrot Cake
Simple ingredients you can find in any grocery store:
- Whole wheat flour (spelt flour): It is crucial you use one these flours. I have not tested the recipe with white whole wheat or pastry whole wheat flours.
- Greek yogurt: It’s the Greek yogurt that replaces majority of oil that traditional carrot cake recipe call for. Make sure to use one with at least 2% fat content.
- Maple syrup or honey: Both add moisture and amazing flavour. You definitely will taste honey more. Any liquid sweetener will work.
- Carrots: Finely grated carrots and not squeezed. Use extra carrots for a breakfast treat in carrot cake baked oatmeal!
- Eggs, oil and milk: Any light tasting oil like avocado, light olive oil, grapeseed oil will work. Any milk is fine too. These ingredients add moisture and act as a binder.
- Nuts and coconut flakes: My absolute favourite is a combo of toasted walnuts and coconut flakes that add moisture. Coconut flakes can be long, regular or dessicated. I use unsweetened variety but you can use sweetened and cake will be sweeter. Also on top I sprinkled coconut chips.
- Powdered sugar: We need only 1/2 cup to make healthy frosting unlike traditional recipes that call for 2 or even 3 cups of icing sugar.
- Baking essentials: Vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking powder, salt.
How to Make Healthy Carrot Cake
Easy healthy carrot cake recipe starts with baking, frosting and serving it all in the same pan. Cake is so moist, you don’t need the frosting between the layers. But you can.
- Prep for frosting: Start this first. Very well strained and thick Greek yogurt. I recommend to buy yogurt between 2% – 10%. 10% doesn’t need to be strained, it’s almost like cream cheese. The most ideal would be whole milk (3.5%) yogurt, 2% will do well too. Strain it in a colander lined with paper towel or coffee filters to get rid of extra whey in order to have that traditional thicker icing (but healthier).
- Prep for batter: Spray 9 x 13 baking dish, or you can use 2 x 6 inch or 8 inch pans. Toast nuts and coconut flakes in a skillet.
- Make batter: Whisk wet ingredients first, then dry in same bowl. Do not overmix. Fold in carrots and toasted nuts and flakes. Perfect carrot cake batter should be more runny than muffins but thicker than pancakes.
- Bake: In 9 x 13 pan – 40 minutes, 6 inch cake pans – 25-30 minutes, 8 cake inch pans – 35-40 minutes. Always do a toothpick test. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
- Make frosting and assemble cake: Combine strained yogurt, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Whisk well, transfer on top of cake, spread with spatula and garnish with toasted coconut flakes (chips).
- Serve: Cut into 16 slices and serve.
Carrot Cake FAQs
I tried to make cake with applesauce but each time it turned out gummy with distinct aftertaste. So, I do not recommend. Use it instead in these healthy morning glory muffins!
Baking is a science. All purpose white flour, almond flour, and coconut flour act differently and need other ingredients’ adjustments.
You might be able to use all purpose gluten free flour but my worry is that cake might be a bit dry as it needs more liquid.
I have not tried so I am not sure if they would make cake moist with pleasant texture like grated carrots do.
Unfortunately no because it is more runny and less rich.
There are some brands of dairy free Greek yogurt available which may work. You can also experiment with learning how to make a flax egg but I have not tried.
- 10% Greek yogurt: If that is what you have on hand, thin it out with 1/4 cup milk for the batter but skip straining for the icing.
- To make powdered sugar at home: Blend cane sugar in a high speed blender until powder-y. Saves a few $s and a trip to a grocery store.
- If you would like to make traditional round cake: Divide batter between 2 cake pans. Bake 6″ cake pans – for 25-30 minutes, 8″ cake pans – 35-40 minutes. Here is a great article about changing the pan size. Then assemble and frost as per your imagination.
- Healthier icing: You can make icing with maple syrup, it will be more runny and taste slightly different. But I have done it many-many times. You might also like this Greek yogurt frosting with sugar free option!
- Other batter additions: I tried adding pineapple and raw pecans, and not adding coconut flakes. You can also add up to 1/2 cup raisins and chopped dates.
How to Store, Freeze and Make Ahead
- Storing: Store assembled cake covered tightly with a cake lid for up to 2 days. Airtight is important so yogurt doesn’t start to dry out.
- Make ahead: Store baked, cooled and covered with plastic unfrosted cake for 3 days. Then frost before serving.
- Freezing: I have not and would be hesitant to recommend you freeze assembled cake. Not sure how yogurt will thaw but my gut says 90% it should be fine. You can freeze unfrosted cake tightly wrapped with plastic and then foil for up to 3 months. Thaw on a counter for 6 hours or in the fridge overnight.
More Healthy Dessert Recipes
Healthy Carrot Cake
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 2% and higher fat
- 1/3 cup any mild oil I used avocado oil
- 2/3 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/2 cup any milk I used almond milk
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 2 cups carrots finely grated
- Cooking spray I use Misto
- In one large bowl, whisk the eggs for 10 seconds. Add yogurt, oil, maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract; whisk well and set aside.
- In another large bowl, add flour, cinnamon, baking powder + soda, and salt; whisk well breaking any baking soda or powder lumps. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, spray large 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat large skillet on low heat, add walnuts and toast for a few minutes (until fragrant), stirring occasionally. Add coconut flakes and toast another minute, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat. Grate carrots.
- Add dry ingredients to a bowl with wet, stir gently until combined (do not over mix).
- Add carrots, walnuts and coconut flakes; stir gently just enough to combine.
- Pour into previously prepared baking dish and bake for: 9 x 13 dish – 40 minutes, 6″ pans – 25-30 minutes, 8″ pans – 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool off completely (about 4-5 hours).
- While cake is cooling down, line small colander with a coffee filter or paper towel and place on top of a small bowl. Add yogurt and let it strain in a fridge for a few hours.
- When ready to assemble your healthy carrot cake, discard the whey and add strained yogurt into a medium bowl along with icing sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk well, transfer on top of cake, spread with spatula, garnish with toasted coconut flakes (chips) and cut into 16 slices.
Storing: Store assembled cake covered tightly with a cake lid for up to 2 days. Airtight is important so yogurt doesn't start to dry out.
Make ahead: Store baked, cooled and covered with plastic unfrosted cake for 3 days. Then frost before serving.
Freezing: I have not and would be hesitant to recommend you freeze assembled cake. Not sure how yogurt will thaw but my gut says 90% it should be fine. You can freeze unfrosted cake tightly wrapped with plastic and then foil for up to 3 months. Thaw on a counter for 6 hours or in the fridge overnight.
- Flour: No other flour can be substituted, baking is a science.
- Sweetener: Unfortunately you cannot use any dry sweetener because it will throw off cake batter consistency. However, you can use any liquid sugar free syrup.
- Shredded carrots: I have not tried so I am not sure if they would make cake moist with pleasant texture like grated carrots do.
- Yogurt: Unfortunately you cannot use regular yogurt because it is more runny and less rich. You cannot replace yogurt with applesauce either.
- If you would like to make traditional round cake: Divide batter between 2 cake pans. Bake 6″ cake pans – for 25-30 minutes, 8″ cake pans – 35-40 minutes.
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