Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe by Ivy Manning | Photo by Erin Kunkel

These moist muffins contain shredded root veggies, whole-wheat flour, and heart-healthy olive oil. Be sure to use a mild olive oil for the best, most buttery results. The cake and the frosting are sparingly sweetened with coconut sugar, which adds a rich, caramel flavor and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. But if you don’t have it in the cupboard, you can substitute brown sugar.

Note: Be sure to refrigerate the canned coconut milk overnight in the refrigerator so it can solidify fully before making the frosting.


  • 1¾ cups (6 oz/185 g) whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup (¾ oz/20 g) rolled oats
  • ½ cup (4 oz/125 g) coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (8 oz/250 g) shredded carrots
  • ⅓ cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) chopped walnuts

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) canned coconut milk, chilled until solid (see note above)
  • 4 oz (125 g) cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, coconut sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the carrots, olive oil, buttermilk, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. (Do not overmix.) Fold in the walnuts.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Bake, rotating the pans once during cooking, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Scoop ½ cup of the solid white coconut cream off the top of the can of coconut milk and place it in a bowl. Beat with a handheld mixer until light, 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and coconut sugar and continue to beat until fluffy, 2 minutes. Chill until ready to frost the muffins.

When the muffins are cool, spread the frosting evenly over the tops. Serve right away, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 12 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

  • Calories 250
  • Protein 5 g
  • Total fat 15 g
  • Saturated fat 5 g
  • Carbs 24 g
  • Fiber 3 g
  • Total sugars 10 g  
  • Added sugars 7 g
  • Sodium 280 mg

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