Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {i.e. Carrot Cake Muffins}

Sorry to be one-dimensional with the healthy muffin recipes lately but I couldn’t wait. I had to share these with you immediately.

Maybe because I just shoved three of these in my mouth, but I have to say, they are my favorites of the latest muffin bunch. They smell fantastic, they look pretty (those orange flecks are beauty), and they taste amazing.

It’s like a healthy bite of carrot cake. In muffin form. They are low in fat, low in refined sugar and packed with applesauce and carrots. Uh, hello? Why are you still reading this? Get your little self into the kitchen and make these.

Another whole grain, healthy muffin to add to your life.

{Moment of silence.}

I hope these rock your world like they rocked mine.

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {i.e. Carrot Cake Muffins}

One Year Ago: Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Pie
Two Years Ago: Brazilian Feijoada {Slow Cooked Pork and Black Bean Stew}
Three Years Ago: Roasted Fruit with Streusel Topping

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {a.k.a. Carrot Cake Muffins}

Yield: Makes 12 muffins

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {a.k.a. Carrot Cake Muffins}

If you find the muffins stick to your liners, that may be because of the brand of liners you use - mine did not stick, especially after they cooled, however, you can help the sticking issue by lightly coating the inside of the muffin liners with cooking spray before filling with batter.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
  3. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, honey, egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
  4. Stir ingredients together until just combined and there are still some spots of flour remaining.
  5. Fold in the shredded carrots just until combined (don't overmix or the muffins will be dense).
  6. Distribute the batter evenly among the muffin liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins freeze wonderfully and keep well if covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/healthy-applesauce-carrot-muffins-a-k-a-carrot-cake-muffins/

Recipe Source: adapted from 100 Days of Real Food after being referred to the recipe by a long-time reader, Laura G. (decreased ginger, added nutmeg, decreased butter from 8 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons, etc.) – thank you, Miss Laura!

99 Responses to Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {a.k.a. Carrot Cake Muffins}

  1. V says:

    What about the applesauce? When do you add that?

  2. Missy Wiechmann says:

    You would probably add the apple sauce when you add the wet ingredients (egg, vanilla, etc). This recipe looks awesome! Just need to buy flour and we’re making this!

  3. Melanie says:

    These look AMAZING!! Could I use White Whole Wheat Flour, ya think?

  4. Totally adding these to my To Make from Mel’s list. They’d be great to freeze and thaw for Lucy Goose’s breakfasts!! She LOVES muffins!!

  5. Sienna says:

    These look great! Can’t wait to make them. Do they cook for 18 – 20 mins or 8 – 10?

  6. Trisha says:

    These look great! My mom is in town and LOVES carrot cake – this is amazing! Healthy breakfast carrot cake muffins. Just amazing! Just to clarify: 18-20 mins?

  7. Cammee says:

    Yum! Carrot cake is my favorite. I like the idea another commenter had about freezing for a quick breakfast.

  8. Laurel says:

    I make a recipe very similar to this. I add 1 shredded apple and some craisins to mine. Woo! So super delicious!!

  9. Rachel says:

    I am loving these healthy muffins for my kids school lunches! It’s so nice to pull them out of the freezer every day.

  10. Army of 7 says:

    I am loving these healthy muffins! I’ve made the banana chocolate chip 3 X’s now. We will be eating this new muffin this weekend for sure. I wonder if I can sub pumpkin puree for applessauce for a nice fall flavor?

  11. Tracey says:

    Do you think they would work if you just greased the pan and didn’t use liners? Or would they fall apart when trying to get them out? They look yummy! I love carrot cake, so these must be good! :D

  12. Carolyn says:

    I’m going to have to make these in a few minutes!

    Tracey, just thought I’d let you know that I NEVER use liners…I always grease the cups. We are way too impatient around here for liners. You can’t inhale one directly out of the oven with the liners, unless they’re cooled. Hope that helps:)

  13. Karen says:

    Thanks for these! It’s been so long since I had carrot cake anything. I can’t wait to make these.

  14. Michelle says:

    I’ll have to try these. Just FYI, in the recipe source, it’s “100” days, not “101”. :)

  15. Sheila says:

    It’s Friday night and after a long work week I decided supper was going to be Mel’s delicious pumpkin muffins — and no they do not have the word healthy before them. With my coffee and 3 muffins in front of me, I turned on the computer and went immediately to Mel’s blog. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I immediately suffered a major guilt trip. :-( Sure wish I had viewed these “healthy” applesauce carrot muffins a little earlier like right after work. Sigh. Although all this refined sugar is slowly lifting my spirits! Thanks for another great recipe.

  16. Brianna says:

    How finely are the carrots grated? I have two settings on my food processor…one is pretty little, really little and fine, but the other is almost an 1/8 inch thick, still grated, but bigger. I use that for zucchini bread, but would that work here or am I better with smaller? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Brianna – I used the fine side of my box grater. Do you have a box grater to compare with your food processor? I would say it’s probably the bigger size you described.

  17. These will most certainly be breakfast tomorrow!

  18. Paris says:

    These look great, but I only keep All-Purpose Flour in my pantry. Would I use the same amount as the Wheat Flour or would it change?

  19. Andrea says:

    We love muffins for breakfast! One of my little guys has an egg allergy so we substitute 1 TBS ground Flax seed mixed with 3 TBS water for each egg. It’s a great way to make any recipe a bit healthier and no one has ever noticed a taste difference. Thanks for all the yumminess, Mel!

  20. Trudy says:

    Thinking about possibly substituting some homemade apple butter for the applesauce (but my apple butter is sweetened, of course), Because of this, I’m thinking I would use about half as much honey. Do you think this would work?

  21. Jaclyn says:

    These look like my kind of muffins! I adore carrot cake and I love that these are healthy!

  22. These are tasty! They earned approval from both the picky toddler and the picky husband. So thanks!
    In case anyone else is wondering, I put the recipe in Calorie Counter (I subbed the whole wheat flour for kamut flour because that’s what I had on hand) and the nutritional info per muffin was:
    Calories: 144, Fat: 3 (Saturated Fat: 1). Carb: 27g, Fiber: 3, Protein: 3.
    That’s 4 PointsPlus on Weight Watchers.

  23. Karen says:

    My little family has LOVED these! I made two batches. The first as the recipe states and the second I changed it up a tiny. I used coconut oil instead of the butter and I used maple syrup instead of the honey. Both batches tasted wonderfully!

  24. I remember the last time I made muffins and I told Tomasz, that he can take half of them to work. He answered that there’s no need, he’ll manage to eat all of them :D I am so happy this ones are healthy :D

  25. Lindsay says:

    nothin but lovin from the oven. now get this- my food processor grater is broken, so i tried a tricky little ditty that worked quite well…i peeled and cut the carrots into chunks, then cooked them in the microwave for a few mins, just til slightly soft. then i tossed them into the blender with the other wet ingredients. worked like a charm. we love you mel!!

  26. Misty says:

    I’m on a healthy muffin kick and these did not disappoint. I love freezing them for a grab and go breakfast. I made these for the first time tonight and threw in a handful of walnuts – delicious!

  27. Ooooh…I will have to try these! I just made three pots worth of applesauce yesterday so I wanted to find something to bake with – perfecto!

  28. Meg says:

    We made your perfect chocolate cupcakes last night. They ARE perfect! Neighbors loved them:) But, because we made them, and I ATE them, I had better go make these healthy muffins now:) We love your recipes around here, Mel!

  29. Andrea says:

    Wow! I made these this morning and they were spectacular. So yummy. And they made my home smell wonderful. Thanks Mel!

  30. Lilias says:

    Making these right now! I added raisins, but otherwise followed your directions. Love that you decreased the butter!

  31. Katie says:

    Made these for my toddler and she loved them! I substituted vanilla Greek yogurt for the butter because we didn’t have any butter left on hand (!) and they still turned out great. I made mini muffins and adjusted the cooking time to about 12 minutes. They’re perfect! Even I couldn’t resist popping a few in my mouth :)

  32. Suzanne says:

    I made these last week and they were awesome! I went overboard on the carrots, but that didn’t seem to matter. For the applesauce, I diced and peeled a few apples and briefly cooked them in a little water and cinnamon. I think I ended up adding a little milk for moisture, but all in all, they were good!

  33. Rachel says:

    My whole family LOVES these! I’ve made them several times and they are hit with everyone!

  34. stephanie says:

    I’ve made these twice now – the first time I followed the recipe exactly, and they were awesome. The second time I added a few things – cup of shredded zucchini, raisins, 1/2 cup or so of peanut butter and some butterscotch chips. Mmm Mmm! I was able to make the additions without changing any of the ingredients you had included. I love how “branny” (that’s an adjective that means “tastes healthy, like bran” :) these are and I just wanted to let other readers know how alterable they are!

  35. Laurie says:

    These are delicious! I made a few changes (and blogged them here), and they were really delicious, full of flavor, great texture, and awesome for breakfast. Thank you!

  36. Ari says:

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but mine have been in the oven for about an hour and the outsides are turning rock hard while the insides are still liquid!

  37. Catherine says:

    love these! I added chopped walnuts and some currants.

  38. Ari says:

    Just re-tried using Laurie’s modifications and got slightly better results, though the insides are still a bit wet. I think it’s a combination of factors. One is that my oven might be slightly miscalibrated, but the other is British carrots. Since I moved to the UK I find the produce has a much higher water content – maybe I should try to ‘dry off’ the shredded carrot?

  39. Roni Russell says:

    I used cinnamon apple sauce (it was all I had) and cut the teaspoon of cinnamon in half, and substituted agave nectar for the honey, because I’m diabetic. They are baking right now.

  40. paula says:

    I just got a juicer for Christmas and wanted to throw the pulp from apples and carrots in a muffin so they wouldn’t go to waste and these turned out perfect. I added extra butter and egg because I didn’t have applesauce. I need to get some applesauce and these will be super healthy :-)

  41. Bailey says:

    I just made these and they taste like dog biscuits. Yuck.

  42. Sadia says:

    Unfortunately these turned out horribl…I think its all due to the whole wheat flour. That really changes the flavor, shouldve just used regular flour.

  43. Jennifer SZ says:

    Hey Ari, I just made these, and mine turned out super wet too! They tasted ok, but seemed really wet, mushy and sticky and i had to cook them for a full 25 minutes before I even sort of got a clean-ish tooth pick. I live in germany…so maybe european carrots have a higher moisture content? ha ha, who knows. Maybe next time I’ll try squeezing out the moisture with a paper towel first. Also, I finely chopped my carrots in our vitamix instead of shredding them by hand on a cheese grater, could that be the difference? I’d love some tips/feedback/advice from anyone else who’s had a similar problem.

    • Mel says:

      Jennifer SZ – not sure what went wrong for you but my guess is that the grated carrots you used were processed more finely than how I shred mine. Because carrots do have a high water content, the finer they are chopped (especially in a blender) the more liquid that will be released from them. Good luck if you try the recipe again (try grating the carrots more coarsely).

  44. Erin says:

    Just made these with my 2.5 year old son. We used coconut oil instead of the butter for a diary free recipe. They turned out yummy and leaving my son wanting to eat 2 in a row!

  45. Grace says:

    Great muffin!!! My daughter loved it!! I will defeneatly make it again, and again!!!

  46. Jennifer SZ says:

    Hi Mel, thanks for your response. I tried the recipe and they were much better this time. I used a cheese grater instead of my blender, and just to be extra sure, I squeezed out the carrot shredds out with a couple paper towels first, and the recipe tuned out even a touch on the dry side! lol. I think I was just being paranoid becuase of the watery first batch. Next time I’ll just shed the carrots like a normal person and toss them in! ha ha

  47. Lindsay N says:

    I really enjoyed these muffins! Nice and healthy- great for breakfast when I’m heading to school and need to be ready to go for my students at 7:00 am. I am a lover of the whole wheat flour taste, but some might not enjoy the difference in flavor- in comparison to just regular unbleached flour- its got a more nutty/dry taste. I made these exactly like the recipe but added 2/3 cup walnuts. Love them and the picky fiancé loved them too! Thank you.

  48. Marina says:

    Hey! I’m looking into making these for my boyfriend for Valentines Day. I was wondering though.. What could I use as a super healthy frosting to add to the top? Would like vanilla yogurt work?

    • Mel says:

      Marina – I don’t have a “healthy” frosting recipe, but you could to Google a yogurt frosting or even try using a thick Greek yogurt. Good luck!

  49. charleen says:

    These were excellent! As a vegan, no fat or sugar, a few changes were necessary but wowzy, these were so good, I ate three too. The rest hit the freezers.

  50. Angela says:

    I’m loving all your healthy muffin recipes. I’ve been on a muffin kick lately trying different ones of yours. Just made these carrot muffins. My picky 3 year old just downed 3 of them and it doesn’t even matter because they are totally healthy! So happy I found your blog!

  51. jolene says:

    HEY!! i wondered across your page recipe hunting and found these! made them today! may be the best muffins i’ve ever made!!! i really appreciate how you instructed on how to mix the ingredients – it really makes a big difference! thank you!! ps..any chance you have any idea of calories per muffin??

    • Mel says:

      Jolene – Sorry, I don’t post the nutritional information, but if you read through the comment thread another reader posted the calories, etc. for this recipe.

  52. Em R. says:

    These are amazing! My toddler (she’s almost 2) just gobbled down 2 of them for breakfast. Thanks for a fantastic solution to a suddenly picky toddler :)

  53. […] muffins are adapted from this post I found while scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed (as one does while procrastinating on the number […]

  54. EricaG says:

    I have never baked with Apple sauce but have a bug jar of sweetend apple sauce in the pantry. Will that work of be too sweet? Thanks!

  55. J says:

    I dont have ground ginger. Is there any other spice I can subsitute? Thanks!

  56. Jen says:

    I am making these right now for my sweetie. He loves carrot cake and has been craving it. I am hoping that these healthier muffins with fat free cream cheese frosting will do the trick. He has lost close to 100lbs in the past 2-3 years so I want to make healthy treats for us. Thank you so much for this great recipe!

  57. Joy says:

    Made these a couple times written. Yummy! This last time I went crazy with changes and ended up liking them even better: subbed the butter for melted coconut oil, added 3/4 c Craisins and a small, peeled and diced apple. Thanks!

  58. Karen says:

    Hey Mel, just made a double batch of these for the freezer for summer snacks. My boys love them! Have you ever tried 100% Maple Syrup instead of honey? It’s much healthier than refined sugar, like honey, but doesn’t have the strong taste honey can have in baked goods. Anyway, I almost always replace half the sugar in a recipe with maple syrup and it’s delicious in these muffins. It can be pricey though, which is the downside. Thanks again for another awesome recipe! Sincerely, one of your biggest fans.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Karen – thanks for the suggestion! I haven’t made these with maple syrup but I have subbed the honey out for agave nectar (it has a mild taste too).

  59. Melissa says:

    Hi Mel! I was wondering how I can accommodate your muffin recipe (this one and the other delicious ones) to fit a mini muffin tin (24). I would follow the recipe – but can you tell me the approximate timing for the minis and anything else I should be aware of? Thanks Mel – I would like to make these for my 2 year old and just bought the mini tray yesterday.

    • Mel says:

      Melissa – When I bake mini muffins/cupcakes I always check them after 6-7 minutes. This recipe will probably make more than 24 mini muffins so you might need to do a second batch in the oven.

  60. Nikki says:

    My family and I loved these! I made my own applesauce and used whole grain spelt flour, which tasted great! I also omitted the ginger and nutmeg.

  61. Rejeanne Johnson says:

    I’ve been juicing a lot so I’m trying it with the pulp of the carrots ? any thoughts or comments ?

    • Mel says:

      Rejeanne Johnson – I don’t know the texture or consistency of the carrot pulp so I can’t say for sure but I think these muffins are pretty forgiveable so its worth a try. Good luck.

  62. Viktoriya says:

    Would you happen to know about how many calories would be in one of these muffins?

  63. Nadelle says:

    If i wanted to make this into a round 9 inch cake what will the measurments & baking time be ?

    Please help making a birthday cake for my mom

    • Mel says:

      Nadelle – Quite honestly, I don’t know – and I’m not sure this muffin recipe will transition well into a cake. Definitely have to experiment as I haven’t tried it – good luck!

  64. Hilary says:

    I used 1 cup grated carrots using the smaller grate on my hand grater. I also substituted canned crushed pineapple (1 cup) in place of applesauce. I didn’t have ginger either so I used pumpkin pie spice (1/4 tsp) as a last resort even though they aren’t very close. Other then that I did the recipe exactly (which is kind of rare for me – I usually like to wing it)

    I didn’t use muffin liners or grease (fingers crossed) but i sprinkled a small amount of oats on the bottom of the tin (which is new and non-stick) *** I don’t recommend this haha use liners if you have ‘em

    Calories per muffin (assuming 12 muffins) with these adjustments is 136 calories per muffin. Which is excellent!! This is very easy to do if you have a MyFitnessPal account using their recipe section.

    The muffins just came out of the oven and the verdict is….. Very good, moist and tasty. Doesn’t necessarily taste like carrot cake without the frosting lol but they are very good and I would probably make them again.

    • Hilary says:

      I forgot to mention I did like it with the pineapple addition – but next time I will try it with applesauce as directed or less pineapple I felt like the pineapple kind of took over the carrot flavour a bit

  65. Danielle H. says:

    Hi Mel! I really like these muffins! Sometimes when I make them I get a bitter carrot after-taste. Is there something I should be looking for when it comes to choosing carrots?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Danielle – there must be a secret out there but I’m with you, sometimes the carrots I buy are sweet and crisp and other times they are bitter. Since I just moved, I’m looking at all new brands of carrots. Back in Minnesota I didn’t have many options but I’m hoping to get a brand that is consistently non-bitter – if I do, I’ll share!

  66. Maddy says:

    I just made these for my grandson and we both loved them!! Healthy and
    The only problem I had is with liners, a good part of it stayed stuck to the liner, any advise for this?

  67. Just threw in a batch of these! My toddler and I can’t wait to get them out of the oven. Great recipe :)

  68. Jessica says:

    Do you know how many calories and/or fat are in these muffins?

  69. Leah says:

    I made these today for my daughter and grandson. I replaced 1/2 flour with old fashioned oatmeal to reduce flour it was delicious and my grandson loves them. so easy to make. Great recipe

  70. Amanda says:

    Hi Mel, I just stumbled across this recipe looking for carrot recipes. I just wanted to let you know that I have been buying Bunny Love organic baby carrots & I haven’t found any bitter ones yet. I hope you can find them in your local grocery store. I buy mine from Kroger.

  71. Z says:

    Amazing. When looking for a healthy carrot muffin recipe, I was kind of surprised what came up. I don’t think 3/4 cup of oil or a 1/2 cup of butter for 12 muffins is particularly healthy. So this recipe was an easy choice. They were easy to make and so delicious, just like a carrot cake really, and in the ingredients I really don’t see anything objectionable. I used fresh grated ginger and I loved the flavor of that. Next time will definitely add walnuts. I don’t like to bake with honey so used brown sugar and it was sweeter even than it needed to be, so next time I’ll reduce that and they’ll be even healthier. Thank you for the great recipe!

  72. Megan Alyse says:

    Wow! Can you use pear sauce?

  73. Chele says:

    I add in some fresh diced pineapple in it’s juice to give it a little zing

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