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Lighter Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Disclosure: I’m excited to partner with Wholesome on this sponsored post! As always, all opinions are my own.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “Carrot Cake”, my ears perk up. Carrot cake is one of my favorite baked goods, but it can also pack the most calories out of all the holiday treats. And let’s get real- carrot cake with fake sweeteners or no fat or whatever other extravagant substitutions people come up…. just. doesn’t. satisfy. SOOOO, I’m excited to say I made some slight tweaks to this recipe without compromising the flavor or texture. And if you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to make the recipe for yourself!

With all things in food and nutrition, I like to take the approach of what can we add to or swap in a recipe, versus taking away completely. Three easy ideas for baking are:

1.) Add some fruits or veggies (carrots, apples, zucchini, etc.)- they add moisture!
2.) Choose less refined ingredients to include flours and sweeteners. Choosing whole wheat flour or organic dark brown sugar or coconut palm sugar instead of traditional refined sugar, is ideal. Wholesome! has a whole line of organic, Fair Trade Certified sweeteners, to include Coconut Palm Sugar (used in these yummy cupcakes), Dark and Light brown sugar and many more!
3.) Add healthier fats like avocados, nut butters or add in some applesauce or Greek yogurt for some of the oil.

These delicious cupcakes have all 3 of those tips incorporated- to include a ton of carrots, applesauce in place of some of the oil and less refined sugars with Wholesome’s Organic Coconut Palm Sugar- it’s a trifecta of better-for-you choices wrapped into one decadent cupcake.

Confession: I just don’t have time to make everything from scratch so I usually don’t make my own frosting. I was thrilled to learn about Wholesome’s new Organic Frostings! They feature a clean ingredient label and are free of common ingredients you’ll find in conventional frostings like trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, and other things you can’t pronounce. PLUS, it’s delicious, and has a smooth, spreadable texture that’s perfect for topping cupcakes or a sweet finish to your favorite holiday cookies

Wholesome’s Organic vanilla frosting was the perfect topping to these carrot cake cupcakes. And although you’d think all vanilla frostings would automatically be free of dyes, many conventional frostings still somehow have dyes in them! In addition to being dye-free, all three of Wholesome’s Organic frosting flavors are Fair Trade Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free, Kosher and Vegan.

​​I also used their organic chocolate frosting to top these Flourless Nut Butter Cookies! These cookies have 5 simple ingredients, including Wholesome’s Organic Dark Brown Sugar and the flavor and smooth texture of the chocolate frosting took that simple cookie to a whole new level of amazingess! Get the recipe to the Flourless Nut Butter Cookies here!

Both the Flourless Nut Butter Cookies and the Lighter Carrot Cake Cupcakes (click image below for recipe) are sure to be a hit at your holiday party or the perfect sweet treat to quickly whip up for your favorite people! 

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lighter Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 18 cupcakes


  • 1 1/2 cup gluten-free 1:1 Baking Flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Wholesome! Organic Vanilla Frosting
  • Pecan cookie pieces, if desired


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the flour, coconut palm sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the grated carrots, oil and applesauce and beaten eggs.
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture to the carrot mixture, stirring just until mixed.
  • Line muffin tin or grease muffin tin. Scoop about 3 tablespoons of batter into each hole (about 2/3 full).
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and tops are springy.
  • Allow cupcakes to cool completely prior to frosting with Wholesome Organic Vanilla Frosting. Sprinkle pecan cookie pieces on top, if desired.

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44 Responses

  1. These look absolutely delicious! I might try them out but with some light buckwheat flour to get them gf =)

  2. I am a big fan of coconut palm sugar and reducing shortening with applesauce but, it can be hard to get the quantities right – these look perfect and will be a resource for sure!

  3. I love carrot cake and totally have a sweet tooth when it comes to the holidays 🙂 I’ve seen that Wholesome frosting but never tried it. Glad to hear it tastes great!!!

  4. omg I am so with you on the carrot cake, best baked good ever! Love this healthier version, they look delicious!

  5. They look amazing! I have been looking forward to checking out this recipe. Love that you incorporated organic palm sugar, yum!

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! Definitely took me a few tries to get it just right, but it’s a delish and moist recipe! Sweet, but not too sweet. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks, Katie! Definitely a great first recipe to try out organic palm coconut sugar with…because…carrot cake. Enough said, right? 🙂

  6. I guess I have never thought about frosting being organic but it sounds like a great product! Especially on those carrot cake cupcakes!

    1. Thank you, Sarah! I know- I hadn’t thought much about it either but comparing conventional frosting to Wholesome’s Organic frosting definitely helped me see how much extra junk is in the conventional ones- even dyes in vanilla frosting sometimes!

  7. These look fabulous! My hubby is a huge carrot cake fan so I’m definitely going to try making these better-for-you ones for him.

  8. Love carrot cake and these cupcakes are calling me! Pinning to make soon – and bet my little 15 mo. old son would adore them too.

  9. these look and sound amazing!! I love carrot cake and love even more that you were able to create a healthier version!

    1. Thanks, Shahzadi! Same here- always makes baked goods so moist and somehow doesn’t taste like a “vegetable cake” :).

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Welcome to KISS in the Kitchen! I’m Shannon, and my dad always told me “Keep it simple, Shannon”. And that’s what you’ll find here- simple recipes and simple ideas to help you get healthier and happier. Read more…



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