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Whole grain Carrot Cake Muffins drizzled with a honey cream cheese glaze are moist, delicious, and perfect for a special weekend brunch!
Carrot Cake Muffins — bursting with carrots, coconut, pineapple, pecans, and dried cranberries — are extremely tasty with or without the glaze on top!
With all those ingredients you might think that these muffins would have a heavy or dense texture, but no sir, Carrot Cake Muffins are quite light and practically melt in your mouth.
Although carrot muffins can be enjoyed all year long, I think they make an especially wonderful Easter treat.
These spiced carrot muffins are sort of a cross between Carrot Cake and Hummingbird Cake — Southern Living’s most famous recipe, by the way. Even though they are suitable as a dessert, Carrot Cake Muffins are not so sweet which makes them a perfect breakfast or brunch item, too.
Looking for more yummy breakfast muffins? My Maple-Glazed Bacon Muffins — with bacon in the batter and as a garnish on top — are the perfect combination of salty and sweet.
Or, you might like to try my Easy Blueberry Muffins recipe that‘s equally delicious with either fresh or frozen blueberries.
Why you’re going to love this recipe!
- Texture and crunch in every bite. All the ingredients combine for a lovely and tasty experience.
- Perfectly spiced. With cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar.
- Feeds a large group. One recipe makes 16 healthy muffins.
Carrot Cake Muffins: behind the recipe
If you like morning glory muffins, you’ll definitely enjoy today’s recipe. Made with whole wheat flour, Carrot Cake Muffins are sweetened with a mix of brown sugar and honey.
This recipe also uses a combination of canola oil and applesauce to add moisture to the muffins. If you like, you may use all oil or all applesauce, however I think the combination works best in these muffins.
How to decorate carrot cake muffins
Serve carrot cake muffins either plain, drizzled with honey cream cheese glaze, or completely frosted. A fun way to decorate carrot cake muffins is to simply drizzle honey cream cheese glaze on top, then add a sprinkle of coconut and chopped pecans — it’s an easy, beautiful garnish!
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Whole wheat flour — whole grains give these muffins a nice texture
- Ground cinnamon and ginger — for flavor and spice
- Pecans — or walnuts
- Dark brown sugar — for sweetness
- Honey — or maple syrup for flavor
- Canola oil — adds moist texture
- Applesauce — added to compensate for using less oil. You may use all applesauce and no oil if you like.
- Crushed pineapple — save the juice!
- Unsweetened coconut — adds delicious texture
- Fresh shredded carrots — the star of the recipe! Make sure to keep the pieces small so that they bake up nicely.
- Dried cranberries — soak in warm water before adding to the batter to plump them up.
- To get good a good rise on muffins, bake them the first five minutes at a higher temperature which will spring up the top of the muffin quickly. Reduce the heat for the rest of the baking time to allow the inside of the muffins to bake evenly without burning the tops. You’ll end up with bakery-quality muffins every time!
How to make muffins
STEP 1 | Plump the cranberries
- Plumping dried cranberries will make them juicy and keep them from drying out during baking. Start by placing the dried cranberries in a bowl with just enough boiling water to cover. When ready to use, drain off any excess water.
- Feel free to experiment with substituting orange juice for the water to add even more flavor to the already tasty morsels.
STEP 2 | Mix dry and wet ingredients
- In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and chopped pecans; set aside.
- In medium bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, honey, oil, applesauce, lemon zest, and the drained pineapple juice.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients and stir gently.
STEP 3 | Finish the batter
- Fold in the pineapple, carrots, coconut, and the dried cranberries (be sure to drain off the water) just until combined.
- Evenly divide the batter among muffin pans lined with paper liners, filling them to the top.
- This muffin recipe makes 16 muffins, so you’ll need to use TWO regular size muffin pans. Place 16 paper liners in the cups in the muffin pans, then after filling them with batter add a couple tablespoons of water to the empty cups in the pan. This will ensure uniform baking.
STEP 4 | Bake the muffins
- Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
Frequently asked questions
You can absolutely freeze carrot muffins, but don’t add the glaze or toppings if you plan to do so. Bake the muffins and let them cool completely before storing in a resealable freezer bag. They should stay fresh for up to 3 months in the freezer.
When sealed tightly, these muffins will stay fresh for several days. To reheat, warm them for 20 seconds in the microwave.
Oil in the muffin batter is what makes them moist. According to Bob’s Red Mill, oil slows down gluten formation to keep certain baked goods tender and fluffy in texture
Carrot Cake Muffins
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple drain and save juice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1-1/2 cup shredded carrots
Honey Cream Cheese Glaze
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 -4 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners, just enough for 16 muffins, and lightly spray the bottom of each liner with cooking spray.
- In another bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, and the drained pineapple juice. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients and stir gently. Fold in the pineapple, coconut, and carrots just until combined.
- Evenly divide the batter between the liners, filling them to the top. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack. Drizzle warm muffins with cream cheese glaze.
Cream Cheese Glaze
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over warm muffins.
Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.