These carrot cake muffins have fantastic, complex flavour, a great texture, and a fun cream cheese filling. Easy to make, too!
That spawned a massive carrot cake craving in my non-keto husband, so we decided to design a carrot cake muffin recipe for him.
We tweaked my base carrot muffin recipe to now feature delicious carrot cake flavor - including pineapple, which I feel is pretty essential when it comes to carrot cake. This also helped provide the moist crumb that we were aiming for.
While many of my traditional muffin recipes are healthy - and there are plenty of healthy carrot muffins out there, we wanted to lean in on the carrot cake aspect, without ending up at carrot cake cupcakes.
There’s a fine line, there!
They’re not really healthy carrot cake muffins, though. To hit the right textures and flavours we were, we had to be fairly generous in the fat and sugar content.
While they may be a bit “generous” to be healthy muffins, they DO feature a lot of healthy ingredients, so consider it a partial win?
These muffins are sure to be loved by the whole family, whether as breakfast, an afternoon snack, or even a dessert!
They’re like your favorite carrot cake, but portable!
This muffin was an instant hit, and immediately made it into regular rotation here.
As my husband (enthusiastically!) stated just now, when I asked what he would say about them:
“Oh those were AMAZING. They had a really soft texture. I loved the little chunks of carrot and pineapple ... The muffin wasn’t homogenous, every bite was a bit different, and I loved that. The filling was a nice sweet, creamy complement to the fun texture and flavours of the muffin, too!”
Definitely in the top 3 muffins you’ve made!
So there you have it! The next time you want to toss on a batch of muffins, consider making these!
The complete recipe - including amounts - is in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This recipe requires mostly just simple ingredients that you could find at any grocery store - and probably have on hand - but I’ve got a few notes on some of them:
I like to use fresh carrots, rather than pre grated carrots in a bag.
Not only is it a great way to help use up that bag of carrots that never seems to go anywhere, the moisture content is higher.
This recipe was based on fresh carrots that I’d shredded in my food processor, so using pre-shredded may cause a more dry, crumbly muffin texture.
We usually use brown sugar for this, but - due to the moisture content of this recipe - you can swap it out for the same amount of white sugar, if you prefer.
Nuts and Raisins
We used walnuts only, as my husband is a weirdo who’s against raisins in ANY kind of baked goods.
We use butter, as we prefer the flavour. That said, you can use oil if you prefer.
You’ll want a relatively neutral oil: vegetable oil, coconut oil, or canola oil, usually. Olive oil can be a bit too strong for use in muffins, IMHO.
We use a regular, full fat cream cheese, but feel free to substitute Neufchatel or a vegan / dairy free cream cheese. Because it’s a filling - and not structural - you can do whatever you want, here.
I use regular canned crushed pineapple. Be sure it’s WELL drained before measuring.
Alternately, you can use any other form of canned pineapple - just drain it well and then puree it before measuring it.
You can use any kind of milk you like - skim, homogenized, buttermilk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.
In addition to the ingredients I’ve mentioned, you’ll need:
How to make Filled Carrot Cake Muffins
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, this is a pictorial walk through of the technique.
Make the Filling:
In a small mixing bowl, Whisk the softened cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Add sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine.
Make the Muffin Batter:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cavity muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add carrots and walnuts to the flour mixture, stir to combine.
Add wet ingredients mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients, stir gently to combine - batter should be lumpy.
Assemble and Bake!
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about ⅓ full. (I like to use an ice cream / cookie scoop for this).
Divide the filling between the muffin tins, aiming for a general tablespoon of filling in the center of the muffins - leaving room around the filling.
Finally, divide the remaining muffin batter between the muffin cups, allowing the batter to fully encase the filling and for the top of the muffins.
(Note: Only insert it about ⅓ of the way down into the tops of the muffins. If you hit cream cheese, it’ll be wet no matter how done it is!)
Cool in muffin pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, before serving.
Leftover muffins can be cooled to room temperature before being stored in a plastic bag or other airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or so.
Best served reheated.
More Muffin Recipes!
Are you a fellow fan of muffins? I have some more marvellous muffin recipes for you!
Apple Blueberry Muffins
Breakfast Corn Muffins
Cardamom Pear Streusel Muffins
Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins
Healthier Apple Oatmeal Muffins
Maple Pumpkin Spiced Muffins
Nutmeg Coffee Cake Muffins
Orange Almond and Date Muffins
Peach Cobbler Muffins
Pina Colada Muffins
Also, be sure to check out our Breakfast and Brunch Recipes section for all kinds of great recipes!
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Carrot Cake Muffins
- 8 oz Cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup Granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Brown sugar packed
- 2 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon Ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- pinch Ground cloves
- 2 cups Finely shredded carrots
- ½ - 1 cup chopped walnuts and/or raisins optional
- 1 cup Crushed pineapple well drained
- ½ cup Milk or coconut milk
- ½ cup Butter melted and cooled
- 2 Large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Whisk the softened cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
- Add sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine. Chill in the fridge or freezer, while you make the muffin batter:
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or spray with baking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add carrots and walnuts, stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine pineapple, milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
- Add wet ingredient mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients, stir gently to combine - batter should be lumpy.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about ⅓ full.
- Divide the filling between the muffin tins, aiming for a general tablespoon of filling in the center of each - leaving room around it.
- Finally, divide the remaining batter between the muffin cups, allowing the batter to fully encase the filling.
- Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. (Note: Only insert it about ⅓ of the way down. If you hit cream cheese, it’ll be wet no matter how done it is!)
- Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes, before serving