A “Healthier” Carrot Cake

Sugar free carrot cake
We both love carrot cake. Who doesn’t. It’s a sweet tasting cake with creamy frosting and – best of all – it contains carrots! So in some strange way this cake must also be healthy!?

Well, it also usually contains large amounts of sugar, butter and flour, so healthy might not be the perfect word to describe it. Unless you replace these ingredients for more natural alternatives. We decided to try it.

So, we took a couple of our favorite carrot cake recipes, mixed them up a bit, removed the sugar, butter and white flour, replaced them with some ingredients that we found appropriate, whipped it together and put it in the oven. And our first try was a disaster! We used apple juice as sweetener and almost not any flour at all, which gave us a compact stonecake with absolutely no taste.

For our second try we sweetened it with bananas and dates (and some honey in the frosting), we used whole-wheat flour and a mild oil instead of butter. And this time it really turned out well. We also used a lot of dried fruit and quite large carrot grates, which made it really chewy and chunky.
Scroll down for the recipe.

Carrot cake 2
A “Healthier” Carrot Cake
Serves 6-8

3 eggs
1-2 bananas
10-15 fresh dates (without seeds)
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
3-4 carrots (medium size, grated)
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

200 g cream cheese
3 tbsp honey
1/2 lime (juice)

1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Use a hand blender or a blender to mix bananas, dates and oil into a thick cream in another bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and stir it together with the eggs and the banana-cream. Add grated carrots, coconut flakes, walnuts and raisins and stir it until it all comes together.
Pour it into a cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Try to stick a toothpick in the centre of the cake, when nothing sticks on it the cake is ready. Let it cool.
Whip together the cream cheese and the honey (bananas or dates would probably also work as sweeteners for the frosting). Add the frosting when the cake is completely cooled of. Serve with roughly chopped hazelnuts or walnuts on the top.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel


  • caroll
    Hello, so i really love all of your sweet stuff and i really LOVE bananas, But now my boyfriend seems to be allergic... it's a complete disaster! So in this cake (and all your other fabulous recipes) ... with what could I replace the bananas.... Can you help me out here? i'm kinda lost now :-)
  • Elina
    Hi, I love your recipes. it would be great if you give basic nutrition information with the recipes to make it easier for people who are on watching weight while not compromising.
  • I just baked this cake for my baby's first year as I wanted a no-sugar recipe for his first taste of cake. It worked really, really well! I am amazed at how well fruit can sweeten a cake with using the refined 'devil'! OK I made a few small modifications: I blended the dates with a tiny bit of water and chopped the walnut to a powder, and also I skipped the hazelnuts on the topping (obviously to avoid choking risks); I grated lime and sprinkled the zest instead (some of the kids didn't like the lemony flavour though...) Initially I thought it hadn't risen enough compared to the cakes from other standard recipes but it wasn't too heavy or stodgy at all. That said when I bake this cake again I might use a self-raising flour. Anyway, this is a very lovely take on carrot cake which I will stick to in the future. Thank you!!!
  • Sheena
    Hi. May i know what ur cup measurements are please?
  • Sara
    Have you tried making this cake gluten-free? what flour(s) would you use?
  • I made this today and it turned out delicious! Thank you for such an amazingly healthy and non-guilt-inducing carrot cake recipe. :) To make it gluten free, I used 3/4 cup oat flour and 1/4 cup almond flour, plus a tbsp of arrowroot. The only spices I have are cinnamon and cloves so those went in accordingly, and instead of sunflower oil, I used coconut oil. Those were the changes I made and the cake still ended up moist, sweet [enough for my family ;)], and wonderfully scented. It does taste quite strongly of bananas so next time, I think I will only use one and add a little bit of raw honey. Thank you~!
  • Donna Hardin
    This was wonderful! I loved the taste of each food...flavors not masked by sugar. Thrilled...happy to serve my family and friends a healthy alternative! I used spelt flour and made 1/2 recipe. Baked in muffin tin...made 8 muffins. Thank you again and again! Finally something healthy that not only looks good, but tastes wonderful! Excited to dig into your website! Your new fan from Iowa, USA Donna
  • rachna
    I was planning to make a 3kg cake with this recipe. How many times do I multiply the ingredients by? What size of a cake tin do I use?
  • rachna
    Had a question. What would be the weight of this cake?
  • Mona
    I made this cake today, and I am quite pleased with the outcome. It is nice and moist, and the contrast between the spicy sweetness of the cake and the lime in the frosting is lovely. I may play around with the recipe to find a way to up the sweetness of the batter a tad - maybe with agave syrup - but then again, this may be down to me needing to get weaned off the taste of refined sugar. Now heading for the kitchen for my third serving!
  • This cake looks so good! I definitely have to try it out as soon as possible. Hmmmm, actually I think tomorrow is a carrot cake kind of day! :)
  • Maria
    Hi! How many calories is it in a slice and the whole cake?
  • David
    Didn't quite work for me, somehow. Too much cardamon (half a teaspoon overpowered the cake and left quite an aftertaste in the mouth), and not quite enough natural sweetness. I do very much like the idea though, and will play around with the ingredients. Next time, I'll likely use very ripe, black bananas to boost the flavour; replace the dates with soaked, dried figs or prunes to up the sweetness levels; and substantially reduce the cardamon to just one or two pods only, or even replace with a small pinch of ground cloves (and increase the cinnamon). I'm wondering if a little malt extract might also lift the flavour. Still better than using refined sugar, though, which I'm desperately trying to cut down on! This has certainly inspired me to experiment more.
  • Erin
    Hi there, this looks wonderful - I was wondering if you think its possible to do a nice version with sweet potatoes (perhaps replacing dates) if that is what you have? (ie, yup, I have a huge glut of sweet potatoes and carrots at the moment!) ... I like fluffy carrot cake that is light - so I'm a bit worried the sweet potato will make it all a bit liquid. what do you think? thanks!! In any case I will do this version at somepoint as it looks great. Thanks for all the continuingly beautiful and interesting recipes.
  • Heidi
    I absolutely love this cake! Only it's a whole since I made it and I have just made another for a competition.... Do I let it cool completely in the tin or take it out?! Ahg...emergency!! Thanks ever so much for your absolutely beautiful iOS app :) it's my very very favourite! Hx
  • Dagny
    Can you substitute raisins for the dates?
  • jessica
    Hi i am allergic to walnuts, can i leave them out? also... how do we store this?
    • Yes you can leave them out or replace them with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • This is a really great recipe - and proof that something can be healthy and delicious at the same time. I've adapted your recipe and put it on my blog here with a link back to you: http://sneakyfruitandveg.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/carrot-banana-and-date-cake/ Hope this is ok
  • Mandy
    Was a little concerned that the cake didn't rise very well, but I guess all fruit cakes are denser than normal. Much better than I expected after seeing it come out the oven, the cake was still nice and moist, and the frosting was delicious! Never thought a sugar free cake could be so tasty! Will be using this recipe from now on for all my carrot cakes :)
  • Avrutina
    Can i also use Spelt flour instead of Whole Wheat flour and if u would recommend it, what would be the ratio? the same? thank u:-)
    • Yes you can definitely try that. It should be around the same ratio. Good luck! /David
  • susanna
    Hi, what if we DO want to use butter instead of sunflower oil? How much would we use? Thanks! (I am not opposed to butter, just sugar!)
  • Alissa
    Will this work if i leave out the nuts, coconut and raisins? Or o i need to change the proportions? I'd like to make it for my son's second birthday but he doesn't like chunks of anything in cake/bread, so i'd like to keep it a bit simpler. Thanks!!
  • Stacie
    Is there any way to make this without eggs? Thank you!
  • Alejandra
    Yesterday I made this recipe with a friend and it was delicious! Thanks!
  • Anna
    Thank you for such an awesome recipe. I used equal amounts of all purpose and almond flour, reduced the quantity of spices, used only 2 eggs, did not use oil at all, and added more coconut and a teaspoon of honey to the batter. The cake was moist, sweet, and delicious. That walnuts give a nice crunch. Blending bananas and dates for sweetness is a great idea.
  • Olechka1812
    Hi, I recently discovered your blog through a link on the Golubka blog and tried this recipe this very morning - it's amazing! So delicious and healthy, packed with goodness, and it's quick and easy to make. Thanks a lot, I'll definitely be trying more of your recipes. This blog has beautiful pictures by the way. Lots of love from France!
  • Prajakta
    hey...loved ur recipe..a cake without sugar, butter and white flour..what else one needss!!! gonna bake this cake this weekend..m very new to baking world..so have basic query..the oven i have at my home has max temperature as 250..will that work? how long i should put my cake for baking with this temperature?
  • Luise and David, I have recently found your blog and in the past enjoyed your recipes featured in The Guardian magazine - I am absolutely in love with your recipes, vision, blog, photography and website! Last night we had the beet burgers, they were amazing :-). I love your recipes, but I am unsure about the 'cup' measurement. I tend to work in grams and don't know how much a cup is! It is something that often puts me off making delicious sounding recipes from the net. Can to you give me a translation please, into grams, so that I can make this scrummy sounding carrot cake for my husband's birthday? Thanks a million, Katie
  • Lynsey
    Thanks for this recipe, it's so nice to make a cake without sugar and butter!! My 3 year old also loved it :-) I used coconut oil instead of sunflower, so delicious!! Looking forward to trying some other recipe of yours Lynsey
  • Kristina
    I really like this cake! Good flavour, nice texture, and a glazing to die for. Well done - definitely a remake :) I had no sunflower oil, so I used half olive oil and half rape seed oil, and that worked fine. I also replaced 2 eggs with flax seeds and water. Creative cooking when the kitchen cupboards are empty :) /Kristina.

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