Low-Sugar Carrot Cupcakes

I wanted my little one to have the joy of a birthday cupcake—without the sugar crash. So I concocted these low-sugar carrot cake cupcakes for her first birthday party from a muffin recipe. They were a big hit with little people and big people alike!

Low-Sugar Carrot Cupcakes
Author: Lacy Boggs
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
These low-sugar cupcakes are perfect for a first birthday party, or for anyone watching their sugar intake.
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup apple sauce
  • ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce and brown sugar; beat well. Combine egg mixture and flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Fold in carrots. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before frosting.
Serving size: 1 cupcake Calories: 109 Fat: 4.5 Saturated fat: 2.8 Carbohydrates: 17.8 Sugar: 3 ppv Fiber: 1.2 Protein: 2.4 Cholesterol: 30.8
I frosted these cupcakes with regular cream cheese frosting because I decided the lack of sugar in the cake made up for the plethora of sugar in the frosting. 😉 But there are several low-sugar or even sugar-free frosting recipes out there if you Google around. In fact, had I thought about it, an avocado frosting might have been just the ticket for my avocado-loving girl! These are also great as breakfast muffins (though, probably without the frosting).

We decorated the top-tier cupcakes with these super-cute free printable cupcake toppers from One Charming Party; you tape a sucker to the back of each and stick them into the cupcake and the sucker becomes the ball on the seal’s nose.

We had planned to do them all that way, but they were too tall for my tray!  But my mother had a brainstorm and we put animal crackers on top of the other ones, which was equally cute, and stuck the rest of the suckers in the goodie bags.

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  2. This sounds great! What did the consistency end up being? Was it really heavy and dense? Was it hard for your daughter to eat? This is just the kind of recipe I was looking for to make for my son’s first birthday, but want to make sure it would be moist but not super dense and heavy. Thanks!

    • They were great! They were the consistency of a carrot muffin. She didn’t have ANY trouble eating it, and she only had a couple of teeth at the time. Everyone enjoyed them, even the adults.

  3. Awesome – thanks so much for the feedback! I believe he will be enjoying one of these on Saturday. 🙂 I even found a brown sugar cream cheese frosting that I might try with them… we’ll see how they turn out!

  4. These sound great! Do you think I could substitute grated zucchini for the shredded carrot? It’s my girls’ favorite vegetable! I’m going to try the avocado buttercream too – great idea!

    • I don’t see why not! You could consult a few zucchini muffin recipes to see what flavors and spices they use, but I bet they’re very similar to the ones in this recipe.

      Shredded zucchini is more watery than carrots, so after you shred it, I would let it drain in a colander for a little while before mixing it into the batter, just to be on the safe side.

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  7. Do you think this recipe could be used to make a sheet cake? I volunteer with a local non-profit that does a weekend backpack program for hungry local kids. We are celebrating our 5th birthday and would like to take sheet cakes to the after schools that we serve. Any help in converting this recipe would be greatly appreciated.


    • Hi Randee,

      I think this batter would definitely make a sheet cake, but it wouldn’t be a very big one as is. Probably an 8×8 square cake at best. I would try doubling it and cooking it in a 13 x 9 pan—but I haven’t tried that myself! Should work, though. 🙂 Good luck!

    • Hi Melanie, the applesauce should be added with the oil and other liquid ingredients. I’ve fixed the recipe now. Thanks!

  8. Hi, Lacy.
    I tried to make this today, but it did not turn out as expected. I think it did not rise enough (about 1.5-2x the original height). The inside of the cake is very moist with a lot of bubbles.

    What I did was:
    Mix eggs, oil, brown sugar and applesauce with a mixer
    Then put in the flour mixture gradually and mix them with a fork.
    Then I fold in the carrots

    When you mix the flour and egg mixtures together, did you use a mixer? For how long?


    • Hi there! It sounds like you did everything just fine. The only thing I can think of is that maybe your baking soda or baking powder are old and didn’t rise enough. I did use a mixture, just until everything was barely combined. You don’t want to overmix muffins so that they retain a tender texture.

  9. Thanks for the response, Lacy.
    Will try it again with a brand new baking soda and baking powder.

    Last week’s batch is still delish, regardless of the texture. My kids eat them in twos 😀

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