Need a little pick me up?! These gluten free carrot cake muffins are moist, fluffy, and topped with a cinnamon streusel topping and maple cream cheese glaze. Made in just one bowl, healthy, and bursting with fresh carrot cake flavor.
Muffins are forever one of my favorite snacks because they’re basically like cupcakes, but it’s socially acceptable to eat them at any time of day. They’re an easy on the go breakfast, satisfying snack and are just sweet enough to pass as dessert.
These carrot cake muffins feature freshly grated carrots (which is super easy to do if you have a food processor), a mix of almond flour and (gluten free) all purpose flour, brown sugar and maple syrup for moisture and flavor, eggs, milk, oil and a whole lot of spices!
They’re topped with a four ingredient cinnamon streusel and finished off with a dairy free cream cheese glaze.
They truly couldn’t be more easy or delicious. I may or may not have eaten four in one day so I think that really speaks to how good they are, yeah?!
You have the option to add chopped nuts, but apparently some people even like pineapple in carrot cake?! That’s a whole new world to me! If you love this recipe, try my almond flour banana muffins next!
How to make carrot cake muffins
Add the peeled carrots to a food processor and process until broken up and completely shredded.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients until combined. Add in the dry ingredients aside from the nuts and carrots and mix well.
Fold in the chopped walnuts and carrots until everything is well incorporated. The batter should be pretty thick at this point.
Use a medium cookie scoop and add the batter to a lined cupcake/muffin tray. Fill about 3/4 of the way up.
To make the streusel topping, add the softened butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl. Use a fork, your hands or a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. It should be crumbly and on the drier side. If it seems too wet, add in a bit more flour.
Use your fingers to crumble the streusel on top of the muffins. Add more than you think you should, the streusel will separate as the muffins bake.
Bake at 425 for 2 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 16-20 more minutes. Careful not to over-bake, you don’t want them to become dry. Test them at 16 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean.
Remove from the oven, let cool as is for 10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the tray and let finish cooling on a cooling rack. Once cool, whisk together the cream cheese and maple syrup and drizzle on top of the muffins.
The key to a moist texture
Just because these healthy carrot cake muffins are gluten free doesn’t mean they have to be dry and bland, because I promise they aren’t!
The main ingredients in this recipe that keep the muffins moist are the oil, maple syrup, apple sauce, and non-dairy milk. I haven’t tested this recipe with any replacements, so I recommend sticking to those ingredients in the listed proportions for best results.
The other key is the amount of flour used and the bake time! Too much flour can yield muffins (and other baked goods) that are too dry and crumbly.
However, the almond flour works to both keep the muffins moist and add structure, which is why we use it in addition to the gluten free all purpose flour.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the muffins will continue cooking even after you take them out of the oven.
The muffin tin will still be hot which can dry out the muffins if they’re left in for too long. My suggestion? Remove them and place on a cooling rack after about 10 minutes.
Do you need to add xanthan gum to gluten free muffins?
Even though these muffins are gluten free, you don’t need to add any extra xanthan gum to the recipe.
I recommend sticking with the Bob’s Red Mill GF 1:1 Baking Flour, but if you use a different one just make sure it has xanthan gum in the mix. If you aren’t gluten free, just regular AP flour will work!
How to store
Once prepared, these muffins will store at room temperature for 3-5 days. Because of the apple sauce, they do need a little bit of air to breathe, so I recommend storing them in a tupperware container with the lid slightly ajar for best results.
Eggs. You can sub the eggs for a vegan alternative, and flavor-wise they will be great, but the texture will be much more dense and the muffins won’t rise as much. I’d suggest either flax eggs or a store bought egg replacer.
Sweetener. In most recipes you can use honey and maple syrup interchangeably, but I do not recommend using honey in these carrot cake muffins.
The maple syrup adds a bit more moisture than the honey and makes the final muffins a bit fluffier. If that’s all you have, you can get away with it, but keep in mind the batter will be a bit thicker and I suggest baking for 1-2 minutes less than recommended.
Carrots. You can swap the fresh carrots for store bought grated carrots, but the texture and flavor is much better with fresh carrots, so I recommend this method. It’s super easy if you just use a food processor or a grater.
Almond flour. If you want to make these nut free, you can swap the 1 cup of almond flour for an additional 1/2 cup of gluten free all purpose flour.
Still hungry? Try these snacks next!
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Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins
by: claire cary
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup oil avocado, vegetable etc.
- ¼ cup milk dairy or nondairy
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cup gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup blanched almond flour see notes for subs
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cup fresh grated carrots about 2 large carrots
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts optional
- 3 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ tablespoons softened butter or refined coconut oil
Cream Cheese Glaze:
- 4 tablespoons plain cream cheese I used Kite Hill dairy free
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenehit.
- Add the peeled and chopped carrots to a food processor and process until broken up and completely shredded.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients until combined.
- Add in the dry ingredients aside from the nuts and carrots and mix well with a wooden spoon. Be sure to spoon and level the flour, don’t scoop right from the bag.
- Fold in the chopped walnuts and carrots until everything is well incorporated. The batter should be pretty thick at this point, but that is key to a muffin with a nice round top!
- Use a spoon or cookie scoop and add the batter to a lined cupcake/muffin tray. Fill about pretty close to the top.
- To make the streusel topping, add the softened butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl.
- Use a fork, your hands or a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. It should be crumbly and on the drier side. If it seems too wet, add in a bit more flour.
- Use your fingers to crumble the streusel on top of the muffins. Add more than you think you should, the streusel will separate as the muffins bake.
- Bake at 425 for 2 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 14-18 more minutes.
- Careful not to over-bake, you don't want them to become dry. Test them at 14 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean, but add about 2 more minutes at a time as needed. 15 is usually perfect in my oven!
- Remove from the oven, let cool as is for 10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the tray and let finish cooling on a cooling rack.
- Once cool, whisk together the cream cheese and maple syrup and drizzle on top of the muffins.
Joyce B. says
Truly yummmmm! I made these into mini muffins for Easter…Made them exactly as written recipe. Baked at 400 in gas oven for 10 minutes…turned out simply awesome!
Claire Cary says
Ohhh love the idea of mini muffins!
These are soo good! Nutritious but definitely taste like a treat. Mine were pretty big and they needed 18+ minutes to cook through. I was worried about overbaking them but they were still super moist. Definitely will be making these again soon – thank you!
Claire Cary says
So happy you enjoyed this recipe!
I never write reviews but this is truly the most perfect recipe. I made them as per recipe for my colleagues in work and they were amazed and telling me how it just ‘doesnt taste gluten free’ (as a compliment) 😀
And for my kids substitute the sugar with banana and they absolutely love them.
They are so fluffy and taste great. Thank you!!! Will be doing these all the time now
Claire Cary says
Thank you so much! Just made my day 🙂
Absolutely delicious!! The perfect recipe… I have already shared it with my friends!
Claire Cary says
Amazing, thanks for sharing!
Great muffin. I just made the base muslin mix with out the toppings. I made it vegan with almond milk and coconut oil. Very good! Did not need to cook it the whole 14 minutes.
Claire Cary says
Delicious! Thanks Arlene.
Absolutely loved this recipe! It was so fun to make and was a total crowd pleaser with friends and family! I typically don’t care for carrot cake myself, but these were hard to resist, especially with the cinnamon streusel and dairy free glaze!!
Claire Cary says
So glad they were a hit! The streusel and glaze are my favorite part 🙂
Kat T says
This is the first review I have ever left for anything before. This recipe is way too amazing to not say something! Perfection. I am new to a flexible but predominantly plant-based diet and I am so excited to have found the jackpot of recipes that are right up my alley! My husband moans and groans about eating healthy but he couldn’t keep his hands off of these! Can’t wait to try other recipes!
Claire Cary says
Honored to be your first review! So happy you are all enjoying these! Thank you for the feedback 🙂