Without a doubt, the carrot muffin is among the best vegetable-based goodies on the planet.
It is sweet, moist, flavorful, relatively healthy, and fairly simple to make.
Carrot muffins are incredibly versatile, so along with a fantastic recipe, I’ve included 5 easy tips to make them a treat that veggie lovers and haters alike can both agree to love.
This recipe makes a dozen good-sized muffins hearty enough for breakfast or a light lunch.
The same recipe can also be baked as loaves, small or large, and it only takes about 20 minutes to put together.
My Carrot Muffins Recipe Blueprint
Tip #1 Start with a great recipe
This is my mom’s recipe, and it actually works as a base for three great muffins mixes. Switching out the carrot for shredded zucchini or small apple chunks will give you two other wonderful muffin varieties.
- 2 c. ( 250 g) flour
- 1 tsp. (6 g) salt
- 1 tsp. (6 g) baking soda
- ½ tsp. (2 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp. (2.6 g) cinnamon
- ½ tsp. (1.5 g) ginger
- 3 eggs
- ½ c. (100 g) white sugar
- ¾ c. (150 g) brown sugar
- 1 c. (118 ml) oil
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla
- 2 c. (135 g) grated carrots
Here What To Do!
- After heating the oven to 350°f (175 °c), lightly grease muffin tin (if not non-stick) or use muffin cups.
- Sift or mix together the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Mix together the eggs, sugars, oil, and vanilla in another smaller bowl until well blended. Add the shredded carrots.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Add the wet to the dry, and gently fold the mixture—from the outside in—until the dry ingredients are just wet.
- If you like them with big tops like I do, scoop mixture to fill ¾ of each muffin cup and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool before serving.
Tip #2 Take It to the Top
Although these muffins are wonderful just the way they are, several toppings can bring these beauties to a whole new level.
One of the most popular toppings is a cream cheese frosting. Here’s a simple recipe you can spread as a thick layer or dab lightly in the center. Mix together until smooth:
- ½ c. (113 g) softened butter
- 8 oz. (225 g) softened cream cheese
- 4 c. (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla extract
In addition to the frosting, you can top them with chopped walnuts or pecans.
Even if you’re not a cream cheese fan, there are other toppings you can use—by themselves or in tandem—including a simple sugar glaze seasoned with a teaspoon of cinnamon or ginger. You can also use a trace or honey.
Before cooking, you could also top your muffins with raw sugar, seeds (sunflower or flax), wheat germ, oatmeal and brown sugar, granola, or nuts.
Tip #3 Add Mix-Ins
Try adding ¼ to ½ cup of any of the following to the above recipe:
- Shredded coconut or apple (or use both and make Morning Glory muffins)
- Shredded zucchini
- Chocolate chips
- Cinnamon chips
- Raisins (or other dried fruit)
- Chopped walnuts or pecans
- Flax seed
Tip # 4 Experiment with Substitutions
There may be a time you want to switch up the recipe, either because you are missing something or because you want to make the recipe a little healthier. Below are some of the substitutions you can make and still get great results.
Flour: My mom always used bleached flour, but I always use unbleached white or whole wheat and they come out great. You might also try substituting half of the flour with quick oats for a hardier muffin. Though I have never tried it, you can also use a gluten-free flour.
White sugar: Try using turbinado sugar or, my new favorite, monk sugar. In both cases, it would be the same measurement.
Brown Sugar: Replace with honey or maple syrup for a healthier alternative. These are sweeter than honey, so consider using ¾ c. instead of a whole cup.
Oil: You can use any vegetable oil for this recipe, including a light olive oil (so the flavor isn’t too strong). I have also replaced half the oil this recipe calls for with butter, and it’s delicious. Another idea is using apple sauce, vanilla Greek yogurt, or even orange juice.
You can’t, however, use any of these to totally replace the olive oil without changing the fluffy texture of the muffins. If you’re looking to use less oil, a good balance might be ½ c. oil, ¼ c. butter, and ¼ c. applesauce (or Greek yogurt).
Carrots: As mentioned before, using zucchini or apple as a substitute or in supplement to the carrots will still make for fantastic muffins.
Tip #5 Make These Muffins Even Better
Use room temperature eggs. Warmer eggs make for a warmer batter. This helps the muffins rise more and bake more quickly.
Scoop the flour into your measuring cup with a spoon. Instead of just scooping your flour out with a cup and pressing it flat, try using a spoon to gently transfer flour to your measuring cup. Then level off with a knife. This helps separate the flour, much like a sifter does, which makes the flour lighter and easier to mix with wet ingredients.
Don’t overmix your ingredients. The key to soft, moist muffins is in the mixing. Using a spatula or a wide wooden spoon, stir together the dry and wet ingredients by using gentle strokes that move the flour at the bottom of the mixing bowl to the top. Turn the mixture over only until all the flour is wet. The less you stir the mixture, the better the texture of your finished muffin will be.
Let muffins cool completely before covering. If you try to put them in a closed container or Saran Wrap before they are cooled, condensation will make these moist muffins wet, almost a little slimy. Instead, leave them on a wire rack or a plate and cover them lightly with a towel until completely cool.