Carrot Muffins

There are multiple types of muffin eaters.

Vertical image of a small pile of baked goods with flecks of orange vegetables on a wooden cutting board, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

First, you have the ultimate sweet-toothers. Those in this category typically order chocolate chip (or pumpkin cream cheese, when the season is right) and secretly wish for a cupcake in disguise.

Next, we have the fruit fanatics. These folks are to blame for the constant shortage of blueberry and banana muffins at the local coffee shop. Lemon poppyseed devotees, I’m lookin’ at you, too.

And finally, there are those who proudly prefer their baked breakfast beauties stuffed with healthy ingredients like veggies.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am one of the latter. And if curiosity and a carrot muffin craving brought you to this page, welcome to the club.

Vertical image of large muffins on a wooden board.

P.S. Bran buffs, you fall under this last umbrella too.

No matter what flavor you’re fond of, I’m glad you’re here.

If you don’t get down with the occasional veggie in your morning baked good, you’re totally missing out. Don’t believe me? Just give this chocolate zucchini bread a whirl.

Certain veggies, like the carrots featured front and center in today’s recipe, are surprisingly sweet. They also add substance, bulk, and moisture to the batter – not to mention a hit of nutrition like beta carotene, fiber, and vitamin A.

If you’ve ever oven-roasted carrots, you know this particular side dish can be almost as decadent as dessert.

As the carrots caramelize, their natural sugars are released. Adding additional sweetener helps move things along even faster, which is why you often see roasted carrot recipes that include honey or maple.

And just like that, I’m hungry for fall. Is it Thanksgiving yet?

Vertical image of baked goods, one cut in half and spread with butter, on a wooden cutting board in front of orange vegetables.

As far as this batter goes, you can imagine that when the carrots and brown sugar begin to meld together, the whole deal is undoubtedly sweetened. But if you attempted a shortcut and grabbed a package of pre-shredded carrots, you may not be happy with what I’m about to say.

Go back to the store.

Grating fresh carrots will result in moisture-rich shreds that soften beautifully into the batter. The result is a moist, fluffy treat that melts onto your tongue. And that’s before dolloping on the extra butter!

Pre-shredded carrots are often just too darn dry to have the same effect. Unless you’re using the shredding disc of your food processor, this recipe requires a bit of elbow grease to get the grated quantities just right.

Hey, it’s about to be tank top season. You’ll thank me later.

Vertical image of a small pile of baked goods with flecks of orange vegetables on a wooden cutting board, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Earthy cinnamon and nutmeg and a pinch of pungent ground ginger deliver warmth to every bite. And tart Granny Smith apple adds another layer of natural sweetness and moisture.

Trust me when I say that half a cup of nutty brown sugar is all you need alongside the other goodies. Also, filling the batter all the way to the top of each well in the pan ensures a rustic and more prominent muffin top, and slightly bigger muffins.

And if there’s anything that we can all agree on, it’s the benefit of having more muffin to go around.

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Horizontal image of carrot muffins on a wooden cutting board.

Carrot Muffins


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 9 large muffins 1x

Description

Sweet shreds of carrot and tart green apple are the secrets behind these expertly moist muffins brimming with brown sugar and cinnamon.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrot (about 34 medium)
  • 3/4 cup peeled grated Granny Smith apple (about 1 medium)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray 9 cups in a standard 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or line with paper baking cups).
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, use a sturdy whisk to cream the butter and brown sugar together until soft and fluffy. You can also use a stand mixer or hand mixer.
  4. Beat in the oil. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla. The mixture should be light and airy.
  5. Fold in the grated carrots and apples.
  6. Fold the dry mixture into the wet a little at a time, mixing until just combined.
  7. Spoon even amounts of the batter into the muffin cups, making sure you fill each one to the brim. You should have enough batter for 9 large muffins.
  8. Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown on top and a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few wet crumbs sticking to it, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  9. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap individually and freeze.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Baked Goods

Keywords: carrot, muffin

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Measure and Prep Ingredients

Soften the butter. A whole stick taken straight from the fridge will require about 1 hour to soften at room temperature. To speed up this process, I like to cut it into smaller cubes. It will be soft to the touch in about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of your house.

Horizontal top-down image of assorted fresh, dry, and dairy ingredients next to a pan.

Frozen butter takes much longer to thaw at room temperature, about 3 to 4 hours. If you store your butter in the freezer, make sure to do this step well ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray 9 cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or line it with paper baking cups.

To make 12 regular-size muffins instead, don’t fill the cups all the way to the brim with the batter. Note that you may need to adjust the baking time as well if you do this, since they will be smaller.

Measure the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Measure the vanilla extract, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. You can use coconut oil if you prefer.

Peel the carrot and apple, and then use the large holes of a box grater to shred both.

For the apple, hold it by the top (stem) and bottom of the core. Grate until you reach the core and then rotate the apple to repeat this process with the remaining sides. You’ll be left with just the core.

Step 2 – Mix the Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of whisking together dry ingredients in a metal bowl.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to a large bowl.

Whisk to combine and set aside.

Step 3 – Mix the Wet Ingredients

In a medium mixing bowl (or using a stand or hand mixer), use a sturdy whisk to cream the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy and well-combined.

Horizontal image of folding together thick wet ingredients and shredded orange vegetables in a metal bowl.

As long as the butter is soft enough, it will blend into the brown sugar smoothly and uniformly, even if you’re doing this by hand.

Beat in the oil. The mixture will be creamy and smooth at this point.

Crack the eggs into a small ramekin first so you don’t accidentally get any shells in the batter. Dropping them in one at a time, beat in the eggs, and then pour in the vanilla.

This wet batter will be light and airy. Fold in the grated carrots and apples.

Step 4 – Fold the Dry Ingredients into the Wet

Adding the dry mixture to the wet a little at a time, gently fold and mix until the two are combined.

Horizontal image of mixing together a batter with shredded orange vegetables in a metal bowl.

Over-mixing the batter can result in tough muffins, so you want to be careful to blend the dry ingredients into the wet until they’re just mixed together. It’s okay if there are some lumps.

Step 5 – Fill the Tin and Bake

Making sure to fill each well to the brim, evenly distribute the batter into 9 of the 12 muffin cups.

Horizontal image of portioned amounts of thick batter in a pan.

A lot of recipes call for the cups to only be filled 2/3 of the way, but filling them all the way to the top will result in a higher-domed muffin top and a larger muffin overall.

Bake until golden brown on top. A knife or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean with just a few wet crumbs sticking to it when they’re done, in about 25 to 30 minutes. If it comes out completely clean, the muffins may be a little less moist than you want.

Horizontal image of baked goods in a pan next to vegetables on a blue napkin.

Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes – any longer and they’re likely to get soggy on the bottom – and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Serve warm, with butter. Store leftovers muffins in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze.

Mix Up Your Own Magic

If chomping down into a baked good and receiving a crunchy (or chewy) reward is your jam, be my guest! Use this recipe as a base and tinker with the flavor profile to your heart’s delight.

Horizontal image of carrot muffins on a wooden cutting board.

Perfectly acceptable optional mix-ins include orange zest, shredded coconut, nuts (like pecans or walnuts), golden raisins, and dried cranberries. In my humble opinion, it’s the shredded carrots that truly give these muffins their glory.

How will you morph these muffins so they hit the spot? Share your suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Did all this carrot chat inspire you to find new ways to incorporate the rad root veg into your diet? Let these recipes sprout some novel ideas in your kitchen:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Jennifer Swartvagher on August 8, 2015. Last updated on May 14, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

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