These carrot muffins are lightly spiced little carrot cake-like lovelies with a nutty whole-grain goodness. They technically may be virtuous, but they certainly don’t taste like it. The streusel topping lends these muffins more of a coffee-cake vibe.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers gleefully devoured these carrot muffins. Some loved that they were “light and tender,” despite being made with whole grains. Others were also pleased that they were healthy and not cloyingly sweet, making them perfect for an anytime-of-the-day snack.

Tamiko L. said it best: “These are delightfully spicy, moist, and tender carrot muffins. They embody everything that a carrot cake should be, and the streusel just elevates them.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Spelt flour–This gives the streusel topping and the muffins a nutty flavor. If you don’t have any, you can substitute all-purpose flour, but the flavor will be slightly different.
  • Oat bran–The addition of oat bran gives these muffins a boost of fiber, making them hearty and helping you stay full for longer. You can substitute wheat bran if you prefer.
  • Carrots–Use the side of a box grater or the large-hole dish of a food processor to grate your carrots.
  • Buttermilk–This helps to give your muffins their airy texture. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add enough milk to measure 1 cup.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Make the streusel topping. Combine the dry streusel ingredients in a bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a muffin tin.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix the batter.
  5. Divvy the batter between 8 muffin tin wells. Top with streusel.
  6. Bake the muffins until they are golden brown and smell nutty. Remove from the tin and cool slightly before serving.

Common Questions

Can I bake this as a cake instead of muffins?

Yes. Pour the batter into a 9-inch round cake pan and bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Can I make this carrot muffin recipe gluten-free?

Yes. Our testers had success substituting all-purpose gluten-free flour for the spelt and all-purpose flours in the recipe.

Helpful Tips

  • Butter the muffin tins well to avoid having the muffins stick to the tin.
  • The carrot streusel muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

More Great Muffin Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A muffin tin half filled with baked carrot muffins.

Carrot Muffins

5 / 3 votes
These carrot muffins are easy and filled with grated carrots, cinnamon, allspice, and all the usual carrot cake staples. If you've ever wanted carrot cake for breakfast this is your chance.
David Leite
CourseBreakfast
CuisineAmerican
Servings8 muffins
Calories330 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes

Ingredients 

For the streusel topping

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons oat bran
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces

For the carrot muffins

  • Butter, for the muffin tins
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots, about 2 medium
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk, (regular or low-fat or nonfat is fine)
  • 1 large egg

Instructions 

Make the streusel topping

  • In a bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, sugars, and salt. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Quickly rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the mixture feels coarse, like cornmeal.

Make the carrot muffins

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176 °C). Generously butter the muffin tins.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flours, bran, sugars, allspice, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the carrots.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and egg and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Scoop the batter into 8 muffin cups using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be slightly mounded above the edge. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the mounds of batter and press it into the batter slightly.
  • Bake the muffins for 32 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when they smell nutty and their bottoms are a dark golden-brown (you can twist a single muffin out of the pan to check).
  • Remove the tins from the oven, twist each muffin out, and place it on its side in the cup or on a wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. They can also be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen and reheated.

Notes

  1. Make it as a cake–Bake the muffin batter in a 9-inch round cake pan until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Avoid sticking–Butter the muffin tins well to avoid having the muffins stick to the tin.
  3. Storage and freezing–The carrot muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Good to the Grain

Adapted From

Good to the Grain

Buy On Amazon

Nutrition

Serving: 1 muffinCalories: 330 kcalCarbohydrates: 49 gProtein: 7 gFat: 13 gSaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.4 gCholesterol: 53 mgSodium: 458 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 20 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Kim Boyce. Photo © 2010 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Baking with whole grains makes me feel smug with the superiority of my healthfulness, but I’m ultimately disappointed when the baked goods taste “healthy.” These carrot streusel muffins left me both smug and satisfied.

The spelt flour gives them a warm, nutty texture that’s especially perfect for fall. The crunch of the streusel is a nice complement to the soft crumb of the cake. I baked this in a cake pan as suggested, adding a few minutes to the baking time. Since it was nearly impossible to check the bottom of the cake for doneness, I used its nutty aroma as the indicator to take it out of the oven.

This is a great recipe for breakfast when you’re craving a muffin but don’t want something too sugary.

These are delightfully spicy, moist, and tender carrot muffins. They embody everything that a carrot cake should be, and the streusel just elevates them. I’d make these again in a heartbeat and would love to try the rustic cake version as well.

I made these gluten-free, and they adapted perfectly, although some may not be able to do this due to the oat bran. Next time, I might add some raisins, but that’s just because of my preference for raisins in carrot cake; they really don’t need anything else. Kudos!

These healthy carrot muffins were delicious, as well as light and tender—which is unusual for a whole grain muffin. The spices were perfect, and the topping dressed the muffin up for company.

My only issue was that it was a sweeter muffin than I typically like for breakfast, making it more like cake than a muffin. Of course, what’s a muffin other than an excuse for eating cake for breakfast?

These carrot muffins do a rather fine balancing act between sweet and savory. The streusel topping is wonderfully crunchy, and the muffins are soft and warm with spices. They’re a lovely treat for elevenses, breakfast, after lunch, or before dinner…

I’d wanted to try something from the Good to the Grain cookbook for a while, so these carrot muffins gave me the push I needed. I’d never used spelt flour before, so I was curious about its taste and texture in a muffin.

Even before I put them in the oven, I tried the batter and knew these would be terrific. The aroma during baking was incredible.

I had a little trouble getting them out of the pan after baking, but it wasn’t enough to put me off this recipe. The muffins didn’t disappoint: they were dense but not too heavy, nutty and flavorful, but also sweet and redolent of spice.

The streusel topping was excellent and had a great texture and taste (not too sweet). My kids loved these muffins—even my super picky 7-year-old devoured them, as did his even-more-picky best friend (who hates carrots).

The only change I’d make is adding more carrots. I thought 1/2 cup didn’t seem enough in the scheme of things.

Bottom line: These were a massive hit in our house and will go into our permanent rotation.

Don’t pass these by because they’re good for you—they’re also delicious as a breakfast treat or a snack with coffee or tea. The carrots add moisture and flavor to the muffins, and we really liked that they weren’t cloyingly sweet, like many other muffins. The topping is crunchy and adds a bit of sweetness, balancing everything out.

These carrot muffins had a tender crumb and a very delicate taste.

I substituted all-purpose flour for the spelt flour and used wheat germ instead of oat bran in both the muffin and the strudel topping. These were yummy.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


Hungry For More?

Chocolate Muffins

Those of us who prefer a restrained sweetness and a more pronounced cocoa taste will adore these muffins. Nothing overtly sweet here. And we’re okay with that.

1 hr

Egg Salad Without Mayo

Don’t let those leftover Easter eggs go to waste. This easy egg salad with caramelized onions is so lovely, you won’t even notice that there’s no mayo.

45 mins

Cheese Danish with Fruit Filling

A startlingly spectacular made-from-scratch cheese Danish that is going to forever change your notion of what a cheese Danish ought to be.

1 hr


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I somehow missed this post, but made these last Thursday as a matter of fact. Must be something in the air. I don’t typically like carrot cake, for example, so it’s surprising I even went for these. But they were wonderful. I was shocked, in fact, by how much I loved them. They were slightly sweet, (just enough, as other commenters have already noted, and not too much) yet still hearty enough to feel wholesome. I will definitely be making again!

    1. We’re very pleased that you enjoyed them so much, Sara. Did you use the “alternate baking cup” method when making them?

      1. I didn’t entirely fill a 12-cup muffin tin. I could only fit 8, and some grew together a bit. Although they certainly rose beautifully! When I put the streusel on the unbaked muffins, I almost thought there was too much, but when they baked it was clearly just the right amount, as the quantity accounted for the increase in surface area as the muffins rose. Very clever!

      1. Me too! You can’t go wrong with this book, I’m surprised how much I turn to it. Wanted to mention that not having oat bran around, I just used regular ol’ oatmeal in its place and it turned out fantastically!

  2. I was wondering why the muffin pan wasn’t completely filled. These look really good. I have some cooked carrots in the freezer. I will be making these soon. I love muffins of all kinds.

    1. I’m rather accustomed to not filling muffin cups to the top of the pan, simply to allow space for rising during baking. Prevents the batter from spilling over onto the top of the pan and creating burnt-on blackness that requires scrubbing! Also, the more modest the size of the muffin, the more evenly it can bake, keeping it moist and not underdone in some spots and overdone in others…

  3. I always love your little side comments about your upbringing. I wish I could remember the title of one of your essays – it had to do with your father and I laughed till I almost cried. Thank you.