Healthy Pineapple Carrot Cake

Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This healthy pineapple carrot cake is a lighter version of a classic spring dessert. This moist carrot cake is easy to make, is lower in sugar & has no butter or oil!

slice of healthy pineapple carrot cake on a plate with a fork


Spring is here! The trees are blooming, the sun is shining…so it only seems fitting to dive head first into all the recipes that the change in the season brings, like this healthy carrot cake. 

As you all know, I’m usually strictly a chocolate dessert person. I can easily pass up any sweet treat that isn’t super fudgy and loaded with dense rich chocolate flavor, like flourless brownies, flourless chocolate cake, homemade brownies, chocolate cookies, etc. However, carrot cake is totally an exception. I am a sucker for the moist, slightly sweet cake…especially if it’s piled high with cream cheese frosting!

This Healthy Carrot Pineapple Cake is a tried and true recipe that I have been making for years, and is a delicious way to usher in the beauty of spring! The cake itself has no butter or oil, and can easily be made gluten-free, but you’d never ever guess it’s better for you! 

Also, try this classic carrot cake recipe or these carrot cake cupcakes!

healthy carrot cake with pineapple on a cake plate frosting with cream cheese frosting roses and sprinkled with pecans

Healthy Carrot Pineapple Cake: Substitutions 

As always, here are a few potential substitutions you can make to ensure this recipe complies with your dietary needs!

overhead photo of the ingredients in this healthy carrot cake recipe
  • Flour: This recipe calls for 1 cup of flour total. You can use 1 cup of all-purpose flour (and no whole wheat flour) or substitute the regular flour for all-purpose gluten-free flour.
  • Granulated Sugar: I recommend using raw, organic sugar. However, if you’d like a refined sugar-free option you may substitute coconut sugar.
  • Crushed Pineapple: I use canned crushed pineapple in this recipe, but you absolutely may use fresh pineapple and toss it in your blender to achieved that crushed texture.
  • Cream cheese: If you are avoiding dairy simply choose a dairy-free cream cheese or omit the frosting all together.
slice of healthy pineapple carrot cake on a plate with a fork

How to make Healthy Carrot Cake:

This healthy and moist Carrot Cake recipe is a lightened-up version of everyones favorite! It has a fraction of the sugar and calories but doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of taste or texture! The moistness and sweetness come from replacing butter, oil and most of the sugar with applesauce and pineapple! Also, using some whole wheat flour gives it a little nutritional boost!

Let’s walk through making this carrot cake step-by-step, to ensure your success! First, I have a note about  the size of this carrot cake recipe: 

Size: 6″ Round Carrot cake

 This recipe makes a, 6″ round double layer cake. Don’t be fooled, my entire family can enjoy at least two slices (usually 3) of this healthy carrot cake when it’s made as a 6″ cake. It’s also perfect for a cute little smash cake for a baby! If you would like a 9″ round cake or more layers, double the recipe!

The smaller size is one of my favorite things about this pineapple carrot cake recipe! It’s is my go-to Easter dessert, and since said holiday is riddled with other baked goods ( like these Healthy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bird’s nests) and candy (give me all the mini Cadbury eggs please and thank you)…it’s great to be able to make a small cake and not be drowning in dessert leftovers!

Mix together dry ingredients

Begin this recipe by mixing together the dry ingredients. This ensures that they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

two photos showing how to make pineapple carrot cake - combining dry ingredients

Combine wet ingredients

In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir until they are completely combined. 

Add dry ingredients

Next, add the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is homogenous (uniform throughout).

Carrot cake for picky eaters

If you have picky eaters, (i.e. anyone who will not touch a cake if they see even a fleck of carrot or pineapple in there) then I recommend tossing your carrots and pineapple in the food processor or Vitamix and making sure they’re extra-fine before folding them into the batter. This way the veggie police won’t turn up their noses and miss out on this delicious treat!

two photos showing how to make pineapple carrot cake - adding sugar and dry ingredients

Add finely grated carrots

If you opt not to process/blend the carrots and pineapple, then gently fold the finely grated carrots into the batter until it is homogenous (uniform throughout). If you do process them to make them undetectable, add them with the wet ingredients above. 

two photos showing how to make pineapple carrot cake - adding carrots to batter

Line & Grease the cake pans

This carrot cake with pineapple is incredibly moist, so it is critical that you line and grease the cake pans for easy removal. I use these 6″ x 3″ round cake pans to bake my cakes, but a regular 6″ x 2″ cake pan will work just fine! I took photos of how I line my cake pans! I do this every time I bake a cake because it’s easy and foolproof. Here are the steps: 

  1. Start by tracing the bottom of the cake pan on a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Draw two rectangles on opposite ends of the circle, which will serve as “handles.”
  3. Cut out the pieces and place them into the cake pan.
  4. Fold the handles over the edges so they do not touch the cake batter.
  5. Spray the sides and bottom with non-stick baking spray (or grease them with butter or shortening). Then you’re ready to add the batter!
two photos showing how to line cake pans with parchment paper

Add batter to pans & Bake

Next, evenly distribute the batter between the two cake pans. Then bake them in a preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Please note: every oven is different. I use a convection oven so mine take about 30 minutes to bake. You need to know your oven and know if it bakes hot, cool or just right, if there are any hot pockets, etc. and adjust accordingly. 

Let Cool

Let the carrot cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then use the handles to lift the cakes out of the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. I often put cakes in the freezer before I frost them to ensure they don’t crumble!

two photos showing how to make pineapple carrot cake - in pans before baking and then cooling on a wire rack

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

What’s carrot cake without cream cheese frosting? It’s my all-time favorite (used on these cinnamon rolls), and I could seriously eat it by the spoonful. Make sure all the ingredients are room temperature before making the frosting. Also, if you want a thicker frosting (like if you plan on piping it on, as it is in these photos), use more powder sugar until it reaches your desired consistency! 

overhead photo showing how to make cream cheese frosting with a hand held mixer

Frost the Pineapple Carrot Cake

Use some of the frosting to place between the two layers, and then decorate the carrot cake however with pineapple you’d like! I chose to use a Wilton 1M tip and make a rosette pattern for these photos, but I often just spread it on! 

two photos showing how to make pineapple carrot cake - frosting the cake rounds

Cake decorating tools

I use the following tools to decorate this pineapple carrot cake:

Chill and Serve

To ensure the frosting hardens a bit and the cake is chilled, transfer the decorated cake to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight! 

front view of a Healthy Pineapple Carrot Cake frosting with cream cheese roses topped with pecans

Recipe FAQS

Can you freeze carrot cake? 

YES! I froze the entire cake for two weeks before shooting and eating it! Here is how to freeze it: 
Transfer frosted cake to the freezer, uncovered. 
Freeze for 6 hours, or until the frosting has hardened and won’t stick to plastic wrap. 
Wrap the entire cake with plastic wrap thoroughly. 
Freeze for up to 1 month. 
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. 

How do you store carrot cake?

Store the entire cake in the refrigerator loosely covered with plastic wrap or in a cake storage container, or freeze as directed above.

Do you have to refrigeratore carrot cake?

Yes, because the frosting is made with cream cheese I suggest storing this cake in the refrigerator and serving slightly cold.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you can double the cake recipe and bake it in two, round 9″ cake pans instead of 6″ pans.

side view of a slice of healthy carrot cake with pineapple

If you make and love our recipes, it would mean so much to me if you would leave a comment and rating! And don’t forget to follow along with us on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Youtube – be sure to tag @joyfoodsunshine and use the hashtag #joyfoodsunshine so we can your creations!

Healthy Pineapple Carrot Cake

Laura
This Healthy Pineapple Carrot Cake is a lighter version of a classic spring dessert. This moist carrot cake is easy to make, is lower in sugar & has no butter or oil!
5 from 31 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people (slices)
Calories 100.6
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Cooling time1 hour
Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Carrot Cake:

Frosting:

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line two 6” round cake pans, or one 9×9” square pan with parchment paper and grease. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together egg and apple sauce.
  • Add vanilla, sugar and crushed pineapple. Stir until combined.
  • Pour dry ingredients into wet and gently mix with a spatula until completely combined.
  • Stir in carrots until evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let sit in pan for 5-10 minutes. Use parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on a rack until completely cool.
  • While cake is cooling, make the frosting:
  • Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. (you may need to add more powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency if you want to pipe it onto a cake).
  • Spread on cake!

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is calculated for the Carrot Cake without the cream cheese frosting! 

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Flour: This recipe calls for 1 cup of flour total. You can use 1 cup of all-purpose flour (and no whole wheat flour) or substitute the regular flour for all-purpose gluten-free flour.
  • Granulated Sugar: I recommend using raw, organic sugar. However, if you’d like a refined sugar-free option you may substitute coconut sugar.
  • Crushed Pineapple: I use canned crushed pineapple in this recipe, but you absolutely may use fresh pineapple and toss it in your blender to achieved that crushed texture.
  • Cream cheese: If you are avoiding dairy simply choose a dairy-free cream cheese or omit the frosting all together.

To freeze Carrot Cake: 

  1. Transfer frosted cake to the freezer, uncovered. 
  2. Freeze for 6 hours, or until the frosting has hardened and won’t stick to plastic wrap. 
  3. Wrap the entire cake with plastic wrap thoroughly. 
  4. Freeze for up to 1 month. 
  5. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. 
Store
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or store the cake in the refrigerator if it hasn’t been cut into yet it doesn’t need to be covered.  

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 100.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.9g | Protein: 2.2g | Fat: 0.6g | Cholesterol: 18.6mg | Potassium: 67.2mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 12.8g | Vitamin A: 1025IU | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.8mg

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

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have a question? Leave a comment below!

If you love this recipe you will also enjoy….

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for supporting JoyFoodSunshine!




latest recipes

Post a Comment or Ask a Question!

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

Recipe Rating




51 Comments

  1. Can I make this in 2 8×8 round pans? That’s all I have. If so, what would the baking time be? Thanks!!

  2. Looks so yummy! Just what I have been looking with crushed pineapple added. Due to anaphylactic allergy, do you think I could replace the egg with “no egg” or a flax egg & a bit of baking powder? We are also gluten free.

  3. 5 stars
    this was so tasty! i subbed the flour for gluten free measure for measure because my grandma has celiac disease and it turned out perfectly. it tastes exactly like a “normal” carrot cake!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this cake and it’s amazing! Moist, delicious, and really hits the spot for my sweet tooth. I used all whole wheat flour and added extra shredded carrot and pineapple (added a little extra flour to make up for the extra moisture). I only used 2.5 cups powdered sugar in the frosting and it’s perfect! I’ll definitely be making it again! Thank you for a healthier recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    This is a fantastic recipe. However, I’ve been making it as muffins. I freeze them and then reheat and eat them with honey walnut cream cheese for an easy delicious breakfast. As soon as I eat up 1 batch, I have to make another. I love that it is healthy and delicious. I also love that it is not a huge recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is the best, I make it all the time! Was wondering if I could substitute oat flour for plain flour therefore using 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 oat? Thanks:)

  7. Lovely! You must tell me – how did you apply the top ring of nuts without them spilling down the sides? Very impressive!