Chocolate chip cookie dough balls on tray ready to bake. Red mixer with red SideSwipe for Kitchenaid beater and mixer bowl in background


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Healthier Carrot Snack Cake

carrot cake on marble pedestal with wood base
The addition of whole wheat flour imbues this tender carrot snack cake with a little less guilt. The orange zest and juice adds a lovely, fresh flavor sure to please everyone in your crowd.

We halved the recipe below to make an 8 x 8 cake, which we think is plenty if you're calling it a "snack cake!" You can bake it as a full cake in a 9 x 13 pan. The larger size is perfect for a spring brunch, school banquet or a neighborhood potluck.

Recipe is adapted from BHG. Hands-on time for this recipe is about 25 minutes. Total time to make is around 2 hours, including cooling time for the cake. Nutrition information: 316 cal, 21g fat, 54mg chol, 252mg sodium, 28g carb, 2g fiber, 4g protein.
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting


9 x 13 Cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup neutral flavor oil (we used canola)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest to mix in (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest to sprinkle on top (optional)
overhead view of cream cheese frosting


    1. Heat oven to 350F.
    2. Butter or use spray to coat a 9x13 baking pan (8x8 for half recipe). We also lined with a sheet of parchment, but this cake releases well, so it's optional. Set aside.
    3. In your stand mixer fitted with SideSwipe (or in a large bowl if you're old school), mix together at low-to-medium speed all the wet ingredients at one time: eggs, oil, sugar, orange juice and zest, and vanilla until well combined and frothy.
    4. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until JUST BARELY combined: flours, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. It will finish mixing when you add the carrots and nuts/raisins.
    5. Stir in carrots and nuts/raisins, if using, until distributed throughout.
    6. Pour into prepared pan.
    7. Bake 35 minutes (25 minutes for 8x8 pan) or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean and/or the center bounces back slightly when gently pressed with a finger.
    8. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
    9. After cleaning your mixer bowl: Mix on low-medium speed the softened (but not melted) cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Beat on lowest speed until powdered sugar begins to incorporate. The increase speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes or until desired fluffiness is achieved.
    10. Spread onto cake. Sprinkle additional zest across the top if desired. Serve. This cake should be refrigerated and will keep several days, covered, in your fridge.

closeup of square slice of carrot cake