Carrots give carrot cake a health-halo effect--people think it's health food, but it's usually very high in fat and calories. But our version has about 40 percent less calories and 50 percent less fat than most. First, we use less oil in our batter. Then we skip the butter in the frosting (don't worry, it's still light and smooth). To ensure the cake is moist, we add nonfat buttermilk and crushed pineapple.

Patsy Jamieson
Source: EatingWell Magazine, April/May 2005


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

1 hr 10 mins
Nutrition Profile:




Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

  • Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice.

  • Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and 1/4 cup coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

  • Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

  • To prepare frosting and finish cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.


Ingredient Notes: Whole-wheat pastry flour, lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.

Large thin flakes of dried coconut called coconut chips make attractive garnishes. Find them in the produce section of large supermarkets or at

Tips: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

To toast chopped walnuts and coconut chips, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

341 calories; protein 6g; carbohydrates 43.2g; dietary fiber 3g; sugars 29.8g; fat 16.6g; saturated fat 4.8g; cholesterol 50.8mg; vitamin a iu 2545.9IU; vitamin c 4.2mg; folate 15.5mcg; calcium 50mg; iron 0.5mg; magnesium 17.4mg; potassium 161.9mg; sodium 335.5mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

Reviews (40)

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40 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 26
  • 4 star values: 6
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 5 stars
Absolutely moist and delicious - even days later! I substituted honey for the sugar in this recipe and I added some toasted shredded coconut and walnuts on top of the cream cheese. I was a little skeptical of the pineapple but it really adds a nice brightness. Can't wait to make it (and eat it) again. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Amazingly moist and delicious carrot cake! I'd never guess this was a healthy version of anything. I don't like cake & I loved this... Yes my batter was runny but instead of having to take it out 10 minutes early & burning in my oven like things usually do this stayed in the full time & was definitely firm enough at the end of the 40ish minutes. It was just super moist. Pros: My kids loved it & begged for more. Cons: I had some trouble getting the icing the right consistency for spreading but it was delicious. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Can I make this recipe using two 8" round cake pans? Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Very good. I made a bundt cake (greased and floured the pan very well) and added extra milk to the frosting to make a glaze. For the cake I used 1-1/2 cups of cake flour and 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour. I decreased the sugar to 1 cup (and half of that was Stevia). You have to lay the CRUSHED pineapple on a triple layer of paper towels to drain it well (otherwise the cake will get gummy). And I used light olive oil instead of canola. All in all it was a really good cake and I will make it again. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
No frosting needed;. A friend suggested sprinkling powder sugar on top instead of the frosting. Most of my guest removed the frosting they did not like it either. I am not a big fan of cream cheese. Over all the cake was good. I will make it again but will add the raisons and no frosting. Pros: I wish I would have added the raisons as suggested by another person. Cons: Did not care for the frosting; Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Great Cake Easy to Make I followed the advice of others and added an extra 1/2 cup of flour. It was delicious and perfectly moist. I made the cake a day in advance. Pros: Flavorful filling easy to make Cons: I adjusted the frosting to suit my taste by adding a little milk and more powdered sugar Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I made the cake and frosting just as in the recipe and loved the flavor of both. The cake was moist but I like it that way. The one thing I did wrong was I didn't grease the pan enough and the cake stuck coming out breaking into different pieces. That was sad but I pushed the pieces together and frosted them anyway and it was all delicious. I am definitely making this one again. A delicious cake great for breakfast and it feels healthy because it has the pineapple and carrot in it. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
My go-to recipe I have made this cake many times. It is always great! I love the pineapple and I sometimes add raisins. When someone wants me to bring carrot cake to a gathering this is my go-to recipe. Pros: Moist delicious Cons: None Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I'm surprised so many people liked this cake. I thought the consistency was spongy and not very good. I would not make this again. Read More