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Gluten-Free Healthy Carrot Cake Bars

Made with fresh grated carrots, warm cinnamon, a handful of walnuts, and applesauce, this Gluten-Free Healthy Carrot Cake Bar recipe is moist and irresistibly tender with a little crunch. Top with an optional cream cheese frosting and a dash of cinnamon.

  • Author: Ana Ankeny
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x
Healthy carrot cake bars topped with cream cheese frosting, cut into bars and styled on a cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sugar (110 g)
  • ½ cup milk of choice (120 g)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce (113 g) 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour* (290 g) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • ⅔ cup dark raisins (90 g)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (83 g) 
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (57 g)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)

  • ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (110 g) 
  • 1 tablespoon milk of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mist an 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with nonstick spray. For easy removal of the cake, you can also line the pan with foil leaving a little extra hang over the edges. Mist the foil with nonstick spray.   
  2. In a small bowl, place the raisins and enough hot water to cover; set aside while you mix the batter.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the eggs and sugar. Add the applesauce, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla; whisk together.  
  4. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt; stir together. Drain the raisins and fold the raisins into the batter along with the shredded carrots and walnuts.  
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.  
  6. For the optional frosting: In a medium bowl, place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Using a hand mixer or wooden spoon, blend ingredients together. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the remaining ½ cup powered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk; mix until the frosting is thick and smooth. Gently spread the frosting over the cooled bars. If desired, garnish with extra chopped nuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and/or shredded fresh carrot.

Notes

* You can substitute regular all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flour; use 2 cups (~290 g). For gluten-free flour options, we like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-for-1 Baking Flour, and King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure-for-Measure Flour Blend.

To make these bars vegan (dairy free and egg free):

  • For the carrot cake bars:
    • Use non-dairy milk in the batter
    • Substitute ‘flax eggs’ for the eggs. To make enough to substitute for 2 eggs, whisk together 2 tablespoons ground flax meal + 4 tablespoons of warm water, let set for 3-5 minutes to thicken, then add to the batter.
    • Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • For the frosting:
    • Use vegan butter, non-dairy milk, and vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti dairy-free cream cheese) for the frosting.

To store: Cool the bars completely, place in a container with a lid, and store unfrosted at room temperature for up to 3 days, or (if frosted) store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To freeze: Cool unfrosted bars completely, place in a freezer-friendly container with a lid, and freeze for up to 3 months. Frost after the bars have been thawed.

The Nutrition for Carrot Cake Bars WITHOUT the Frosting is (Per bar): 144 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 22 mg cholesterol, 26 g carb (3 f fiber, 11 g sugar), 141 mg sodium, 22 g protein

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 bar with frosting
  • Calories: 193
  • Sugar: 19
  • Sodium: 153
  • Fat: 5
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 34
  • Fiber: 3
  • Protein: 4
  • Cholesterol: 27