Protein Carrot Cake with Sugar Free Cream Cheese Frosting
This high protein carrot cake recipe combines flour, spices, and protein powder with freshly grated carrots, eggs, and apple sauce to create a low fat cake that’s still unbelievably moist. Especially since the carrot cake is covered in a sugar free cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts!
Even if you don’t carrot all about calories or macros, you can rest easy knowing every slice of this layered carrot cake has 25 grams of protein. And it’s highly customizable so you can tweak things to make it fit your personal calorie needs.
That’s enough talk, though. Let’s get to the root of it.
How to Make This Protein Carrot Cake
Don’t be intimidated by the longer-than-usual ingredient list. Maybe it’s because I made like six of these during recipe testing, but I think it’s a pretty darn simple recipe.
Other than grating some carrots and actually frosting the cake, it’s as easy as mixing a bunch of stuff in a bowl together. I’ll touch on ingredient modifications below but first, I’ll just give a few tips on the actual prep.
Grating the Carrots
During recipe testing, I found finely grated (the second smallest setting on a 4-side box grater) worked best. The larger settings worked okay but grating finely unlocked a bit more moisture. I wouldn’t recommend using pre-grated carrots for this reason.
Layering the Carrot Cake
This carrot protein cake started out as a large single layer cake, but I found dividing the batter led to quicker and more even cooking. If you don’t have two cake pans, you can bake it all in one. Just be aware you’ll need to extend the bake time.
Additionally, using two cake pans that are different sizes or shape could create more/less surface area and affect bake time.
As always, be careful to not over bake. Baked goods with protein powder can be unforgiving when too much heat enters the equation.
How to Make the Sugar Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Okay, technically this is cheating since the recipe calls for powdered erythritol, a sugar substitute. My go-to for this is a product called Swerve Confectioners. It substitutes 1:1 for sugar, and I’ve used it in everything from banana bread cake frosting and pumpkin protein muffin drizzles to dusting gingerbread protein balls and protein donut holes.
Note: You can find Swerve and all my other recommended products on my Amazon storefront.
If you don’t have this ingredient on hand, you could always use real powdered sugar. Though that will increase the carbs quite a bit.
Another option might be mixing a bit of protein powder, corn or arrowroot starch, and a granulated sugar substitute and adding that to the cream cheese. Sugar free pudding mix may work at thickening the cream cheese frosting as well.
More Ingredient Modification Notes
I’ll quickly run through commonly asked about ingredients.
The recipe calls for PEScience Select which is a blend of whey and casein protein. If you’re using a whey-only protein powder, you may need to add an extra half or full scoop to account for consistency differences. If your carrot cake batter seems very runny, add some more protein powder.
Note: You can use the discount code mason for 15% off on PEScience products. This also helps support future recipes!
Granulated Sugar Substitute
I used granulated erythritol (Swerve) but as long as you use a sugar substitute that substitutes 1:1 for sugar, you should be fine. A cake is a bit more forgiving of volume differences than a recipe like my Greek yogurt biscuits.
Unsweetened Apple Sauce
I use apple sauce in my baked goods as a fat (oil, in this case) replacement. It’s a vital ingredient that you won’t want to skip. If you’re worried about apple flavor, I can assure you that you’ll never know it’s there.
That said, I originally tested this carrot cake with crushed pineapple but found it was a bit too dense. I’m sure you could use half pineapple and half apple sauce or even another one of my favorite fat replacements—canned pumpkin.
The spices in this protein carrot cake will overwhelm any milder flavors like these. So experiment as needed but pay attention to batter consistency and know that straying too far may result in a stodgy carrot cake.
Final Protein Carrot Cake Recipe Notes
As you can see, I opted to put walnuts on the outside of the cake instead of inside the batter. While I didn’t test any walnuts or other add-ins like raisins inside my batter, I feel pretty confident they’d turn out fine in small amounts.
If you’d like to mix things up with your decoration, you could grind the walnuts and go for a dusted look or even ditch the walnuts altogether for crushed cookies or something sweeter like in my Oreo Protein Cake.
Similar to my apple sauce notes, however, going too far may make the batter too dense. That may not be a bad thing, but your carrot cake may be a little more blondie-like.
And I think that covers it. If you have a question about this protein carrot cake recipe I missed, leave a comment below or join my Facebook group with 13,000 other healthy home cooks that would love to help you out!
Carrot Cake Dry Ingredients
- 2 C (240g) All Purpose Flour
- 3 scoops (93g) Vanilla Protein Powder, I used PEScience Select*
- 1/4 C (48g) Granulated Sugar Substitute, I used erythritol
- 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ginger
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Cloves
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
Carrot Cake Wet Ingredients
- 3 large Eggs
- 1 1/2 C (360g) Unsweetened Apple Sauce
- 2-3 (150g) Carrots, finely grated
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, or 1/3 fat
- 1 C (144g) Powdered Erythritol, I used Swerve
- 1 C (120g) Chopped Walnuts, optional
- Preheat an oven to 350F and spray two 8" cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs together before adding the apple sauce, grated carrots, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl before gradually stirring in the egg mixture. Be sure you don't have any dry patches of flour but don't over mix the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the two cake pans. Each pan should have roughly 530 grams in each unless you modified the recipe. Shake each cake pan to evenly distribute the batter and gently smack a flat surface with the bottom of the cake pan to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the cakes are cooked through in the center. (If you bake the cake in one large pan, you may need to bake for 30-40 minutes.)
- Remove the carrot cakes from the oven and after they've cooled for a few minutes, transfer them to a cooling rack. Set the cream cheese out to warm to room temp.
- Once the cakes have fully cooled, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar substitute together. Frost the first cake before placing the second cake on top and frosting the top and sides. Gently pat the sides of the cake with walnuts in your hands to coat the sides.
- Each slice of carrot cake with frosting and walnuts has 8 Smart Points.
- Macros with frosting but no walnuts (per slice): 270 calories, 23g protein, 36g carbs, 3g fat, and 5 Smart Points.
- Nutrition info does not include any carbs from the zero-calorie erythritol sweeteners used.
- For ingredient modification notes, see the post above.
*You can save 15% off PEScience products with the discount code 'mason' on pescience.com (affiliate code).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Slices Serving Size: 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 370Total Fat: 13gCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 25g